Why Pictures Don’t Run

Bill East and Russell DoughtyBill East posted this picture of two 1966 Outstanding Seniors posing at the sundial outside the old Public Library at the Common Pleas Courthouse grounds.

That’s Russell Doughty on the left and Bill on the right.

I remembered Bill and Russ, but I didn’t recall taking that picture until I stumbled across the negative this evening. It was shot as a full-frame vertical originally.

Sometimes photos are cropped to save space or to remove distracting elements to tell the story better.

Sometimes there are other considerations.

Outstanding Seniors Russell Doughty - Bill EastWhen I looked closely at the plaque on the sundial, I noticed something I hadn’t seen when I pushed the shutter: a commonly-used four-letter word beginning with the letter S. [As always, click on the photo to make it larger.]

That turned a well-composed full-length vertical into a tightly-cropped square.

“IT” Happens

I’m not the only photographer who has had that happen: The Simon and Garfunkel boxed set Old Friends includes a live version of the song A Poem on the Underground Wall, prefaced by an anecdote from Garfunkel about its origin: he explains that a photo shoot for the cover of the album Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was ruined because the subway wall they had intended to use as a backdrop had obscenities written on it. Something that they didn’t discover until AFTER the shoot, according to one version.

Students wear costumes to class at Central High School

You find out who your friends are

My debate partner Pat Sommers, in the front row in the white sheet, attempts to send a message. Fortunately, I had other frames.

The Tiger was less lucky with a photo of a group of athletes, one or more of whom flashed the single-digit salute. It wasn’t noticed until after the photo was engraved, the page made up and ready to go to press. Just before we decided to kill the picture and lay out the page differently, one of the engravers thought he had a solution. He’d take some acid and carefully etch out the offending digit.

The only problem was that he wasn’t successful. When the paper was distributed, the digit was still there, except now it was surrounded by a white circle. I vaguely remember that there were repercussions. If I had been given a vote, I would have held out for neutering.

It’s not just people you have to watch out for

When I got to West Palm Beach, I was given an assignment for The Palm Beach Post to shoot a major piece on a small town that had gone on an annexation binge. They gambled that they could score a bunch of tax money if they acquired a bunch of undeveloped land, that wouldn’t require services for many, many years. (Or at least until the current crop of politicians moved on.)

The tiny village had a distinctly rural feel, so I was very pleased to shoot a photo of a pony looking through a fence within a block of what passed for the main drag. The editors liked it well enough to run it huge on the section front as lead art on Sunday.

Saturday afternoon, while the page was being put together for an advance press run, I got a radio call from an engraver.

“I can’t get in touch with any editors or your boss, but your name is on the picture and I think you need to come in.”

Do you see anything wrong with this picture?

When I got there, the engraver asked, “Do you see anything wrong with this picture?”

“No, you did a great job of separating it. It looks just like the original.”

“Take a closer look,” he said. “Let me give you a hint. There’s something in this picture that isn’t a fence post.”

Indeed, he was right. That pony was REALLY happy to see me. Fortunately, I had another frame. The engraver got a six-pack of thanks from me.

9 Replies to “Why Pictures Don’t Run”

  1. Bill:

    Thanks for the pictures of the sun dial. I hadn’t thought of or seen it since the late 50’s. Is the picture of the students in class in costume an example of what we referred to in 1960 as “tacky day?” Near the end of the spring semester, seniors were permitted to wear just about any thing they wanted for one day (tacky day).

    My Girardot’s are sprinkled with single digit salutes. The baseball players were especially adept at using their baseball gloves to facilitate the subliminal exhibition of offending fingers for team pictures it seemed.

  2. I’m guessing that probably was Tacky Day, now that you mention it. I was trying to figure that out.

    I’ve got a few more photos of it I’ll put up later.

    Got anything you’d particularly like to see? Right now, I’m just throwing up stuff as it catches my eye. I’m holding a lot of pictures until I can find more that go together.

    The biggest “coffee can” category is made up of football and basketball pictures. Those are a particular challenge because I shot so many different schools that it’s sometimes hard to tell if Central was playing. The uniforms weren’t all that distinctive.

  3. Hi Ken: Look at the 1954 yearbook of the football team. Masterson & Howell were giving everyone the middle finger….Ray….

  4. Got lots of all of the above.

    On my first triage pass, I’m pitching all the sports stuff in one pile.

    One the second pass, I’ll break it out by sport, then by game, if possible.

    Normally I would edit tightly and just run the best shots, but I’m inclined to run more pictures with minimal cropping so that folks can see themselves in the background and such.

    I swear that I must have spent most of my young life on the sidelines of sporting events and car wrecks. In some cases, it was hard to tell the difference between the two.

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