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New beginnings Monday, April 16, 2007

Rebecca Landis (left), Susan Johnson, Porsche Jordan and Veronika Hazlett repaint the former Pink Palace on 181st St. Monday, as part of its transformation from an adult video store to a Center for Family Success.

I was on assignment for the Gresham Outlook Monday as inmates from Multnomah County Sheriff's system repainted a former porn shop as part of its transformation into a Center for Family Success. What was known as the Pink Palace, on SE 181st Ave. in Gresham's Rockwood neighborhood, will now provide services for the children of incarcerated criminals.

The Rockwood site is the second location for the Center for Family Success. The other location is in the St. Johns neighborhood of north Portland. You can read more about it in the Outlook.

The event was popular with the local media. As far as I could tell, I was the only still photographer on hand, but three local TV stations—KATU (ABC affiliate), KOIN (CBS)* and KGW (NBC)—sent crews.

Shooting around other photographers (still or otherwise) is part of the job. We're all in the same boat, trying to find the definitive storytelling image for our respective outlets, at the same time trying to get something different (and better) than everybody else. So you help each other out, try to stay out of each others' way, and work around each other as much as possible.

I have to admit that I don't know a lot about producing a TV story, but it is quite a bit different than shooting for a newspaper. TV coverage of events like today's does, however, seem to be a bit more "stage managed" than the way I shoot. For example, I overheard the TV cameramen talking with one of the police officers, who gave them the order of events for the day—interviews with key figures, taking down the old sign, etc. It may have simply been the officer giving a heads-up to the media of what their plan was, but it sounded like he was asking for approval from them. Later, after the porn shop sign had been taken down, it appeared that one of the TV photographers asked the guy with the cutting saw to make another cut on the pole so he could get some closeup shots. Maybe I'm mistaken on that, but if that is the case it would definitely be outside my ethical boundaries. I understand that TV news stories are more interesting with cuts between closeups and wide shots, and that the network is expecting a single photographer to capture both, but maybe that's the price of not sending a second photographer. If you didn't get it when it happened, you didn't get it.

Maybe I misinterpreted what I saw; maybe it's acceptable in TV. But with the photojournalists' credibility under fire on a routine basis these days, can we afford to take chances?

*You can see me briefly walk through the background of the KOIN report while they're interviewing Glenna Hayes.