Driving around, snapping photos

July 18th, 2014

It’s what we used to call feature hunting

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Sometimes I simply love being a freelance writer and photographer. This past week was one of those times.

A large company in Southeast Michigan hired me to travel around photographing people, towns and neighborhoods in and about Detroit for the sole purpose of putting them in a brochure to attract potential employees.

I got to put on my photojournalism pants and drive around “making images.” This time  — as opposed to when I was a newspaper photographer — I was only tasked with showing the Good. The Bad and the Ugly could wait for someone else. How fun!

Recovering journalists, like me, can just show up at a situation and portray only what the client wants me to share. I’m okay with that.

Real journalists are tasked with giving a balanced report on their stories. Just this week, another Malaysian plane crashed and a ground war began in Gaza. My heart goes out to the journalists who have to cover that type of news. More so, my heart goes out to those civilians actually living those stories.

For years I photographed fires and tragedy, inhumanity and — ugh, death. It’s so much more enjoyable picturing only the bright side of the human condition. So while I read and witness from afar all the ugliest this world has to offer, I remember how fortunate I am living where I live and covering what I cover.

And yes, I feel guilty for feeling this way. There will always be a part of me that feels as though maybe I should be putting myself on the line to tell the real story. But that guilt quickly evaporated when I pulled into one of the area’s most affluent neighborhoods and two little boys, not more than seven-years-old, waited for me to drive by before shouting, “pecker head.”

The adrenaline surge hit and I was instantly transported back to all the dangerous situations I’ve been in as a journalist, like the pushy crowd gathering around me in Haiti or that semi driver who threatened to put my camera somewhere extremely uncomfortable. Those guys in Boston — who said if I took another picture in the courtroom, they’d make sure it was my last — also flashed in my memory.

Nah, just kidding. Those two little boys made me laugh, especially with the way they said it, “PEKuh head,” with a pronounced lisp.

But don’t tell that to my freelance client; I’m trying to put in for a little extra combat pay.

Back in the day, we called driving around aimlessly taking photographs “feature hunting.” Most photographers grew to hate it since that meant it was a slow news days and there wasn’t enough stuff for the next day’s paper.

We liked to whine a lot back then.

Give me a “fluff” piece any day to write or photograph. But what do I know; I’m just a pecker head, but at least I’m a happy one.


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