I know what you're thinking - that's me
in the pit. No such luck. Here's the story on how I ended up taking
I always kept my Nikon F with the 28mm
lens, a flash, and a couple rolls of film with me during after-hours.
It wasn't possible for me to get into the photo-lab once it was
closed for the day. Many times I had some kind of photo shoot
at night. A basketball or football game. Some function at the
Then there was the two occusions, that
I remember, when this practice saved my ass. This is the story
of the first one. The second story follows this one.
At 4 or 5 in the morning I'm awaken by
a reporter and told I had to get up. We were going on a story.
Did I have my camera gear?
"Yes. Were're we going?"
"Some NCO School training site."
"What for what?"
"What are we going to fuckin' photograph
"Oh, it's some kind of orientation
course on how the VC do their thing."
"You mean the VC in Vietnam? "
"O.K. Just go away and let me get
ready. Wait outside."
Once I'm ready and get in the car with
my gear I asked the stupid question I always asked and always
got the same answer. Always.
"Why didn't I get told about this
"I don't know."
Always the same. And I kept asking it.
The photo shoot was somewhere in the swamps
of eastern North Carolina. Vietnam has nothing on this place.
There are mosquitoes flying around this swamp so big you need
a baseball bat to kill them.
For some reason I still have some of the
negatives from this shoot. This is very unusual. They should have
been catalogued and stored away at the ISO photo-lab. That's why
the above photo and the one on this
page is shown here at all.
The lablel on the negative envelope saids
the place was called Oak Grove.
We get there O.K.
I ask the reporter what kind of photos
he was interested in?
"Well did the office say anything
about what they were hoping to get?"
"Well what are you going to write
"Anything you photograph."
"How many photos you want?"
"As many as you can give me."
"So all you know is to get here and
have me shoot something."
Doesn't ever change.
I have two rolls of film. Actually after
looking at the contact sheets of this shoot I only had a roll
and a half. Half a roll left in the camera and an additional 36
So we spent the day with the new NCOs photographing
throughout the day. Knowing I have only 48 frames and not knowing
what would be important. The trick was to not run out of film
before the day was over but also don't skip the photo of the shoot,
which ever one that was. The classic kundundrun of all photographers.
The story goes into the Windsock as a two-page
spread of photos. Everyone is happy. One thing the Windsock crew
did well was photo layouts. I have no logical reason for this.
They just did. No matter who was doing it. Thanks Windsock crew.
A couple of weeks after the story appeared
I was on my way to the NCO School office to do a 'Letter of Appreciation'
shoot. I never minded these shoots because it was always an enlisted
fellow getting the letter. I always made sure the Marine getting
the letter got a copy of the photo. Against the rules but did
I walk into the NCO School office, spot
the gunny in charge, say hello and he points to me and said, "That's
Also in the office is the same reporter
that was on the NCO School story. I said to him, "What's
But the gunny cuts in and saids, "You're
the one we wanted to give the 'Letter of Appreciation' to. And
your office sent this fellow over. "
I said, "Yea, he was the reporter
on the job."
The gunny, now embrassed by the whole situation,
replies, "Well we still want to give you a Letter. You want
"I appreciate the guesture but no
thanks. Lets just get the picture of you and the reporter."
I took the picture of the reporter getting
the 'Letter of Apreciatation' for the double page photo shoot
I did on the NCO School.
What happened was the NCO School called
over to the ISO office and told them they wanted to give a 'Letter
of Appreciatation' to the fellow that did the NCO School story.
The ISO office gave them the reporter's name.
Then to add-insult-to-injury the ISO office
didn't tell me the details of the shoot but to just go over to
the NCO School office.
You gotta love these people. [Next]