Posts Tagged ‘photo



01
Feb
11

a spot o’ spot news.

Let me preface this post about spot news (unplanned news like shootings, fires, accidents, etc.) with a small disclaimer.

We cover the things that happen in and around our community.  This means the good and the bad, the glamorous and the not so glamorous.  With spot news, it is the nature of our jobs, that inevitably, someone’s misfortune is going to be our ‘good’ fortune.  I’ve touched on this before in previous posts and you have to take a small step back to look at the bigger picture.  A particular tragedy is very sad for those living through it, however, the public has a right to know what’s going on in their neighborhood.  Most newspapers have a certain threshold of spot news that they will give their attention to.  In other words, the explosion, fire, whatever, has to affect many people or cause a lot of damage to property – or must be unique in some way as to make it newsworthy (think car crashing through a liquor store window).  If we went out to cover every single fatal crash, then we’d truly be ambulance chasers.

Every newspaper is different.  Some cover spot news like there’s no tomorrow, handing out police scanners to photographers and reporters.  Others, and The Augusta Chronicle falls into this category, have one scanner in the newsroom and will only run out if there is something big that warrants it (see above).

All that to say, yes, I get excited when there’s a large fire to run to, or an explosion has rocked a pipeline in McDuffie county.  It’s a little like EMS workers and how they block out the suffering and pain they see everyday.  You get desensitized the more you’re around it.  And it’s part of a photojournalist’s moral quandary to decide whether to take a picture of a grieving father or tearful mother.   At that moment you realize that this is part of life, and it is a story worth telling.  No matter how heartbreaking.  It is what we do.

But luckily, this picture has a relatively happy ending.

Chanta Wise, left, a her son Marquis, hold their dog Reeses after it was rescued by firefighters during an apartment fire at Georgia Place Apartments, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. No injuries were reported. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

As I ran around the apartment complex to get a better look at where the firefighters were actually fighting the blaze, I saw one of the rescuers holding a pet carrier…with a dog in it.  I thought to myself, I’d better get ready because at any moment, the owner might come screaming out from nowhere, hugging and kissing the dog from the joy of being reunited.  Ninety percent of our job is anticipating what’s going to happen.  I had been in such a rush to get to the scene that I hadn’t put a memory card in my camera yet, and so had to fumble around in my pocket for one.  As I was closing the door to the card slot, the woman I was hoping for made her appearance from a neighboring apartment building.  “Oh Reeses, Reeses!!!” I could hear.  I had no time to format my card and just started shooting without knowing how many frames I had left.  It could be 4 or 400.  I didn’t know. Stressful. I clicked away as her son arrived and I backed up as they moved away from the burned out apartment.  This is when I made the picture.  It’s a clean frame with noone else around for distraction, and I was close enough to use a wide angle lens – something that’s unusual for spot news.  A small group of onlookers were gathering around us, and I continued to back up until my left leg stepped on – and fell through – a rotted out tree stump.  For about three uncomfortable seconds my leg was buried up to my thigh in a hole that felt like it didn’t have a bottom. I knew I had scraped my calf pretty good, but the adrenaline was pumping so it didn’t really matter. I managed to get myself up and thankfully was unnoticed by anyone else in all the commotion (I think?). By then the moment had passed, but I knew I had something good.

No injuries were reported.  Including mine.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

 

20
Jan
11

In memoriam

I love shooting inside Sacred Heart Cultural Center.  Actually, I’m pretty sure all the photographers on staff here love to shoot there.  It’s by far the most photogenic building inside and out in Augusta. 

It was standing room only at Boone Knox’s memorial service held Monday afternoon.  The place was packed with the most influential people in the area – not surprising considering Knox’s phenomenal life and career.  And long-time friend Tom Cousin’s eulogy was wonderful.  I always enjoy funny stories about someone’s life that paint a picture of who that person was and how they treated others.  Mr. Knox was a class act for sure. 

Here’s a little something different from pretty much the only spot I could get to with the mass of people downstairs.  It’s an outtake but it fills my need to shoot repeating patterns and symmetrical photos.

Mourners sing a hymn during a memorial service for Boone Knox at Sacred Heart Cultural Center, Monday, January 17, 2011, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

And besides, I got lots of good comments on the suit I wore from colleagues.  It’s not everyday I wear a tie, that’s for sure.  One reporter told me I looked like a totally different person.  Guess that means I’m a slob the rest of the time…

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

04
Jan
11

fishin’

Leland Rodgers fishes on the Savannah River, Monday, Dec. 27, 2010, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

I guess there’s no better way to start out 2011 than with a left over image from 2010, since I’m constantly in a state of catch up.  You’d think with the new year, 2011 would start fresh but alas that’s not the case.

Motivation is a fickle thing.  It changes depending on an infinite amount of factors; your mood, the weather, subject matter, what you had for breakfast that day, etc.

Around the holidays, there is so little to cover that newspapers start to get desperate.  School’s out, government is out, high school sports are all done for the season – for the most part, people are closed up in their toasty homes enjoying family and friends.  That’s good for them, bad for us (it is a generally accepted fact that reporters and photographers have good days when bad days happen for others – it’s just the reality of things, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

At any rate, one of the Chronicle reporters who is usually pretty good about scaring up a decent story when in a bind, was doing a story on how the Army Corps of Engineers was planning on releasing more water into the Savannah River from the dam upstream.  Well, how do you illustrate something that hasn’t happened yet?  And in a time crunch?  You go to where the end result will be and hope for the best.  This is how I found myself on the 5th Street bridge waiting for something, anything, to happen on the river. 

These things can be agonizing.  An oft used phrase in photojournalism, ‘hurry up and wait,’ definitely had the potential to make for a long day.  But as I walked along the sidewalk and took a peek over the railing, there he was. I hadn’t seen him from the car because he was almost underneath the bridge.   A man bundled up in countless layers floating in a small boat trying his best to fish in nearly freezing conditions.  Because let’s face it, that’s the way we all wish we could spend the afternoon.

Fishing pictures come a dime a dozen, but I’m attached to this one for some reason.  I guess it’s the best fishing moment I’ve caught with my camera (because that’s saying a lot, right?)  But at the end of the day, to me, it’s just pretty light with lots of negative space and reminds me of how I’d feel if I were in that boat.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

07
Dec
10

Cam the ham…

…but I like the guy.  Some see his post-game over enthusiasm as cocky and pretentious, while others think he’s just an emotive kind of guy who loves his fans.  Maybe it’s a little of both, but all I know is I like the photo moments he gives up.  Who cares if he hams it up, the man knows how to give it up for the camera.  He’s expressive and smiling, and he does things that make our jobs easier – like run around the stadium high-fiving fans or spinning a towel around to acknowledge the crowd, on in the case of the SEC championship game, get carried off the field by his teammates like a scene from a movie.  These are all things photojournalists WISH would happen at every game, but they rarely do.  But then again, if they happened so often, they wouldn’t be so special and photographable (is that a word?).  So therein lies our quandary.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is carried onto the field after defeating South Carolina in the SEC championship football game at the Georgia Dome, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, in Atlanta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

I don’t know what it looked like on TV, but that’s one helluva scrum we were in.  I’ve never seen anything that pushy and I’ve covered my fair share of big games and star drivers that attract hoards of photographers and television cameramen.  I’m always surprised there’s not a photographer who gets trampled or loses an eye in these things.  The attitude you have to adopt is one of ‘go all in or don’t go at all.’  Total cluster.

But it’s fun.

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is carried onto the field after defeating South Carolina in the SEC championship football game at the Georgia Dome, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2010, in Atlanta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

-RAE
30
Nov
10

a found photo

When I’m driving around and see something that could be fun to shoot, I admit I don’t stop nearly as often as I should.  Sometimes the warmth (or coolness if it is summer) of your car forces you to tell yourself that whatever you just glimpsed back there isn’t worth turning around for.  Sometimes it’s on a busy road and you don’t feel like risking your life for something so trivial.  Sometimes you’re reminded of all the other times you’ve taken the time to stop and it turned out to be nothing.  But then sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised by what you happen upon.  In any case, some days are better than others.

When I passed this scene while circling a block in downtown Augusta, I knew I had to stop.  A 1964 Ford Falcon Futura for sale.  It was kind of hidden in a wide alley on Ellis Street – a street rarely travelled, to the point that we had a city commissioner who wanted to flood the whole thing to make it a navigable canal a la San Antonio.  I felt that this was a find worthy of a 2 minute stop. 

It’s not that I’m some Ford Falcon superfan or anything, but I am a car guy.  And I’ve always been attracted to the lines of this car, one that pretty much represents the 60s in my mind (when you take out the gas guzzling Buicks and Cadillacs of the era.)  It kind of reminds me of a predecessor to the Ford Cortina, a British (don’t think they sold them in the States) car built by Ford Europe and pretty much started the company’s rallying success.  Anyone who has ever seen the car I drive (Subaru WRX) knows I’m a rallying nut.  And to a larger extent, I much more admire a smaller car that has a smaller engine but can pull the most from that engine to be quick, giving other cars with lots more weight and larger engines a run for their money so to speak. This is the reason I’d never buy a Mustang or Camaro, but prefer lightweight, turbo-charged and nimble cars. 

Not that this thing is light by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s probably made of steel throughout.  And look at the trunk lid for crying out loud, it’s bigger than my dinner table.  But these things are relative.

You know, the more I write about this, the more I can see myself cruising around in this thing with sunglasses on and the windows down.  And I’m curious what the price might be.  Hell, maybe I’ll give that number a ring.  For fun.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

10
Nov
10

election night

America Decides 2010.  America Votes 2010.  Indecision 2010. Whatever you called it last week, it was exciting in an election kind of way.  For photographers and reporters around the country, that meant gathering mounds and mounds of results information or running around town going to election parties photographing candidates, who, depending on whether they are winning or losing, can be great or horrible to shoot.  Lets just say the loser tends to run late to their own party, making it hard on a reporter or photographer working on a tight deadline.

And because of these deadlines, the night ends up being an exercise in grabbing what you can, until something better comes along – a ‘hurry up and wait’ sort of situation.   As a result, election nights tend to rise in excitement until the very end, when everything happens at once and the desk wants photos five minutes ago.  I remember my first election night, I was stressing out because I wanted to get THE shot, but I was running up against deadline.  It was a crash course in learning to make as many pictures as you can, as safety shots, and transmit as fast as possible.  This way the desk has at least something of the candidate.  Then you wait for the decisive moment, when the election is called.  Of course, there’s always a small chance you’re busy at your computer when the candidate fist pumps after winning – at which point you’re screwed, but that hasn’t happened yet, thanks in part to the ability to keep track of results online as I’m toning photos.  Hopefully that will never happen. 

So, in many ways, shooting election night is like shooting night sports.  Decisive moments, safe shots, looming deadlines, horrible lighting conditions – I’m sure there are more similarities.  And I guess that’s why I like the two so much.  The photo conditions are some of the hardest we face in daily work, so it’s that much more rewarding when you’re able to get a nice picture from it.

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com

Deke Copenhaver, left, and his wife Malisa, campaign as they wait at a traffic light on Walton Way, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

Sheila Stahl, right, looks on as Katelyn Gibbs, left, and Gabby Benton use campaign signs to pretend fight as they show their support for candidates at the intersection of Milledge Road and Walton Way, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver, right, and supporters cheer as they hear election results at Polka Dot Pig restaurant, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver uses a laptop to watch election results at Polka Dot Pig restaurant, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver acknowledges his supporters after he was declared the winner in the mayoral race, at Polka Dot Pig restaurant, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Augusta, Ga.

27
Oct
10

My run in with Jennifer Keeton

First a little background for those unfamiliar with local Augusta news (although this did make the national news for a millisecond a few weeks back.) 

Jennifer Keeton is a graduate student at Augusta State University studying education counseling.  Apparently she told a group of students something along the lines of homosexuality is wrong and she believes this because of her religion and wants to convert them.  ASU told her to stop and now she’s suing for infringement of her rights.  That’s the really really basic gist of it. 

When the news broke, a photo of her on a balcony was provided to the media (from whom I don’t know) which has pretty much circled the globe 63 times by now.  At my paper, The Augusta Chronicle, everytime we wrote an update story to how the case was going (it’s still going by the way), we’d use that same picture over and over again.  Sometimes cropped into a mug (journalism speak for headshot) or the full picture. 

I don’t know a single newspaper editor that doesn’t start having a nervous twitch when a mug has been run more than three times.  It’s just stale as last week’s bread, and a fresh picture becomes a priority.  Of course, Keeton was ordered by the court to stop attending class for the time being and although we have her address, we aren’t going to go paparazzi her house.   So as the news calmed and no new developments with the case were in sight, the urgency for a fresh picture died down and it became the general consensus around the newroom that it was now a waiting game. A waiting game to see when she’d show up at a public event. 

Now on to last Tuesday.  I was assigned to cover a meet and greet with Pam Tebow, mother of ex-quarterback for the Florida Gators Tim Tebow, who garnered fame because of the pro-life commercial she made for this year’s Superbowl.  At any rate, she tours the country speaking to groups about abortion.

I was a little early so I casually walked up the center stair case at the downtown Marriott that leads to the various ballrooms and conference rooms.  And as I got to the top, I stopped dead in my tracks when I instantly recognized Jennifer Keeton.  Of course, she instantly looked at me too, what with all the photo gear on me I was less than inconspicuous.  We both shared an instant moment of heart sinkage.  But to her credit she kept it cool.  And I hope I did as well while nonchalantly walking past as I looked for the Lamar room. 

I knew Pam Tebow would arrive shortly and that THE shot would be the two shaking hands or talking to one another.  After a few feable attempts to get something from far away – just in case – Tebow arrived and that’s when I let discreteness take a backseat.  I got close and fired like a mad man (of course seconds earlier the autofocus on my camera stopped working, so I had to revert to manually focusing in a dark hallway where I couldn’t actually see if things were sharp or not — I’d later discover that a switch had been flipped to manual focus by accident.)  Pam Tebow had no idea who she was and continued to ham it up for the camera, over facial expressing and over exhuberantly shaking hands.  No matter, because in this picture, it makes Tebow look like even she’s surprised to see Keeton for the first time in months.  There’s nothing really remarkable about the photo, except for its news value.

Anyway, I ran back to the paper and got a few pat on the backs for being at the right place at the right time.  News-wise I’d say I’ve had a pretty good week so far.

Pam Tebow, right, speaks with Jennifer Keeton, left, at the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center banquet, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010, in Augusta, Ga. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

-RAE

www.rainier-ehrhardt.com