I finished my internship at The Sun News last week. Not only did I get some great parting words, I had a really great last shoot for them: go to a birthday party for a 105 year old man.
When I got to the nursing home, I started to look for the birthday boy, Homer Patchins. I spotted other nursing home residents, but didn't quite find anyone who I thought could be 105. I figured the man would be withered and unable to sit up very well. But when I met Homer, it was quite the opposite!
Homer rode around in a wheelchair and had a very difficult time hearing everyone, but boy, was he ornery. He kept teasing everyone and making jobs and laughing. It was a wonderful sight to see.
His family was also present — all five generations of them. My family had four generations alive until my great-grandmother passed away last year at 96, but I can't imagine still having a great-great grandfather.
I learned a lot this summer at The Sun News. At the risk of writing an obnoxiously long blog post, I'll try to shorten it by formatting it in list form below.
- Ethics are less black and white than I previously thought. I started recognizing situations where just your physical presence can alter a situation because you're in the way. Photojournalists should try to leave a situation completely pure as if they were never there.
- Shoot more simply. I have been working on cleaning up the backgrounds of my pictures and to not complicate my photos with unnecessary things. I was resistant to this at first, because hey, I can't move the world to make my pictures look perfect. But it's important to at least strive for this because then it's that much more easy for the audience to connect with the subject.
- You can always get someone's name. I would go to a few events and come away with a picture that I didn't think my editor would like. Well, he would. But then I wouldn't have the subject's name. But that was too bad. I would call around to local schools, sources, search for people on Google, just to get someone's name. It's possible.
- Always shoot for a story. My editor, Matt Frye, always had a very specific idea of how to put together a photo package. I didn't understand it at first, but eventually figured out I needed to shoot wide for context, tight to include portraits and supplement with photographs that tell the entire story.
All photographs copyright © Katie Currid and may not be used or redistributed without permission.