If you're looking for a place to major in cameramanthropology, you'll do no better than your local water park. There you'll thrill to the splendor of a thousand double-takes, spark panic in the hearts of housewives and emit a contrail of eleven year olds. It's a target-rich environment, but if you're not careful, YOU could become the hunted. Don't know what I mean? Apparently, you've never slogged through a county fair with a lights and logo on your shoulder. Or plowed into a tailgating party with your number two sports guy trailing close behind. I have and can tell you with great sincerity that few arena parking lots compare with your average water-slide emporium, a modern day Colossus with a milieu somewhere between moonshine bust and American Idol audition. Trust me, I been to both. And while no one threw corn liquor in my face or insisted on singing Streisand, I can assure you, it was a grueling experience.
Okay, so it wasn't exactly the Bataan Death March. But my sixty minute slog through concrete and Dippin' Dots packed its own kind of casualties. Namely, the collective dignity of the human race. Falling bodies, hairy uncles, turbo wedgies: for the fully-loaded photog, it's a sea of possibilities. Why if you can't stroll through such as place and this and fill your tape or disc or card with memorable images, well then, you might want to remove that lens cap. And while you're at it, take the following advice from your Uncle Lenslinger, patron saint of distracted glass masters...
Keep Moving - Though many in the crowd will try to hide from your lens, a fair contingency will pivot on your every move. Bear this in mind when backing up, lest you crush a phalanx of frothing fifth graders - who’ve been flashing made-up gang signs at you and your tripod ever since you two entered the place.
Wear Your Game Face - Ask any of those %$@#& I work with, I’m an expressive, loving person. But in unruly crowds as this, I’ll not hesitate to go total robot. No emotion, eyes darting, little whooshing noise when I walk. How else are you supposed to survive when your only eye protection is a thousand yard stare?
Do No Harm - Mere happenstance determines where we take our lens. Don’t make others pay the price. See those bendy straws sticking out of the kiddie pool? Those are the life support systems of three stay at home Moms who didn’t count on a cameraman when they put on that swimsuit that used to fit. Move along - they’re almost out of air.
Eyes OFF the Prize - It’s a water park and you are human. Whether busty coeds or chiseled frat pukes trip you trigger, do NOT indulge in any eyeball reconnaissance. You are, after all, carrying an oversized recording device with incredible zooming capability into a sea of scantily clad citizens. Don’t be that guy. The world’s got enough of that guy.
Bite Your Tongue - People don’t see you. They see that logo. Thus, now may not be the time to use those zingers you heard on the Comedy Central roast. You will be tempted. In fact, the lower back tattoos, butt-encrusted Speedos and occasional pair of black socks will virtually demand your clever commentary. Do not - I repeat, Do NOT indulge in any --- excuse me, won’t you?
“YO MISS - in the rebel flag bikini and strawberry blond dreadlocks - Has Bill Cosby gotta come back in town and choke a bitch!?!”
Now then, where was I?