I was never one of those moms who saw her children grow up through the lens of a camera.
I certainly enjoyed pictures -- and video -- and would snap away happily when I remembered to bring my camera or when it was “my turn” to take the pictures.
“My turn” usually came when everyone on the team or in the class had given me pictures of my children they had taken, while I had gone all season or all year without clicking a single one. So I would grab my camera and shoot away, eager to make amends and do my fair share of irritating the boys.
Now that my children are grown and there are no more scrapbooks to fill, I find I have a camera in my hand almost all the time. My new “child” -- Blount Today -- is a picture-loving monster!
“Blount Today photographer” wasn’t ever in my job description. But someone told me to do whatever needed to be done when we first started Blount Today, and what needed to be done most of the time was photograph community events. I grabbed a camera and began to shoot.
Most of the time, it is great fun. Growing up professionally in a newsroom and being old enough to be of the generation where reporters and photographers always went together on assignments, I got a lot of first-hand looks at how “real” photographers do their jobs.
I don’t pretend to be one. I wouldn’t last a day in that professional fraternity. I break most of the rules for news photographers as I am constantly posing pictures, counting aloud to three before I shoot and moving things off tables to declutter the shot. None of those things are allowed in photojournalism.
They are allowed in what we do at Blount Today. Our goal is to capture a snapshot of this community and all the things that go on here. We like to photograph people having a good time, studying an issue, participating in government, playing a sport or just hanging out with their friends. Our freelance photographers do a great job, and I’ve had enough practice these past almost-five years that I’m not bad either.
Four of my favorite events to photograph each year are the high school proms. I was especially excited this year because we are adding Greenback, as our new distribution method has allowed us to pick up a lot of the Greenback area. Five proms -- and I didn’t need a corsage or limo for any of them.
The calendar has been unkind, however, and I am only going to get to take the pictures at one of the proms, having to give the other four up to our freelance shooters.
I will miss them. And the photographers are probably already dreading the endless instructions I plan to give them as I try to make them do it “my way.”
When we first started Blount Today, we were pretty careful about the number of pictures we took at each event. I don’t like to take pictures of people, get their names and know they have the expectation that they are going to be in the newspaper and then leave the picture out. This is especially true with children and teenagers. So we tried very hard to always publish every photo we took, unless someone had their eyes closed or was in an odd pose that would make them hate us.
“News hole,” as we call the amount of space we have for content, is dependent on ad sales in all newspapers. As with most of the newspapers in the world, “news hole” is a precious commodity at Blount Today these days. Blount Today is doing better than some, but it is still something we have to watch with constant vigilance.
Yet we are shooting more pictures that ever! How? Why?
It’s called www.BlountToday.com. While news hole is costly, web space is cheap. Our website is so easy to navigate and so beautifully constructed that we have found we can post twice as many pictures on the web as what we can get in the paper. It still takes time and resources to get those pictures and the captions ready, but we have all agreed that it’s better that leaving the pictures in our cameras where no one can enjoy them.
Don’t ignore our notes in Blount Today. If the end of the story says “For more photos, go to www.BlountToday.com,” sign on. I can guarantee there are great photographs of your friends and neighbors online that we just couldn’t squeeze into the print edition.
Don’t look too closely at the April Foolies story online this week, however. Those pictures of Judge Sleepy Sherri with the rollers in her hair are kind-of scary.