What’s a local TV news photog do once his week off has ended? Find a slightly less wrinkled pair of shorts to wear into work. Hey, every day on the clock isn’t a stroll on the beach, but I’d be suffering from sunstroke if I didn’t recognize how closely my chosen - ahem - profession resembles some kind of vacation. Think about it: Every morning I load a couple of cameras into a hatchback, take a stab at my GPS and drive to a strange location. Once there, I drag out all kinds of baggage, ask a few stupid questions and stick my lenses where I damn well please. Then I go eat something greasy, most often behind the wheel. Okay, so it’s no luxury cruise, but I’m betting there’s a claim processor somewhere who’d trade his eight hours of fluorescent light for a chance to point a reflector at a squirming news bunny. Certainly it was this semblance of adventure that first drew me out of the studio, but a rather unfunny thing happened on my way to a million newscasts...
I forgot what a bitchin’ gig this was supposed to be.
My friends outside the business didn’t. They still ask about my job with the kind of excitement I haven’t used on the job since I made deadlines in an acid-washed jean jacket. To hear them tell it, every TV news shift ends in the anchor-team gang fight scene in Anchorman. I haven’t the heart to tell them I spent four hours wishing for death the other day while some overpaid wonk prattled on about city sewage sub-laws. Nor could I being myself to divulge how grumpy I was at that battered woman’s shelter dedication the other week (The nerve of those ladies - making me wait outside like that!). They simply wouldn’t understand how incredibly stressful it is to roll up late to a ribbon cutting and distill the whole damn thing to a single clip... Okay so when I type it out like that, it sounds pretty simple, but the fact of the matter is pixelating trivia requires nerves of steel and shoulders of Jell-O. I mean, it’s not like some prom queen with a camcorder can do it!
Better yet, proceed as usual. I’ll catch up, just as soon as I get the wide angle on my perspective tweaked. Maybe then I can get a better look at the long-view, remind myself why I do what I do what I do. Oh yeah - I failed at everything else first. THAT more than anything convinces me I’m still where I’m in a pretty good place, for shouldn’t someone with my qualifications be mopping up a spill on aisle five right about now - instead of trying to decide how boring I find debris fields and backstage passes... You know, twenty years ago I would have strapped my glass to a police cruiser if it mean a new angle on the day. Now, I could probably doze off at a spaceship landing if the pod doors didn’t open quick enough. That’s not something I’m particularly proud of, for my least favorite people in the business (besides those who take themselves so very seriously) are those who swear they’ve seen it all and most of it sucks. That ain’t me. In an effort to never forget that, I’m reminded of a string of wise words told to me by an old cowboy...
“Ride around, take pictures all day...you ain’t got NOTHIN’ to do…”
How come it seems so much more complicated than that?