Masthead header

Aging Inmates: Columbia Basin Editorial Photography

I recently got to exercise my editorial alter ego when I accepted an assignment from Associated Press to cover the assisted living facility at the Coyote Ridge Correction Center in Connell, Wash. Now in retrospect, photographing an assignment in prison when I’m seven months pregnant perhaps isn’t the smartest decision I ever made, but hey, I’m hardcore. I needn’t have worried, though. Everything went fine, other than the minor problem that the uber matronly maternity shirt I ordered to wear on the assignment didn’t arrive till two days after I needed it. Thanks Pea in the Pod; you’re awesome! Who knew the ugly, way to big oxford shirt lurking in the back of my closet would actually come in handy? Trust me, you don’t want to look fashionable on assignment in prison.

What’s cool about freelancing for AP isn’t the pay, because it’s bad, but seeing where your images end up. Most notably this time around was the Washington Post,, San Francisco Chronical, and the Boston Globe just to name a few. The state papers ran it too, of course. Kudos to the Spokesman Review for using what I thought was the coolest picture as the main art for the article. I love that paper. They have such an amazing staff of photographers and designers there. If I hadn’t somehow married a farmer and moved to a little town in the middle of nowhere, working as a staff photographer for them was my goal.

I punched out that assignment plus two newborn sessions and a family session a few days before I headed out to my one and only “vacation” this year. Now, I’ve put the vacation in quote marks because I don’t really know if you consider a family reunion relaxing enough for a vacation. The four days in Breckenridge, Colo. with the Summers clan was fun, but the three day drive each way with my parents and my three-year-old son was definitely not. I’m not sure who was more crabby when we got home, my son or my dad; I’m guessing it was me though, lol.

I made it back in time to find one of my newborns arrived ten days early (go baby Katie!) and my computer had crashed and died. Now don’t worry, everything critical was backed up to not one, but two-external hard drives, a hard copy, and an off-site server (are you getting the paranoid journalist vibe, or is it just me.) But it was  a major time-sucker as I had to spend a day driving to the Tri-Cities and then to Yakima to get a new computer, and then another day reinstalling and updating all of my programs and files on the new computer.  I used it as the perfect excuse, though, to upgrade to Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3. Because, as I told my husband, it would be a shame not to take advantage of  that fancy new processor and giganto amount of RAM on the new computer.

So yeah, needless to say, I’m behind on my blogging and imaging. I can’t wait to show everything off though. In between my crazy shooting schedule this week and next, keep an eye out for all of the sessions I’m playing catch up on. In the mean time, here’s a few from the AP assignment:

Kim Fetrow - August 22, 2010 - 6:14 am

How did you get to be an AP photographer? I would love to do that. I enjoyed this post – a little more up my line of work for imageworks in Pasco.
Nice job.

Sandy Summers Russell - August 22, 2010 - 9:46 am

I actually started working for AP when I was still in high school, and then continued doing the occasional job for them throughout college. My contacts for the Seattle bureau came from working as a staff photographer at the Yakima Herald-Republic for six years. I’m sure if you contacted the staff photogs over in Seattle they’d love to hear from you as there aren’t a lot of qualified freelancers in this area. Send me an e-mail and I’ll give you their info.