Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Finding new to the old

"During a news conference on North Fulton Avenue, Mayor Sheila Dixon, who has made cleaning up the city a priority, said, "We're going to deliver this message to the public in any way that we can. Don't make your trash everybody else's problem.""

The phrase 'press conference' isn't anything new to a journalist. There is no avoiding them, as it's news, and I found myself at one last week.

There is never much different about a press conference. Aside from a different environment, the elements are always there:

Television station cameramen. Check. Other media. Check. Lectern. Check. Speaker. Check. Speakers entourage. Check. Microphone. Check.

It's a cookie cutter assignment and the best option to avoid the pedestrian speaker, well, speaking, image is to follow the golden rule to arrive early and stay late.

The press conference I was at last week involved: "launching the next step in what is expected to be a larger media campaign, Baltimore officials said that they will soon emblazon trash trucks and garbage cans with new slogans intended to reduce littering," stated sun reporter, John Fritze, in an article last week.

The campaign is more edgy than past anti-litter efforts. One sign pictures a bedraggled rat hunched over text, "He loves when you put your trash out too early." Another sign, to be posted on trash cans, says, "Pick up the litter, lift up the city."

So what did that mean for me? First of all, trying to incorporate these trendy, eye-catching signs during the press conference.

Having arrived far too early, I tried to find what type of shot I wanted, while I captured the public eying some of the new banners pasted on the trash trucks.

The rat caught my eye, so I assumed it would catch the readers eye, especially on a green truck. Not to mention, I've seen Baltimore City rats and they're the size of small cats. One passerby even said, "they got dat rat perfect, man."

But as per usual, Dixon was not the only one on stage and my plan was foiled. So I opted to get the typical conference images and then take advantage of the truck parked in the street.

Throwing on my wide-angle, I hopped up onto the bumper of the pick-up truck and shot the conference how it's intended to be seen - for the media. All the normal elements.

While the image that was published is certainly not a portfolio image, it informs the reader.

I even got an e-mail from a friend whom said: "You captured [the press conference] perfectly: a contrived, staged non-event with the TV cameras, the stage and the employees with the look of "what are we here for?""

I got a laugh out of it, but I still stuck around hoping for something different after I made the art I thought worked. You know, that brief interacting between the Mayor and someone else where I could still tell the story.

While the above may not clearly identify Dixon or tell the story, it was what I saw of the event. Trashmen dragged to the event to stand there, Dixon wanting approval and the slogans.

They're always a challenge, but it's always fun and refreshing to come up with something unique from them.


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