December 13, 2013 

When I tell people what I do for a living, many of them marvel at how fun and exciting it must be. Sometimes it really is. In the last year, I've flown in a stunt plane, hitchhiked on and along the Columbia River, met an inspirational one-handed basketball player and hung out with alpacas.

Even on less fun days, variety keeps things interesting. One particularly varied Saturday a few years ago found me crouching through a flooded crawlspace,

photographing a World War II veteran,

meeting the family of two teenagers killed the night before in a car crash,

and covering the Pasco High girls soccer team winning the district championship:

But if variety is the spice of life, Tuesday, Dec. 10, was whatever garbage flavoring they put on Lay's Chicken and Waffle chips.

It started with a trip out to the Pasco Sanitary Landfill to see what was up with the underground fire. It turns out, not much visually, as they had already completed most of the work being done to smother the smolder and repair soil cracks. A friendly engineer filled me in on some basic information so I could understand what I was seeing, which wasn't much. I was not allowed on the property, though, and a barb wire fence kept me about 100 yards away.

Not wanting a bunch of fence and other crap in my way, I backed the company Subaru Outback up against the fence and climbed on the roof to get this "action" shot:

I actually found myself lamenting that unavoidable fence in the lower right, as if its exclusion would have made this photo appreciably better.

I checked in with the city desk, womanned by Behind the Fold editor Kristina Lord, who said that we could use a CLO (a "cutline only" photo also known as wild art). It was cold and pretty boring out as I cruised back toward the office. I swung by the Pasco Boat Basin and saw a family hanging out in the park portion. It didn't seem too exciting, but I figured getting something quickly was better than driving endlessly for a photo that likely wouldn't run very large.

As I approached, it looked like the little girl was playing in the leaves. I started thinking of cheeky cutlines I could write about how winter temperatures weren't dissuading this kid from clinging onto fall. It turns out that Noé Valenzuela and Berenice Salgado were spending some family time with their kids Tania, 5, and Fernando Valenzuela-Salgado, 4, as Valenzuela took his lunch break. As usual, the kids keyed in on me as I talked to their parents. Fernando was especially camera aware:

Tania went back to sorting sticks after a few minutes, right before they left:

It's not a great shot, but kind of a quirky little-kid-in-her-own-world moment. I liked it enough to call off the hunt in preparation for the rest of the night. I had a couple sports assignments and decided to head out and finish my Christmas lights photos — an assignment I loathe every year.

I already wrote at length about why in the link above, but if you skipped it, the main reason I hate it is how long it takes to produce really boring photos. The one saving grace of working in the cold darkness without much payoff is how excited most homeowners are to see their displays featured:

Next up was the Americans hosting Seattle for hockey. With a 7 p.m. start time, which means the puck doesn't drop until 7:10 because of promotions and the national anthem, I could only stay for half of the first period since I had a 7:30 p.m. basketball game at Tri-Cities Prep. Reading via Twitter that the hockey game ended up being pretty physical, I went with this lame mid-ice collision for print:

The excitement of the small-private-school showdown between Liberty Christian and Tri-Cities Prep was far from biblical, however, as Prep jumped out to an early lead it never relinquished en route to a 61-35 victory. The most energetic sequence came as Liberty Christian's Isaiah Ojeda blocked Prep's Jorge Guajardo from behind,

and the ensuing reaction from the bench and student section:

The barely newspaper-sharp photo of the block would have pissed me off more if I had actually framed it well or if Liberty Christian had won and it made sense to run that photo. While it's true that only a poor craftsman blames his tools, I haven't had much luck pairing the Canon 7D with our old 200/1.8, and either need to figure out how to make them work better together or avoid the combination in the future.

Instead, I went with this rebound photo,

and a shot of Prep's Brady Ver Steeg draining a jumper:

Thrilling stuff.

This isn't meant to be a tale of woe. I know many people have much tougher, more boring and less rewarding jobs. I even get to photograph them doing those jobs sometimes. But when I try to temper the glorious illusion that making photos for a living is a non-stop thrill, I often get the sense that people don't believe me.

Sometimes, though, it's really not that fun.

Speaking of fun...

What a finish by Chiawana to win the school's first state football championship. Last week, I lamented the fact that we had a stringer cover the game instead of a staffer. While longtime Herald stringer Patrick Hagerty did a great job covering it (with some extra photos provided by the Tacoma News Tribune's Lui Kit Wong and the AP's John Froschauer), it still hurt not to witness the dramatic finish firsthand. You can read Craig Craker's gripping breakdown of how the Riverhawks scored two touchdowns in the last minute, catch Paul Valencia's Day After Report perspective at The Columbian, or watch the game online.

In other football fun, Kyle Grantham turned off the autofocus as a blizzard obscured Sunday's game between the Lions and the Eagles.

You've probably heard of the fallout after University of Oregon football players organized a snowball fight at my alma mater. The Oregon Emerald learned a few lessons from their video going viral.

That controversial photo of President Obama's selfie at Mandela's memorial appears to have been taken out of context. Read photographer Roberto Schmidt's account of how it went down.

Mike Davis has an interesting article about the static between news organizations and the White House, with many criticizing the Obama administrations restrictive photo policies and media outlets' reliance on handout photos.

But how many photographers are too many? Kishor Krishnamoorthi has a cringe-worthy look at how photo safaris take the magic out of once-remarkable events.

And since all those segued so incredibly well, let's have some fun and take a peek at The Onion's Top Photos of the year.

(509) 585-7205
Click here to subscribe to the RSS Feed.
Become a fan of Behind the Fold on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service