When I think of this past summer, several things come to mind: a 45-minute commute, animals, cute children at the playground or fair, and Americana.
I interned at the Tribune-Review, which has three different editions in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. Pittsburgh is the place I call home, as I was born and raised in the steel city.
I worked in the Trib’s Greensburg office, which meant I had to commute at least 45 minutes each way to get to work while living at home to save money.
But this was something that I knew I could get used to in time. The summer came to involve lots of NPR during the morning car ride (Diane Rehm is such a gem) and the discovery of lots of new music on the way home. Thanks, Spotify.
I had my first assignment on day one. I came into the office, met my boss briefly, then he sent me out on my first assignment at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
Having worked for The Post for two years and spending a month of last summer in Scotland, I felt very prepared to enter a real newsroom and work the daily grind of photojournalism. I feel like I did well, always learning little lessons as I went along.
After several weeks, I simultaneously got used to the commute and started to hate it. Along with having to drive so far, Westmoreland County is a more rural setting, and I had trouble finding feature photos or things happening on a daily basis. There were many times where I wished I was working at the Pittsburgh edition, often wanting to be around the hustle and bustle of the city and more opportunities for feature photos.
In time, I came to really enjoy being in Greensburg and Westmoreland County. While it was a more rural setting, it had the small town feel of Athens in a way, and things that people think of as typical Americana are pretty fun to photograph. Plus, there was just some weird stuff. I went to a UFO festival (below). I took a picture of an old man eating ice cream. Some horses, corn and blacksmiths. I went on a monster truck ride. It was all very novel and fun.
Highlights of the summer included photographing (downtown, for a change) the night that the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, a Weezer concert, and the two occasions that I photographed reenactors. There were also some heartwarming moments and stories, like the story of Southern Tier Alternative Therapies, a therapeutic horse riding center.
Taking at least one assignment a day, sometimes up to three or four, plus looking around constantly for feature photos certainly provided a lot of opportunities for practice.
I wasn’t always perfect. I certainly learned lessons, but proved myself to my editors and became the successful intern they look for each summer. I don’t strive to meet expectations, but to set the bar high and surpass them. Will I be winning a Pulitzer anytime soon? Probably not. But can I accept that I learned a lot and produced some good work while I was at it? Yeah, for sure.