I'm new enough at my job to still have aspirations of greatness. It remains to be seen if I actually have the talent and persistence to make an indelible impression in photojournalists' lore, and though self-doubt and cynicism slowly seep into me, I haven't given up yet.
A major part of this quest is an attempt to differentiate myself from the scores of very talented shooters that are growing in number every day. My strength as a photojournalist lies in my interpersonal skills and my few successes in shooting something fresh are either a result of access or my attraction to the absurd.
I was recently tasked with covering a collision involving two semi trucks outside Eltopia, one of which was fully engulfed in flames. As I approached the scene, I grabbed a quick C.Y.A. in case I pushed my luck too quickly and got kicked out of there.
The fire was done by the time I made the 30 mile trip around backed-up traffic, so emergency crews were very generous with access:
and this shot ended up running in the paper. It’s a fine, straightforward, I-wasn’t-able-to-get-there-earlier spot news photo, and the semi is plenty wrecked. Driver Lawrence Lamberson, 48, of Boise, was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with burns to his arm and face as a result of the crash.
After snagging that photo, I started looking around for something a more creative angle, the best of which included a couple of the numerous spectators and a Franklin County firefighter making his way to the back of the truck:
It was an attempt at what I like to think of as the photo equivalent of Hemingway's six-word story, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn" — a photo so beautifully simple in its detail that it tells a story much larger than the scope of its focal length.
A fantastic recent example is former Virginian-Pilot photographer Rich-Joseph Facun's controversial shot of a woman’s hot pink heels as she waited for her husband to return from a seven-month deployment.
I don’t have to tell you that my photo doesn't work on that level.
Perhaps the obvious wide-angle shot works best in a situation like this, but I won't ever reach the level I aspire to if I don't keep trying. We’ve all got a million bad photos we need to get out of the way, and with only four serious years of shooting under my belt, I'm guessing I've got at least a few thousand more.