By Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer

This is the time of year that I get requests from high school and university students asking me to help them with the papers that they need to write to complete their courses. These are usually photojournalist wanna-be's and they have gotten my name from the National Press Photographer's Association List on the web or from reading my journals in Assignment Sheet in the Digital Journalist. They want to know what they need to do to become photojournalists (I term that I don't really feel applies to newspaper photographers. The title of newspaper photographer suits me just fine, thank you.) I try to answer their questions to the best of my ability and suggest course studies that might help.

Then they want to know what my typical day is like. Is there such a thing as a typical day in this business? The best thing about this profession is the uncertainty. Not knowing what the next call on your radio will bring. Not knowing what may await you around the next bend. If you've been reading my journals, of late, you will know that I have had a major bitch about the sad turn that the entire media has taken for the past several years. I won't go into another diatribe about that, now. Suffice to say that most of us spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down head shots. Oh, and let's not forget real estate. We shoot a lot of houses, business establishments and intersections.

There was a time when we really covered news and not just press conferences. I've had the opportunity to travel around the US and the world on assignments. I've covered every president since Eisenhower, in my 40 plus years. Oh, wait. I haven't done Bush. But, I'm not finished, yet. There's hope.

When people whom I met at social events would find out that I was a news photographer, they would tell me how lucky I was and what an exciting job I had. I had to agree. Back then, I would exclaim that newspaper photography was 90 percent boredom and tedium and 10 percent excitement and glory. But, that 10 percent more than compensated for the other 90 percent. Now, I'd have to say that the figures are closer to 99 to 1 and sometimes I'm stretching it by saying 1 percent is excitement and glory.

I thought about doing this journal a couple of weeks ago, so I started saving my days work on my hard drive at home so that I could show you what a typical bunch of days is like these days. Unfortunately, I didn't start doing this until Tuesday, so Monday is missing. But, I can assure you that Monday was no different than Tuesday through Friday.

OK. Here's Tuesday. I called in at 7:30 AM. My shift runs from 8 AM to 3 PM. There wasn't much doing. I was told to come to the office, which is a 15 minute drive from my apartment. When I got there, I was told that the news desk was working on some stories for the upcoming school budgets and elections on Long Island. So, I read the paper, checked my e-mail and did the crossword. I don't object to the occasional slow day, once in awhile. It makes up for the other days where I get banged with 4 assignments in the first 2 hours of my day and then another at the other end of the island.

Finally, the Photo Editor sent back a photo request to photograph a woman in North Babylon (where I live) who doesn't vote in school elections. They wanted her talking over her fence with a neighbor who does. (Be still my heart!!) The toughest part of that assignment was trying to minimize the boat and trailer in the driveway which was a distraction to the picture's relevance. (Whatever that might have been.) I made the shot and went back to my apartment to have lunch. I transmitted the photo from my home. The day was almost over, for me, so I checked out with the Photo Desk.

Esther Ramirez-Pevney, North Babylon, talks over the fence with her neighbor, James Fanning. She doesn't vote in school elections. .
©Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Wednesday. I got a call from the Day Photo Editor before I had shaved and brushed my teeth. We had been doing stories about rogue cops in Nassau and Suffolk Counties who had been using the power of their badges to force sexual favors from women whom they had stopped for one reason or another. One of them had come to Nassau County Police Headquarters to resign. When he arrived to turn in his badge and gun, he was arrested. I was told to get right over there to try to get him as he was led to arraignment court in handcuffs. (We aren't allowed in courts with our cameras.) It's about a 40 minute run to HQ from my apartment.

When I pulled into the rear lot, behind the police building, I didn't see any other media folks there. I radioed my desk and asked the editor to check with police Public Information to find out when the cop would be walked. I was concerned about the "Blue Wall" that the media usually encounters when cops have to deal with the press concerning one of their own. It's not unusual for them to take the cop/perp out of a side door. As I waited for an answer, other press people started showing up. Mostly tv. Newsday is the only paper on Long Island, although the NY City papers will send people out here if the story warrants it. This time I was the only still shooter on the scene. CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and several cable tv news stations had camera crews here within the next hour. Well, it was a beautiful day and we swapped the latest war stories and flirted with the pretty "on camera" reporters.

Former Nassau County Police Officer "John Doe" is taken from Police Headquarters to be taken to assaignment court. He was arrested, again, when he came in to resign.
Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Sometime just before noon, the rogue cop was walked out of the building and into a waiting detective's car. They didn't try to duck us, and the perp walked straight out and didn't try to avert the camera lenses. After waiting for almost four hours, the whole action lasted for less than a minute. But, I got what I needed and hauled ass for the nearby press room at the Supreme Court where we had a desk, a cup of coffee and a hook up for my laptop so that I could transmit what I had back to the office. My Photo Editor had scheduled me for a Business Page environmental head shot in Westbury. It was meant to be made earlier, but the Editor called the subject and set the appointment back to accommodate my news assignment. After transmitting the photo of the cop and finishing my coffee, I headed over to shoot the Biz Page job

While I was in the Press Room, my friend Vicki, told me that there was a breaking story about a priest who had been arrested for sodomizing a 15 year old boy. The arrest and arraignment had happened the day before, but the story never got out until this day. (That's another story involving a Police Commissioner who used his power to try to hide this from the media. Oh, yes, folks. Life is interesting on the front lines.) Anyway, I phoned in what information I had and since there was no way to get any photos of the culprit, I told my desk that I would get a shot of the church where the priest worked. (That's what I refer to as real estate shots.) By the way, the gal who tipped me off about the story is the Bureau Chief for one of the NY City tv Stations. She isn't worried about Newsday scooping her since our story won't be out until the next day, and her station would be running it in a few hours on the 5 PM news.

But, first a stop in Westbury to get the environmental photo for the Biz Page. At least the subject of my photo was a comely young lady and she was pleasant to be around and a pleasure to photograph. Then to East Meadow for the church shot and back to Newsday to scan my images and load them onto the computer. Another day, another dollar. Or whatever.

Catherine Zanelli, Director of Business Development for invisible.ink in Westbury. They design web sites. Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

St. Raphael's RC Church in East Meadow, where a 34 year old Catholic Priest resided. He was arrested in Suffolk County on Satueday, May 5th and charged with sexual abuse and multiple counts of sodomy.
Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Thursday. I had been given an overnight before I left work on Wednesday afternoon. I had to be at the Garden City Hotel to photograph a stockholder's meeting where a hostile take-over was being attempted. This, again, was for our Biz Page. So, I get to the hotel at 8 AM only to be told that the company holding the meeting didn't want any cameras at the meeting. To make a long story short, after much cajoling and pleading, I had to settle for setting up my camera on a tripod out on the public sidewalk and photograph them as they left the hotel by using my 600 mm lens. Fortunately, our reporter knew the players and was able to signal me when they came out of the door. That took all morning and into the early afternoon. Then guess what? I had to make a real estate shot of a generic street in a village that was the subject of a real estate story in the Biz section. Does it get any more exciting than this? Then it was back to the office. Another day in the bag.

The Morton Restaurant Group held their annual meeting at the Garden City Hotel, Thursday, April 10, 2001. Cameras were not allowed inside the meeting, at which the suject of a hostile take-over was discussed. Photos show Charles I. Weissman (left with beard) Attorney, Barry W. Florescue, Chairman of BFMA (center) and Rick Bloom, Senior Vice President (right) outside the hotel.
Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Homes along Glen Cove Avenue in Carl Place.
Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

TGIF. Friday, Friday, Friday. I called in and was told that there was a Biz job just up the road from the office at 10 AM. So, I went in and read the paper, did the puzzle and at 10, photographed three people in front of their building.

Paul Elliott, Owner of Prudential LI Commercial Realty, Nancy Wiener, Director of Operations and David Madigan, Managing Director, in front of the Prudential Building in Melville.
Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus
A two fer. Head shots and real estate in one shot. Does it get any better? Jeez! I have to tell you something, though. As much as I bitch about these assignments, I really do try to make the best photos that I can. I use a variety of lenses. I try various angles. I'll get down in the dirt and lay on my back if it means that I'll get a better shot. BUT, a head shot is a head shot is a head shot.

After that excitement I was able to quiet my racing pulse with a straight..........you guessed it. A real estate shot. A department store that was being taken over by Macy's. A real no brainer. And then, to end the day and my work week, a photo of lobster traps being discarded at the recycle center. There has been a mysterious disease that has killed off most of the lucrative lobster industry in Long Island Sound. Since there isn't much for the hard working lobster fishermen to catch, they've been selling their boats and dumping their lobster traps by the thousands.

A temporary sign still says Stern's on a store in Commack. The department store will become a Macy's.
Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Lobster traps, discarded by former Long Island Sound lobster fishermen, stand idle in a yard at the Huntington Town Landfill.
Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Th' th' thaaat's all folks. That was my contribution to the wonderful world of newspaperdom for that week. What d'ya think? Next time someone says, "Wow! You're a news photographer! You must have an exciting job." What should I tell them?

I'll tell them that they're right. It is an exciting job. It's not nearly as exciting as it once was. But, it still has challenges me. It still forces me to use my head and whatever God given talents I may have to try to come up with an interesting photo. I get to meet a lot of interesting people and I'm out of the office and on the road most of the time.

And you just never know if that next radio call may bring you the Pulitzer. You just never know.

Dick Kraus