Don’t take the detour
If you’re serious about becoming a photojournalist, you have to be willing to take detours now and again. Or not take them. Many young photographers get caught up in the motions of their daily assignments and miss opportunities that literally fall into their laps.
I was right on schedule for a basketball game I was assigned to cover Saturday evening in LaGrange when traffic suddenly came to a halt in Brookfield. Police were redirecting traffic and it would have been easy for me to continue on my way to the game and circumvent whatever was happening down the road.
As I approached, though, I rolled my windows down and could smell what was an obvious car fire, which has a very distinct smell. Now, car fires are not exactly earth-shaking news but even the most mundane event can make for an interesting photograph. Plus, I always imagine the photo gods getting angry if I pass by a perfectly photograph-able (is that a word?) moment.
Officers were blocking traffic so far in front of the fire that I ended up walking about a half mile before I got to the scene. I was there as fire trucks rolled up, but couldn’t get within a reasonable distance before they started to fight the blaze. I shot several photos of them once I got up close, but I actually like this one despite the long distance between me and the fire.
Of course, I ended up arriving at the basketball game just a few minutes behind schedule, but I’d do the same thing again just about every time. Sometimes, making your own detours is a great way to find photographs. At others, it’s deciding to ignore the detour that leads you to a decent image.