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I’m not a portrait photographer. I’m not a sports photographer. I’m not a news photographer, nor am I a feature photographer.
I’m an everything photographer.
And last week was one of those work weeks where I ended up shooting basically every kind of photo that can be made for a news company.
Coming off the adrenaline high of Masters is always rough when you settle back to work to find your biggest assignment that day is to cover a school meeting. (My first assignment last Wednesday was actually Disc Golf. But that doesn’t really count, because personally, I don’t think Disc Golf should be a thing.)
The meeting turned into one of the most frustrating assignments I’ve ever covered. It was a public meeting held in a public school concerning information about a student having a confirmed case of Tuberculosis and one person with the state health department refused to be photographed, regardless of her leading said meeting.
It would’ve been one thing if she came up to me beforehand and said something about being photographed. I would have calmly explained my rights to take her picture given the nature of the time, place and information she was sharing. But instead of following any sort of courtesy, I was harassed in front of hundreds of parents by a woman with a microphone, as she brought the meeting to a halt saying “DO NOT TAKE MY PICTURE!”
Remember back in grade school whenever the secretary beeped into your classroom over the intercom, asking for you to come to the principal’s office? And then the room basically exploded into hushed murmurs and whispers as you slowly get up and walk away, knowing you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong?
Imagine that feeling, and now multiply it by 500.
It was awful, but I kept my cool and walked to the back of the room. I informed my bosses of her behavior and was instructed to photograph her anyway, through the crowd. I made two frames before a stranger stood in front of my camera. I learned he was teacher at the school, instructed to stand in my way by his principal. I said nothing to the man as he kept blocking each step I took to get around him.
Sure, I considered motor driving in his face and screaming about the first amendment. I was furious with these people who were interfering with my job. At a school meeting. The kind of assignment I’ve had at least 100 times. Where usually, no one speaks to me until I speak to them.
I didn’t rashly respond to anyone that night because I knew the security would’ve physically removed me from the gym. I didn’t yell, kick and scream because even though I was being rudely handled, I still needed a picture for 1A. And I didn’t have it yet.
So, I stayed for the entire meeting. I spoke with parents who mostly refused to be photographed as well (thanks to the woman announcing me to the room. I was clearly evil working for more evil) but I made the art I needed. I did my job.
Because I will always do my job.
The man who stood in my way at the beginning of the saga came over to speak with me once parents had started leaving. He thanked me for doing as he said, and this is where I cracked a little.
I stood as tall as I can (not very), with my shoulders back and my eyes locked on his. As serious as I’ve ever been, and as angry as I’ve ever been, I told him he was one of the rudest people I’ve met. I said he had no business interfering with my work, how he was one of the most unprofessional people I’ve come across and that his behavior was inappropriate.
Flustered, he tried to take up for the woman, trying to sound like some sort of hero. I cut him off and said he was still wasting my time and I wasn’t interested in speaking with him any longer.
I walked away.
A few parents came over as I was leaving, with words like “I don’t know how you didn’t scream or hit anyone. Whew, that was intense.” I smiled at them, and tried to offer comfort when the initial reason people were on edge was fear. Fear of their children being exposed to TB.
I shrugged with the reporter as I was loading my gear in my car. We chatted about the meeting for a few more minutes and then we both left for the newsroom.
Once in my car, alone, the emotions hit and I sobbed on the phone to my fiance. I don’t cry often, but when I get overwhelmed, crying is just how I process and he knows that now.
(remember: this is still all just one day’s worth of work)
Thursday came with a double header of high school baseball. It also came with a late night phone call to photograph a man who was struck by a car, dead in the middle of Mike Padgett highway.
There was so much blood, I had to make sure my shoes were clean before I got in my car to leave the scene.
Friday was more disc golf, in a cold, steady rain. Oh, and an Easter centerpiece at the last, rushed minute.
Saturday were two cancelled assignments (still raining) and a GOP State Senate Debate. I filed for the Chronicle and for the AP.
Sunday was a sunrise service moved indoors (rain!), a muddy 5K, and a standalone hunt for the front of our Metro section.
Masters might be over, but I think I’m more exhausted — emotionally— from this work week than last.
This is when I question my strength, my abilities to do this job and my happiness with it all. I feel too old for 25.
This being everything isn’t as fun as it used to be.
So, I’m focusing on what little time I have left here, and I’m counting.
more to come
The mornings are early.
The days run long.
The work drains me. Almost all of me.
The muscles ache.
The sweat soaks through everything.
The people smile and ask about lenses.
They also smile and ask about dinner dates.
The pins get tougher each day.
The golfers start to look the same. Except Adam Scott, because damn.
The heat makes you loopy.
The people get drunker as the light gets nicer.
But wow, that light.
The tree roots only make you trip on tournament Sunday. Three times, that day. No matter how careful you are…
The sunscreen sort of helps. My farmer’s tan could be worse.
The egg salad sandwich is still amazing.
The press center is still freezing.
The Seven, Nine and Sixteen green’s are still the favorites.
The Two green’s Holahan’s. So, we just leave it alone.
The Pro Shop is always crowded, and it’s where you go to spend April and May’s paychecks.
The old friends are still hilarious and great to be around. It’s weird how they help you recharge, just by simply being close enough to share an eye-roll with as someone rambles about anything and everything.
The new friends are just as fun, too.
The pictures are still men knocking around a tiny white ball across some green, grassy hills. It’s not very exciting until it’s all you talk about, obsess about, think about and dream about.
The fear of firing on someone’s back-swing is real and basically paralyzing.
But when the picture comes, you motor drive and pray TV cameras don’t screw your frames. They will, because they’re monsters and it’s just what they do. But that’s when you sigh and let it go.
Because when you let the not-so-important-things go, you get to laugh with amazing people.
Like these guys…
And you get to smile with some of the best ones in your life.
[photos by “Bobby Lee”]
The fellas above? They’ve helped me find me.Not just during this crazy week, but in every single photo assignment that’s come across my desk.
They know what they’ve done for me, and I’m so thankful for each of them.
My years at the Augusta Chronicle, with this team of skill and heart, have been some of the best years of my life.
It’s bittersweet to think this might be my last Masters, but I’m OK with new adventures and my moving on.
The countdown’s changed from waiting for the first week of April to waiting for the last week of August.
Technically, it’s our #lovecount .
We wish our wedding was sooner…
Because we’re cheesy and stupid and crazy about each other.
And we’re ready for our life together.
So, here’s my thank-you for another great run up and down those tee boxes, fairways and greens. I’ll remember Masters 2014 with a smile and a laugh.
Just like I will when I think about Augusta.
My heart, my home.
More to come.
(seriously, I’ll write more)
(Jordan Spieth FTW forever and ever)
(Biz, what about facebook and millionaires?)
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