History Lesson

The Battle of Gettysburg, Long Rifles

Writing for the local paper has many surprising perks. Money is not one of them, but the opportunity to meet interesting people and learn about things I may not otherwise learn about makes up for it. Not having to worry about word count and guaranteed weekly publication also doesn’t hurt. I am also thankful for good editors that know when to delete my ramblings and fix my atrocious punctuation – something I could benefit from here as well.

What’s the best part you may ask? The answer surprises me and I actually just realized it this morning. Getting a chance to do all of this and then taking the photographs that will accompany the story (most of the time) turns out to be the best part of the gig. I knew I liked to tell stories, just ask anyone who has posed a simple yes or no question to me only to get a 10 minute explanation with a lede and conclusion. What I didn’t realize, however, was that taking the photos that would go with my articles would add so much to the story-telling process.

I’m not a professional photographer by any means nor does the paper consider me one, but small town news requires multitasking so reporters often take photos when the actual reporting concludes. The photo editor surely hopes for the best when it is time to collect the images. But there is something about interviewing someone face to face and then taking a photo of him/her or whatever objects were the focus of the conversation that really gets my brain fired up to write. Through the lens I can create the story in my head before I even sit in front of the computer.

The topic at 9 AM this morning was the Battle of Gettysburg and interviewing a woman that curated a small exhibit of artifacts from the battle. I listened to her for nearly an hour as she took me through her thought process for creating the exhibit and shared what she had learned during her research. She also showed me the many artifacts and briefly explained their significance.

It wasn’t until I was looking at them through the viewfinder of the camera that her words really resonated with me. Perhaps it is simply having a limited field of vision that makes me connect to what I’m looking at in a different way, a more direct way. Whatever it is, it works and I find that writing without the act of picture taking gets increasingly more difficult.

Drum from Battle of Gettysburg
Drum from Battle of Gettysburg

It just seems flat.

Published by Karina Coombs

Freelance writer

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