Monday, December 31, 2012

Post-2012

We survived another year and go deeper into electronic publishing, the end of the year gives me time to reflect on friends and events that happened in 2012. My daughter's wedding at the end of June was the personal highlight, and getting a monthly citation from Lifetouch along with a profile in the Hong Kong PHOTO magazine were rewarding events for me..

But it was the passing of my former boss, Graphic Arts Director at the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gary Haynes. He got me into the bag business by being cheap. Putting his United Press budgeting habits to work he wanted a camera bag that cost the same as the store bags and would last longer than 6 months. But I didn't want to simply copy the canvas bag that Leica was selling. The camera bag was a tool, I had a fishing bag that was close, but needed improving. Haynes bought the first 22 Domke bags in 1975. There was a national election and Pennsylvania was living up to it's name as the "keystone state," TIME magazine's Bill Pierce saw the bags and wrote about it in Camera 35 magazine. The rest is history. . .

But what was more important was how Haynes had total control of the photos and graphics. Not only  editing which photos to print, but which photo to finally run and how it was cropped. Not just the staff photos, but every photo in the paper. This was revolutionary and most newspaper editors simply felt the photo was a tool to support the written word. Like the headline, to get readers to stop and read the story.

Haynes saw how important the photo was to tell the story, not just attract attention.

The internet is amazing, words and pictures work together, whether still or motion, there is sound that adds information. Who needs words?

Words are important, whether written or spoken the picture doesn't tell the whole story. Unfortunately, Haynes didn't have control over the caption. When I was there the caption had to be just one line, they didn't want to cut down on the story. They were competing with TV, which only told a brief outline. The newspaper had more room and the Executive Editor, Gene Roberts, wanted long stories.

Long stories with good photos. When Haynes got to the paper in 1973, he immediately ran into a problem having photographers go out to cover a story together. The staff was small and he saw how reporters were motivated to write magazine style stories, which may take weeks before its ready to publish and the event covered with the reporter might barely be mentioned.

Roberts also didn't like covering press conferences, the Inquirer found there own stories. Didn't want to duplicate the TV news. Roberts figured that if viewers saw the sports scores and heard about the daily events at 10.p.m. news then they didn't need to read the morning newspaper. He tried to report on what was going to happen, and it was hard to photograph something before it happened. I remember one story about new hotel, interviewing the architect, that ran on the day of the ground breaking scooping TV and the evening paper, The Philadelphia Bulllitin.

The solution for Haynes was to wait till the story was written and scheduled to run. Then worry about getting photos. This actually worked out pretty well for the photo. Instead of simply going to an office and taking a picture of so-and-so while the reporter interviewed them. The photo staff could set up the time and place to show the main subject doing what he was talking about.

All photos were edited, back then you were mainly interested in getting a good horizontal and another vertical so the make-up editor had flexibility laying out the paper. But the Inquirer want reporters to write, write long stories that might run every day for a week or maybe ten days. This they hoped would motivate people to buy the paper.

We shot lots of pictures, the paper wanted to flaunt the exclusive story with a big front page photo, and then the story would jump inside filling two or more newspaper pages! This took me to southeast Asia to cover refugees.

Looking at the slide shows and videos on the web I see a need for an editor, someone to crop the images and edit it down so they tell a story. Not mix the eye-catching grabber with a so-so photo. I was going to pitch the idea of doing a blog together with Haynes, but he passed away this year.

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