I was recently dining with a few friends and the subject matters jumped from politics to to grandchildren to clothing styles. I was distracted by several photo ops (could I have been bored?) I knew it was useless to share my 'visions' with my party and opted to turn my attention back to the table where the ladies were now talking about a You Tube cat video. Yawn.
On my way home I realized that, since retiring, I had lost touch with most of my photographer pals. Some had moved, some were too ill to get out and shoot, and some had even passed away. And I had moved, too. I felt disconnected.
There were no more photo editors, no more assignments, no deadlines, no more photos on front pages or in the newspapers that had my printed name, and no more complaining about how some editor, usually a news editor, had ruined a photo with cropping.
In the old days, especially when on an 'away' assignment, news people would gather at a local pub and complain or brag about their day, something we loved to do. I remember outdoor gatherings in areas where political unrest was prevalent, our reason for being there. Sitting around sometimes homemade tables we sipped (or chugged) the local libations and sampled the food of the day (often with care) as we watched the red ball in the sky give way to night. Sometimes the night beat us to the table and little strings of lights greeted us and illuminated our sunburned faces.
Unlike office managers or teachers or doctors news photographers don't just retire and pick up a hobby or travel or volunteer. A photojournalist is a photojournalist 24/7. Even if you took away our cameras our eyes would still be capturing photos, manipulating the light, composing, and cropping.
Some people asked me why I don't get back into news photography. Things have changed. I now live in a more remote area that has a twice a week news publication that covers church news and festivals, newspapers everywhere have cut staff, many relying on interns and graduates in order to save money, and I like retirement. I just wish I could sit with a group of people and say, "Look at the light on that," and have them understand.
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