There are certain times when as a small town reporter one’s drive to get the best picture he (me) can imagine lands him (me) some peculiar situations. For instance I had the great opportunity to crawl into a commercial dryer for this week’s laundry service feature.
But it’s not always that clean; there’s the cave story from a few months back, when I was fortunate enough to tag along with some cavers into a Marion County grotto. The art I captured wasn’t great, but the memories were.
Or the time I crawled under a house on Coffee Street to get shots of Duck River Electric helping a local family by giving them a new heating unit.
Sometime the story calls for scaling new highs. Years back, The Historical Society’s Jesse Lewis would decorate the copula for Christmas and the Times was there with possibly most vertigo-inducing front page in recent memory.
Flood pictures are always fun. To be sure, I don’t envy the weather channel correspondent their job. Covering inclement weather is bone numbing cold, even in the spring. No matter how much raingear you put on, strolling along in two feet of swollen creek water in the pouring rain and the water always seems to find a way in.
But when it comes to being cold, the coldest I ever remember being is at crime scenes. I really appreciate the fortitude of all the first responders. They’re out there in the thick of it in the cold and wet. And they stay in that cold and wet long after the reporters have gone back to the warmth of the office to try and dry off with a paper towel.
On the flipside, sometimes the story can be a scorcher, literally. Once a former fire chief invited me to attend a volunteer firefighter training expo that featured a house fire simulator that gave some of the new guys experience making entry into structure fire. Basically, a tractor trailer with a really big propane burner in it.
The chief’s like, “John, you want to get some pictures inside?’
So there I am, tucked down in a far corner of a fiery furnace (in khakis and combat boots) snapping pictures like mad of the firefighters making entry into the trainer.
That’s not to say that any of my adventures ever put me in any unreasonable risk. Whether at the top of the fire ladder or at the center of Normandy Dam, I’ve always had a dedicated professional nearby who goes there for a living.
Now if we can just get that feature on the life a Bonnaroo stage rigger. Hint, hint.