Covering 2020 - Republican Party

   Covering GOP presidential wannabes in 2020?  There are four Republican Parties - based on stories I’ve covered - with considerable overlap among the first three:
   Trump dead-enders: Named after similar to-anywhere followers of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, they will back Trump no matter how bad things get.  They are functionally all white - and overwhelmingly retired, from any part of U.S.; that age makes his slogan “Make America Great Again” resonate strongly with them - because age makes them remember when this really was a great nation.  They are driven by the economic, social, and foreign-respect collapse of America after the Vietnam War - and their view that Trump can restore what had been.  Like cops or Mafia people in that they don’t care if you like them - but are obsessed with being respected.  It is a cult of personality - and I’m hardly the first observer to say that: Trump is America’s first personality-cult president.  Trump is, of course, their cause.
   Tea Party: Functionally all white - but all ages; driven by economic collapse of middle class.  Just want back affluence; not particularly interested in any one president or candidate.  But their logical 2020 candidate is Newt Gingrich - who campaigned at Tea Party rallies in his 2012 presidential campaign.
   Social-issues right: All white, all ages but most older, mainly heartland.  Driven by abortion, gun rights, or same-sex marriage; really not interested in economy or foreign policy.  Ted Cruz again their likely candidate - as in 2016.
   Country-club Republicans: Driven by economic concerns of the affluent - tax cuts, Obamacare, etc.; don’t care about much else.  Mitt Romney - as in 2012 - is their logical guy, if he can get elected to the Senate in Utah.

Mitt Romney’s son Tagg campaigns for him, Burlington, N.C., Oct. 17, 2012.

My first assignment

   In the month after I shot my breakout work, I got my first assignment - portajohns!  I was to rapidly learn a lot about the portajohn industry after an email from a magazine I’d never heard of - Portable Restroom Operator - offering $350 to shoot a package for an update on a story on a major area business I’d never previously heard of: Piedmont Portables.
   So I arranged to shoot Piedmont Portables.  Most of the assignment went smoothly - though I ended up there three times to get more photos and captions for the Wisconsin-based industrial magazine. 
   But the key photo of the assignment - a cover photo of a Piedmont Portables portajohn sited on a construction site - was unobtainable.  As I explained to the client, nobody was doing construction in this area then, and some major building projects had simply been abandoned.  So I told the magazine’s editorial staff to contact Piedmont Portables itself for confirmation that nobody was doing construction then here - which they explained.
   The magazine arranged with Piedmont Portables for the portajohn company itself to provide that cover photo as soon as one was rented on a job site.   In the meantime, they paid me.
   In their Feb. 2013 issue, some of my package ran (below) - such as Piedmont Portables employee Keith Barksdale spray-cleaning a larger unit.

Shot on assignment for Portable Restroom Operator:
Piedmont Portables worker Keith Barksdale cleans a portajohn.
Ran Feb. 2013 issue.

Covering the “Resistance” against Trump

   Covering the “Resistance” - the street movement of Democrats against Trump that began very soon after his inauguration?  Big opportunity later this month.
   A first anniversary of the women’s “Resistance” marches immediately after he became president is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 20-21, the day and time locally depending on where you are.  Raleigh, N.C. has  a march scheduled for Saturday morning.
   Of course - as I noted - whether the “Resistance” gets taken seriously like Occupy was by politicians, the press, and the public depends totally on whether it becomes a chronic presence seemingly everywhere the way that Occupy did fast.  So far, it has failed to become a nationwide grouping of “Trumpvilles” in the way Occupy immediately became nationwide “Obamavilles” - seemingly unending encampments of jobless college graduates and a few other struggling Americans.
   So far, the “Resistance” has failed to be a news item - and stayed limited to the egghead few.

Occupy Greensboro (N.C.), Oct. 15, 2011.

Next year’s coming big stories

   Next year’s coming big stories will be political protest and the economy - at least on a national level.  Sure, other things may be bigger stories locally - but, for national stories, the economy and political protest will dominate for ongoing persistent news stories.
   So far, opposition to Pres. Trump hasn’t shown the endlessness that Occupy did - or the everywhereness that both Occupy and the Tea Party were noted for; instead, the “Resistance” has been limited to marches and rallies of a few hours each - in a very few places.  So far, opposition to Trump has centered on ideological differences.
   But will the issue that elected Trump - middle-class jobs for a largely dispossessed middle class - spark Occupy-like “Trumpvilles?”  In the past three months, massive downsizing of middle-class jobs has been a common news story; General Electric alone just downsized 12,000 more - and Ford downsized over 1,000 middle managers, Boeing 300 engineers, Lowe’s its entire IT department of 120.  And many other companies also did big downsizings of middle-class jobs during that three months: GM, Berkshire Hathaway newspapers, Blue Cross of North Carolina, Kellogg, Carrier, AT&T. 
   So far, however, neither the establishment Democrats - nor the “street” “Resistance” - have mobilized the downsized into a street-protest movement resembling Occupy or even the Tea Party.  Nor, so far, have establishment Democrats made a political issue of the continuing massive downsizings of middle-class jobs.
   But any “new Occupy” - or even an anti-Trump “Tea Party”-style movement - is the coming big news story.  Coming - because Occupy’s “campers” obviously simply didn’t have good jobs they couldn’t afford to be truant from!
   Similarly, the economy itself will provide great photojournalism potential - for the shooter willing and able to be observant and creative.

Occupy Chapel Hill (N.C.), Oct 22, 2011.

Batteries, batteries…

   Batteries are a major hassle for photographers - particularly photojournalists, who must rely on their batteries staying both able and not corroding gear despite being in scalding-hot car interiors in summer and freezing car interiors in winter.  Fortunately, some do work fine every time.
   In the “AA” alkaline batteries flash units need, my strong preference is Ray-O-Vac; they don’t corrode - and stay powerful for six months unused in a flash left in a car.  I’ve also never had problems with Duracell.
   I’ve had corrosion troubles with Eveready alkalines - fortunately never in photo use, as I simply won’t use them in that!
   My choice of where to get batteries is Lowe’s - as they sell them cheap in discount volume packs for building tradesmen, ensuring high turnover of those for sale and thus fresh ones.
   For rechargeables, I’ve never had trouble with either Eveready or Promaster Ni-MH batteries for powering digicams. 
   But - for proprietary battery packs for dSLRs - my choice is either Green Extreme or Promaster lithium-ion rechargeables.  Either is much less expensive than Canon’s - but works just as well.  Adorama sells Green Extreme inexpensively.

Your will. (You do have one, I hope)

   You do have a will, I hope.

   If you have any kind of creative work, you need a will; whether it is a photo library, songwriting, news stories, or fiction.  Sure, your state will “make a will” for you if you die without one - as law students are taught - but rest assured that, if your estate looks valuable, all sorts of self-proclaimed “relatives” will seek claims on it if you die without a will, as now is happening with the estate of a superstar singer.
   Sure, you’re now young - but you can die in an auto wreck or home fire tomorrow.  And that photo in your library of the kid playing high school football gets very valuable if it’s the only publishable quality one of him playing high school ball if he makes the NFL - or becomes a rock superstar.
   So get a basic will done, now.  Have it done - or reviewed - by a lawyer; the lawyer will keep a copy of it - and make sure it complies with your state’s laws.  And a lawyer is a good choice for your executor - so your estate’s disposition won’t be left to some idiot who is a relative.

What next for New York Daily News?

  What’s next for the New York Daily News - now that it has sold for the please-take-this-paper price of one dollar, with the buyer assuming all assets and liabilities?  In particular, what’s next for the freelance  photojournalists it paid top day rates to shoot distant stories?
   When I shot two stories for them in 2012, it was $500 per day - plus, of course, your work possibly running top market on top stories.  I shot the Petraeus/Broadwell story for them (below) - and soon was called back to shoot an NFL-related story for them; they ran one of my photos from the football story about the Giants’ new rookie star.
   But since then, they seem to be skimping on assignments - instead running wire content to every possible extent.
   What is clear is that - unlike Gannett, which owns so many daillies so widely scattered and now shares content among them as a very successful mini-AP - there just is very little opportunity for “New York’s Picture Newspaper” to run content from a chain whose newspapers seem very few and limited to Chicago and Los Angeles.  So either it must return to jobbing out such work whenever far from NYC - or continue using wire feeds.
   I’d bet they return to hiring out such work.


Shot on assignment for New York Daily News:
Paula Broadwell’s sons leave to play with neighbor and a girl.

The assignment I refused

   One of New York City’s three dailies had called offering an assignment - and I turned it down.  What was wrong with the proposed assignment?  In a word, everything.
   The New York Post wanted me to interview the back-home-here-again wife of a top New York politician in a headline scandal and write the story - for $200.  The offered payment alone was a dealbreaker; I explained to the editor or whoever had called that my day rate for NYC dailies was $500 - and I’d already had such gigs and payment from their competitor, the Daily News.
   The story practically would have written itself; anyone familiar with the 5 Ws and 1 H could easily do it.  Surely some J-school student in Charlotte - far closer to the wife - could have been found; the opportunity for a tearsheet from the front page of an NYC daily alone would have been a big opportunity.  So did they want me - or was everyone nearer the wife’s home refusing?
   One problem - their adamant insistence on $200 as payment - alone ended it.  Going nearly to Charlotte and back would have made the gig very minimally profitable.  
   But the real problem is that day rate would have meant I’d never get more from that paper - and quite possibly have my day rate with the Daily News “renegotiated” soon after.  I explained to the person at the New York Post that one of my photos - sold through an agency - already had run front page on a top story in their paper - and that the Daily News was paying my day rate - and, with that, the call ended.
   Later, I did a photo assignment for the New York Post - a top story - at a reasonable day rate: the just-fired executive editor of the New York Times was commencement speaker at Wake Forest (below).

Shot on assignment for the New York Post:
Just fired as executive editor of the New York Times,
Jill Abramson gives 2014 commencement speech at Wake Forest.

Your photo ran. Now what?

Your first news photo ran paid.  Congratulaions - but now what?
First - assuming you shot it digital, now near-certain - you need to set up a filing system if you haven’t yet.  It’s very easy for digital - unlike extremely difficult for film, which is why it took Dirck Halstead months to find that iconic photo he’d shot of Monica Lewinsky dreaming in Bill Clinton’s arm as a crowd stared.  (Time ran that photo as its cover - assuring Clinton’s impeachment.)  Set up folders and subfolders for each story you shoot.
But - most of all - keep any photo you submit, much less every photo that actually runs; I don’t care on what story.  That scrawny high-school football player really may make the NFL some day - or run for president; the latter has happened at least once - with the incredibly scrawny guy becoming a serious contender, not just a candidate.
My first photo to run paid was shot on film in the early 1980s - a badly wrecked high-dollar small plane.  It ran the next day with credit - and, now, neither the Greensboro News & Record nor I can find it!
So - when your first runs, no matter what it is - get it printed 8”x10” and framed and hang it somewhere.  It may cost much of what you get paid.  But - years later - you’ll be glad you did.

My first news photo to run in an a NYC daily.
Kodak files bankruptcy.
Ran front page that morning, New York Post.

The digicam where non-dSLRs got taken seriously by photojournalists

   At some point, Canon made a truly fantastic non-dSLR compact digicam - to the point photojournalists began shooting stories with it; it was the G15.  Truly great usable very high ISO capability, very fast lens across entire zoom range, 28-140 zoom lens easy exposure compensation in the field,easy switching between shutter priority and aperture priority plus automatic mode, seemingly endless battery capacity.
   And word that it really could do most all work previously done only with heavy, bulky dSLRs percolated fast among shooters.  A shooter was reportedly covering Afghanistan with a G15.  During a private phone call, my first industry contact told me he’d shot stories for the big daily he was director of photography for with his G15.  For my part, I sold news photos on top stories I’d shot with my G15 (below) - and told that photo director that.
   The G15 was ideal for indoor work where you had to be inconspicuous - like the package I sold at the height of the Duck Dynasty controversy over their remarks against same-sex marriage.  I shot a display of their stuff inside a retail setting using mine - and it ran.
   It also was the very-capable camera you always had with you - not in a bag full of gear out in your car.

Shot at height of Duck Dynasty dispute - and ran.