I just started as the fall photo intern with The Dallas Morning News and they have not hesitated to get me right into the mix here.Â On Saturday I went out to the state fairgrounds to cover the Tomato Battle, an organized food fight with 300,000 pounds of overripe Roma tomatoes in the tradition of Spainâs La Tomatina festival. I was pretty stoked for the event â" I had seenÂ pictures from former DMN intern Taylor Glascock when she covered the event last yearÂ and it looked like some crazy fun. I think I may have forgotten to read what she actually wrote in her blog post, though. Typical photographer.
Being on my classic intern budget, I gathered the supplies that I constantly carry in the back of my car for situations such as this â" a poncho, black rainboots and black trash bags. However, those supplies are typically used to prevent rain, not flying tomato bits. I added my ThinkTank fanny pack for extra nerdiness, packed with my notebook, phone, a dish towel and a camera cleaning cloth. I figured I was set.
And, well, I was pretty much set. I had 80% of my body and clothing covered, with the exception of my knees and, most importantly, my head. Yeah. Tip to next yearâs intern: Bring a helmet, because apparently this is a new internÂ
hazing ritualÂ tradition. Tomatoes hurt.
Iâm still not really sure how this is an activity that so many people come out to for fun. Mud is fun. Water balloon fights are fun. But did you know that tomatoes are hard? Most of my experience with tomatoes has been gleefully cutting them up to enjoy in a salad, or squished up into ketchup. I think this was a tomato revenge battle. Having only ever eaten tomatoes and avoided having one pegged at my head until today, I was blissfully ignorant.
But today I am more the wiser. I was at the front lines of the Tomato Battle, determined in my first week at my internship to be the gung-ho intern, ready for anything. But the least misleading thing about this event was definitely the word âbattle.â Stuck on the island of tomatoes in the center of a parking lot, I was in the midst of red, juicy, saucy combat. After just a few minutes, my mission turned from making awesome pictures and impressing my new editors to making decent pictures and avoid getting my camera nailed by a tomato.
I spent what seemed like long enough in the center of the tomato battle when I decided to retreat to the fringes of the event. But there I was â" press pass, trash-bag-covered camera and seriously nerdy poncho. I looked too prepared. People could tell I did not want to get messy, and they were not going to let me get away with it. The only thing I could do was not take their picture out of revenge. They know what they did.
After about 30 minutes, I was done. I figured I had enough of what I needed, plus I didnât know if my camera could take anymore â" I did fairly well keeping it out of harmâs way with my trash bags and the constant wiping with the towel I brought along. But tomato bits were starting to dry into the crevices of the dials and buttons of my camera and I was determined not to let the tomato win. With tomato chunks on my shoulder, seeds all stuck up in my ponytail, and the skin of tomato drying on my rainboots, I headed off to find my car. I had apparently parked it a mile away and forgotten where that was. I am such an intern.
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