Last Minute Shopping

July 23, 2009 

Back in May, we ran a story about how ethnic minorities make up the majority of the populations in Franklin and Adams counties.

We were short on local art (photos) after the daily news meeting, so I was sent out to make a photo that could accompany this story.

The quick and dirty way to visually represent a group's impact on a community is economic, and since I was heading out of the office around 3 p.m. when my shift ended at 6 p.m. it was the easiest angle to take.

This assignment was anything but easy, however.

I headed to downtown Pasco, but it was about as busy as you’d expect on a Wednesday afternoon. I wanted something distinctively Hispanic without being too stereotypical and wandered a bit before heading into the SuperMex grocery store.

Often, my approach when seeking permission to photograph people who aren't directly related to the story is to give them a quick friendly pitch boiling down my mission to its most basic level. But in this case, that would have been:

Hi! I need a photo of Hispanic people doing stuff for a census story in the Tri-City Herald. Do you mind?

That clearly wouldn't do. So I summarized the story the best I could, but, as I expected and experienced before, people usually aren't too keen about being photographed while shopping. As a side note, women in sweat pants are a guaranteed rejection. After repeating my spiel a few times, I unconsciously sped it up to something like:

Hi!MyNameIsKaiAndIAmAPhotographerForTheTri-CityHeraldAndWe’reDoingAStoryAboutHow FranklinAndAdamsCountiesHaveMinoritiesAsTheMajorityOfThePopulation.DoYouMindIfIGet SomeShotsOfYouShopping?

Finally, I found a family who was willing to let me follow them around the store, but of course the kid was a little too eager to ruin my shots:

I got one I liked:

and thought the Spanish language signs for very recognizable items went well with the story. Still, I figured I might as well photograph the rest of their shopping trip, but didn't get anything worth sharing. I walked outside with them to get names and found out that none of them even lived in Franklin County. It’s my fault for not checking first, but it was still frustrating.

I went back in, but the store was pretty empty. After getting rejected a couple more times, I decided it was time to just get a photo of somebody restocking shelves or something — which I had shot the week prior at Fiesta Foods for a business story.

After some difficulty between my terrible Spanish and worker Ivan Mora's bad English, manager Juan Bermudez was helpful and I got my shot:

It wasn't quite what I was hoping for, but it worked.

~~~~~

kyau@tricityherald.com
(509) 585-7205
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