Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Better to Burn Out...

No shade in a vineyardForgive me if I'm not smiling in the attached photo, but I'M SWEATIN' MY GRAPES OFF! I know, I know, it's only September, but can we get a little Autumn up in here? If I soak through one more of boxer shorts before noon, I swear I'm wearing a wetsuit to work. Maybe then the housecats won't freak when I come back from my shoot looking like I took the Nestea Plunge. But I didn't log in to detail my personal grooming habits, nor did I plant myself in this swivel chair just to post another photo of me with a fancycam (Up Yours, Varner!). No, I took a few minutes out of my strict physical regiment to explore the transitory nature of my chosen profession...

See, despite all these self-aggrandizing snapshots, I am by definition one melancholy S.O.B. It's a defense mechanism, really. Years of spotlighting the plight of the vanquished and the vain have rendered me more than a little cynical. It happens to a lot of photogs. We go about our day joined at the hip to those who are better dressed, better paid and better received. Together we bumrush the downtrodden, placate the monied and titillate the shut-in. If that's not soul-eroding enough, we do so in a most scattershot fashion, glossing over details and polishing hype before rushing back to our live trucks as if our passel of pixels amounts to a hill of beans. At the end of our shifts we answer our cell phones, only to pass them over to our on-air partners so management can laud and applaud them for all our hard work. Is it any wonder we grow a little crusty?

No, it isn't. But neither is it an excuse to go through life a committed reprobate. That's why I've campaigned so vociferously to work alone whenever possible. It's not that I'm anti-social (much, anyway). It's that gathering data sans reporter removes much of the cheese from the TV News souffle. Though not a totally pure form of storytelling, lens-centric photojournalism focuses more on the subject at hand and less on that hair-do behind the mic(rophone). It's also strong medicine for a camera junkie like myself. Case in point: today's story on grape-growers scrambling to harvest their crops before Tropical Storm Hanna's ancillary rains drain the flavor out of their collective fruit. It is, at best, fodder for the b-block; the kind of story you watch out of the corner of your eye as little Johnny hides garden peas underneath his plate. But for a guy like me - who values story arc over top billing - it is a chance to cash in my chips, to hobknob with everyday folk and learn a thing or three about the art of vinification.

Overall, not a bad way to spend a Thursday morning - even if I do prefer my wine goblet filled with Maker's Mark...

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