My job as chief photographer for our small-town newspaper involves a lot of “hurry up and wait” situations much of the time. Now, though, summer time, things are different. School is out, so sports assignments are far between. People are out of town on vacation, so there are fewer local structured activities. It’s Oklahoma hot outside, so most of the population is hunkered down in their asphalt igloos, awaiting September.
My photo assignments are fewer as well. I shoot the occasional baseball summer camp and the odd ribbon cutting, plus any spot news that comes up, like fires or crashes. And I can catch up on housekeeping chores like burning CDs and tidying up in the newsroom (those who know me know that my office is always tidy.)
While I am not assigned to go shoot stuff, we still have a daily newspaper to fill and sell, and it always looks nicer and sells better with decent photos in it. That leaves me to go out and find images. In college we called those images “wild art.” At another paper where I worked, we called it “enterprise art.” Here at my newspaper I just say, “I’m going feature hunting.” As many in my line of work know, in the summer it pays to go where the people will be cooling off, and starting this year that place is our new splash park.
It’s possible to go there too often, so I space it out, but when I do go, it’s a gold mine of fun, interesting images that put local faces on the front page and make everybody feel good about summer.
In three weeks, the fall season will begin with baseball and football, and school will be back in session in a month, but in the mean time, you’ll see me out at the shaved ice stand or the front yard with a sprinkler, making the pictures of summer.