One of the things I don’t miss at all about working in newspapers is the incredible frustration of not being able to get the time to do a story or project the way you want to. So many times I would convince the editors to give me a day or two to work on something, then when I’d get to work, my all-day project has now become a two-hour project. “Sorry, something came up,” they would say, and I’d spend my shift doing the most routine daily work. One time, when my home town of Taft, California was hit by a devastating downturn in oil prices – similar to what’s happening now – I proposed doing a project on the impact it was having on families. The editors agreed, I found several families willing to be photographed, and one Thursday afternoon, I headed out to do my first of what would be many shoots in the small oil town. And then, bam!, as I was leaving, the editor says, “By the way, we need this project completed tonight. We’re running it this weekend.” Yep, I don’t miss that at all. (I categorically reject, and always have rejected, the notion that if you really want to do a project, you should do it for free or on your own time. That’s just another way a predatory industry takes advantage of its journalists.)
It looks like we’re going to have a gorgeous spring here in Kern County, California, as the long-awaited rains have brought some relief, though by no means an end to the drought. Wildflowers are a big thing around here, and thousands of people take to the countryside when they are in bloom. They’re just now starting. I found a nice, small field yesterday that was in near full-bloom, and stopped to do a little shooting. I spent three hours shooting a combination of time lapse photography and video and another six hours editing it. Never would have happened as a newspaper assignment. It is so liberating and invigorating to work on what I want at my own leisure.
Spring is almost here, the days are gorgeous and in the 70s and 80s right now, and to all you blog readers back east, don’t worry, you can get even with me this summer, when we will be baking in 100-degree heat!
Click the photo below to view the video, or you can click here, too.