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|| News Item: Posted 2009-12-18

Leading Off: It IS A Wonderful Life
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by
We all know the story. George Bailey's life seems to be collapsing around him and he is on the brink of ending it all on Christmas Eve, getting ready to jump from atop a snow-covered bridge in Bedford Falls.

It's A Wonderful Life is played seemingly on a continuous loop this time of year on cable TV. Frank Capra's 1946 film is now an integral part of our culture, happy ending and all.

After jumping off the bridge, George's guardian angle Clarence comes out of nowhere to save his life and ultimately his soul. Clarence does this in a way that I think we all sometimes forget to do: Remember our family and the friends we've made in this life.

It has been a lousy year or two for publications, the news business and photography. Actually it has really SUCKED.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't fear emails from strange corporate email addresses and phone calls from unfamiliar office phone numbers that might be that "tap on the shoulder" that tells me my time in this business has ended.

Earlier this month a close family member was laid off from a job she had for 18 years and really loved. Her hurt became my hurt as well…

I told a colleague recently that I don't read the Romenesko news gossip website because I can't take looking at all of the doom & gloom it contains about the journalism business. (Is this Stage Three of Depression: The Head-In-The-Sand phase?)

Reading an email I received early this week telling me that several friends had lost their jobs at the Los Angeles Times put me in a deep funk and not even covering college basketball game later that evening could lift me out of this malaise. Usually covering a game brightens my attitude...but not this time.

I had planned to finish assembling this issue of Sports Shooter during a usual all-night session in my home office Monday. But I kept putting it off and putting it off. "Maybe after these four episodes of NCIS" (on the USA Network) I kept telling myself.

But I finally started work late last night … reading, editing (some might say not editing), arranging stories, getting images ready for the website … then it hit me: This was my Clarence Moment. I wasn't jumping off a bridge like George Bailey, but thinking about the stories I had on my screen and the things that Sports Shooter has brought me was a Clarence Moment ... my Guardian Angel.

This issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter contains some deeply personal stories, with several about losing a job, about still having the passion for photography, about giving a little back and about moving on.

I have been putting out this newsletter for over 10 years. Held about a dozen workshops ... for 40 people and for 400. And along the way Sports Shooter has given me more than I would have ever hoped …a long list of friends that share my dreams, are generous with their time and talents and don't mind getting late-night emails asking for this and for that.

This is how the Sports Shooter Family started and it's how it's continued.

It's Christmas time and as I always do during the entire month of December, holiday songs are on heavy rotation on iTunes (as a matter of fact Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee is playing while I type this). It helps keep me in a happy mood.

So I hope you take a few minutes and have your own Clarence Moment and reflect about the great people in this business you've met along the way, about family, friends and that making pictures is still THE coolest job out there.

It is A Wonderful Life.

* * *

This double issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter features a couple of stories catching us up on people that lost their staff jobs with the closure of the Seattle PI and the Rocky Mountain News. Thanks to Andy Rogers and Matt McClain for taking the time to contribute these wonderful stories. My good friend Gary Miller writes that despite being laid off from his job as a director of photography he still carries that passion for photography.

Every year I run a popular series called The Intern Diaries and this month Diane Weiss, Kevin Fujii and Brian Peterson give us the flipside to that: What it takes to get one of those precious internships.

Photo by
Regular contributors Jared Dort writes that giving is still a cool thing to do and Trent Nelson tells us that the year in review is just a few clicks away. My buddy Myung Chun in his VJ For PJs column gives us tips on how to develop a video editing workflow for those cool, trendy DSLRs everyone seems to want to use.

And speaking of DSLR video, Andrew Watson gives you the lowdown on the Canon D5 Mark II and 7D on how to get the most out of these cameras' video features.

Robert Beck shoots both barrels in this issue, writing what it takes to be like Kojo … a super-assistant plus his take on the new Nikon D3s.

Think Tank Photo is sponsoring the prizes for the upcoming Sports Shooter Newsletter Annual Contest and great news about Sports Shooter Academy VII: Rod Mar is in 'da House!

And thanks to Sports Shooter sponsors: Robert Distributors, Samy's Camera and Adorama!

On the nightstand is When You're Engulfed In Flames by David Sadaris and Brimstone by Robert B. Parker. Cool tunes this month are the hysterical Christmas In The Heart by Bob Dylan and a great double CD set (plus DVD!) from Paul McCartney Good Evening New York City…check it out!

As always, thanks to Special Advisors & Contributors: Deanna & Emma Hanashiro, Brad Mangin, Trent Nelson, Jason Burfield, Grover Sanschagrin, Joe Gosen, Myung J. Chun, Rod Mar, Josh Lehrer, Jordan Murph, Jared Dort and Bob Deutsch.

Thanks this month to: Robert Beck, Andrew Watson, Gary Miller, Matthew McCLain, Andy Rogers, Diane Weiss, Kevin Fujii and Brian Peterson

The comments, opinions and other nutty statements that the writers may have expressed, implied, imagined or made up are theirs and theirs alone. Sports Shooter, Inc. and published these articles in good faith with the purpose of education and inspiration.

Permission in writing must be obtained from Sports Shooter, Inc. and the author of the article before being reprinted.

I welcome any comments, corrections, suggestions and contributions. Please e-mail me at

The Sports Shooter Archives as well as tons of cool resources and information can be accessed through the Internet at

Contents copyright 2020, Do not republish without permission.
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