Saturday, August 14, 2010

High temps not conducive to creativity

Jennifer Burnett,18, of Dahlonega gets a ride from
childhood pal Tracy Bardugon, 18, as the two move
in to campus housing at Georgia Southern University.

I've been trying to teach my two-year-old to share. This week, he shared a virus with me.

The result has been a triple-digit temperature, matching the triple-digit temperatures outdoors in South Georgia this past week.

I took one day off, trying to recover – to no avail. With community events piling up, I returned to work in time to cover Friday's "Operation Move-in" at Georgia Southern University. The official opening of campus housing to new students is something we cover every year, so I usually try to think up a new angle each time. The blazing heat seemed like a pretty logical one, this time.

Now, I can be pretty stubborn. I'm always trying to push myself by attempting to make pictures I've never made before, no matter how mundane the subject. I'll work some events long and hard, almost beyond reason, just to come up with an image that's not hackneyed or cliche. I'm not always successful. Not successful nearly as often as I would like. But I always make the effort. It's just not in my nature to mail in any assignment.

Friday was chock full of story-telling opportunities: Two life-long friends become roommates for their first year of college. After a commuting, long-distance relationship, a high school grad finally joins her boyfriend as a Georgia Southern student. Four people tote an entire shoe collection for a rising freshman moving into campus housing.

Catherine Lee, 18, of Atlanta affectionately punches boyfriend

Michael McFarland, 21, Friday during Operation Move-In at

Georgia Southern. 

But my body and mind just weren't up to the task. My muscles ached. I was constantly wiping sweat from my eyes. Yet, my vision seemed to get no better after I wiped them. My brain was hazy – no sense of timing or composition. I was mindlessly making frames, hoping one might tell an interesting story. Rather than sticking with any particular subject for any length of time, I quickly bowed out and moved on.

Dyree Scott, left, and brother Ben help Savannah pal 
Jamari Mixon move into Eagle Village by toting his 
shoe collection.

After shooting several different scenarios, I wasn't particularly happy with any of my images – a lot of them had that "almost-but-not-quite-good" quality – and realized I hadn't really communicated what was so apparent - the heat. Those fleeting moments, where someone paused and wiped their brow or took a sip from a water bottle, were completely escaping me. I was still resolved to try and make some type of image to communicate these oppressive dog days conditions.

However, in this case, dog days did not translate into dogged determination. I was just dog tired.

The tipping point came when one of the event volunteers saw me. "You look really hot. Are you okay?" And she offered me water and and a towel.

And then it happened again, as I made my way. "Man, you look hot. Are you okay?"

And again. And again ...

Even in my dazed and confused state, I got the message. Time to bag it, Scotty B. You've become a reptile (and not a cute one like that gecko on TV), unable to regulate your body temperature in these conditions. Find a rock to crawl under – quickly.

So I trudged back to my car and left for the office to turn in the pictures I did manage to make.

Lesson learned? Well, I tried to tough things out, but toughness doesn't always translate into creativity. Sometimes, you gotta know when to say "when."

Can I go to sleep, now?

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