Posts Tagged ‘self portrait


departure from the Chronicle – part 1

As some of you know, I will be leaving the Augusta Chronicle in a few weeks.  No formal date has been set as of yet, mostly because my wife and I have the luxury of time during this transition.

My wife accepted (and has since started at) a job in Greenville, S.C. as a graphic designer for a company that makes educational material for special education teachers and students.  Her parents live there and the area is, no offense Augustans, what the CSRA should be.

When I leave, I will be a freelancer full-time, something I haven’t been since 2006.  At the time, I didn’t have the experience or (more importantly) the connections I have now.  It was a certain struggle back then, but somehow it led to bigger and better things (the Chronicle job, among others).  As of today, I don’t plan on being a freelancer for the rest of my working life.  That may change with success and/or time.

Being a newspaper photographer was the best job in the world.  I use ‘was’ because it will never be the same.  In the past let’s say 50 years, the field of photojournalism has evolved, sometimes by leaps and bounds (think digital cameras), but mostly at a relatively normal pace compared to the fields around it, including other newsroom jobs.  But the current economic climate and newspapers’ inability to capitalize on the Internet, photojournalism is not evolving as normal – taking new technology and ways of working in stride and adapting. No,  in reality, it’s going through a revolution…and no one, I guarantee it, can foresee in what shape it will be in when it comes out the other side. The difference between when I arrived here almost exactly 5 years ago and now is, no joke, night and day.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for people who’ve been in the business 10 years or 20.  It’s not even the same job anymore.

I titled this post ‘part 1’ because I plan on covering many facets of my time at the newspaper – things I’ve learned, things I’ve loved, things I’ve kinda hated.  And I’ll finish with what lies ahead.

I can start with stating two facts.

1 – I’ll miss the daily grind of newspaper work.  Getting up in the morning and not knowing what you’ll be up against, who you’ll meet, what you’ll get to do.  That excitement of grabbing your assignments and going out to make a picture.

2- I’ll miss the people I work with.  That common bond we journalists share called cynicism.  And we have a unique sense of humor, especially the photo dept. (everyone wants to hang with the cool kids, admit it.)

So. Off we go…




Part of what makes this job so appealing is its unpredictable nature.  One day I’m taking pictures of back to school activities, the next I’m in scrubs and documenting a full on surgery. 

And when the location, or event is so off the charts cool, or fun, or unique, you gotta take a second to take a picture of yourself — if only to say that you were there, a little like a badge of honor (some sports shooters collect credentials, like Olympic, Super Bowl or Masters passes).

I have a collection of work related self-portraits (and they’re always the same: me making a face holding the camera an arm’s length away with something cool in the background.)  Me at the Masters. Me on the roof of Curtis Baptist Church. Me in Ushuaia, Argentina.  Me in full scrubs in an OR. 

This morning at University Hospital, I joined the subject of one of the stories we are doing for breast cancer awareness month in October.  She has been a very willing and easy going subject through out the whole thing and allowed me and a writer to be present during her double mastectomy.  And as things were winding down, I had to take a moment to turn the camera and document myself as being present. 



makes you wonder

My job takes me to a lot of different places.  Most of the time, those places are interesting, fun, or in some form or fashion, meaningful.  And some times, I’d rather not have seen that place to begin with as was the case with the old Castleberry’s food plant on the edge of Augusta’s ghetto. 

For a little background, Castleberry’s (owned by Bumble Bee) canned chilis and stews at a plant that, from the outside, looked old and dirty and honestly didn’t give the impression that the inside was any cleaner.  A couple of years ago, they had a massive recall of their chilis due to botulism.  The bad press mixed with the downturn in the economy meant that Castleberry’s closed the plant and abandoned it soon after. 

Fast forward to this past week, when it was announced that Mercy Ministries, a controversial homeless shelter in the middle of a residential area across town, would be moving its thrift store to the old Castleberry’s plant after buying it for a dollar.  This was good news and meant an old building would be used again and Mercy Ministries would be able to expand on the cheap. 

To illustrate their “moving in,” I was charged with the task of finding the electrician who was trying to find all the switch points and fuse boxes to shut off electricity to unused areas and restore it to the rooms to be filled with people’s used stuff for sale.  This task proved time consuming and while I waited on him to do something interesting enough to photograph for the paper, I roamed around this completely abandoned warehouse and food factory. 

Nearly everything that was metal was rusted out, fluorescent lights dangled from the ceiling and piping was bent, cracked or just plain missing.  The only thing not somewhat attached was this bucket, which looked like it was being used to catch leaking oil or hydraulic fluid of some kind.  Coming from what, I don’t know.  It was all a little creepy.

A lone bucket sits in the old Castleberry's food plant, soon to be taken over by Mercy Ministries and their thrift store operation. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

Makes you wonder what this place looked like two years ago.

I shoot a self-portrait of myself in a curve mirror as I stand next to piles of used clothing to be sold at the new Mercy Ministries thrift store, housed in the old Castleberry's food plant. Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff

I still had time to take a picture of myself in one of those curved mirror you see at particularly dangerous or blind corners.