Winter amnesia

With the first big snow come all the things you forced yourself to forget since last winter, like how you should really bring an extra two set of gloves, at least, because snow is wet. Or how you know you have those hand warmers but you have no idea where you put them. Or how, at the right angle, all the melted snow running down the back of your "water resistant" jacket will drip right down the back of your pants. (Luckily my gear belt prevented that from happening, but I saw others who weren't so lucky.)

Now it's on to basketball season.



With each of these pictures comes a flood of memories for me. I can remember what the weather was like, what happened before or after the shot, sometimes I can even remember what I was wearing (especially if I didn't dress warm enough.) I remember with the first photo at the steroids hearings, I was shooting for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and I should have been right in front of McGwire at the beginning of the hearing but instead I was at the complete opposite end of the panel, with José Canseco right in front of me, with his bloodshot eyes and his lawyer that he must have met in the gym because they were both unnaturally muscular. And I remember as I was waiting in the hallway outside the room to be let in, (we were waiting for a LONG time and we would get yelled at if we sat on the floor, but there was a nice woman photographer who offered me apple slices that she had brought) who walks right past me but Shaun, a friend of mine from HIGH SCHOOL, who was a huge baseball fan and was trying to sneak a peak at his favorite baseball stars. And I remember I was wearing a blue sweater, but I only remember that because I saw myself countless times on TV whenever CNN aired their footage of the hearings. And of course I remember McGwire's line that he must have repeated several times, "I'm not here to talk about the past...."

And I don't even have to look at the caption information of the casket photo to tell you that the family was from Londonderry, NH, and that the woman who's crying at the casket was 5 or 6 when her father disappeared during the Vietnam war. I remember the BBC reporter who was there too, who wanted one of my pictures afterwards and I had no idea what to charge him so I called Prof. Southwick in a half-panic. I remember before the funeral service talking to members of Rolling Thunder, one of them had his 5 year old daughter with him, and she was wearing a tiny little leather vest made just for her. I remember a Marine was in the parking lot with us with a horse, and the little girl went up to it and the Marine said the horse had blond hair and blue eyes just like her.

I don't remember all this just because it was at Arlington cemetery or it was the steroids hearings. I remember almost every circumstance under which I shot a photo.. I remember if I was in a hurry, if the subject was nice, if it was awkward, if there were any complaints about the photo, if there was a long wait, even if it was hard to tone.

All this means only one thing: I'll make a great star witness one day....


Top 9 things no photojournalist EVER wants to hear

The other day I had an assignment to shoot Eugene Driscoll and Jodie Mozdzer, who work for the Valley Independent Sentinel in Ansonia. This was weird because a) they were another news organization and b) I know both of them pretty well... I'm accustomed to shooting strangers. Anyway, upon hearing that I was assigned to it, Eugene, who's wife Autumn is a good friend of mine and a photographer for the Connecticut Post, sent me this message, as a joke, which brought back memories of the most difficult photo assignments I've ever had to shoot:

1. I trust you'll be e-mailing the photos immediately after we shoot?
2. I want the photo of me taken in front of my computer, over my shoulder, as I look at the computer screen, because the story involves computers.
3. I trust I will have final say over what photo you use
4. ...You have 5 minutes to shoot -- as I am a big deal and extremely busy.
5. All wrinkles, skin blemishes will be either be Photoshopped out -- or I trust you'll be using a soft lens, such as the one usually reserved for Cybil Sheppard.
6. I have about 15 people I want included in the photo. We will stand together, shoulder to shoulder.
7. You'll have to figure out how to marry demands 2 and 6.
8. Breaking news will not, I repeat, not interrupt or cancel my photo shoot.

IDEA: Ribbon-cutting/ground breaking WITH a fake check presentation.



I guess I just like shooting artists

Louise King, with her dog Toad at her Washington home where she builds her mud ponies and soot monoprints, will have her work on view at the Gunn Memorial Library in Washington beginning Dec. 12.