Column by Jenna Hauck
Every year as Christmas wraps up and as the end of the year nears, you’ll find me excitedly clicking through our e-editions in search of some of my favourite images for my annual photographic year-in-review.
But this is actually the first time in five years that I’ve had the privilege to put this special issue together, due to my two maternity leaves… and boy have I missed it.
Come February, I’ll be celebrating 20 years at The Chilliwack Progress.
I started working here at the age of 12.
No, but I was very young (21) and fresh out of photojournalism school when purple, spikey-haired me landed this job.
And a lot has changed over the past two decades.
Back when I started in 2000, we were shooting film and even developing some black-and-white negatives in our darkroom. Although we’ve moved to a new office this year, I still remember the smell of photo fixer every time I walked by the darkroom, and I absolutely loved it.
The Progress was the first Black Press newsroom out of more than 100 to be given a digital camera back in 2001. I recall how fascinated my subjects and I were when I instantly showed them images on the camera’s LCD screen that I had just shot. The Nikon D1 camera was like a modern-day Polaroid.
But it’s really been over the past five years where the biggest changes have come, both at work and in my own personal life where I’m now married and have two children.
Gone are the days (for now) of waking up to the squelch of the scanner and rushing out to shoot a fire in my pyjamas at 3 a.m. It simply can’t be done with a four-year-old and two-year-old now.
Here in the office, The Progress has embraced the non-stop hunger our readers have for news both locally and globally. We’re constantly posting story links to our social media platforms every day. Updated technology makes it easier for us to layout and design our print edition twice a week, and new software allows us to see when a story has gone viral.
Personally, I now write much more and I shoot less – which I’ve come to realize isn’t a bad thing. I’m no longer “just” a photographer, I’m a multi-media journalist. We all are here at The Progress.
But I will admit that the change in my job description, coupled with our newsroom not being fully staffed for many months, resulted in a difficult year for me.
There were times when I wasn’t happy with the photos I was producing. I often found it difficult to focus on making beautiful images when my time was also spent interviewing and writing. It was hard to juggle both.
It was a bumpy road, but it soon smoothed out. The more I’d write, the easier it got and the more I enjoyed it.
And the easier storytelling with words came to me, the easier storytelling via photos returned, too.
One thing that helped inspire me this year was reading a book that I purchased 13 years ago.
The Great Picture Hunt by Dave LaBelle is all about “the art and ethics of feature picture hunting.” LaBelle’s advice on how to “people watch” and how to be patient, prepared and have compassion with your subject has re-fanned a flame in me that I felt was slowly being extinguished.
So as I head into 2020, I have a new vision. My passion for photography is still here, but now along with it, I see a new passion for writing.
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