Think of a newspaper, and the first thing that comes to mind is article—big blocks of text full of (hopefully) well-researched information and thoughtful inquiry. But anyone who’s turned the page in a textbook only to find two full pages of text knows the saving grace that is photography. And our section editors know it specially well.
For the past years, I’ve taken somewhere around 80 percent of the photos for The Poly. But if you think all I do for the photo section is to go to an event, take a few pictures, and leave, you are far from the truth and the struggle.
The types of photos I take fall into two categories: sports and not sports. Personally, I like shooting sports. I get to pull out the big lenses, including our 300 mm, which make me look cool and professional. I get to carry around a press pass, and best of all, I get to be right up next to all the action. Now, the struggle comes in a few parts. I can’t just yell to the players, “Hey! Do something amazing so I can leave! It’s cold!” I have to stand around and wait for a pass, shot, tackle, or whatever, to happen. And it has to be something good, because it needs to bring some action to the page when we print. Now maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, well, lots of cool things happen at sporting events, that isn’t so hard!” That’s true! But I’m kinda bad at my job sometimes. This past weekend, I missed a whole bunch of shots because I was checking my phone, observing the crowd, or daydreaming. Everyone would shout and I would see that, yes, I had missed another opportunity. Even when I was paying attention, I would miss stuff. I have the option of either relying on the autofocus, which can get confused in the heat of the moment, or trusting my highly developed reflexes to manually focus the shot. So, many good shots have been ruined because I wasn’t quick enough and ended up focusing on some guy in the background eating a hotdog.
This brings us to the other category: not sports! Most not sports events I go to are either Senate or Executive Board meetings. Sometimes there is a features show thrown in, maybe a news event that I need something for, but Senate and E-Board are consistent, and it wears on me. As I mentioned above, I’ve been doing photo for a long time now. One of the first events I started shooting was Senate. Senators tend to sit and not move around a lot while discussing business. You can see where this is going. The fact that I have to get a different, sometimes front page worthy photo of student government officials week to week is infuriating. And when I go onto Adobe Bridge to look at the images, of course the only decent ones have people staring at the camera, or making a weird face, or looking beyond bored.
So that brings us to editing. Forgot about that part, huh? I’d say it’s the most important part of my job. This is the time when I get to say things like “Wow, I’m a great photographer” and “Whoa, who let this guy handle the camera?” Also, I get to cheat using Photoshop and make it look like I’m better at photography than I actually am.
Now we’re done the photo with section, right? Nope. I would hope so, but someone, usually that annoying features editor, always tells me things like “I need a vertical image, not a horizontal one” or “this picture is way too dark, find something else.” But after that is taken care of, photo is done and can save the rest of the section editors from huge, boring blocks of text. Photo is the best section.