Sidewalk Ghosts / It’s More Than News Coverage

I asked, “Where are you from?”  He said, “Wherever I’m passing by.”

 

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I had the opportunity to photograph the news anchors of Univision 34, Los Angeles—a great group of people to work with and a ton of fun to photograph. The photo shoot started very early in the morning and finished in the evening. It was, to say the least, a very full day. No gripes; I love to be busy. Plus, I had a plan for the day. Simple, straightforward, and easy—just grab someone at lunch break to interview and photograph.

But as life always does, the curve ball came. Lunch was absorbed with unfinished business as it locked me to my mobile phone. Still no problem; I shifted to the fallback plan. Find a willing person in the hallway at the end of the shoot. Strike two—wrapped the shoot and the halls were quite.

Adding a touch of stress, it was 8pm, and I only had 4 hours left until the day ended. A pressure I put on myself in committing to never miss the daily time stamp of my commitment to post a story every day. Told myself if I missed one, I would reset the clock to day one. (I never missed a day and the project changed my life for the better.)

So there I was, equipment packed, in the parking structure, sitting in the driver’s seat of my truck, engine running, and ready to wander the streets looking for someone to interview. Memories of the evening before fell upon me as I shifted into reverse in prepping to exit an echoing garage. But for whatever reason the gear shifter decided to give me grief. My wife and I have a saying, “If it’s not broken, it must not belong to the Redstone’s.” Car issues two nights in a row, !*%#^$#!!!!!

I was trapped in an empty garage and struggling to get my vehicle into gear on the forth day of a one-year commitment that I though was about to go down in flames. I needed to find a person to photograph and I needed it then. It was 9pm and I had wasted an hour figuring out the car problem. I shifted into gear and began backing out. Then a stranger appeared in my rear view mirror.

Hector was his name, one of Univision’s news photographers returning from the day’s assignments. I said to myself (as many of us do when random stuff happens), “Maybe my car broke down for a reason,” and perhaps that reason was to meet Hector.

Hector taught me a thing or two about what news photographers go through.

A Few Generalizations in Bullet Points
• His news van was really his office.
• Everyday he commuted to and from Los Angeles and San Bernardino in bringing the news to us. Not a short drive.
• He had been nominated for an Emmy.
• He had one documentary under his belt that had been featured at the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

But Here Is What Was Really Impressive
From 1999 to 2005 Hector’s assignment was to cover events happening on the Mexico / California border. He told me of things so frightening and gruesome that I choose not to publish. It was with the greatest respect and empathy that he shared what he had recorded. All I can say is that with all my years of portrait and advertising photography, I had never found myself in the depth of situations as had Hector. In only a few minutes he opened my eyes to the courage of media photographers. He was a young guy, just getting married, who put it all on the line to look tragedy right in the face, and thinking beyond his own safety, took the risk to bring us the news.

In retrospect, all I can say is, Thanks Hector, and all of you brining us the real news. Keep up the meaningful work!

Talk tomorrow my good friends,

Richard

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