My standard disclaimer


Melissa Stagnaro

When I was hired for my job at The Evening Sun nearly a year ago now (wow, how the time flies!), there was only one thing that truly gave me pause. I had a reasonable amount of confidence in my ability to write, or so I hoped, so I wasn’t really worried about the meat and potatoes of my job. But when I found out that I’d be responsible for taking most of my own photos, I got a teensy bit nervous. And with good reason.

As most of my friends will attest, I have been a poor documentarian (this may not be an actual word, but it fits my purposes precisely) of my own life. My friend Liz was always the designated photographer. I relive my college years almost exclusively through the extra set of prints she routinely ordered for me when getting her utterly amazing photographs developed. (She is still a somewhat obsessive shutterbug. Have you ever seen a bride taking pictures on her wedding day? Liz did, despite the presence of the professional she and her husband Kent had paid extremely well to document the occasion.)

On the rare occasion when I could be bothered to actually take photographs, I usually failed to follow through to the next step. Consequently, I have very few photos and a large stash of undeveloped film and disposable cameras. Occasionally I take them out and wonder what could be on them, but even my insatiable curiosity isn’t enough to inspire me to get them developed. “One of these days,” I think to myself before returning them to the box that has become their permanent home. They fit nicely on top of that empty photo album.

I also have a bad track record with the equipment itself, so for several years I confined myself to using cameras of the disposable variety exclusively. That all ended when, during my first week at The Evening Sun, I was handed a piece of expensive camera equipment and sent on my merry way.

If I had expected some kind of tutorial or instruction, I was sadly mistaken. Someone showed me what to look through, how to use the zoom, which button to press and then let loose. Thankfully, the equipment made up for my inexperience, at least in part.

I’m still not 100 percent comfortable around a camera, even after all of these months. I usually give my standard disclaimer, saying that I was hired for my writing ability and not my photography skills.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if that’s why my subjects often look vaguely uncomfortable in the images I capture. Hmmm…maybe I should wait until after I take the picture to give the disclaimer from now on.

Despite my obvious insecurities about the photos I take, most turn out OK. Occasionally I even manage to take a photo which surprise both Jeff and myself in a good way.

Unfortunately, there have been a few that have gone the other way as well. The picture which accompanied this morning’s article about Greene Police Chief Steve Dutcher is, sadly, one of the later. We’ll just say it wasn’t a flattering picture, and leave it at that.

Ummm, Steve, did I mention that I was hired for my writing skills?

Apparently, I need a remedial class.