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What drives me crazy on assignments
Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 10:40 AM on 11.07.13
->> Hey gang, I wanted to share this and perhaps get feedback on some of the things we deal with everyday while shooting assignments.

This is geared toward us folks who still have shooting jobs at daily papers. I feel lucky I'm still working. Here goes ...

I recently shot an assignment where a high schooler's car was searched in the student parking lot because it was reported the student had marijuana in the car. Apparently students who drive to school must submit to searches as part of the agreement to drive to and park on school property while in class.

The principal goes to the car and finds no marijuana. However, in the console area between the two front seats, he does find a knife. To make a long story short, under the school's zero tolerance policy, all weapons including knives of any kind are banned and the student is suspended and charges are brought by the prosecutor for possession of a weapon on school property.

The student says he was in a bad collision the year before and was unable to escape the car because he was in no position to unsnap the seat belt. He says if he had a knife, he could have cut the seat belt. So he buys a utility knife and puts in in the console and leaves it there.

So his plight comes to light and we do a story about it. I go to their house to photograph the kid, his dad and the car. They stand out there by the car, and mind you, this is a serious situation. The kid is facing jail time, a felony record, the whole bit.

They stand out by the car ready for me to shoot them and both are grinning like they just heard a dirty joke. I'm thinking, this is a pretty serious situation and all you guys can do is smile like you're opening gifts on Christmas morning?

Another comment I hear from people almost on a daily basis is this: You are doing a shot and trying to get in a position to get a better angle, or move so the background is less cluttered and somebody says, "Oh, you can just Photoshop it."

Does this stuff drive anybody else crazy? It does me. I don't say much about it. I tell people we don't alter images. Of course I'm constantly asked if I can email photos to people and I explain no I can't. Content cost money, like utilities, goods at the store or anything else. Sometimes you get a funny look , other times people are understanding.

So what bugs you?
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 12:41 PM on 11.07.13
->> It's part of the job. I work around these things on assignment.

Typically, mostly because I am genuinely interested, I talk to my subjects. I'll ask them about their involvement in the story in order to get some emotion, especially with heavier stuff. Once people getting talking, they kinda forget I'm there.

I don't mind the comments from people, but I do find it funny I get more comments about "Photoshop my hair back" or "take 10 pounds off" come from males more often than guys.
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Will Vragovic, Photographer
Clearwater | FL | United States | Posted: 3:54 PM on 11.07.13
->> I guess, Jeff, what drives me crazy is that there are fewer and fewer of "us," as you say - employed photographers/photojournalists.

The couple of examples you've mentioned are, as Nic said, part of the job. How many times in the average person's life are they photographed for the local paper? Less than once, I'm guessing.

This kid with the knife and his dad…every other time a camera has been pointed at them, they've been told to smile and cheese it up. It's your job to be the pro and say, "Listen guys, maybe we should take a more somber tone with this. Lets try to go with less of a grin and more of a neutral expression." It's a portrait, after all, and you (should) know better than them how to work that situation.

I also love how bent out of shape people get when subjects ask for a copy of a photograph. Like, how dare they ask for something after they've allowed you into their home or their life, often without warning? Sure, in some cases there are rules. How about gently directing them to the page on your paper's website where they can buy a print?

I know I'm guilty of complaining about stuff at work. Hell, I shot two press conferences this week - wheeee. But then I think about all the friends and colleagues who have been laid off, all the papers that once prioritized great photojournalism that now rely on cell phone snaps to break up the gray on their pages.

There are a lot of great shooters out there who would be really happy to deal with all of these things that are driving you crazy. Life's too short to be angry about getting to make pictures for a living.
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 4:04 PM on 11.07.13
->> To second Will above, I had a Chief about 25 years ago who gave me some of the best possible advice. In two compact sentences.

"David. Most of the people you photograph will only ever be in the paper once. You 'em your best work."
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 6:16 PM on 11.07.13
->> Well guys, I've been doing this for 30 years, I know it's part of the job and God knows I've had everything happen to me that can happen. I typically talk quite a bit with people about what is going on with what they're involved in and it really helps to ease their minds being around somebody they don't know and are about to be photographed.

I'm just amazed at some of the situations, like the kid with the knife. It was a grave situation for that kid. He wanted to enter the military after graduation and with a felony facing him, that would have prevented any future plans of serving our country. And there he is just smiling away. Cheese or not, I would not be grinning while my future hanged in the balance.

An update on that, the D.A. dropped the charges and now legislators are looking at revising the law to add a common sense clause to it so prosecutors can look at each situation on a case-by-case basis.
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Luke Johnson, Photographer
St.Petersburg | Fla | USA | Posted: 7:29 PM on 11.07.13
->> What bugs me you ask? Building mugs & press conferences.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 8:16 PM on 11.07.13
->> This has not happened to me (yet) but twice, this year and last (different photographers mind you) were shooting a county fair. Cops surrounded the photographer asking what they were doing photographing children. I don't mean 1 or 2 cops, a half dozen. Even after showing credentials and passing the gate and signing in, they still gave both photographers a very hard time.

My only gripe I've ever had was sticking around to shoot a second game (when I was scheduled for the first) and told by my boss I wouldn't get paid, when the 2nd game is the one that got the team I was shooting a seed in the NCAA Softball Championship (was double elimination.) I should had been an ass and sent in the first game but I compromised and told him for all the times he's called me at 6am to cover spot news, or bill extra, which I didn't do, it was the least he could do was pay me for the 2nd game, which he did.

Shooting video, I have a weird phenomena. EVERY single time I go out to shoot video of a band, I always have some girl that wants to grind on me. I don't know what the hell it is. I'm trying to work and someone is trying to bump my ass all over the place. Distractions at their finest, especially if you are single like me. LOL.
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Joe Ahlquist, Photographer
Sioux Falls | SD | USA | Posted: 9:52 PM on 11.07.13
->> I think my two biggest pet peeves when on assignment would have to be: 1.) When you are captioning photos after a sporting event and you check the roster for particular player and the number they're wearing on their jersey isn't on the roster, and 2.) When people insist on staging a photo for you even after you've explained to them that you can't stage photos.

Those are by far the biggest pet peeves of mine while working.
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Nic Coury, Photographer
Monterey | CA | | Posted: 2:29 AM on 11.08.13
->> @Luke,

I LOVE me a press conference. Grow up, pal.
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Mark Perlstein, Photographer, Photo Editor
Plano | TX | USA | Posted: 8:09 AM on 11.08.13
->> Every morning you wake up and have a staff or freelance job, pinch yourself. Remind yourself of all the professional photographers that no longer have either. Be grateful, be proud, be humble. Then go out and make the best darn photos you can.
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Al Goldis, Photographer
East Lansing | MI | USA | Posted: 1:52 PM on 11.08.13
->> It's been a long time since I was a staffer but I still shoot a fair amount of freelance.

There are lots of little things that bug me. They are just little things and I don't get too worked up about them but they can still be self-entertaining to complain about.

You know, stuff like: "What station are you from?"

I have been shooting a lot of high school football lately and I think currently my biggest peeve: we typically want picture or two of fans, but whenever you point a camera at them, they go crazy mugging for the camera (even if you try to shoot them reacting to the game as soon as they spot you they ignore the game and start mugging). Thanks to TV for that.
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Andrew Brosig, Photo Editor, Photographer
Nacogdoches | TX | United States | Posted: 4:02 PM on 11.08.13
->> Al: I agree. I think sometimes if I hear, "Are we going to be on tv" one more time, I'm going to blow a gasket.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Atlanta | Ga | USA | Posted: 5:06 PM on 11.08.13
->> Well, I have my ID around my neck, so people know I'm with the paper. "Oh cool. We're going to be in the paper, everybody." Then I have to briefly explain it could end up in the paper or just in an online gallery. They seem to okay with that too.

I heard the Photoshop comment again this afternoon. We're doing a feature for Veteran's Day on vets who have retired from the military and opened successful businesses. Sure enough, one guy today asked if I could use Photoshop to insert a company logo somewhere on the photo.

High school football is huge here. We're required to get at least four feature photos from each game. Four doesn't sound like much, but when you're covering 26 high schools, they add up.

At this point of the season, I think everyone has shot nearly every scenario during pregame. Volunteers grilling burgers, tailgate parties, booster clubs hawking clothing, marching bands marching, you know the routine here.

So now I'm really having to get creative to get different feature stuff, and each week, it gets more difficult. Don't know what I will find tonight, but I always look forward to the challenge.
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Thread Title: What drives me crazy on assignments
Thread Started By: Jeff Stanton
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