Sunday, March 29, 2009

Remembering why

Sometimes in the daily grind of life, I think we forget why we do what we do.
Take photojournalism, for example. There are a lot of crappy stories, events with horrible light, days where you just don't want to be shooting. I would say most of my experiences working for The Lumberjack are less than awesome. They are mediocre, or rather I see them as mediocre and my images reflect that. Every once in a while though, something happens that reminds us that whatever we are doing is worth it. I get maybe one story per month where I show up and say "I am so glad I do this." That ratio isn't great, mind you. I have shot 18 stories in the months of February and March, and during that time I have had ONE that really rocked. That story went down yesterday, in the middle of the day in downtown Flagstaff.

This image is one of my favorites out of more than 300 that I shot in the 20 minutes this event was taking place. Once it started, feathers hit the fan. I'd guess that 35 people from 3 years old to 40 showed up and had a seriously epic pillow fight in the middle the day, in the middle of Heritage Square in downtown Flagstaff.
The goal of the event was to protest war and cruelty. I noticed several of the participants wearing Anarchy symbols and part of the speech given at the end of the pillowfight included "we don't need politicians, or police, or the government!"

I heard about the story from the News section at the paper. They apparently got a tip off from one of the planners. I showed up an hour early and walked around, got to know a few of the people enjoying the good weather in the square, and popped off a few personal shots to get warmed up.
3:00 came, and went. The only sign of any promise to this story was one girl, sitting alone on a bench holding a pillow.

I stuck around, randomly shooting pictures of whatever I saw to keep me on my feet. Slowly, over about 30 minutes, another 15 or 20 people trickled into the square holding pillows. I knew then that something was eventually going to happen. Sure enough, around 3:35 a big group rolled up with a sound system on a cart and a bunch of pillows. The (really loud) music started and the pillowfight commenced.
It came in several waves, the group randomly quieting down and starting back up again. Several pillows burst, strewing their contents all over the square. The Flagstaff Police received a complaint and showed up (more than 5 uniformed officers + 2 plainclothes).

Nobody was arrested and as far as I know, no tickets were given. The group was told to clean everything up and go on their way. The plainclothes officers stuck around just to make sure.

This story was the most fun I've had since shooting the Slightly Stoopid concert. It served as a reminder of why I do photojournalism. As long as I have these pictures around, I'll have that reminder.

Do you know why you do what you do?
What can you do to remind yourself?
Think on it.