I REALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITH MY PICTURES?
By T.C. Baker
This is a question that seems to go through all of our minds,
or at least all the photojournalist I have spoken with about
In a time when we have young men and women sacrificing their lives
far away, I sometimes feel the daily grind of working at a mid-size
is, well, pointless. Does it really benefit anyone for me to try
to make a
compelling Pet of the Week photo?
I have had the pleasure of meeting many photographers that frequent
exotic, remote and dangerous assignments we all crave at one point
careers, most notably of late, Rick Loomis.
NPPA Publications Director Donald Winslow introduced me to Rick at
Annual Convention in Chicago. Rick was being featured in the June
Photographer Magazine for being named NPPA's Newspaper Photographer
Year. I even asked for him to autograph my copy of that magazine.
More recently, Rick wrote a dispatch for the SportsShooter
newsletter/e-zine, explaining his coverage of Iraq
for the Los Angeles Times (http://www.sportsshooter.com/news_story.html?id=1229).
I must admit, this
is probably what brought the thoughts of my worthiness to mind.
Here is Rick in Iraq, questioning if he is going to make it out
the while taking pictures to show the rest of the world what it
is like on
the battlefields. I, on the other hand, am shot pet of the week
Don't get me wrong, I am not comparing my photographic abilities
to that of
Rick or the other fine folks covering such assignments. I like
offered to me stateside and not having to risk ever seeing my wife
boys ever again for a single photo. The question that bounces in
my head is, " Does the job I am doing here really affect anyone?"
© Photo by T.C. Baker
"to T.C. thank you for the flowers
they smell very good thank you for
watching me in the play annie And thank you for my pictune
in the paper."
|Luckily for me,
that question was answered today by a lovely, hand-written card from
a 7-year-old type-1 diabetic named Alyssa Sternadel.
The card was thanking me for coming to see her performance in a local theater
production. The card was thanking me for the flowers I gave her after the show.
The card was thanking me for using a photograph in the paper that included her.
I did not take Alyssa flowers simply because I had used a photograph
of her from the production. I met Alyssa a couple of years
ago when I started working on a personal photo project about
diabetes. I have spent numerous hours with Alyssa and her family
at home, school and dance classes. And although her mother
promises me she can be just as trying as any other adolescent,
I have yet to witness it. Courageous barely comes close to
describe this little girl I have come to know quite well. I
down right admire this 7-year-old for the strength she has
displayed in her situation.
Actually, it seems quite selfish of me to think at these times, does my work
affect others, when I should be looking at how the lives I have been privileged
enough to see and capture with my camera can affect me. Had it
not been for Alyssa being in the production, I probably would have let my wife
take a friend to the show.
© Photo by T.C. Baker,
Alyssa's mother Pam adjusts
her daughter's insulin pump as Alyssa sticks her
tongue out to show off a Fruit Roll-up Tongue Tattoo.
© Photo by T.C. Baker,
Staff Photographer, Victoria Advocate
Alyssa Sternadel, blue dress,
practices for "Annie" alongside
other "orphan" cast members. (This is the photo
I was thanked for by Alyssa.)
© Photo by T.C. Baker, Staff
Photographer, Victoria Advocate
It seems the cutest and/or most unusual pets are more likely
to be adopted.
|And I guess the
pet photos do make a difference, as all three of the local shelters
featured tell us about the numerous calls they receive after the
Timothy C. "T.C." Baker
NPPA Treasurer/Executive Committee Member