You know you’re a Press Photographer when…

You know you’re a Press Photographer when…

1. You have french fries under your front seat and spilled coffee near your gearshift.

2. You rip your pants jumping a fence.

3. You view big press events as family gatherings.

4. You gamble on how far you can go on an empty gas tank.

5. You win an award then find yourself shooting a pothole the next day.

6. You find yourself silently yelling at people who pass in front of your lens “Get out of the way!”

7. You accumulate press passes in your home from various events you’ve been fortunate to attend.

8. You see colleagues drop like flies around you when their backs give out.

9. You love your GPS until it makes you late for an assignment by sending you on a wild goose chase.

10. You lay out your front-page picture on the kitchen table for a long period of time and even look at it from the next room.

11. You cry out “Nooooo!” when you see a cropped version of your photo appear in print.

12. You photograph a chili cook-off, a pet-of-the-week, or a gurney race – two years in a row.

13. You fantasize about out-shooting James Nachtwey on an assignment in your community where he shows up.

14. You get incredible access to a huge event and try to play it cool.

15. You catch yourself laughing at a joke at a crime scene and realize how much of a schmuck that makes you appear to onlookers.

16. You see a whole crowd of television stations show up at a press conference to respond to a story you worked on the day before.

17. You sometimes feel like a vulture, a snake or a weasel even while trying to be sensitive on assignments.

18. You receive a phone call from a mom saying your picture made her son’s day.

19. You show up to an assignment to find you have dead batteries, full cards, or both.

20. You wish you owned your copyright but appreciate the health care if you work for a company.

21. You see a public relations professional’s friendly demeanor vanish when an assignment takes an unexpected turn.

22. You whine about photo contests because of their overseas bias, then enter anyway.

23. You are an expert of the dollar menu at McDonald’s.

24. You start referring to incredibly sad pictures as “great.”

25. You may know more about a particular topic than the reporter but can’t tell them what to write.

26. You have ink marks and holes punched in the back of your car seat from the pens in your back pocket.

27. You feel like a kid at Christmas when you either buy or get assigned new cameras.

28. You experiment with at least three different types of material to bounce light from your flash. At least two of them are hand-made.

29. You get yelled at by a security guard or police officer.

30. Your car battery dies after recharging your laptop and camera batteries.

31. You go to the bathroom in gross places out of sheer desperation.

32. Your dentist whispers over your shoulder “So how do you become a photographer?”

33. You drive your car around with a laptop open in the passenger seat, hoping and praying for a signal so you can transmit your photos.

34. You get pretty good at “Hail Mary” pictures (see above photo).

35. You donate a print for a good cause.

36. You work all the holidays, mystifying friends and neighbors.

37. You have a long list of reprints you promised (It’s time to go do them).

38. You would like to finish an assignment in minutes but decide to stay hours to do the situation justice.

39. You photograph a bored or unruly child at a press conference because you’re bored too.

40. You shoot five silhouettes in one week until a colleague shakes you to your senses.

41. You receive five assignments in one day. Or eight.

42. You get a hand-written thank you note from an elderly person thanking you for your care and sensitivity in making his portrait.

43. You buy nice clothes to polish your appearance then slip back into wearing jeans and rumpled shirts after your nice clothes get destroyed by mud, fire, and coffee stains.

44. Your family member wonders aloud when you will get a real job.

45. You are amazed that you have this job.

46. You throw up your hands when it comes to video, “nat sound” and social media, saying, “All I want to do is take pictures!”

47. You leave your power cord at the office and rush to get your work done with 5% power left.

48. You realize that your blue pictures are caused by not changing the tungsten white balance from the prep basketball game you photographed the night before.

49. You wish a life partner could be there to experience all the crazy, wonderful and sometimes difficult things you experience that get lost in the retelling.

50. You hope to change the world with your photographs.

Advice for Picture Editors… (with tongue firmly in cheek)

As a guide for you budding picture editors out there, here is some
solid advice about how to best extract award-winning photography from
those in your charge:

1) Be sure to tell the photographer EXACTLY how to take the picture.
That way, he won’t make any mistakes while executing your idea. In
fact, if you knew how to work the camera, you’d just go do it
yourself, you genius you. When your boss asks, be sure to disavow any
knowledge of where the photographer got such a lame idea.

2) When setting up the assignment, be sure to tell the subject or his
“people” that the shoot will only take a few minutes. Then, when you
call the photographer, tell him that the subject has agreed to a few
hours. Oh, what a surprise that will be! When doing this, it’s also
best to tell the photographer that your expectations are very low due
to the difficulty of the assignment. Then, when you get the pictures,
act as though it was the easiest assignment you ever handed out and
you can’t understand why he had any trouble.

3) When you’re trying to come up with a concept for a portrait or
feature, make sure that it’s something you’ve seen before. That’s a
sure way to know that it must be a good idea. If the photographer
suggests something you can’t visualize, it must be a bad idea and you
should reject it right away. Tell the photog to lay off the
hallucinogenic drugs and start reading some great picture magazines,
like the Enquirer.

4) Don’t let the photographer see the take after it’s shot and above
all else, don’t let him edit it down. Why on earth would he care what
the pictures look like anyway? He doesn’t have a visual sense or
anything. In fact, it’s a wonder he even knows when to push the
button. Most importantly, by viewing the take, he might find something
you missed—like the picture of the game— and we can’t have that now,
can we? As long as that never happens, your reputation is intact.

5) Don’t ever call to tell the photographer you liked the pictures. He
probably doesn’t care what you think anyway, and besides, you’re too
busy to take the two minutes to call. After all, he’s probably busy
after traveling hundreds of miles, carrying a dozen cases of
equipment, standing in the snow, waiting for an hour while the subject
primped and staying up late to get the images out. Nah, that two
minute call for an “attaboy” is too much trouble.

6) If the images weren’t what you were looking for, don’t call then
either. Why would a photographer want to know that? It might hurt his
feelings and change the way he approaches the next assignment for you.
No, better to let him continue down his erroneous path. That way, you
can just stop using him while telling everyone “he blows.” If that
doesn’t work, call and rant at him for twenty minutes. That will let
him know who’s boss. Besides, you have all that time left over from
the “attaboy” calls you never made.

7) When your “button-pusher” actually does get a great photograph
(miracles do happen), be sure to take the time to spell his name wrong
in the credit. This will help to keep him a secret from other
publications that might like to use him as well. An alternative is to
make the credit a group credit. That way, readers won’t know who shot
which picture and everyone on the list can take the credit for the
best shots. And by all means, make the credit small. No one reads them
anyway.

8) Always tell the photographer, “it’s a rush.” That way, you’ll be
sure to have the images in your hot little hand as soon as possible.
It doesn’t matter that the story isn’t running for six weeks. Missing
dinner, sleeping, or driving a hundred miles to the nearest
electricity or airport is all just part of the job, especially after a
twelve hour day on the road.

9) Crop everything. Those silly photographers don’t know anything
about composition, so you’ll have to do it for them. Crop out anything
extraneous. Arms, feet, balls or any “storytelling” element that the
photographer might have mistakenly gotten in there. Crop as tight as
you can. All that extra space just wastes ink and paper. As an
alternative, manipulate the image in PhotoShop. Move the ball, add a
puck, and take out a teammate. That’s what the program was meant for.

10) Finally, throw a party at the photo shoot. Bring your significant
other—-who always wanted to meet the subject—-a few friends, the
writer, an editor, your mom and anyone else you’d like to impress. I
know that when I’m being photographed, the more people standing around
gawking at me the better. Make sure you have loud music playing to set
the mood. That way, the subject won’t be able to hear the idiot
photographer’s directions. Be sure to talk to the subject while the
shoot is taking place. That will help to “loosen him up.”

P.S. —- If you’re a shooter, and an editor you work for exhibits some
of these tendencies, run—don’t walk—to another publication. There,
you will likely find an editor who encourages your ideas, supports
your efforts, backs you to the boss and will likely make you a better
photographer. Give 100% for them and you will be rewarded with some of
the best images of your career.