speech to the nation

Sometimes I get an assignment and I know that it is going to be boring.

Last night, I was sent to Elmhurst, a western suburb of Chicago, to photograph Chris Kopec watching President Obama’s speech. Yawn!

I was quite pessimistic until I walked into the Kopec home and was greeted by 5-year-old Michael Kopec. Michael was wearing  a pair of Optimus Prime pajamas. Next I met Claire Kopec, 8. Claire was modeling an equally cute pair of pink jammies.

Their parents Chris and Betsy welcomed me and I started seeing the possibilities.

As Obama’s talk to the nation began, I photographed Michael as he played his Nintendo DS and Claire read a book on the couch. Next Michael decided to show his dad his new karate moves. All with the television as a backdrop.

After making 3 or 4 images that I liked, I transmitted the pix back to the Trib Tower. 

I went back and shot some more. 

I made the above image of Claire snoozing on the couch and then sent that in too.

I was very happy with how things were turning up. I thought it would be a boring assignment but it turned out to be a sweet and newsy slice of Americana.

Then I got an email from the photo desk. “Do you have anything that shows Chris Kopec’s face?” My heart sank. The literalness of the newspaper world showed up to spoil my night.

All these wonderful moments and the paper wanted a glorified mug shot.

I quickly made some photos of Kopec watching the tv but it was impossible to get Obama in the frame so the images lost their context.

When I started this blog, I wanted to make sure that this didn’t turn into just me whining about stuff but last night’s situation saddened me. 

I am totally biased but I think that an interesting moment-based photo would hold the interest of a reader longer than a “here is what Chris’ face looks like” photo.

Oh, well. In the end, my job is to supply images to the newspaper and their job is to make the decision on what to run.

(NOTE: This image did appear on chicagotribune.com)

3 Responses to “speech to the nation”

  1. “Runability” can be so annoying.

  2. Hi Scott – My brother just emailed this link to me. Thank you so much for your nice story about your trip to the Kopec house. I have to say that our experience with the “Tribune photographer” was a lot more than we hoped for as well. It was really fun to have you in our home – you felt like one of the family and really put us at ease. Thank you for your beautiful photos. We’ve very much enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame this week! Betsy Kopec

  3. scott. i feel you. this has been one of those problems that has plagued newspapers for ages and i personally believe it is one (add it to the list) of the reasons that people don’t respond to many things in newspapers anymore, they rarely show us anything we don’t know.
    IMO the newspaper is there to educate us and to give us insight into our world. your photo did that. it introduced us to a mother and he lovely family and it would draw people into the story. her mugshot probably wouldn’t.
    if your assignment was to go to the county fair and you came back with a picture of the ferris wheel or of a kid eating cotton candy no one would have gained anything from seeing it, but by showing honest moments we have the opportunity to rekindle fond memories or to show people how things are now.
    im not sure how to bring other people in the newsroom up to speed on this way of thought besides constantly talking about it with them. eventually they will hate you or it will resonate.
    these are all things you know, i just wanted to voice my support. i was happy to read your vent and even happier to read Betsy Kopec’s response.
    hi fives,

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