1988

I photographed this Ada football player at ECU's Norris Field not long after I came to Ada. I remember making this image, in the cold, blowing rain, like it was yesterday.
I photographed this Ada football player at ECU’s Norris Field not long after I came to Ada. I remember making this image, in the cold, blowing rain, like it was yesterday.
This is a frame from a video of me in January 1988, made by my girlfriend at the time. She loved that sweater on me.
This is a frame from a video of me in January 1988, made by my girlfriend at the time. She loved that sweater on me.

I came to The Ada Evening News (The Ada News since 2012) 30 years ago today, October 24, 1988. I documented the news photography angle on my teaching site (link), if you want to read it.

From a far more personal perspective, 1988 was a very dark, very lost, very complicated time for me.

I did a very poor job of recording the events of 1988 in my journal. It was an important time in my life, yet I committed very little real information to paper. I mostly couched everything in poetic terms, presuming I would remember the newsy details. I wish I have noted tangible events with bullet points, or even in the margins.

This is an image of me made in July 1988 as I worked a golf tournament for The Daily Times in Ottawa, Illinois. As you can see, I am fairly heavy, but by the time I moved back to Oklahoma, I'd lost about 35 pounds. When I am unhappy or stressed, I can't eat or sleep.
This is an image of me made in July 1988 as I worked a golf tournament for The Daily Times in Ottawa, Illinois. As you can see, I am fairly heavy, but by the time I moved back to Oklahoma, I’d lost about 35 pounds. When I am unhappy or stressed, I can’t eat or sleep.
I made this self portrait in late September 1988. As you can see, I lost about 35 pounds during the period from July to September.
I made this self portrait in late September 1988. As you can see, I lost about 35 pounds during the period from July to September.

Fortunately, I actually did remember a number of details about that time, and have since committed it to paper.

This is my car, loaded and ready to move me and my stuff to Illinois in July 1988. I had no idea I would be moving back so soon.
This is my car, loaded and ready to move me and my stuff to Illinois in July 1988. I had no idea I would be moving back so soon.
This is my apartment in Ottawa, Illinois. I never really moved in and decorated because I hoped at the time to live with my girlfriend, who ended our relationship over the phone, and who I never saw again.
This is my apartment in Ottawa, Illinois. I never really moved in and decorated because I hoped at the time to live with my girlfriend, who ended our relationship over the phone, and who I never saw again.

I moved to Illinois to be with my girlfriend at the time, but within a month, she broke up (over the phone), and I realized I didn’t belong there, so I made an effort to move back to Oklahoma. I got a tip from Ed Blochowiak, the photographer with whom I partnered at the Shawnee News-Star (and who recently died) that Ada was looking for a photographer. I was hired over the phone by then-publisher Ron Vodenichar, and moved back to Oklahoma a week before I started in Ada.

Ron later told me I was one of the best hires he ever made.

1988 was probably the worst year of my life. Despite being grimly lonely, I did a good job as a news photographer from the very start. In some ways, doing the work of photojournalism saved me through giving me a purpose.

I spent most of my days and years alone, dating off and on without much success.

Though I kept it well organized and efficient, my office/darkroom at The Ada Evening News was as stark and bleak as my life was during that period.
Though I kept it well organized and efficient, my office/darkroom at The Ada Evening News was as stark and bleak as my life was during that period.

Amazingly, looking back on the entire 30 years, I realize that slightly more than half of that time was spent with Abby; we started dating in January 2003.

I have never ceased to appreciate everything our relationship gives me: esteem, confidence, companionship, purpose, and, of course, physical gratification. I am so very grateful she is my wife.

At one point, my sister Nicole asked me what my all-time favorite photo is, and though it is no simple task to sift the literally tens of thousands of images I have made during the last 30 years, I have to say it is this one of my wife Abby…

Abby's beautiful smile, willowy hands, and golden hair shine in the golden Colorado sun as she and I make our way from one point to the next on one of those perfect days together. I always smile and love her more when I see this image.
Abby’s beautiful smile, willowy hands, and golden hair shine in the golden Colorado sun as she and I make our way from one point to the next on one of those perfect days together. I always smile and love her more when I see this image.
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3 Comments

  1. “It was an important time in my life, yet I committed very little real information to paper.”

    This is an experience I know all too well. Somehow, at the time, I always thought I’d have time a little later to record all the details. Sometimes I even wrote that in my journal: “I’ll write more later…” And then never did. Sigh.

    On the plus side, I rarely interpreted events correctly at the time. Maybe it’s better that we skipped putting down certain things.

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  2. And I will say it again…I have hired hundreds of employees over my 41 year career in the newspaper business and none were more valuable to the newspaper than Richard. He has an amazing ability to bring life to a story through his photo journalism. I have learned over the years that you can’t teach that to people. It is a gift and Richard must have gotten in line twice because he has double this skill of anyone else .

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