Months ago while sitting in our photo workroom meeting with fellow editors the topic of the national political conventions came up. We tossed some ideas around as a group trying to figure out which staffers we would like to send. The discussion quickly turned to tight deadlines and logistics. How can we get our photos back to Dallas in a timely manner? What if there is a technical glitch?
Before my director opened her mouth I knew what was coming. I am the versatile member of the photography management team well versed in technical aspect of our relatively new digital photography world and I can edit photos. We need to keep the shooters out shooting, so as a photo editor I hang back and select and transmit the photos to Dallas after one of our faithful photo runners brings me the cards. I was naive to think that was all there is to it.
Photography turns out to be about the easiest (itâs not easy, but the pros I work with make it look that way and I donât want to take anything away from them) thing for our well seasoned staff to handle, the logistics on the other hand are a completely different story. Once we are in position to make the picture, the staff shines. Getting them into position is a another story.
About two weeks before it was time to fly to Tampa for the Republican National Convention, I wrapped up a big two-year project helping to install a new content management system for our newspapers under the A. H. Belo Corp. family. Thankfully one of our assistant directors was carrying the torch months before and had us all credentialed for the conventions and moving in the right direction.
Iâve edited big events in the past mainly in the sports realm Super Bowls, NBA finals and things like that, but nothing that compares to what was in store for me covering two conventions on back-to-back weeks. First off, what equipment do we need to bring? Are protests going to be bad to we need gas masks and ear protection? Long lenses are a must, you better be prepared for shooting positions that are far away. And pack a spare 400mm and 600mm, in case one goes down (which it did last night, thank you Canon Professional Services for the loaner on the fly.)
Then thereâs all the other junk: extra batteries, card readers, film bags, CAT5 cables, chargersâ¦.. you get the picture. Wait, Tropical Storm Isaac is heading straight for Tampa. Do I stage satellite phones and generators? Will it be that bad? Do I should I change my flight to get in before the storm? Its is my job to plan for the worst. I took a chance based on the easing forecast. I am glad Mother Nature cooperated and all that was required was a little extra rain gear.
We hit the ground running in Tampa on Sunday August 26. Even though our photographers are all credentialed for the event we do not have fixed shooting positions each day and it is a constant negotiation. I understand the photographers from the wire services reach a lot more people than we do so they will always get the preferred spots. The staff from the U.S. Senate Press Photographersâ Gallery has been outstanding. They make sure we all are in the spots we need to be in to get the shots that matter most to our readers back home. It is always a negotiation and requires a great deal of faith and patience in their staff. I cannot image the stress and pressure they have been under from us whiny photographers over the past two weeks. However, getting the stories to our readers back in Dallas is the most important thing from our perspective. They are masterful at giving us all a fair shot to access, even if we donât see it at the time.
In Tampa one of our photographers would start each morning at 9 a.m. covering the Texas delegationâs breakfast sessions Unfortunately they were staying about an hour out of town, so more logistics came into play. Downtown had events going all the time, at least half of our coverage is away from the actual convention. The days without actual convention events were full, on the days that we had convention activities at night we would be walking in just about dead on our feet from all the activity throughout the day. Our poor delegation shooter in Charlotte had to start his days at 7 a.m.
Everywhere went went security was tight. Driving into the Marriott in downtown Tampa we would go through at least six security checks. A friend speaking on good authority said it was easier to get into the green zone in Baghdad. X-rays, scanners and dogs, it was intense always and at every turn. I can go on and on, but I wonât. Iâm sure you all get the point.
Iâm sitting here on the final night writing this. It is the most relaxing peaceful time I have had in two weeks. The fire marshall closed the floor so our guys canât get the cards to out, rendering me useless. Therefore all I can do at this point is watch the convention on the TV in the digital darkroom and wait for the guys to come rushing in at the end of the night and try and get that money shot back to Dallas before deadline.
No matter the outcome later tonight I want to give a big shout out to our staffers that made these conventions a success and brought you, our readers, great visual coverage throughout. Tom Fox, Louis DeLuca, Lara Solt, G.J. McCarthy and Kye Lee, you guys are my heroes. All have knocked it out of the park. It is a pleasure to be around such excellence.
. Bookmark the