15 Hours – A Day in the Life of a Photojournalist

INTRO

I work at a newspaper in Frankfort, Kentucky, and we have one other shooter on staff. This week she’s been down at Disney World getting married, so I’ve been flying solo since Saturday. The first couple days weren’t too hectic. But then Wednesday rolled around.

PRELUDE

Tuesday, during our daily planning meeting, we decided to do a story on local private snow plow companies to see how they were doing in the unusually (for this area) cold and snowy winter, to run as centerpiece for Sunday’s edition. I received some contact information and made a call around 3 p.m. to set up a time to go out that night with a driver, but after several hours of waiting, no reply.

WEDNESDAY

7:30 a.m.

I’m woken up by a call from the contact I was expecting to hear from last night, with apologies sounding from the other end of the line. We made arrangements to meet with one of his drivers at the local Walmart. I rolled out of bed and took off.

8:00 a.m.

I meet the driver, Josh, in the parking lot and proceed to get some shots of him cleaning the parking lot. There wasn’t much snow at this point, mostly just slush he had to push around.

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9:00 a.m.

I make it back to the newsroom in time for our morning planning meeting. We didn’t have any art scheduled for A1 or A5, so we scramble to come up with some ideas. We decide on getting something visual for a story dealing with the city’s problems with water runoffs, which means getting shots of local businesses with large parking lots.

As the reporter and I are discussing how to tackle the assignment, another reporter hands me a photo opportunity happening at the Capitol at 11:30, which should work perfectly as A5 art.

10:45 a.m.

I monitor both my own Twitter feed and our paper’s sport’s Twitter account feed almost constantly, and I noticed several kids from one of the high schools were talking about being in lock down. I immediately alerted our education and crime reporters to have them check on what was going on, and I left to go check at the school itself. Turns out it was nothing, just a routine drug search and by the time I arrived, all the drama was complete.

11:30 a.m.

The event begins, a Black History Month celebration sponsored by the Kentucky Black Legislature Caucus. Lot of important political figures in attendance, including the governor (that’s not him pictured by the way).

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12:30 p.m.

I leave the Capitol and head down the road to work on what we call  a “Face” story. The “Frankfort Faces” is a series that focuses on local characters, this one being a dentist who also makes and plays his own guitars. I wanted to first get a couple shots of him in his job, interacting with patients. And I had an idea for a portrait combining his two sides. I also scheduled to meet him at his workshop at home at 6 p.m.

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1:05 p.m.

Finally getting a chance to eat, I stop next door to the dentist office at a small deli I’ve never eaten at before. It was a cozy little place and had a decent grilled ham and cheese. I’ll try to remember to go back.

1:35 p.m.

I head out from lunch to get some shots of large parking lots, stopping first at a government building, then, luck have it, heading back out to Walmart.

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While out on this assignment, I get a call from our news editor, alerting me to a meeting taking place that we need to cover, also happening at 6 p.m.

2:30 p.m.

I get back to the newsroom and start editing what I had shot so far. I make a call to the dentist to reschedule, and luckily he’s very flexible and we move the time to 7 p.m.

As soon as I put the phone down, I get called over by our news editor about a structure fire going on. I grab my gear and speed out the door.

3:20 p.m.

I arrive at the scene, and though most of the fire is out, there’s still some shots to be made. It was the first fire I had covered in a long time, so I was biting at the bit. Luckily, a sheriff’s deputy was able to pull a woman from the home to safety, though I wasn’t there for that.

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4:30 p.m.

I get back to the newsroom, and once again work on editing the photos from the day. I finish just in time to head to a local elementary school that’s the site for the meeting at 6 p.m.

6:00 p.m.

I arrive at the school, a meeting hosted by parents of students and nearby residents, concerned over the possibility of the local humane society relocating near the school.

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7:00 p.m.

I leave the meeting and arrive at dentist’s house to finish up the “Face” photos. The setup he had in his basement was pretty neat, and I got some nice shots of various parts of the guitar-making process.

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8:00 p.m.

I head out from his home, grab Wendy’s drive-thru, and get back to the newsroom. I finish up all the editing I need to do for the day as I eat. All in all, six different assignments covered and submitted.

9:05 p.m.

I finally arrive home and start editing for my own library purposes. After another hour and a half, I’m finally done with all photos for the day.

EPILOGUE

All in all, the day totaled 13 hours of work, more than 60 miles traveled and more than 500 photos taken. The day could have been much longer had there been sports at night, but they were cancelled due to the weather. Otherwise, my night would have ended much, much later.

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BONUS

These are the shoes of the Speaker of the House for Kentucky. I can’t make this up.

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One thought on “15 Hours – A Day in the Life of a Photojournalist

  1. Great insight into the daily life of a photojournalist. This is something i’d love to do, but at the same time, I’ve never studied either.

    Keep it up.

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