Friday, June 27, 2008

Gripes of a Lifer

Flames, hehehe...Limited attention span - Check. Wardrobe of a 4th grader - Check. A penchant for bitchery - Double-Check. Yes according to the latest survey, I'm still very much a photog. Of course there was a time when those six simple words would have caused my lungs to collapse, but as I settle into my forties, I've come to realize it's what I'm built to do. After all, what other job would afford me access to the mayhem and minutia that passes for news on this planet? Where else could I milk a factory fire one day and stalk a lost family of kittens the next? Insurance adjustors don't get to do that and at last check, neither do Indian Chiefs. Sure, they probably get every holiday off, but has Mr. Clipboard or old Squatting Bull ever floated over school buses, chased a cadaver dog down a root-infested riverbank or caught some righteous Z's at a City Council meeting? I think not.

But it ain't all manhunts and catnaps. There's the peril of office politics in between... Finicky equipment, predatory competitors and the soul-eroding grind of a 24/7 news cycle: just a few of the other reasons we photogs age like sitting Presidents. It's also why most news shooters would rather babysit a grave-exhumation in the pouring rain than answer a single ringing telephone on the assignment desk. See, for all our gruff facades and bulging utiliy vests, television news photographers are passionate storytellers. The good ones, anyway. Unlike producers, who get high-fived by management whenever the overnight tea-leaves claim them a winner or the reporters, who regularly star in their own slow-motion promos, there ain't alot of glory for the sore shoulder set. Instead, there's the grind; the constant feeling that the miracle you pulled off yesterday is already ancient history. Or as the Turdpolisher himself so succintly puts it:
This business with its constant deadlines, multiple stories a day, live shots, unreasonable demands from the suits, has a way of beating a man down. Completing this task invariably takes time and quality away from that task. And I'm the kind of guy that hates to let the story down. For me, it ain't about the reporter, the station, the newscast, or even the person in front of my lens. It's about the story. And when I know a story ain't gonna be all that it can because of the everyday demands to feed the beast, it eats me up inside.
Do me a favor, Rick. When it stops eating you up inside, walk away. We could both make a fine living writing greeting cards for the terminally depressed.


Anonymous said...

If that ain't calling a spade a s___ass shovel, I'll kiss your ass on the courthouse square and give you two days to round up a crowd.

Anonymous said...

It's great to know that there are other veteran photogs out there that feel the same way as I do...lord knows I don't have the gift to write this stuff down like you guys do; but for me, it's a great read everyday!

Please keep it up!

turdpolisher said...

Thanks for the plug, Stew. It's amazing to work with a rookie. You get so much perspective on where you've been and why you do this in the first place.