Lots of things in my job are done so often I forget how they get done. They are repetitive things that occur on every assignment. I found today that they can be life saving.
I stop and think about what actions I take to begin every job, they are as follows. Pull the lever, the flap opens, insert the card, close flap, format the card, enter the information into the cameras computer so it will tag every image for the job, check settings. Most of those things I don't even need to look while doing them. I use the view finder to tell me what the camera is set on. I know the knobs I need to turn to set up. Again, I don't look while I do this, I know where they are. I can deploy my tripod without looking. You might think one could get tunnel carpel from all this repetition. The variety of actions probably saves me from it.
One of my favorite things to do is take photos of Officers who are getting recognition. One has to do a lot besides put up with the heat while wearing black nylon and a thick bullet proof vest. They are required to put up with people having the worst day of their lives. So many by their own choosing. The greatest job security for law enforcement is the never ending stupidity and jealousy that is a catalyst for most of the tragic scenes I visit. You can add your own opine here_____:)
Now I'm in the studio with an officer and his partner. A parter is like the left ventricle of your heart. No one lives without one. I have to prepare the lighting and the camera. Standards require I ask the officer to remove the vest and the Sam Brown which is the tool belt that carries the batman stuff all officers have now, they have lots of stuff. Just the stuff alone makes a lot of people want to be one. The tools include a gun with extra clips. Communications like a radio and cell phone. Tasers and other less than lethal items. I had to ask about a recent ruling on an officer who pulled his gun instead of taser that caused a fatality. The officer gave me a quick lesson on the amount of training they go through to ensure that it does not happen. The practice involves drawing either, each, one or the other, until a thought becomes an action. The same way you don't think about driving your car, tying your shoes, or what I do to work a camera or tripod they put into making sure their hand is full of the object they need. The one appropriate for the situation. Each situation an officer can be expected to encounter is trained for as rigidly and exhaustively. That is what they are trained to do. Being exceptional, above and beyond the twelve thousand others is rare, that is why I enjoy taking those particular portraits. I am portraying a person who is above and beyond the finest and brightest.
I have only had one nightmare about grabbing the wrong thing. I will never have the ones an officer might when a small falter, not their own, ends in tragedy.