As I find myself packing my camera bag for the last time in Utah County and cleaning out my desk at the bureau office, I can't help but wonder where I'll be next.
However, at the same time my mind tends to wander back and muse over the trials, tribulations and triumphs during my year in Utah County.My first triumph came in the form of an affordable basement apartment conveniently located in southwest Provo.
"It's even within walking distance of the office if need be," I said to myself as I gleefully handed over the first and last months' rent. However, this was a foolish consideration because being a news photographer entails as much driving as it does photographing. The 20,000 new miles on my car is a testament to that.
The apartment quickly went from triumph to tribulation when the sewer system backed up and a colony of mice moved into my bedroom closet. But in a strange way it was nice to have roommates.
After getting settled with the mice and a dirty carpet, I reported for my first day at work, which turned out to be a trial. I mean it; I had to cover a real trial.
I anxiously scaled the stone steps of the Utah County courthouse and began to think about how I would photograph in a dark courtroom. However, the judge wouldn't allow cameras in the court. So I sat on the hardest bench on the face of the planet for five hours just outside the courtroom awaiting the jury's decision about an accused ax murderer.
It was getting pretty late and I was semiconscious at best - the bench made sure of that. Suddenly, everything started to happen.
Just like in the movies, the courtroom doors burst open and the family of the accused ran down the stairs and out the back of the building, wailing and flailing the whole way.
TV crews from the Salt Lake stations jumped into action. I, not knowing proper riot etiquette, allowed myself to be shoved away from the action.
Realizing what had just happened and because it was my first day on the job, I began to panic. I forgot all about being a photographer and became a passive observer.
On their way to the exit the police brought the convicted man right past me. The TV crews got some great shots, especially of me standing there counting the holes in the ceiling tile.
Pushing their way through the maze of media people, the two policemen with convict in tow bolted across the parking lot, TV crews in hot pursuit, toward a police car waiting to take the convict to prison.
I don't know what it was, but something suddenly came back to life in my photographer's brain and screamed, "You're missing it!" Reaching for my Nikon, I ran across the dark parking lot, heart about to explode. I raised the camera to my eye and pressed the shutter release.
Nothing happened. In the heat of battle I had forgotten to turn on my camera. Meanwhile, the convoy of police and media had reached the car.
Turning the camera on, I jockeyed for a good position. Ah, there it was. I had a great shot of the convict from across the top of the car. I pressed the shutter release. The camera fired but the flash didn't. I had also forgotten to turn that on.
As the convict was placed in the back of the police car and the car began to back out, I swallowed the lump in my throat and turned my flash on.
Realizing I wasn't going to get anything from where I was standing, I ran to the end of the parking lot, leaving everyone back by the car. Turning around, I could see the police car had left the crowd and was heading straight for me.
I quickly checked everything one last time to make sure it would work. Everything looked fine. I raised the camera for one last try.
I sank into despair when I saw in the viewfinder what I had to work with. Two headlights in a field of blackness stared into my searching eye; focusing was out of the question. In the darkness I squinted down at my lens and set it at what looked like 30 feet.
The car was almost on top of me now. I brought the camera back up for the final attempt. Seeing the outline of a man against a dirty rear window, I fired. A blinding flash shattered the darkness for a fraction of a second. The car swerved. I jumped out of the way, the tires hit the pavement and it was over. My first assignment as a Deseret News photographer was done.
Michael Morris, the bureau chief, ran up and asked, in a telling sort of way, "You got some good stuff, didn't you?" In what I hope was a reassuring tone I said, "Sure!" Meanwhile, I'm saying to myself, "On a 36-exposure roll I took one very possibly out-of-focus shot of what looked like the outline of a man at about 30 feet. Oh yeah! I got some great stuff."
I sped to the Salt Lake office to develop the film. You know, one frame on a roll that's otherwise completely blank is the loneliest thing I've ever seen.
I printed that frame. It was the convict whom I saw in the back seat, and the picture was even in focus.
The photo ran on the front page the next day. I remember saying to myself on the way back to Provo a few hours later at 3 a.m., "If every day is like this, the News can keep the job."
Well, to make an even longer story shorter, every day wasn't like that. Many of the people and things I've seen and photographed in Utah County have been incredible.
I'm a little hesitant to start naming names for fear of leaving someone out, but here are just a few who stand out in my mind.
First, there's little Michael Wakefield in Orem. Mike has a physical handicap that prevents him from walking, but that doesn't slow him down. He's got the heart of a lion. There's more courage and love in that little guy than most people will ever know, and I feel privileged just to know him.
Then there's Art Childs, the hospice patient in Springville. I spent several hours photographing and speaking with Art one day last year. We talked about life, death, love, etc. He was very candid with me. The photograph I took of him is one of the strongest I've taken for the News.
Shooting BYU sports has also been a good learning experience, and at times it's even provided a few thrills. That's hard for an Aggie to say.
I'd be foolish not to mention the people at Utah Special Olympics. I spent two wonderful, loving days photographing the summer games for them. It's amazing those people give so much and then give just a little bit more.
And now I come to the people in the bureau, with whom I've spent countless hours both in and out of the office.
Mike, Scott, Nancy, Ken, Sheridan, Laura, Genelle, Dave and last but not least, Roger. Thanks for the help you've given me. You are my friends and I will carry my images and memories of you for the rest of my life.