The sun hung just over the bare trees west of Randallstown High School as I carried cameras, flashes and four light stands back to my truck from a portrait shoot when my cell phone rang.
Unable to pick up the phone, I barely managed to get the equipment into the rear and opened the flip top to see that Dudley Brooks, managing editor of photography, had called.
"We need one of those quick-hit weather pictures," Brooks said when I returned the call. I shook my head, because the pressure was on. The paper wanted to run a story about the warm January weather and needed an image to illustrate it.
Where would people be, enjoying the day at sunset?
My first thought was running to the viewing area to capture people watching jets land at BWI Airport. The editors needed a picture sooner, so the idea was quickly scrapped.
Images of nearby places flashed through my mind as I entered the Baltimore Beltway, heading south from Liberty Road. Approaching the Security Boulevard exit, I remembered Western Hills Park, a very open public space next to a church on Rolling Road.
By the time I reached the park, the sun had already fallen behind the horizon. If I couldn't capture something at the park, there would be no image. An older gentleman waxed his black sedan, and I though for a moment to approach him, but I heard a number of youngsters playing on a jungle gym. That's when I saw Lattice Carroll swinging alone in the twilight.
The shape of the swing set looked clean and interesting, so I envisioned keeping the shapes in the frame. I lay down in the wet ground, shooting almost every different way that I could as she enjoyed the last minutes of the day, against a backdrop of the rich colors of dusk.
Her grandfather, James Faulks, was the man waxing his car, and he had stopped his detailing to stand close by, giving his permission to use the photo.
Just as the shoot was finished, picture editor Chuck Weiss called. "Did you find anything yet?" A smile crept over my face, happy to capture a usable image within 15 minutes.