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What are Cool/Crazy/Etc. Assignments You've Had? PART II
Jonathan Nimerfroh, Photographer
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 11:50 AM on 07.09.08
->> Learing how to fly.

First the reporter got a lesson. then me... photos were taken while the reportor was flying.. haha
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Rodrigo Pena, Photographer
Palm Desert | CA | USA | Posted: 1:06 PM on 07.09.08
->> Taking a point and shoot camera in a water proof housing down "Pacific Spin" a new water feature at Knott's Soak City water park in Palm Springs, Ca. Not only was the ride fun, but the video was hilarious.
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Dave Doonan, Photographer
Kingston | TN | USA | Posted: 3:30 PM on 07.09.08
->> Thursday I got the opportunity to ride with a drag boat racer on Watts Bar Lake in East Tennessee. There were drag boat races for the fourth and they wanted publicity. They gave me a life jacket, I got in and we raced on the water at over 95 MPH!! What A Rush! But thinking afterward, I was in that boat with no helmet, no safety equipment and no seat belt! if we would have wrecked, I would have skipped along the water at 95 and with my camera strap around my neck, if it would have caught the water just right while skipping along, it would have ripped my head off. I'd do it again!
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Dave Doonan, Photographer
Kingston | TN | USA | Posted: 3:55 PM on 07.09.08
->> I also forgot...
I got to meet Alice Cooper at a concert in Knoxville. We did a story on a guy from Kingston who worked security for one of Cooper's shows in the 70's He got a sweater that Cooper threw down into the pit during his song "I'm 18." The sweater (which was sewn with the number 18 on it) was thought to be one Cooper wore during the encore, unfortunately after verification by Cooper, it was not. But still met him and have a blurry photo of me with him.
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Bob Ford, Photographer
Lehighton | Pa | USA | Posted: 5:03 PM on 07.09.08
->> Jonathan, we did a story on a company offering flight lesson at our paper, too. The reporter got a lesson and I shot from the back seat. I wouldn't list it as one of my favorite assignments though...I filled the barf bag.
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Ben Stewart, Student/Intern
Minneapolis | MN | USA | Posted: 3:39 PM on 07.17.08
->> In my one year of receiving assignments..

Dragon Festival in St Paul. TONS of food (keeping in mind that I was shooting for the festival itself and wasn't actually a part of a media outlet), performances, and best of all, dragon boats.

Dragon Boats are long canoes painted like dragons with teams racing down the lake. Its intensely competitive, as one boat leader said before they took off "When we start, every oar on this boat better be digging into mud") .

Anywho, I was able to ride not a speedboat, but a fairly fast boat, that could get as close to the competitors as we wanted to go so long as our wake didn't alter the course of the dragon boats.

Pretty fun stuff.
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Steven E. Frischling, Photographer
Live HVN : Work SFO-NYC | | | Posted: 8:46 PM on 07.17.08
->> In the last year I have had two.

1) Corporate gig for an around the world 1.5x in 4 days. I was limited to a single legal carry on bag for everything I'd bring with me (bodies, batteries, lenses,chargers, computer, clothing....and clothes take up a lot of space). Shot my jobs in 5 countries, on three continents, crossed the Pacific twice, Atlantic once, overflew all over Europe/Asia once.....and I didn't even pack a flash :0)

2) In March in 3.5 days I shot four jobs, three industrial architecture jobs for one client, and a bridal session for a wedding client, in four countries, on three continents. I left Wednesday morning and was home for a late lunch/early dinner on Saturday......did it all in a single North Face Surge backpack and a compact belt/pouch kit, while packing for 35f/1.5c in Frankfurt on Thursday and 90f/32c in Hong Kong on Friday.........damn that was fun!
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Tom Weis, Photographer
Brooklyn | NY | United States | Posted: 8:55 PM on 07.17.08
->> This wasn't really an assignment, rather spot news.
I once photographed a dead body being recovered from the St. Joseph River in South Bend, IN. It was a hot summer day, the mosquitoes were out in full force, and I was hip-deep in mud along the river bank. The body had been there for awhile and was terribly bloated. Funny I don't remember anything about the smell. Thankfully I didn't drop my camera (I think a Nikon 8008s or N90s) in the mud. When I got back to the road a local resident offered me his garden hose so I could clean myself off.
According to police, the victim had either jumped or fallen from a train trestle upstream.
Of course the paper didn't run the shot of the body being carried out of the muck - they ran one of the poor soul on a gurney covered with a white sheet.
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 10:23 PM on 07.17.08
->> I'm again shooting the wienermobile!

They're having a a wiener roast on the beach where they're inviting the public to bring their wiener dogs.

So ridiculous, but sooo awesome!
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Ceasar Maragni, Photographer
Marion | IL | USA | Posted: 7:36 PM on 07.18.08
->> No doubt the coolest and craziest assignment I ever had was one that I passed on. Let me explain. At the time, the mid 1980's, I was staff photographer for a small town daily in southern Illinois and my Managing Editor asked me if I'd like to spend the day going to the metro-east area of St. Louis with our local Ford dealer and photograph Winston Cup champion Bill Elliot at the track. The kicker was that the local dealer had won some sort of national contest and he and the journalist of his choice would take turns flying around the racetrack full-tilt in a race car with Elliot.

At the time, 1985, Elliott had earned 11 wins and 11 poles out of 28 races and also won the first Winston Million in the Southern 500 at Darlington. This earned him the nickname "Million Dollar Bill", and "Awesome Bill From Dawsonville." He won the Daytona 500, the Winston 500 at Talladega and the Southern 500 to earn the Winston Million. This led to him becoming the first NASCAR driver to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

As such things often turn out, my son, our only child, had a ballgame later that afternoon and I passed on the invitation to roar around the track with Elliot to attend his game instead.

Now don't get me wrong, I've never regretted my decision of choosing my son's game over an afternoon with Elliot. But I must admit that through the years, I've often thought about what that ride might have been like. Being a big baseball fan, it was kind of like passing on a chance to take a turn at bat against Dwight Gooden or Nolan Ryan.

I can't even remember how my son did on the field that day.

Riding around a NASCAR track all out with a championship driver at the wheel - probably pretty awesome.

An afternoon watching your son play baseball - priceless!
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Rob Kerr, Photographer
Bend | OR | US | Posted: 9:40 PM on 07.18.08
->> I have individual assignments that sometimes I reply with, but for this thread, what comes to mind was a combination.

On one Saturday several years ago I went on a gorgeous sunrise hot-air balloon flight over a couple of hours up to 6K feet above Bend, Ore. By 10 am I was in a lava cave with spelunkers 200 feet below Bend and I ended the afternoon with a double-header baseball game in 80F weather eating peanuts and sipping some cold H20. Each assignment was unique, and together a great combination. It was like combining ingredients/dishes into a good meal.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 6:23 AM on 07.19.08
->> This pales in comparison to the exploits of "Fish," but a couple of years ago I flew on one of our college's planes to a new campus opening. But the kicker was the flight itinerary:

- Leave Roanoke, VA for Lexington, KY. Pick up bank representative to bring her to opening.
- Lexington to Indianapolis. Spend a couple of hours at opening. Get photos of ceremony as well as lots of facility shots.
- Indianapolis back to Lexington. After picking up our marketing director in Indy, bring banker back to Lexington.
- Lexington to Nashville, TN. Went to retrieve our general counsel who was in TN on an unrelated matter.
- Nashville back to Roanoke for beautiful night landing.

We had fabulous flying weather, and the best shots of the trip were my aerial photos. Flying at 7,000-11,000 feet gives you a much more exciting perspective than flying commercial at 26,000-40,000 feet. Not to mention no airport security hassles, carry-on restrictions, or rental-car run-around (at most FBOs your car is less than 100 yards from where you step off the plane). The whole trip our president was at the controls of the plane, too.

Another simpler assignment, but still unique, was when I was at another school. They wanted to create an award statuette based on a real statue, so I was asked to get into a hydraulic lift and take photos of the statue from every angle. Always wanted to ride around in one of those things...
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Jim Urquhart, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 9:35 AM on 07.19.08
->> Recently I was given the opportunity to spend a couple days on a fly fishing trip with a group of disabled veterans. It was a great experience watching these guys get a chance to escape some of their problems and just be themselves and fish.
link to multimedia--

I also typically get several ski assignments a year, one of my favorites gave me a chance to go heli-skiing as part of an avalanche safety class.

Last summer was really crazy here, much of it was spent chasing wildfires. One such fire became very challenging after a federal type one team was sent in, which resulted in an immediate drop in access to the fire fighting efforts unless you were on a "media tour." These "media tours" keep you away from any real story telling images and your competition has the exact same images. After one such "tour" my reporter and I were both frustrated with having the same stuff everyone else had ... so we navigated our way past a couple road blocks into area closed off to the public and found an image and story no one else had. Photo is at bottom of page on link---
But one the craziest things to happen on an assignment happened nearly a year ago during the beginning stages of the Crandal Canyon mine disaster. In the early stages of the coverage my reporter and I were assigned to stay at the command center/road block for an overnight shift just in case any new information was released ... which we knew wouldn't. Our competing paper, the Associated Press, Reuters, all the wires and many of the bigger papers like the LA Times and all the television news outlets like, CNN and MSNBC were also all there at the command post ... so once again, if we stayed there, we had the exact thing everyone else had.
Well, we got online and searched google earth for images of the terrain. We quickly realized the mine was completely surrounded by national forest. You can easily set up a road block on a road, but you can't set-up a road block around hundreds of square miles of public lands. At about 2AM we called and woke up our editors and to let them know we were leaving the command post and were going to try to find something new. Our plan was to hike over a mountain ridge and through the forest in the dark of night. The route we were taking was only about five miles, but opted to do it without any lights (we didn't want to be seen on the mountain), we had no trail so we had to bushwhack through the vegetation, wade across a frigid mountain river and climb 2,500 feet up, over and down a ridge to get to the mine.
We finally arrived at the mine around 8AM. I discreetly shot photos of the operation from the tree line but we needed to try to get a better angle and after making it to the mine, it would be foolish not to try to get a quote.
As soon as we came out of the trees we were seen and the sheriff deputies were summoned to detain us.
As the sheriff deputy was racing up the road to get us I shot as many photos as fast as I could of the mine.
We were quickly chewed out and "escorted" off the mountain. During the ride down a deputy confirmed it was legal to hike to the mine, but we were being taken down because we came out of the national forest.
We were so thrashed after our night on the mountain that many of the media confused my reporter as a miner after we were dropped off at the command center.
We quickly filed what we had and my photos went out on the wire and spread like a case of pink eye. No, they weren't that compelling, but they ran everywhere because they were the first photos of the mine operation taken from the ground.
It was a horrible tragedy and I feel for all those involved.
We did it because it gave the general public a better understanding of what was taking place on the mountain. It is very hard to describe or understand something unless you see it.
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Jim Donnelly, Photographer
Coral Springs | Fl | USA | Posted: 2:33 AM on 07.23.08
->> Jonathan, this is long, but you asked... so here goes...

Mission of Mercy- Found myself curled up with my reporter in the back of a freezing cold DC-8 cargo plane with 7 doctors and nurses flying into Graz, Austria and then smuggling 2 million dollars worth of medical supplies into former Yugoslavia taking back roads at night and getting stopped 18 times at gun point. The Serbians had been stealing all of the medical supplies from the Croatians gearing up for the upcoming war.

The black market stole one of our trucks... It was intense.

At one point I got out of the truck to go shoot a Croatian Flag on a mountain side and heard someone yelling at me. I turned around to find a bazooka and a machine gun pointed at my head. I got back in the vehicle and we hauled butt. We stopped at a cafe a few miles away to get some breakfast and what seemed like the whole Croatian Army converged on the place. It was their morning meeting place. Turns out the mountain side was booby trapped with mines and they just didn't want me blowing up!

When we got to where we were delivering the medical supplies, I helped this Monk carry some boxes down into what was a bomb shelter. When he said "Thanks" in English he blew my mind. Turns out he use to be an investment banker on Wall Street. Even wilder was the fact that his parents lived less than a mile from my home in West Palm. Small World!

We tried to leave the morning the war broke out at Sarajevo airport but we were held at gunpoint by the Serbians for four hours. I decided I would try to shoot from the bus and the Serbians freaked! They charged the bus with their machine guns and told me in no uncertain terms to stop. Then they saw the White House credentials on my gear (the wife made me mount them on my gear just in case and I still haven't lived that down 17 years later). The Serbian soldiers ran off and told their boss about my credentials with the Presidential seal on them. Within minutes our Croatian bus driver was quickly THROWN back on the bus (He had been dragged out by his hair at gun point)and we were told to find another way out of the country. That journey is a book in itself...

This bus driver and I had become friends while I was on this assignment.. After breaking bread with his family and drinking (a lot of) his 180 proof alcohol he dressed me in his Croatian Army Uniform and we went into his back yard and fired off his machine guns. The sad part was, we could hear lots of heavy gun fire off in the distance.
He took me up into the mountains where families relocated to during WW2 and never came down. I met a 90 year old lady that had only been off the mountain maybe 5 times in her life! All this and the guy didn't speak a word of English!

You just never know where the camera in your hand is going to take you or the memories it will create for you...
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Matthew Apgar, Photographer, Student/Intern
Bridgewater | NJ | USA | Posted: 3:25 AM on 07.23.08
->> I once had to cover the Republican National Convention in NYC. When Arnold was up giving his speech, everyone was standing up and I, being only 5'6", couldn't see anything but hair in the crowd. I stood on a folding chair to shoot just above the crowd, which was jam-packed on the floor, and was knocked off in a flailing, tumbling, completely ungraceful manner upon his first witticism. Though I don't know if any of the many media outlets caught this, it made for some wonderful reactions during the career day presentations I made to local children!
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Kirby Yau, Photographer, Assistant
San Diego | CA | USA | Posted: 2:12 PM on 07.24.08
->> I was with an off duty firefighter in last year's Wildfires in San Diego County.

We came up to neighborhood in which heavy smoke was coming out of the backyard of the house. With firefighters stretched thin, we went back to investigate and discovered the spa to be on fire and spreading quickly to the house it was connected to.

We jumped into action and grabbed hoses and after ten minutes we doused the flames.

Don't try this if you don't have a firefighter with you or you don't have protective gear.

Most rewarding and most sad assignment I've been on.
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Brian Jackson, Photographer, Photo Editor
San Carlos | CA | USA | Posted: 5:12 PM on 07.24.08
->> Shot the Hells Angles at a wedding last month. The groom and his 2 brothers are members and about 40 of their guests, all sporting their best vest (excuse me...rips) :) Really nice guys BTW.
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Jose Carlos Fajardo, Photographer
Walnut Creek | CA | U.S.A. | Posted: 5:59 PM on 07.24.08
->> I shot a pet of the week. so there!
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Joshua Sy, Student/Intern
Los Angeles | CA | USA | Posted: 10:36 AM on 07.25.08
->> I'm still in college (not really an excuse so much as a qualifier), so my stories are proportionately down-to-earth:

- Woke up one Sunday to my college paper's photo editor calling me to get a pic of pigeons attacking food at the school cafeteria. I had more equipment than brains back then, so I brought EVERYTHING (all my gear, lighting kit, camo outfit in case I had to hide behind a bush while waiting for the birds to come). Sure enough, the cafeteria wouldn't let me in to shoot, so I snuck in through the back (can't say how, but let's just say that the faculty masters in the attached dorm were sympathetic to my cause). I put my gear down, and have shot about 6 pictures (freaking out other college students in the process) when the manager comes out, and I run away in a panic, leaving all my gear behind. I come back in to get my stuff, only to find that she's called campus police on me. I managed to get all my stuff back and walked away, but they put me on probation for the next semester (no problem, since I keep myself out of trouble anyway). It's nice to know that I have a longer record with campus police than the guys who get wasted on the Row every week and get ignored by the cops, though.

- Covered an anti-gay (anti-homosexual? Not sure what the proper term is) protest, where about 100 people had come out to protest the presence of the (two) protesters on campus. Got a photo of 2 counter-protesters kissing, and yes, they were the same sex.

- In Hong Kong a few weeks ago, I was hanging around the mall my hotel was attached to when I came across the release party for the 3G Iphone in the SAR. I figured it was worth a try to get into the press box, so I waved my camera at them, handed out a business card, got a press pass and dove into the mob surrounding the first guy to (officially) get the Iphone in the SAR. Didn't shoot too seriously (I was with family, and I didn't want them to wait around for me too long) but it was a nice souvenier from the day.

Something I've realized in my 2 years of doing this is that a lot of things I get to do as a photographer at a major university(hanging out at the sidelines of big sports events, being out and about travelling, getting the straight story out of both sides at protests, getting special seats and photo permissions at concerts) are pretty routine for us photogs, but they're things that a lot of people just won't get to do in their lives, ever. I'm lucky to have had the chance to do this in college, but wish it was more feasible to do this as a profession.
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Thread Title: What are Cool/Crazy/Etc. Assignments You've Had? PART II
Thread Started By: Jonathan Nimerfroh
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