Many of our readers tell us how much they love the photos in The McDuffie Mirror. The reason our paper looks so good is because our publisher has extremely high standards, especially where photos are concerned.
Over the weekend, I was watching Spiderman again with my son, and had to laugh at the scene where editor J. Jonah Jameson is looking at pictures Peter Parker took of Spiderman, and he says, "crap, crap, crap, megacrap..."
Our publisher, Jason Smith, really isn't like that. In fact, he's very complimentary about our photos when they are good. But he also has a sharp eye that can catch the slightest imperfection, and he points it out to us so that we can learn how to do better.
My goal, like that of my coworkers, always has been to take the best possible photo while remaining inconspicuous. Last week, my goal backfired, and it didn't happen quietly. I was in the middle school auditorium during the gang awareness presentation. Earlier in the day, I had informed the speaker that I would come in later to take pictures, so I thought I had all my bases covered. As promised, I slipped in the back of the auditorium midway through the presentation, stepped on a few million creaky boards in the floor and sat down in a squeaky seat behind all the students. They were watching a video of a real gang initiation in which several gang members were beating the stuffings out of a gang member wanna-be. (That's another topic for another day).
After the video, the speaker started and I used this opportunity to silently raise my camera and take the "perfect shot" of the back of the audience's heads and the speaker standing before them. But the sounds and flash of my "perfect shot" were misinterpreted by all the jittery nerves of adolescents with images of gang warfare fresh on their brains. They thought the camera shots were gunshots, and every single boy either jumped, crouched, gasped, screamed or hit the deck while turning to see where the shots were coming from. And there I was, the "inconspicuous" lady with the camera, with all the focus off of the speaker and directed at me. I turned to Principal Claude Powell to offer my apologies, but found his face drawn tight as he struggled to stifle his laughter.
I looked at the digital screen on my camera, and knew the photo was more "crap" from which to learn a lesson than a "good" one. But I didn't dare shoot again. Even though the boys were well aware by then that I was holding a camera, everyone was still stifling laughter, and it wouldn't take much to set it off.
Needless to say, if Mr. Powell had been concerned the boys weren't absorbing the message of the presentation, I think he has no doubts now. And as for me, I'll be working to improve my chameleon act so I can blend into the woodwork better next time. I don't want Peter Parker getting my job.