I’ve a slightly long story about an AP photo stringer assigned to shoot a standalone feature photo of windy weather on the streets of downtown Columbus.
This was quite a while ago when newspapers ran more feature photos and The AP supplied an ample stream of standalone photos for newspaper editors to use for filler on open pages or to squirrel away for the day when the paper needed to fill the news hole, usually on the same day the food advertisements ran or the Sunday paper.
Some standalones could be held because they weren’t tied directly to a news event that would be too old to use in several days. The usual fare for this type of photo were kids, animals, sunsets, weather, or just plain silly moments.
The stringer’s assignment was to find a nice feature photo of someone being affected by the strong winds bringing a storm into central Ohio. Didn’t need something spectacular although that was always the underlying and unspoken goal of any photo shoot.
“Shoot for the front page.”
After about an hour the stringer returned explaining that it was windy, but he couldn’t find a good photo. Not even a photo that might have played on an interior page. He’d failed, and was embarrassed.
To shorten the story all you need to know is I went to almost the same location from where the stringer had just left. I spent less than five minutes and returned with a photo of someone using a parking meter to prevent themselves from being blown into the street.
Now the stringer was even more embarrassed , and I didn’t let him forget that I’d sent him out on a simple photo assignment where he’d spent more than an hour and failed.
I’d spent five minutes and shot a photo that played in every major daily in the state and several out of state dailies.
I’ve always said that I’m very luck finding more than ordinary photos in ordinary events. Today was no different. My trip to Uptown Westerville was supposed to be brief. Just long enough to check on my photos at the Ohio Art Market before traveling to St. Paul Church for another photo for the 40 Days of Lent series.
It was unusual to see several unoccupied parking spots on State when I realized they were empty because a construction van had just pulled into one of the three and had cleared the orange cones from the other two. The van belonged to a sign company which would be using a bucket arm for a painter to finish the new sign over Amish Originals Furniture Company.
It was a great opportunity for a standalone feature photo depending upon how the arm would be positioned and what part of the sign was going to be touched up. Shot outside first as he painted a lower section. When he began to move the arm higher to position it so he could paint the top of the sign I knew I’d have to run to the rear of the recently redecorated store and then to the front to have enough time to move furniture so I’d have to open a window, thrust my camera out and up as far and high as my short arms would reach for a photo. There was enough room to lean out the window, but it was just low enough that I would still have to stretch in a very uncomfortable position and get no higher than my outstretched arm would reach.
Still, in about five minutes including running through the store, I got a different angle of Uptown Westerville. Using luck and that unusual ability I have to discover these simple moments.
At right is the new stained glass window in the front of the church. Will have to wait until they change the lighting behind it or carry a strobe and remote to shoot it properly lit. It is slightly distorted because it is so high on the wall and I a l;arge hanging light makes it impossible to shoot without standing almost directly underneath it.