Sunday, September 30, 2007

#7 - Rolaids Moments

Some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will be judged by only one thing -- the result. - Vince Lombardi

Most baby boomers growing up in Wisconsin knew Autumn's arrival by sound rather than sight. Forget about the pretty colored leaves, it was the blaring Sunday broadcast from thousands of transistor radios heard around the state of Green Bay Packers' football that signaled the real start of the new season. As a result, even now, in this age of high-definition and on-demand sports television, I still prefer listening to audio coverage of the games.

One of my favorite features from the radio broadcasts is the Rolaids Moment, or the turning point of the game, the one play that sends the coach begging for an antacid. For the newsphotographer this instant can be gold, as one clear and simple image will convey the outcome of the contest.

When covering sporting events, keep an eye on the head coach -- you never know when a Rolaids Moment might occur and your work for the game will be complete.

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. - Vince Lombardi

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

#6 - The Challenge to Endeavour

Every shuttle mission's been successful. -Christa McAuliffe

11:38 a.m., January 28, 1986. 73 seconds later, history was made--an indelible memory most Americans will never forget. Now flash forward 21 years to 6:36 p.m., August 8, 2007. Moments later, history was made again--but how many of us were even aware of it?

When the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after lift-off killing its entire crew, including first Teacher in Space (TIS) Christa McAuliffe, the reports of this disaster were instantaneous and unrelenting, and the barrage of coverage continued for months, even years to come. On the other hand, another teacher has sacrificed and studied for the past 7861 days (since the accident) to become a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and now back-up TIS and first Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan can proclaim a notable accomplishment: she delivered the first two lesson plans from outer space! But aside from the academic and scientific communities, it's safe to say her feat is probably news to us all. Unfortunately, it seems to me and particularly with this story, tragedy was more significant (and hence more "newsworthy") than triumph.

In the mid-80's, I was assigned to manage all news-photo coverage from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, so the shuttle program was always special to me. However, with the frequency and prosperity of the missions back then, I hate to admit that the launches became almost routine. And despite the added bonus of a "civilian" passenger, the Challenger flight was really no different. But while documenting and observing the interviews and training, process of elimination, and ultimate selection of the first two Teacher in Space candidates, I began to feel a more personal connection to the program. Even now, I fondly recall Christa McAuliffe flapping her arms with a startled Barbara Morgan at her side, declaring she was "ready to fly".

Nonetheless, the morning of the Challenger flight still remained a mundane event in my household. With my stereo tuned to a Houston news-radio channel, I was shaving in my bathroom when the fateful moment occurred. When I finally realized the shocking magnitude of this incident, I understood my days at the Johnson Space Center would never be the same. From the tributes at the center's entrance to the sullen memorial service, the Space Shuttle program had suffered a set-back that would take countless years to recover from.

Remarkably, in 2007 it has. But ask yourself this: in the history of space flight exploration, which name will be more memorable--Christa McAuliffe or Barbara Morgan?
Education and exploration are really very much the same. It's all about discovering, it's all about experimenting, and it's all about taking what you discover and what you experiment with, and what you learn, and sharing that with others. -Barbara Morgan