Photographers' Blog

Don’t leave home without it… a camera

Thousands of Common Grackle birds fly over downtown Waco and the Alico Building after sunset in Texas December 31, 2007.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

The most beautiful photographic moments jump out in front of you unexpectedly and then, as quickly as they appeared, vanish into thin air. Wonderful photographs exist for an instant before they’re gone forever… alluring eye candy seductively winking at you in plain sight waiting for an easy invite to go home with you, be framed, and then proudly shown off for a lifetime.

Confession takes place inside the Catholic cathedral in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago, Chile, October 5, 2009.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

Sound easy? It is, only if you follow the most basic rule of photography… don’t ever leave home without a camera.

A female customer's foot is seen inside a fish pool containing tiny carp, or Garra Rufa fish, which feed off the dead skin from feet to soften them before a pedicure at Yvonne's Hair and Nail Salon in Alexandria in Virginia, September 13, 2008.          REUTERS/Larry Downing

Any camera, big or small, size doesn’t matter!

Shadows are cast on the White House in the early morning before a snow in Washington, February 4, 2009.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

The latest selection of amateur “happy snap” digital cameras have given new life to professional dreams for all levels of talent of aspiring photographers by providing a chance for picture success on an easier playing field. Technological wonders built by Panasonic, Canon, Sony or Nikon are tiny, simple and efficient mini-computers that are also shockproof, waterproof, and foolproof. Quiet marvels outfitted with fast, world-class optics (lower light capabilities), and built in zoom lenses. All combining to provide the user with significant photographic superiority compared to the larger, slower, mechanical “old school” film cameras needing collections of toxic chemicals and a dedicated darkroom with specialized equipment to produce printed pictures.

With the temperature over 100 degrees in Washington DC in August, geese look for water at fountain next to reflecting pool.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

There are even pocket-sized cameras now available with Global Positioning Satellite receivers installed inside that map where in the world your camera took the picture.

A tourist enjoys the sunset on New Year's Eve on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii December 31, 2009.         REUTERS/Larry Downing

So stash one inside your jacket, purse or backpack and then patiently wait. Otherwise, those amazing pictures will evaporate quicker than a magician’s burning flash paper as surprised eyes stare right through it with no camera to grab.

Presidential pets: Past and present

“Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House.” -Barack Obama

And with that introduction during his presidential victory speech last November Barack Obama changed the lives of his family forever by honoring a personal campaign promise to the most important constituents in his life; his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Both girls will now have memories of growing up in official Washington forever linked with the excitement of sharing the White House grounds with their brand new puppy.

They will discover the past rewards of an imaginary friend are hollow next to the joys generated by a loving heart of a real puppy. Sasha and Malia will learn how satisfying it is to be a pet’s hero and they will never tire from watching as their dog twists inside-out with enthusiasm, and smiles widely every time they return home from school.

Bush years: First-time history

Larry Downing is a Reuters senior staff photographer assigned to the White House. He shares that duty with three other staff photographers. He has lived in Washington since 1977 and has been assigned to cover the White House since 1978. He worked for United Press International and Newsweek Magazine before joining Reuters as a stringer in 1997 and then as staff in 1999.

As the final moments of President Bush’s administration wind down, I look forward to Barack Obama’s historic inauguration. Having grown up in America as a child of the 50’s, I found the odds impossible that he, or any other African American, would ever win the presidency in my lifetime.

Early on election day last November I drove with my wife from the suburbs in Northern Virginia to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in the Anacostia district of Washington D.C. to watch as thousands of African Americans stood in line to cast their vote on a cold, raw morning. It was heartwarming to watch.

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