A mentor and the thrill of publication

creekI recognize this is a pretty ordinary photo, but it means so much to me that I have to include it. In my final semester at CSU Northridge, in 1980, I landed an internship with the Valley edition of the Los Angeles Times. To put it mildly, I was both thrilled and scared shitless. At this newspaper, being an intern did not mean you would be published. LA was going through one of those rain storms that resulted in mudslides all over the place, and the Times sent me, with staff photographer Ken Lubas, to photograph the damage. I remember being so thrilled to be on a ride along with a Times photographer. I also remember something he told me that day, something that I have practiced every day of my life since. He told me to always think of everything I see in terms of what kind of picture it would make. Even if I wasn’t shooting, just look, survey and think “picture.” It is probably the single greatest piece of advice anybody ever gave me. When we came upon this scene of a couple of guys trying to salvage their car that had been washed away, I think in Malibu Canyon, Ken decided to let the rookie shoot it. I thought he was doing me a big favor, giving me a chance, but it was pouring rain as I remember, and he probably just laughed his ass off while I got out and got drenched! (You can fess up now, Ken!) Later, I got word from an editor that my picture was going to be published in the Times. I was thrilled beyond all description. The night before publication, I didn’t sleep. I was wide awake when I heard the paper land at my apartment door at 5am. I was on it in an instant, opened the paper and there it was! It was in the Los Angeles Times! It was the thrill of my life. Next came the toughest part. I had to wait about 4 hours to call my parents and tell them. I didn’t want to wake them at 5 in the morning. It was the longest 4 hours ever, but I finally got to make the call and tell my mom. I was, literally, on top of the world. So even though this is just a run-of-the-mill news photo, it is one of the most special photos I ever shot in my life. I ended up getting 20 photos published during my internship with The Times.

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