Leading off tonight with just a few shots from today’s softball and baseball games, mercifully a short walking distance apart from each other, not so mercifully played in hurricane-like winds.
I got the opportunity to take the Daily Times’ camera, an older 4mp Canon 1D body, and hook it up as a remote facing home plate during the softball game. Unfortunately, the thing sucks battery like mad so I was unable to use it for the baseball game in that capacity.
Winds wreaked havoc with the pitchers all day, even managed to see one batter get nailed in the head by a ball carried by a rogue gust. Catchers were reluctant to throw the ball to second to stop attempted steals because of it (I counted 6 stolen bases in the third inning alone).
Now a little more random. Apparently, while it didn’t happen today, usually on Saturdays the photographers have to go out and do what is basically a “man-on-the-street poll.”
Now for those of you who don’t know, “man-on-the-street” polls are basically send some chump out with a camera, ask a number of random people to answer a given poll question and take their mugshot. It is, in short, the most asinine thing to ever happen to newspapers.
However, I got to thinking. I have an idea I want to pitch to my editor when he gets back, see if it’s worth looking in to. The premise of the whole thing is to “get more faces in the paper.” However even the best mugshots (which are tough to do with no lighting gear) are just that: mugshots. There’s nothing pretty about them, there’s nothing that would make the subject, much less other readers, stop and go “ooooooh.”
So my idea: instead of doing half a dozen folks each week, do one or two, but really spend the time to make good pictures. Take their portrait. Ask them to give us a little peek into what makes them [insert name here] instead of just another man on the street.
Then, get their email address and send them the picture. Sure, you lose the potential opportunity to make $10 on a reprint down the road, however think about what you gain. One, the subject not only gets to open the paper and see themselves looking good and having their voice heard, they get to have a picture of them to show their friends, put on facebook, cut out and stick on the fridge.
Secondly, other readers start seeing that people are being treated with a little more interest and instead of having stuffy looking mugshots lined up in a row with a quote, they get something that makes them look human. People are narcissists, it will get people to be like “damn, I want to be the next man on the street.”
Third, when you get the chance to step into someone’s life, even briefly, it can open up new story ideas, new avenues and new sources that were not there before. Imagine the kinds of history, the stories, the features you will find along the way. Imagine the opportunities that will open up.
Lastly, us photographers get to fully utilize and hone the skills for which we were hired for. Again, most places I know who do these polls give their reporters a point and shoot camera and let them have at it. At least this way, we make the paper look nicer, we get to hone our portraiture skills a little more and we get to be creative and do the things we were hired to do.