My Day with All Four

Wes Hamilton, SBJ photographerUnlike the reporters of the Springfield Business Journal newsroom who I tag along with, as a photographer, I get to experience all four days in the life firsthand.

We shoot the Day in the Life series in black and white, which strips the process down, allowing for more focus on what is happening in the photos and less on technical aspects such as color balance and additional lighting. That being said, the process comes with an entirely different set of considerations that could be seen as challenges, but I think they just make things more interesting.

Through no fault of their own, it is surprisingly difficult to get a walking shot of any given subject when a reporter is interviewing them on-the-go. Inevitably, you end up with a blurry face, an overexposed photo or a journalist’s arm.

I knew this shot was going to be a good one, so I had to do everything I could to get an angle of Bill Griffiths without SBJ Web Editor Geoff Pickle.

I knew this shot was going to be a good one, so I had to do everything I could to get an angle of Bill Griffiths without SBJ Web Editor Geoff Pickle.

There were a few shots I wanted to get that didn’t involve the reporter. When Missouri State University President Clif Smart had a meeting at the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, SBJ Features Editor EMily Letterman was asked to sit out. I thought it would still be a worthwhile shot to grab.

As I arrived, the room was erupting with activity. As the greetings reached crescendo, order was called and silence fell. Everyone found their seat immediately and business commenced. Smart was a moment late, so I was left standing momentarily without purpose among Springfield’s representative business owners. Smart arrived, I grabbed a few shots and I was on my way.

Farmers Gastropub owner Bill Griffiths kept us going nonstop. Left with no time for a proper meal during the day, Geoff and I walked into the gastropub kitchen around lunchtime to be confronted with tantalizing aromas and a forbidden pile of golden-brown fish and chips that we could merely stare longingly at.

Employees prepared fish and chips at Farmers Gastropub for the lunch crowd.

Employees prepared fish and chips at Farmers Gastropub for the lunch crowd.

I haven’t had a lot of experience taking photos of children, but how different could it be? As I met up with Staxx and Jellybeans owner Meghan Chambers around lunchtime, she and her children gathered around to receive their meal. I got a few unassuming photos in, but eventually Meghan’s daughter understood pictures were being taken of her, and she couldn’t help but stare.

Meghan's daughter eventually realized pictures were being taken of her.

Meghan’s daughter eventually realized pictures were being taken of her.

An aspect of Meghan’s day I wanted most to capture was the progression of the store from the beginning of the day to the evening. When I arrived around 10 a.m., most of the Staxx side was complete, but the Jellybeans space was largely still in U-Haul boxes.

By the end of our day at about 9 p.m., they still had a lot of work to do. Everyone was working, fully focused on setting up Jellybeans, and you could see the displays were really coming together.

jellybean1 jellybean2

At some point during our day with Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf Tournament Director Kirk Elmquist, I wandered off to gather some detail shots of the renovations at Top of the Rock. I grabbed a few photos of statues of Native Americans, and a few shots off of the west side of the original Top of the Rock restaurant where a gnarled cast-iron buffalo sculpture stood. Later, we regrouped and filtered back around with Kirk as our guide. As we approached the balcony overlooking the buffalo, he looks to me and says, “Don’t shoot any of this over here, it’s not done yet. No photos of this.”

I cant show you the buffalo, but here’s the Native American statue.

I can’t show you the buffalo, but here’s the Native American statue.

Taking a leisurely tour of the greens at Top of the Rock was something I was looking forward to, and we couldn’t have had a more beautiful sunny day for it. Kirk led us around the course, telling us all about the different features as I snapped away. Eventually I looked down to see my low battery signal flashing. I took the opportunity to search for my trusty backup battery – but it was gone. Panicking, I dug through all of the compartments in my camera bag. It’s definitely gone. We’re 50 miles from the office where my fully-charged battery sits in a power strip. I have battery with 3 percent of its charge left.

SBJ Editor Eric Olson and I assessed what photo opportunities the remainder of the day might include, and my mind went so far as to consider finding Best Buy in Branson to purchase a backup battery so we could continue.

After four hours of conservatively shooting, I ended the day at 1 percent battery life.

Looking back, I don’t feel like I missed a single opportunity for a good shot. Despite my issue, I was still able to get representative photos of the rest of the day’s activities.

I rode in vehicles with three out of the four of the Day in the Life participants, Clif being the only one left out as most of his day was spent walking around campus. As a photographer, my best opportunity for a good traveling shot would naturally be in the back seat.

With Meghan, a request to ride along required the removal of two child safety seats and a slew of toys and stuffed animals.

The only opportunity to travel in Bill’s Ford Transit van included a wet 10-gallon blue cooler haphazardly sliding around in the back as my seat. We hit some rough gravel roads on the way to a few of the farms, so I did have to keep a keen eye on the road, but the ride was unexpectedly manageable.

In Kirk’s rig, it was all business. A spot was already carved out for me to sit, but to my left, my riding partner were a rolling suitcase, a handful of hanging garments and a collection of red snapback Bass Pro Shops hats for promotional gifting.

The number of media promotions I observed in the making during these days was significant. During a few of these, I was asked not to snap any pictures depending on the nature of the product.

Clif filmed a video regarding student interaction, Bill recorded a radio spot for KSMU and Kirk was a featured guest on Jock 98.7’s “Sports Reporters,” recorded an interview for Bott Radio Network in Branson and also filmed a spot for KOLR 10 on the green.


Clif is filmed for a video about student interaction.

After this shot, they cut me off. No more photos while the audio is being captured. It makes sense. The loud clap of a shutter snapping tends to ruin quality audio recording.

Back at the office, I found Bill was the most difficult to whittle down for the page and the online gallery. We did so many different things during the day. It wasn’t easy to illustrate the experience with one or two photos, and when it comes to the online gallery, his was already the largest, and probably could have been doubled.

It was a privilege to spend an entire day with some of Springfield’s finest, and I am amazed at how different each experience can be. I look forward to more Day in the Life features in the future.

Wes in the wild with Kirk at Top of the Rock.

Wes in the wild with Kirk at Top of the Rock

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