There’s bad surprises and good surprises.
Bad surprise – finding out all your camera batteries are dead just as you’re headed out the door to an assignment.
Bad surprise – arriving at the appointed time to photograph an event only to find out the event has been delayed and won’t start for another hour.
And then there are good surprises.
Twice in the last week I’ve been surprised in a good way, in a way that made a routine, oh-no-not-the-same-assignment-again, fun and interesting.
The first was the Eisenhower High School graduation in the Yakima SunDome. I’ve shot more high school graduations than I can remember. The ceremonies and photographs are somewhat predictable – graduates helping each other get ready before the start of the ceremony, the processional, students taking selfies, hugging parents, hugging each other, waving at family and friends in the bleachers, etc.
And that’s how the Ike graduation ceremony progressed until…until principal Stacey Locke traded her graduation gown for a gaudy outfit and busted out in Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock.” Dancing up and down the aisles of students she absolutely crushed it. Everyone – graduates, teachers, families, friends and yes, even me, were rocking with Locke.
Cherries are big deal around the Yakima Valley – a lot of them are grown here and they’re the first fruit crop to be harvested. Each year we do a “cherry harvest has started.” And while I haven’t photographed as many cherry harvests as graduations I’ve photographed a bunch. And like graduations, cherry harvests are pretty much the same each year. Workers on ladders, workers carefully placing just-picked cherries in a bin, moving ladders, tight shots of cherries, tight shots of a hand picking a cherry, etc.
I figured this year’s “cherry harvest has started” assignment would be pretty much the same.
But I was wrong. Arriving at the farm I found workers covering bins of cherries with water-soaked sheets of foam to cool the cherries for trucking to the packing plant. I’d never seen this process before and got busy photographing the work. It’s not a complicated process but it presented me with something different and interesting to shoot, something different than the routine cherry harvest photos and that was a good surprise and one that made the assignment more interesting and fun. Fun enough to shoot 363 photos.
It’s nice to know that after all my years photographing the Yakima Valley that there are still good surprises. I look forward to more.