Thursday, March 27, 2008


"A mission to “better lives, one tab at a time,” Towson University sophomore business major, member of the honors college and the Tigers men’s soccer team, Tommy Appel-Schumacher has been collecting the tabs off of aluminum cans to donate toward the Ronald McDonald House, and to involve as many people in the effort as possible."

For the past week, I've been stressing out about a story I've wanted to do for my second to final Mass Communication course. I've been making phone calls and e-mailing those vital to the story and haven't heard back from any of them. I exhausted all of my resources and have begun searching for a new, less interesting topic to me.

With a negative vibe in mind all day, I juggled three assignments on a production day, which means I wasn't only shooting, but editing all the other photographers work and producing some online content.

I'll be honest, with so much going on it was tough at times to still be creative, since I was worried about not being able to do my projected story.

If anything was keeping me going throughout the day, it was the beautiful weather.

Although not planned, one of my assignment’s locations changed and I was forced to walk across campus twice. However, it was relaxing to get outside and exercise a bit in the gorgeous weather.

Around 5 p.m., my portrait subject arrived. I had told him to bring some coke-can tabs and anything else that could help tell his story. To my surprise, he brought two big UTZ pretzel jars, overflowing with tabs.

With my idea to have him amid a sea of tabs, at first glance, I thought, "OK, these won't be nearly enough to possibly have him surrounded by these things."

As he did a video interview for the Web site, I dusted off my lights that have been sitting around for a month, started setting them up and figuring out exactly what I wanted to do.

My biggest problem was making sure readers could identify what he would be sitting with. Luckily, thanks to the arts editor (should be called arts and entertainment), Alex, fetched a black fleece Beowulf blanket from the office couch that he received in a press kit. This was vital to making the tiny pieces of aluminum be well defined. With a light color they would have blended in and been difficult to see.

With that out of the way, I started pouring and scattering the tabs. Astonishingly, a half jar of these scraps was what you see in the image. That's a lot of coke, caffeine and rotten teeth.

When he got into the room, I played around with a couple of scenarios, but having him simply lay among (random fact of the day: I always spell this word with a “u”) them seemed like the best solution.

Click. Click. Click. A couple tests and things looked well. I made some minor adjustments and dropped a handful of tabs on his chest and got what you see above.

I think it fit the story great, and I must say I loved the lead by Krysten, the writer on the article, "Instead of measuring his accomplishments just in grades earned or goals scored, Tommy Appel-Schumacher, a member of the honors college and the Tigers men’s soccer team, also measures them in aluminum tabs."

As I cleaned up and looked at the image on the back of my camera, I knew I was happy with the portrait.

Then I got a call and an e-mail. From who? My sources for my highly anticipated story for class. The story is on and a go for today.


And if that wasn't a big enough boost, I forgot to mention, I was informed Friday by my buddy Brian Stelter that him and I both placed in a the second of two competitions The Towerlight enters every year: The Columbia Scholastic Press Association 2008 Collegiate Gold Circle.

Brian placed third in in-depth news story and I placed first for a portfolio of work. These were both national awards, so I am pretty amped to hear that. Congrats to Brian and me.


Blogger David Sokol said...

cool angle and nice lighting.

Sunday, April 06, 2008 12:06:00 PM  

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