Ten years....

Lately I have been sending out a lot of emails touting my experience as a photojournalist, the time I have put into my craft, the things I have seen, the variety of assignments I have taken. 

In almost every one, I round out my experience in the field to "nearly a decade." Up until this morning I didn't spend much time thinking about what that past decade meant. I have certainly covered some pretty amazing stories in my relatively short career, and I expect to cover just as many in the future. 

But today, as I walked into a gas station along the turnpike, a grainy, dark image of a massive tornado caught my eye on the front cover of one of the state's daily papers. It took me a minute to really catch the drift of the headline and then it hit me. 

One decade ago today I was a student at the University of North Texas and I was scrambling around campus trying to find someone to skip class and go with me to Moore, Okla. to cover the massive damage inflicted by a series of tornadoes that sprung up across the state. 

I couldn't find anyone to go with me, so I fueled up my truck (a 1979 Ford F100) and headed north on Interstate 35. When I got there I hit the streets, found ways to sneak into the damaged areas and went to work covering what was the biggest story of my then very short career as a college journalist. I spent three days in Moore, camping in my truck alongside the giant broadcast rigs and rented camper buses of the major papers. I slept in the front seat of that old Ford and, as with all the other major disasters I have covered since, lived on water, peanut butter and granola bars. 

I wasn't nearly the journalist then as I am now, and the photos show that. But the things I saw, the stories I heard and the journalists I watched set in stone for me my path for the next ten years of my life. It was a great ten years.
So many things have changed. I am looking across my dining room now and marveling at the camera that I used to make the images. Yes, I still have it, it's on the "antique" shelf, along with the rest of my film cameras. Which is why the first photo has text on it. The only digital copy I have was used as a cover image for my portfolio for years afterwards. I still have the negatives somewhere with the rest of my college stuff. It makes me wonder what I would find if I dusted off an old loupe and looked through them. Who knows what I have already forgotten.