After a great summer, it’s just about time to go.
I had my last day at The Oregonian yesterday, and I’m sad to be leaving after such a great experience.
Luckily in my last few weeks I had two of my all-time favorite assignments. The first was a weekend trip to Opal Creek, a beautiful wilderness area east of Salem. The second was a canoe trip that had me paddle 30 miles along the Willamette River.
Both assignments were in beautiful locations, and both gave me time to slow down and really shoot what I wanted. With three days for the first and a day and half for the second, there were so many interesting images to be made. I’m so glad to see a visible improvement in my work, in many assignments from the last few months and particularly these two.
I’ve learned several important lessons this summer. There were the obvious: how to make better pictures, how to write better captions, the best way to spend an afternoon with a subject when you were only supposed to have 30 minutes. And there were the difficult, like the way that one negative voice can sometimes drown out the others simply because it is louder, not because it is more correct.
But more than that, I’ve been at this paper during a very challenging time in its history. I wrote about this back in June, and while the initial shock has worn off, it hasn’t gone away.
When the layoffs were announced, I barely knew the staff members I worked with. I felt like anything I could say would be inadequate, and as an employee of only a week I didn’t feel right inserting myself into the end of what were, for some, 30 year careers at the paper.
Now, three months on, I’ve worked closely with several photographers and reporters, a handful of which will be leaving the paper in a week. I respect them immensely. I admire their work. I’ve come to them for critiques and advice several times this summer. There is still nothing I can say to them, other than, “Thank you for your time.” I know you put in many years before I arrived, but I was honored to be a part of your last weeks here.
I can’t pretend to speak for those staffers. Even after eleven weeks of working with them I don’t know enough to know what they are going through. But, what I do know is that despite the challenges faced, they continued to remind us interns of a very important lesson: it is not about who you work for, but the stories you tell. Great images can be made anywhere you have the right story, regardless of where your by-line is appearing.