All Images, reflections, memories and fabrications ©2011 Tony Hernandez Photography

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Boxer Shorts and a New Crew

So here I am. Sitting in the yearbook classroom with the rest of the staff for the first time. Aside from the fact that I was pretty nervous in this new environment, the new boxer shorts I was wearing were all bunched up and it felt to me like everyone in the room could tell. Who knew you had to pull them down after you put your pants on? I sure as heck didn't. Wearing them with OP shorts at the skatepark was much easier for the simple fact that you wanted them to show. It was "the skater look" at it's very infancy. But pants were a whole different deal. How's that for a crazy memory? It's an even crazier memory, considering this would be the first day I would be officially known as "a photographer". After getting past all of the boring stuff the yearbook adviser had to say, we all broke up into our respective groups to prepare for the upcoming year. This would be the first time I would be meeting the the other photographers on the staff. My "new crew", if you will. They were all loud and seemed a bit crazy. [except for Terry] I started having flashbacks of Steve in junior high and my trip to the principals office. But I figured it would, at the very least, be an interesting year. Everyone introduced themselves and went about their business. I was standing there with nothing to do when Frank and Terry, staffers from the year before, came over and began to ask about my photography experience. I had general shooting skills but I had never been in the darkroom. I couldn't wait to see the room with the red light, filled with enlargers, trays and tanks. I had seen it a thousand times in the movies. Unfortunately, the light in a darkroom is a very weak yellow-green-ish color. So the impact wasn't quite what I was expecting. It didn't matter. It was all new. It was all cool. The first thing I learned was how to develop film. Everybody who was new started there. The film was mostly the real general, posed stuff. The "football game film" was handled only by the person who shot it, which was never "the new guy" until later in the season and, only the weakest games of the schedule. The hardest thing about the whole process was loading the film onto the reels so they can be put into a tank for processing. This skill is usually learned in the light, sitting at a table with some old film and a reel. Sounds good in theory, but it has to be done in complete darkness. And I mean "complete" darkness. The first time I went "lights out" in the film processing room, I was amazed at how dark 99.99999 % darkness really was. With the exception of the glow in the dark timer hands, which were turned around while loading film reels, it was black. You wait for your eyes to adjust but they never do. Anyway, I messed up a couple of rolls the first few times but soon had the hang of it. The smell of the chemicals. The sound of the film going on the reel just right in the dark. Watching the clock as time expires in the processing, were as exciting to me as anything I could remember. My first "good rolls" of film were awesome. I had shot them, then processed the film. It was a major step in my photography experience. It's actually kind of sad that most new photography students and shooters will never know what it's like to be in a darkroom, old school style. 

Looking back at them now, [because I still have the negatives] my first "good rolls" of processed film  were thin and lacked contrast.

But at that time, it was ... once again ... the coolest thing I had ever seen.

I had no idea it was a job interview

Off to the yearbook classroom and my first meeting with "Mrs. D". She was a small woman with a big presence. Completely intense and kind of scary, she freaked me out right away. "I see here that you want to join the yearbook staff ... is that correct?" Yes ma'am, I do. "Do you have any photography experience?" Yes ma'am, I do. "O.K. , let me look over your application and I will get back to you." Thank you.

That was it. I walked away not feeling too good about the whole encounter but, you never know. A few days later, Mrs. D sent a pass to one of my classes so we could meet again. I was very nervous and excited at the same time. I went to her classroom, which was empty at the time. It was like the beginning of a scary movie. She was sitting at her desk doing some paperwork when I came in. She stopped what she was doing and looked up at me. "I wasn't sure you had enough experience but, I talked with our photo editor Bob. He said he thought you would make a good addition to the team. Welcome to the yearbook staff. We will see you next year."

That was it.

I was in.

My life in photography would begin a new chapter. My hopes of free football games and pom pom girls may have just been realized.

Thanks Bob .... it wouldn't have happened without your help.