Monthly Archives: October 2012

Contests are shallow and meaningless

Unless, of course, you win.  So, for the second year in a row, they are shallow and meaningless.  Back in 2008, the judges for the Maine Press Association photo contest were right on and the contest accurately  showed who the best photojournalist was in the state.  The past two, not so much.  Sour grapes from a loser, yep.  Seriously though, I thought the Sun Journal had some great entries, and only Amber won a first place this year, but that’s how contests go.  Some years I can’t believe how my photos have topped some of the others that were entered.  The same entries can be given to a different set of judges and the results far different.  Subjective, yes. So while I am disappointed, I don’t give it much thought.   I have a drawer full of first place certificates and medals.  I feel that my work is as good as it has ever been and while I may not have had any photos of criminals jumping off buildings that win me prizes this year, my photos on a daily basis are creative, emotional and striking. A lot of my effort this and last year have gone toward video too.  But this year had to be the worst year for us, photography wise, since we started entering the contest in earnest.    However, the news and sports reporters, and design, cleaned house.   Many years it has been the photo department winning the bulk of the awards, so it was bound to happen that we had a bad year.  Lucky news and sports picked up the hardware.  The one saving grace was the judges comments on how strong our photography was when they chose the Sun Journal to be the best newspaper in the state.  That is the big kahuna when it comes to the contest.  Everyone covets that award.  In addition,  we were also awarded second in the weekend category.  Most importantly, to me, we won best website.  Pattie Reaves has done an outstanding job redesigning and updating it, and it showed.  I have concentrated on video for the past few years, spending more time shooting video than stills.  I post to the website whenever I have breaking news and create numerous photo galleries as well as post several photos from almost every assignment, not just one or two for the print edition.  So, I am happy for everyone who won, and while I am a little disappointed that me, Daryn and Jose did not win anything, I feel we do good work on a daily basis and am proud to be on the staff of the Sun Journal.

Sprinkled through this post are photos I took on Saturday at Mast Landing Sanctuary and Winslow Park in Freeport.  The Maine Press Association workshops and banquet were held at the Hilton in Freeport Saturday.  I was one of the panel members during a video workshop in the morning.  Organized by fellow journalist, musician, board member and all around fun guy, Troy Bennett, Gabe Souza of the Portland Press Herald showed some of our videos and answered questions about this new media that may be part of what helps keep our newspapers alive in this digital age.

After the workshop, I took a nap in the parking lot of the park and then shot some photos.  It was a day off for me, but I just can’t put my camera down.

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Devils, bobcats, storm troopers and a capsized canoe

My work day started with a conundrum.  I wanted to wear a maroon shirt since I would be starting my day at Bates College at their football game vs. Williams,  but later in the day I was scheduled to cover the Lewiston vs. EL boys AND girls soccer games.  EL’s colors are maroon and white.  Since I don’t want to be bias, but really because I am a LHS soccer alumnus, I couldn’t wear maroon.  I settled for red.   Before the start of the football game they had  a moment of silence for Troy Pappas, 18, of Eliot, a freshman at Bates, who died Friday from a stairwell fall six days earlier at the college.  He was also a football player.

It breaks my heart when I have to cover something like this.  I know these people do not want me there, but in this case, there were a half-dozen other photographers taking photos, so I did not feel so much like a ghoul like I often do when assigned to cover an event like this.

The Bobcats dominated the game.  I have not seen them win for a number of years.  Growing up down the street from Bates, I am no stranger to Garcelon Field.  I now live a block away from where I grew up, and my son Kevin is following in my footsteps by also walking to the games.  The difference is, he doesn’t have to sneak in under the fence during the National Anthem like I used to, the games are free now.   I hung out with him for a bit, and let him fire off a few photos.  He is taking a black and white photography class in school.   I left a little before the end of the second quarter as I had to head down to the public library to cover a Star Wars Reading event.  I couldn’t stay very long as I also had to get to EL where the girls and boys were playing soccer in a cross town rivalry against Lewiston.   They all started at the same time as the football game, so I did not have much time to spend at the library, so I jumped in my speeder and had to shoot and scoot.  I used my Jedi powers to turn the lights green and hit light speed down Central Avenue.                            By the time I arrived at the girls soccer game, there was only about 10 minutes left in the game.  I did not miss any goals, but dreaded overtime.   Reporter Kevin Mills said, “Russ is here, so there will be a score now.”  With exactly a minute and a half left, Lexi Clavet scored and that was that.

I was wicked hungry, so I jumped in my car to get a bite to eat.  Driving down Center Street looking for a quick fix, I heard a call over the scanner that a canoe had capsized in Lake Auburn and there was no sign of the paddlers.  I was not far away, so I zipped over.  I arrived just as Batman (click here to read the story) was pulling them out of the water.  They were a father and daughter from Bates that were cold and wet, but otherwise ok.  While they were paddling back to shore, I headed over to the boat launch where “Batman” and his fellow fisherman were heading to take out so I could get their names and interview them.  I also talked to some of the other dozen or so canoeists from Bates that were with them to hopefully squeeze the names out of them.  No luck.  I headed back to the other side of the lake where the wet paddlers got out.  To my surprise, after a little cajoling, I talked them into talking to me and got some great quotes for the story.   Jumping back in my car, I got back to the boys soccer game with plenty of time.  I got a great shot of the star of the game,  Llewellyn Jensen, the EL goalie making one of a number of spectacular saves.  He is only a sophomore, but I knew 5 years ago when I coached him in Y basketball that he would be a fantastic athlete.  The game went into overtime, of course.  And after two scoreless overtimes, the game ended in a tie.  I kicked myself for not leaving sooner, but figured if I had, I would have missed the game winning goal.  Most other photographers would not think twice about leaving early.  It was not a playoff game, and with hours of editing left to do,  it would be ok, and I would be the first to say so.  But I felt compelled to stay.  I didn’t want to miss the game winning goal.  I am on salary, so I don’t have to watch the clock.  Lucky for me there was room in the press box when the sky opened up and rained cats and dogs.  A quick drive through for a medium regular DD to keep me going through several hours of editing and writing and here I am.  Squeezed it all in less than 10 hours.  Seems to be about the average length of many of my weekend shifts.  Add an hour to write this and now I am  ready for a cold one at the Blue Goose.

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