March 16, 2015 was my first day at the Oil City Derrick and the Franklin News-Herald. I replaced Jerry Sowden who had been there nearly 20 years and was very well loved by his colleagues and community. So I was starting out with nothing to lose. I would, and sometimes still do, introduce myself as 'the new Jerry'.
Folks that know me and know what I think about in terms of photography know that I am pretty hard on myself. Its not that I don't think I'm a good photographer, its that I know I can do better. I can always do better and thats where the struggle lies as I go to each assignment trying to do it well, and coming away wishing I had done it better, even when I know I did it well.
So when i saw today that its been a year I decided to think about my work a little. I didn't want to post a whole year's worth of stuff, but think about the notion that you're only as good as your last photograph. So the pictures I'm posting tonight are from Feb. and March. (If interested in March-Dec. you can scroll to my last post where I showed my favorites of 2015 at the Derrick.)
I'm pretty lucky to be paid to do what I do. Believe I understand this is an exceptional thing this day and age. I take it pretty seriously always trying to find the story within the story to tell.
I believe in photographing what you know and are interested in. I believe in community and truly think a photographer is best when they approach photography , not as a means of making a photograph, but rather by making a story.
When we use our knowledge of the craft as a secondary component to the act of storytelling we achieve greater photographs of meaning. I admit I struggle more at this than many people I admire, but its the ultimate goal.
That is not to say I don't find great enjoyment in making pictures for the sheer beauty before me, or the beauty of the act of observing and making. A photographic life is, after all, a gift given to those lucky enough to receive!
But the most satisfying part of photography is finding that aspect of the living world that passes by most of us, but because I'm given the gift of time to observe, I get to see it and hopefully show it to others.
I get to document the lives of the people in Crawford, Venango, Forest and Clarion Counties now, occasionally Mercer too. Meeting people and making portraits and --hopefully images of how they live.
I get to know politicians on a human level and still understand when they need to be guard and hopefully don't betray their trust, while still letting them know I need to do what I do. Its fun knowing I can walk and talk with princes and paupers in the same stride and be equal to both.
I get to be a part of cool things almost every day, whether is meeting an old fireman to hear his stories or listen to top-notch music for a couple hours I'm able to be there until having to hit deadline.
I am even reminded of the fragility of it all too by having to document loss and even tragedy. I discuss a lot with folks the importance of documenting tragedy, its not about that one person or family, its about all of us and the loss we all experience and more importantly the losses we can prevent from the lessons learned from a tragedy.
And those who are willing to speak to us after a tragedy to give even more understanding to the complex world we live in. And those who devote their time and expertise to hel pus all and protect us.
So after one year at the paper I still feel like I need to re-invent myself, I still need to grow deeper into the community and I still need work myself to the point where my replacement someday will have to say I'm the new Rich.
I will leave this post tonight with my last picture, or nearly last picture of today. Its a sweet moment with what I assume to be grandma and and grandson! I didn't stop to get their names as I was going to another assignment.But I realize these pictures sometimes don't need a story, because they are a story. They are who we are. I remembered my grandma today and i hope you reading this remember your grandma too!