Keeping it in perspective

December 7, 2012 

It's easy to be cynical in this job. While I'm sure the vast majority of our readers are smart, informed and productive citizens of our community, the rabble-rousing of the vapid and vocal minority has a way of sticking out in your memory. Criticisms come fast and cheap and if you believed everybody, we here at the Herald are too liberal, too conservative, too religious, too focused on bad news and filled with too many fluffy feature stories.

All this is happening as our workloads increase while compensation decreases.

The job also has a way of balancing this negativity out, and while flying around in hot air balloons and helicopters is certainly a fun perk, the best part of my gig is interacting with such a wide range of wonderful people.

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet a simply inspirational man. Josh Pearson manages to see his glass as half full despite terminal brain cancer. As a patient at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, he also finds the strength to put his skills to work, volunteering his time to help with projects at the center. Even more amazing was that he was looking for more people to help with his handyman skills in the community.

The reason I was at his house on Saturday was because the cancer center had contacted Senske Lawn & Tree Care in Kennewick to deck out the Pearsons' home in Christmas decor as a way to help repay Josh's kindness. He showed me this firsthand, inviting me into his home as he flipped strawberry pancakes for his son Joey and candidly filling me in on his situation.

This news tip came in late on Friday, and I didn't think to stop into the office early to plug his name into our archive, but as multi-hat-wearing newsman Andy Perdue quickly remembered after I returned to the newsroom, he had featured Josh as part of the Faces of Cancer series last October.

As further proof of Josh's kindness, he didn't rebuff my questions with derision, asking me why I didn't know the facts detailed in our previous story about him.

It was too much information to cram into a cutline -- even one of my epically long ones. The early Saturday shift meant I was the only one covering this little feature, so I decided pretty quickly that I would write a short story. You can read more about his amazing attitude here.

That also meant staying inside and chatting with Josh for a while, missing a lot of holiday light installation. I figured that was a decent gamble since I had a fall back already,

and shots of people putting up Christmas decorations aren't the most exciting:

This attempt at clever framing falls short,

and Josh thanking Senske Supervisor Jack Manis doesn't have enough of the Christmas decorating going on:

Luckily, Joey was out playing in the front yard and running through a nice pocket of light. I ended up with some decent layers in this shot:

In this case, what I wrote had more impact, however. There's nothing special about this shot and Josh's compassion and positive outlook wouldn't come through in photos I had time to make that Saturday.

What really matters was that Josh was kind enough to share his story twice with us. I know it made me think about how I live my own life and how I would face such a dire prognosis. I don't know that I would be able to emulate him in a similar situation, but I do know seeing him remain upbeat certainly puts my gripes into perspective. The story ended up being one of the most-read online that day, so here's hoping Josh's spirit touched a few others as well.

Speaking of dire...

The biggest news in photojournalism this week was the New York Post's front-page scandal after they ran R. Umar Abbasi's photo of Ki Suk Han moments before being crushed by a subway. There was instant reaction all over the interwebs, but the best take I read was on Gawker, which polled some big names in the biz for their opinions.

PBS has a cool feature of past fads in photo manipulation. Its a fun gallery to look through and even more fun to imagine the strange images that may have hung on somebody's wall.

The Northwest News Network has an interesting story about the current state of the white supremacist movement in Idaho. It features photos and an interview with Matt Mills McKnight, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at last year's Geekfest conference. I only bring that up because Geekfest is organized by A Photo A Day's Melissa Lyttle and it was cool to see Matt's project develop over the listserv months ago before seeing it in published form now.

If you're in need of photo inspiration and education, check out Photoshelter's rundown of the best photo blog posts of 2012.

And if you're in need of photo envy and gear porn, check out this dream studio over at Petapixel.

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