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News for Norther Colorado and the world

Monday, September 1, 2014

Take the lens cap off, and other musings on photographing Berthoud

By Jamie Folsom
Managing Editor, Berthoud Recorder

Around the office, we’ve always said our photographs set us apart as a paper. And it’s no wonder, with so many of us being photo enthusiasts. We constantly challenge and learn from one another – get better shots, experiment, look at events we’ve covered before in new ways, go behind the scenes and help the reader see more of the action.

I confess that one of the best things about covering Berthoud has been the opportunity to step back from writing and just watch through the lens. Reporters are observers, and it’s a pleasure to take down details of the surroundings, the mood, the little things that people would otherwise overlook. Things you learn: 1. Turn on your recorder before you’re ready, and 2. Don’t turn it off until you’re back in the office. It helps you tune into the situation more clearly, getting a sense of what is actually going on beyond what the press release stated.

The same things can be said for cameras – take off your lens cap and don’t turn off the camera until you’re long gone. You’d be surprised at the things people say and do when the formal part of an interview or an event is over. You get your best quotes, for sure, but you also get some of your best shots.

That was the idea behind our coverage of the Larimer County Fair this year – go early and go often. We went to the fair before it was even open to cover 4-Hers and their projects, but we also found carnival workers, stray wild rabbits and people just waiting and thinking. We were there when they took down the exhibits and the much-loved calves were sold at auction. That approach turned into a fantastic array of photos and stories that spilled over into three issues of the Recorder.

And for me personally, I came to Berthoud before I started working here, taking photos and hanging out at the coffee shops. I saw the sights I was expecting – farm houses next to subdivisions, a quaint main street and large tracks of farm land. But my first visit to Berthoud in several years also began a 17-month journey that has led me to tap dancers, blacksmiths, sidewalk design, astronomers, criminals, quirky budgeting processes, opera singers, ditch diggers (there were a lot of those, actually) and demolition derby drivers.

There is no way I’m turning off my camera or putting away my notes as I end my tenure as editor. Who knows what other wonderful and unforgettable things I might experience? Berthoud is still in my sights and will be for a long time.

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