It's been a while, but yesterday I received that look again. It used to happen often, but less so now since transitioning my career to a larger paper a couple of years ago. It's the look you get when you're recognized as the guy who made someone's day by capturing a picture of something important to them and sharing the moment with the world in the pages of a newspaper.
An opportunity to photograph the opening day of the Dane County Fair in Madison, Wis. offered me the chance to return to an atmosphere I've always enjoyed. Over the years, I've photographed several dozen county fairs and I've never tired of the assignment. There are pictures everywhere, and the people involved are almost universally upbeat and engaged in their communal interests.
While making my way through one of the cattle barns on the grounds of the fair, several young participants recognized me from an assignment a few weeks earlier which profiled 4H club members on the 100th anniversary of the organization. Photos of several of the exhibitors had previously made their way into a Sunday edition, including one girl whose image was our centerpiece art for the A1 feature story. As I happened past the booth of the Mudsliders 4H club again, the youngsters' eyes lit up, waves ensued, and, through a broad smile, the girl featured on our front page said "Thanks for the pictures!"
Larger papers in metropolitan areas offer an opportunity to persue a broad range of stories and assignments. The work is personally rewarding, but often done more anonymously. So, it was great to revisit that experience where you and your subjects cross paths again, and you both seem to recognize the value of the shared human experience.