Here's an important tip to keep in mind if you ever want to work as a news photographer in the Los Angeles market. Listening? Good. As much as possible, try not to screw up (yes, in my mind I dropped an "eff" bomb there).
Seriously, I'm convinced that I've built a pretty good reputation for myself more by being rock solid dependable in completing assignments than by bringing back pretty pictures. I think every one of our assignment desk folks have a level of confidence in me that makes it easy for them to make the call to send me out on big stories.
Around the corner or around the world, no matter the story, chances are pretty good that I'm going to get the job done and not bug a lot of people while I do it.
I think some of my best days have been the ones where I leave the station with an assignment, cover the story, then make one call at the end of my shift.
"Am I clear to go home?"
Working on the assignment desk seems like a stressful position. They're constantly busy and the fewer phone calls I add to their workload the better.
I'm not sure if any of this had much to do with my assignment last night. Catalina was burning and while Catalina was burning, I was sitting in a strip mall parking lot in Huntington Beach.
It was almost 8:00pm when my cell phone rang. I'd already been lunched and was working on my laptop. I'm taking today off to get more work done around my house (heh-heh, I'll get right on that). The desk needed a liveshot for a crew returning from the island with ground footage of the fire. The station had chartered a boat to make the round trip.
It was going to involve overtime for me and I'd have to pass my house on the way back to North Hollywood because I'd be leaving Unit #19 for the weekend. It was still my wedding anniversary. I hadn't planned anything, but I was hoping to see Dellis again before the day was over. On top of all that, I had volunteered to go to Catalina earlier in the day (I was kidding, but I didn't really believe they'd send someone).
That late in my shift, to only cover a liveshot or tape feed, you could describe my mood as not eager, but willing.
Reporter Sharon Tay knocked on my van door just before I left the station. She thought I might be her photographer for the story she was covering. Nope, not me. At this point, I wanted to vent just a little because I would have much rather gone out and shot a package with a reporter. I didn't get to vent. She was nice about it, but she was gone as soon as I told her I wasn't her photog.
Okay, I program my GPS unit and head down to Huntington Beach. I think I would have found the location quicker without it, but hey, at least I had the pleasure of it talking to me.
"Right turn in 300 yards. . .prepare to turn right. . .turn right. . .I said, RIGHT. . .(sigh). . .RE-calculating."
Our crew didn't make it back from the island. Plan "B", they were going to send video by way of the charter boat, but the boat didn't make it back in time with the video either.
I sat in the parking lot with my mast up for almost three hours. The women who were belly dancing (yeah, belly dancing) at the Pelican Isle bar stopped and asked about the evacuations on Catalina. It might be a better story if they were still in costume, but I thought it was an interesting bit of surreal life.
The desk cleared me to break down and head back to the station halfway through the 11:00pm newscast. I got home about two in the morning and that pretty much shot down my plan to "get up early and get a lot done".
It is Friday and I have a long weekend ahead. Sometime today, I'm going to turn on the news and find out if Catalina is still there. I'm not bitter. I got to see the Seal Beach Water Tower Home and a couple of belly dancers talked to me in the parking lot outside of a bar. It sounds a lot more interesting in writing than it actually was.
Not bad for a slow day at the office. Have a great weekend.