WHAT GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND
by Dick Kraus
Staff Photographer (retired)
"What Goes Around, Comes Around." "The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same."
Do you want more?
"There Is Nothing New Under The Sun." "We Have Come Full Circle."
I don't know who coined all of those slogans, but suddenly they all seem appropriate to my circumstance.
I retired last month, after 42 years as a Newsday Staff Photographer. Well, you know that if you've been following "Assignment Sheet" each month.
I also moved to a new apartment. In the process, I came across some dusty boxes that I had stored beneath my bed. When I got them to my new place, I went through the contents and found a trove of memorabilia. There were hundreds of old prints that went back to my early years at the paper. There were stacks of yellowed, crumbling newspapers that contained some of my journalistic efforts.
I sat alone at my kitchen table and sorted through them and the musty smell of those old prints and newspapers stirred some moldy region of my brain as I relived the events that I was viewing once more.
There were stories and photos of which I could be proud. There were many that caused me to wonder why in the world had I ever taken the trouble to save such mundane tripe.
And as I gingerly turned the faded newspaper pages, a thought began to form in my head. It was something that the noted author, Thomas Wolfe once said. "You can't go home, again."
He was telling us that the memories we had formed of bygone days never quite match the realities of that former time. The recollections always seem to be rosier; more exciting and more fulfilling than they were in actuality.
This is one of those old,
yellowed Newsday editions from 1979. It's something I did for our
feature section, Part II, on a very young Billy Joel.
I realized the truth of this as I looked through those old papers. Lately I have been writing on Assignment Sheet about how newspaper photography had deteriorated into not much more than "head shots and real estate," to use a oft repeated phrase of mine.
And what was I looking at in those yellowing pages from the 60's, 70's and 80's? Why head shots and real estate pictures. And not even very good ones, at that. Quite frankly, the head shots that we are taking now have a lot more appeal. Many of the current ones are environmental portraits that showed more than just a human being looking into a camera lens.
I had also been under the impression that the paper's layout and style had looked better in the old days. Unfortunately, that wasn't what I saw when I browsed through those old issues. What I saw were stodgy and unimaginative images. And the reproduction.........oh my lord! What advances we have made in reproducing photos. For many years, after I began my career, we were loading lead plates onto our letterpress presses. The screens were coarse and obvious when you looked closely at a photo. And, of course, the photos were black and white. More often they were gray and grayer. We went through a period of using plastic plates and the pictures on the page were often unrecognizable.
With our move to a new and modern plant came new and modern high speed color presses and far better photo reproduction.
I still believe that Newsday, and most other newspapers, use far too many head shots. But, at least they are being made with more imagination and they reproduce better these days.
However, I couldn't help thinking
about my last assignments on the last day of my long and varied career as
a newspaper photographer. They consisted of a Business Page head shot and
two Business Page real estate photos. In one pile of old prints, I found
one of my early efforts when I started at Newsday. It probably wasn't the
first photo I made for the paper. But, it is among the first. And what was
it? Why, a head shot, of course.
What goes around, comes around. We have come full circle.
Ain't that the truth.
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