Note to readers: This series features the behind the photograph stories of images from the past year. These are not always my best photos but they are photos that have some meaning to me. Of course, sometimes that meaning is simply the photo was one of my best images.
This assignment began life as an advertising assignment. Yes, we do shoot these too. For those of you who are hard core photojournalists you see the immediate conflict of interest; however, our ownership has never seen that so we do shoot ads from time to time. I suppose in a small, community newspaper you do pretty much what you have to. That said, I am not over fond of shooting advertising. I try to approach an ad assignment with every bit of energy I approach anything else with because I do still enjoy eating and doing photojournalism and advertising is what enables that to happen.
This particular ad assignment was for a 100th birthday party at one of the assisted living facilities in Decatur. You just never know how mobile and lucid someone is going to be at 100. I have done several assignments over the years for 100 year olds and they have run the gamut. Some of them are remarkable in their mental and physical dexterity and others are little more than a shell of their former selves.
Let me just say, Clifford Sims was remarkable in every sense of the word. I knew the photo I wanted was going to be him blowing out the candles, if he were capable. As soon as I saw him I knew I was going to get a nice photo. Sure enough, Mr. Sims bent over that cake to blow out the candles like a man turning 70 rather than 100. I got two very nice frames. I continued shooting the party and this very remarkable man who used to lead singing at his church entertained the crowd by joining in a gospel trio with his former pastor and another man and singing hymns.
Obviously, this assignment had risen above what I expected and I knew I could turn in a very nice feature photo for news in addition to a beautiful selection of images for the advertising department. It is good to keep an open mind about everything you shoot and it is good to keep a positive attitude as well. You never know when something basic will turn into something wonderful or when it will lead you down a new path or put you on the trail of a new story. None of that will happen if you blow in and blow out and just do minimums. If you have been reading the blog long you know I say all the time do you best on every job every time and let every assignment make you better.