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|| News Item: Posted 2009-10-04

Intern Diaries: The Reading Eagle
'I have a new smile when I drive past the location of a previous assignment or an area that I learned something new about.'

By Abby Drey, The Reading Eagle

Photo by Abby Drey / The Reading Eagle

Photo by Abby Drey / The Reading Eagle

Paul D.Dougherty Jr., president of the Golden Age Air Museum near Bethel flies the 1928 Monocoupe at Grimes Airfield. It was the plane's first appearance at an air show since it's recent restoration.
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Reading. For as long as I can remember I'd flip through the paper purely to look at the photos. This summer I was given an amazing opportunity to get a new view on the photography in the Reading Eagle. I was their summer photography intern.

After applying in late December, I was terrified as I walked into my interview. I went home disappointed, feeling that the photography editor wasn't that interested in my portfolio. On a Friday afternoon in February as I walked home from class and I saw his name come up on my cell phone, I anxiously answered. I was offered the position, but was to think about it over the weekend and call him back on Monday. What was there to think about, of course I'd take the position.

On my first day I nervously rode the elevator up to the newsroom, hoping I could fulfill the expectations that awaited me. I quickly was thrown into shooting assignments and covering events all over the county. I was covering every type of news possible and realized that I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I did.

With guidance from all members of the photography staff and fully examining how other photographer's work looked, my work started to fall into place. I learned more in those 15 weeks then I felt I had in three years of college. I got to utilize all those little techniques and actually see how they could improve my images. As I'd come back from assignments, I'd get a little piece of information from each person. Day in and day out I was doing what I loved to do most and I was absorbing so much information as the weeks went by.

Being a photojournalist allows you to experience and capture so many things that an average person may never have the opportunity. Along the way I met so many interesting people, full of stories to share. There were the assignments that brought a smile to your face and showed hope and happiness. Then there were the assignments that were full of pain and sadness. As a photojournalist you learn a little about a wide variety of things and you get an insight into peoples lives.

My assignments covered a wide range of things. Sports have always been a strong point and I was given the opportunity to cover high school sports, an amateur soccer team and the minor league baseball team, the Reading Phillies. I was also given the opportunity to cover a wide range of human interest pieces and breaking news. Breaking news was a new adventure for me, including several fires, one where I ran down a quarter mile lane, and another trekking through cornfields to a barn fire.

One of my best assignments came after a long day. I had to go to Altoona one afternoon for a high school state baseball game. Three hours out, a two-hour baseball game, an hour of editing and transmitting, and it was about 3 am as I pulled into my driveway after the drive home.

The next morning I was up and out again hopeful that my Saturday afternoon would be eventful so I didn't notice how tired I was. I headed to my only assignment of the afternoon at a small airport on the outskirts of our coverage area. Walking around I was intrigued at the little air show that was taking place at Grimes airport. The story we were writing wasn't about the comical air show they were putting on with their collection of planes, but instead about one specific plane, a 1928 Monocoupe, that had hung in a local diner for years, which was making its first flight in front of an audience. After it landed the pilot walked towards me and said I could get some closer shots at the conclusion of the show. Somewhat jokingly I asked how much room there was for a passenger, the best shot would be of the plane in the air.

Photo by Abby Drey / The Reading Eagle

Photo by Abby Drey / The Reading Eagle

Reading Rage's Andrew Wenger heads the ball before Virginia Legacy's Pat Sopko, during the first half of Friday night's game at Don Thomas Stadium. The Rage won 8-0.
The show came to an end and I was talking to a group of pilots. We negotiated I would go up in another open cockpit plane, to fly along side the plane the article would be about. Next thing I knew there I was leaning over the side of an open cockpit plane, with the wind trying to pull my lens, laughing and photographing.

Throughout my internship it was emphasized that multimedia is working its way into newspapers and I had to learn how to produce strong clean projects. Shooting video is a different world and one that I'm still trying to figure out. Things aren't nearly as easy as they seem, and there I would be hours after I should have gone home trying to perfect a slide show or regretting I hadn't shot enough "B roll." I was happy that I was exposed me to all these aspects of the field and it helped me to grow as a photojournalist and as a person.

I saw Reading in a completely new way. I have a new love for driving through the city, knowing my way around the one-way streets, seeing all the people sitting out on their stoops. I have a new smile when I drive past the location of a previous assignment or an area that I learned something new about. A new respect for all the people who are trying to do good for the community and are doing their best to make a difference. The greater Reading area has so many interesting events and unique pieces of history that is unseen by so many people. I hope I made a difference for our readers and that I brought them the news with the best photographs possible.

I truly miss working for the Reading Eagle everyday. I miss that dark area of the newsroom, that area that was the photography department, with photo editor Bill Uhrich humming a tune of the day. Fellow photographer Jeremy Drey, who happens to be my older brother, constantly glancing over my shoulder telling me everything I should have done differently at every assignment. As annoyed as I often got, alright big bro, it was helpful, thank you. I miss the random conversations we photographers would carry on, which half of the time managed to revolve around our pets, mostly cats, with the occasional puppy and guinea pig. I miss receiving useful tips and reminders on how to improve my skills even in casual conversations. Then of course there was the most useful information of the summer from Ben Hasty, "though it sounds like a good idea, putting ketchup in your shoes really isn't."

I fought back the tears as I rode the elevator down on my last day in August, as the best summer of my life drew to an end.

With my first days of being back at Penn State everyone asked how my summer was. I had the same response every time. "Awesome!"

(Abby Drey is a student at Pennsylvania State University. Her work can be viewed at her

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