The Digital Journalist
Letters from Central America:
Sports Geek? Concert Geek?

by James Colburn

I remember hearing a photographer actually use the words, "By publishing this photograph, will the sum of human knowledge be increased?" I started to chuckle until I looked at said photographer and saw that they were being serious. Way too serious if you ask me.

There are really only two reasons why anyone gets into photojournalism. Okay maybe two-and-a-half reasons. You either want to get into concerts free or you want to get into sporting events free. That's it. The half reason is that you get to meet people of the opposite sex (or your own sex, if that's what you prefer) but other than that you'd be better off becoming a bank teller and working your way up the ladder to manage the office in that pleasant strip mall south of the Interstate.

You can spot the get-into-sporting-events-free people a mile away. From an early age they walk around in khaki photo vests and hang things from their belts. They have a sort of dip worn into their collarbones from camera

bag straps and the skin around their waists and stomachs glows bright red from the bruises gained from being battered by swinging cameras attached to long lenses. They collect press passes, logoed hats, logoed fanny packs, logoed pens, logoed sun shades and logoed shirts and don't notice it when you slap a big sticker that reads "Kick Me" onto their backs. They usually have short hair and when riled can do some very nasty things with the monopods that they always carry.

The get-into-concerts-free people generally have longer hair (when young) and a flash permanently super-glued onto each camera. They learn to work quickly as they can only shoot during the first 1 (or 2 or 3) songs. This can be good if you're at a Yes concert as the songs last 45 minutes each, except for the fact that you're at a Yes concert. It can be bad if you're at a punk concert where the songs last four bars including intro. If you're lucky, you can stay for the whole concert and try to impress the cute girl at the back by subtly showing off your "Access All Areas" pass that doesn't really get you access to all areas.

Me? I'm a concert geek. I managed to get lucky a few months ago. They've just built a new performing arts center in downtown Omaha and I landed the position of house photographer. It cost around the $100 million dollar mark and looks pretty damn good. The best part about it though is the sound. They brought in a firm of acousticians to help design the interior and I have a feeling that a good portion of that $100 million went into those individually cast panels that cover the interior of the hall. I've heard music in quite a few halls in the U.S. and Europe and I can truthfully say that I haven't heard sound as good. Ever. During a recent opening week concert a tenor, orchestra and chorus did a piece from an opera called "Turandot" (by Puccini, of course). Now I'm not a huge opera fan (my wife is) but when the chorus kicked in, the sound sent chills down my spine. People let out audible gasps and half of the audience were wiping little tears from their eyes at intermission.

I can't wait for the Metallica concert ...

© James Colburn
Contributing Writer