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Seeking a fresh perspective

The Baltimore Sun

Last Monday, when picture editor Jerry Jackson approached me at 2:20 p.m. to go shoot a flock of tiny "smart cars," newly arrived from Europe, lined up on the pavement near the Port of Baltimore. I began to rail at him with a few choice epithets about his heritage. Shooting the assignment would add at least an hour or so to my shift.

But life goes on, and I headed out to shoot the cars. The business page wanted a photo by 4:30 or so, but, because of Homeland Security, getting anywhere near the port is a hassle. Writers on the business desk needed to pave the way for me to get close to where they were parked.

When I finally arrived, a freelance photographer was already there, shooting pictures the sea of the little vehicles for an ad agency in Washington. He offered to let me use a ladder he had procured to get his overall picture. I thanked him, but what went through my mind was that I had already seen that picture.

By now, Sun photographers all have seen most pictures, most angles, but still we balk at repeating ourselves. I took many pictures of the cars, some close, some at a distance, while trying to keep warm with a cold wind whipping at my hands and eyes. I tried to think of how I could portray these small vehicles that look almost like toys. How could I get that feeling across?As photojournalists, we strive to give readers a better understanding of the story and perhaps a little different view.

Do the job long enough and you have to fight the urge to do what has worked in the past. We struggle to get our mind's eye to work, to help us see a way to create something new and different.

Toward the end of the day, my mood was pretty grim. I'd had an argument with an editor, nearly frozen, and was convinced my photo would be scoffed at.

Back at the newspaper, one of my peers, photographer Algerina Perna, looked at the image I had selected and helped by suggesting a crop. Then she made it all pretty much worthwhile.

"You made art today," she said, which made me smile.

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