A few weeks ago, Mike Simons and I started playing a game called first frame.
The idea and the rules are pretty simple; we are judged on the first picture we took on a given day, or on the first picture we took at a specific assignment. Our Photo Editor, Christopher Smith, judges the contest on days that both Mike and I work. First one to five is the winner and the loser buys him a drink.
It was a close contest, but last Friday, Mike got to five wins with a pre-dawn picture of a bait shop.
We didn't tone or crop the pictures, so that exposure, sharpness and filling the frame would all be important factors for Christopher to consider.
Much more than a nerdy photographer game, 'First Frame' really made me conscious of the things that catch my eye when I get to an assignment. Its also an exercise in some of the fundamentals of photography and photojournalism. Being mindful of exposure and framing, but also slowing down to look and taking the time to make a nice exposure.
One of my favorite pictures was taken on the eighth day of the contest. I was looking for pictures at the annual Valentines Day lunch at the Day Center for the Homeless. A woman came up to me before I'd taken a picture and asked if I would photograph her. I started to pick up my Canon with the 50mm lens on it. "No," she said, "With that one," pointing to the larger 24-105mm lens and camera. After I took her picture, she asked if I could write something down. " Will you tell Wolly that I love him?"
In the pictures we've displayed here, Mike's pictures are on the left and mine are on the right. The winner and judges comments are in the caption field.
Mike Simons took this picture of a basket of chips at an Amish restaurant in Muskogee. A very similar picture of shrimp and cut up fish parts was Clanton's first picture of the day while working on an assignment at the Oklahoma Aquarium. Since Mike's was turned in as part of his assignment, he edged out Clanton with this picture to tie the game.
John Clanton always photographs the outside of the capitol building before he walks in to cover assignments, so he did the same thing before photographing Mary Fallin's State of the State Address. Meanwhile, back in Tulsa, Mike Simons clearly won the day by photographing a man near The Tulsa World offices at 4th and Boulder on his way to an assignment.
Mike's victory on National Signing Day put him up 3-1 over Clanton. Photo Editor Christopher Smith said he chose Mike's picture because the frame was fuller and because the handshake made for a more touching moment. But both were remarkable for a first frame of the day.
John Clanton starts his comeback by winning on the fifth day. Both photographers were drawn to light and shadows on this day, but John narrowly won, making the score 3-2.
Mike's first assignment of the day was a protest outside Wal-Mart. John's was at the South Tulsa Community House near 61st and Peoria. A brief moment between GED teacher Joe Haynes and a student edged out Mike's protestors and tied the game at three.
Mike won the seventh day by photographing discarded paperwork near a dumpster in a downtown Alley. The first thing John photographed that day was the Owasso High School Head Basketball Coach, Mark Vancuren. The score at this point is 4-3.
John Clanton ties it again with a portrait of a woman named Aulhiy Soulling.
Mike wins the game on the ninth day with an early morning picture of a bait shop in Bernice, Oklahoma. Mike said this game reminded him of the importance of getting out of the car and taking a picture if it calls to you. "It was 29 degrees outside the nice warm car that morning," he remembers, "it would have been easy to keep driving, but I wanted that picture."
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