by Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (Retired)

Since I retired from my job as a Staff Photographer for Newsday in 2002, I have enjoyed reliving my experiences as a newspaper photographer by "singing for my supper" so to speak. I give illustrated lectures aboard cruise ships, as well as other venues. I have also been sharing these trips down Memory Lane with you on The Digital Journalist. It's fun. It keeps me aware of how fortunate I was to have had a forty-two year career that I loved. And, it's a huge ego trip for me.

But, let's do some math. Adding up all the five day weeks and deducting an average of four weeks a year for vacations and deducting the five paid holidays per year, it would come to 9,870 days. OK, there was lots of overtime, and there were personal days off and sick days, but, let's use that figure of 9, 870 days as the total days that I came to work at Newsday in 42 years..I just said, in the last graph, that I loved my career. Did I love all 9,870 days?

Actually, yes.

However, some days I loved less than others. Those were the days where I ended up pretty much just shooting "head shots and real estate." This was a term we used for the endless amount of plain and simple head and shoulder pictures of people for The Business Page, The Sports Page, The Society Page, The Education Page, The Political Page, and on and on. So many times, all that we were required to do was to get a simple "head shot" of some politician, businessman, school teacher, baseball player, debutant, show biz celebrity and so on ad nauseum. Or else it was "Get a shot of a fire damaged house for a News Page, or a new house for The Real Estate Page, or the new supermarket that was opening for the Business Page, and on and on ad nauseum.









For every one of these celebrity headshots that I took...

Milton Berle

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

John. F. Kennedy

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus



NYC Mayor Ed Koch

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Goldie Hawn

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus


I had to shoot thousands of ordinary people like these.






And, let's not forget the thousands upon thousands of Real Estate shots.
All of the above are © Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

Boring! Yes. You could try to get an unusual angle or try a different perspective or gussy it up with some clever lighting. But, it was still "head shots and real estate."

There were many times when I photographed a head and shoulder of some celebrity and I would enjoy listening to the interview as I shot. There were also times when I would be photographing an "unknown" but that person might have an interesting story to tell.

I loved being a newspaper photographer because the potential for something interesting and dynamic was always present.








Then there were those days when the potential of which I just spoke, happened. You might be in the middle of a "head shots and real estate" assignment when you would be summoned to cover some major, breaking story.

Jacqueline Kennedy at JFK's Funeral.

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus






Those happened often enough to make up for the boring days. Those are the assignments that I usually recount here, on The Digital Journalist and tell aboard cruise ships. I usually tell my audiences that Newspaper Photography is 90% boredom and tedium and 10% excitement and glamour. But the 10% makes up for all the rest.

Avianca plane crash, Oyster Bay Cove, Long Island, NY.

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus



Ronald Regan's Innauguration.

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

I certainly don't mean to demean the importance of anyone's work, but, if you had your druthers, would you druther do what I did or flip burgers or work in an office or something like that?



I averaged about three assignments a day. That would make it about 29,610 over my 42 years. There were thousands upon thousands upon thousands of "head shots and real estate."That's a load of boring. I didn't even mention the amount of down time involved in almost every day. While there were times when you could scarcely catch a breath as one assignment after another came your way, more often than not you would have an hour or more between jobs. I would never complain about those days. I'd look for some kind of floater shot (that's a picture without a story that could run anywhere in the paper at any given time.) Or, I'd park under a shady tree and read a book. I figured that it was payback for those days when the Assignment Desk ran my sorry butt from one end of Long Island to the other.




Northport Harbor is iced over on a cold Winter day.

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

A woman gathers flowers to be sold at a nursery.

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus

A man and his dog walk along the beach on a Winter day.

© Newsday Photo by Dick Kraus


Needless to say, I don't talk about the "head shots and real estate" assignments or how many chapters in my novel that I read, when I write these journals or speak aboard cruise ships.

I wait, along with NY Post Photographer Mary McLoughlin, outside Nassau County Courthouse, for a verdict to come in.

I do mention these things in passing in order to dispel the notion that many people outside of the industry have, that news people are always chasing disasters or flying off on Air Force One to some exotic assignment.
I wait and wait some more for President Clinton to arrive to lay a wreath at the American Cemetery in Normandy, France on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day.

I have no idea what I was waiting for, or where, but, it was some kind of press conference, somewhere.

If you have labored in the news business for any time, you know this simply isn't the case.

Dick Kraus.

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