The Sunday before last was a hell of a night and the intervening week and a bit has been somewhat of an equally hectic blur.
There was the collapse of the main stage at this years Bluesfest here inOttawa; caused by a sudden high speed downburst of fast wind from an incoming thunder storm. Three people were taken to hospital with injuries; one had been pierced through the abdomen by falling debris, although all would be released the next morning.
I wasn’t aware of any of that; no one on scene was at the moment. After leaving the scene I bumped into some friends seeking shelter from the rain following the sudden storm. It was at this point that they noticed the camera I was cradling under my shirt.
“What’s up? Get any good pics?” I was asked, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn’t entirely sure. I had pictures, but I also had serious doubts. I use a Canon EOS 1D MK II, a top of the line piece of equipment in 2003… The thing’s a tank. However, I used it without regard to the rain during the Black Keys storm a week earlier on July 8 and serious damage I believe was done to the lens contacts. An error 99 message, an error code meaning general or unspecified mechanical error, flashed and the camera has been steadily losing functionality since. Two of my lens’ (70-200mm and 50mm) no longer function properly either, the only lens I have that will work is my 24mm. It’s a great lens but not everything can be shot with a wide angle. Finally the shutter seems on the edge of malfunctioning, a piece of plastic has collapsed partially obscuring my view through the lens. Although it is above the mirror so it doesn’t affect the actual picture, it significantly reduces my ability to properly frame pictures.
Bearing all these mechanical failures in mind I raced home on my bike through a rainstorm, fearful that the water had already creaped into the camera and corrupted the memory card somehow. I knew I had friends who’d like to see the pictures ASAP, so I threw together a hasty blog post and posted links on my Facebook page and Twitter account. I have a modest following of about 100 humans and 50 bots on Twitter, but the power of the #hashtag and RTretweet got the link to my blog to other more prominent bloggers who then retweeted to their 4000+ followers…
Suddenly I began receiving text messages from a friend who is interning at the Globe and Mail inToronto, she earnestly suggested I contact some photo editors about the pictures I’d just posted… With her help I decided the best option was the Toronto Star. As they were outside Ottawa and not a part of either Postmedia or QMI, both of which had photographers there in the form of the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun, they may actually want to PAY for images, a rare thing for an outsider.
The Star got back to me almost immediately saying they wanted the photos but that they weren’t sure if they had money available, the photo editor then suggested contacting the Canadian Press, who were apparently looking to buy photos; she gave me their phone number only.
I hastily tried to calm my anxiety and focus; this had escalated fast. The Canadian Press is the Canadian subsidiary of the American press wire, the Associated Press. As a wire this is the company that sells the news to everyone else. Photos and stories filed on the Canadian Press wire are accessible by subscribers to CP inCanadaand subscribers to AP globally.
I picked up my phone and dialed the number, the phone was picked up on the first ring… I hastily blurted out my memorized intro, explaining who I was and what I had. The guy on the other end of the line explained that he was actually looking at my blog post, someone had sent him the link and he was interested in buying four pictures. He told me which ones and I emailed them to him.
Within an hour the photos were on the Globe and Mail’s website, in the article, the teaser photos on the main page and a special web gallery featuring all the CP photos from the collapse. I couldn’t believe it, at the same time I watched the publications and news alerts roll in I watched my website page views. On July 18 there were more than 5500 page views; in all of 2010 I had 2200 views, prior to that the single busiest day wasJune 26, 2010(G20) with 246 page views…
On Tuesday after the collapse I googled, “Adam Dietrich Canadian Press,” my photos were in papers across north America, linked to in music blogs in Brazil and Portugal, and even used on a news site in Indonesia, which got the photos from AP. Wednesday afternoon my friend at QMI called and said he’d been on a flight coming back from vacation and AirCanadagave him a copy of the Globe and Mail, they’d used one of my photos in print in the Folio section.
The final feeling of accomplishment came when I found a copy of the previous days issue (July 19), which had run the photo. On the front page, below the fold, was one of my pictures in a standalone photobox teasing the folio section which had coverage of the stage collapse.
Since then I’ve been trying to save some cash and work out a plan to get some new equipment…. Freelancing is not lucrative, regardless an invigorating experience.
Here are some of the places the that popped up in google….
Yahoo! Via 2space (US/International) –
Middletown Journal (Ohio, US) –
Globe and Mail (Canada/National) -
The State (South Carolina) -
Merced Sun-Star (California) –
Access Atlanta(Georgia) –
Kansas CityStar (US) –
Global (Regina) –
Komo News (Seattle, Washington) –
Canada.com (National) –
Springfield News Sun (Ohio) –
KimaTV [CBS] (Yakima, Washington) –
Stamford Advocate (StamfordConnecticut) –
Lancasteronline (Lancaster, Pensilvania) -
Greenwich Time (Greenwich, Connecticut)-