Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Is waiting worth it?

"Waiting to enter the Citizen Cope concert out front of the Recher Theatre, Towson University mass communication major Bonny Piana smokes a cigarette, Tuesday night, Feb.5, 2008. As of Feb.1, smoking is now illegal inside bars, restaurants and private clubs throughout Maryland, forcing patrons to take their habit outside."

One downside to being a commuter to college is using my time (and gas) effectively. This often means burning time sitting in The Towerlight office with friends or doing homework between assignments, especially when they are scheduled for the late night.

Thus is true of my Tuesday.

After getting to school at 8 a.m. and having class until 4 p.m., I was given the decision, from myself, to drive an hour round trip home and come back to Towson around 8 p.m. for a photo assignment, pass it along to another photog or hang out until the night.

I decided with the latter. So after being on campus for 12 hours, which isn’t anything new for me or the rest of my colleagues at the campus paper, I hiked uptown with the writer to cover the story.

The assignment was to capture smokers, preferably college students puffing away outside of popular bars. With the new law prohibiting smoking inside of these establishments, I had to find the herds of people braving outdoor elements for a puff of tobacco.

The problem was no bar patrons were out at 8:30 p.m., except those attending the Recher Theatre for a Citizen Cope concert. Being "Fat Tuesday" I hoped to see some people out "early."

Recher Theatre does serve alcohol and follows the new law, so I shot some frames there. I snapped three solid images, including the above outtake. I also got some great quotes and insight on the new law by smokers and non-smokers. I found it ironic many of them were worried about littering and intoxicated people causing trouble in public when many of them were throwing their buds onto the ground as well.

But it wasn’t until I made my way down the block where I saw a bar I could make a better image. The lighting was nice, the colors popped and it had a nice symmetry to it. Not to mention it's one of the most popular college bars in Towson. The only problem was not one person was to be found near the pub.

So I waited, and waited. Then I waited some more. Still no one. Not even any passerby. I wanted to make the image so bad, but my eyes were growing heavy and my stomach was growing like, well, a hungry bear, as I had not eaten since 6 p.m.

I finally left at 10:15 p.m., of course after scoping out other bars, too.

But after getting home, I couldn’t stop thinking of the photo I wanted so badly to make. I was disappointed I didn't camp out and make the photo.

Had I stayed longer would anyone had even smoked there? How long would I have had to wait? Was it really worth it? Can I go back tomorrow and re-shoot? Am I satisfied with my original take? If I didn't have another late night assignment tomorrow, would I have stayed? Did it convey the story any stronger?

Questions like these and many more raced through my head. It's a tough call. Sure, I've stood in the rain for the perfect image and went nights with no sleep to communicate a better image to the readers. But was this assignment worth the extra effort?

My deadline for the image is tomorrow before midnight and I may again try to make the photo tomorrow after my assignment downtown.

To be perfectly honest, I am satisfied with the image we will run with for the story. But I feel that I owe to myself, my sanity (if anything) and the reader to illustrate the little image better. And if not, I'll be adding bit of extra effort on my next assignment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My rommate went to that concert and he smokes. I wonder if you got a shot of him even though you later went to a bar. -Blake

Wednesday, February 06, 2008 12:14:00 AM  

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