Luck and Spirit by Deborah Zeitman
[photopress:rodcarewprintx.jpg,full,centered] Â© Deborah Zeitman
As a youth I was bold and brave, fearless in a way only innocence can allow. At nineteen-years-old, I eagerly walked into the Los Angeles Bureau of the Associated Press with a meager portfolio of black and whites and asked to work as a freelance photographer for the summer. The Bureau Chief looked me over and reached for my portfolio, an ugly fake wood-grain file held shut by an elastic band. He pulled the 8×10 glossies from the enclosure and rifled through them as I saw my lifeâ€™s moments whiz by.
â€œThe pros are much faster than college,â€ he said, dismissively tossing down the highlights of a yearâ€™s work upon his desk.
â€œI know,â€ I said, reaching to gather my photos of college baseball and beyond. â€œBut how can I prove I can do it if you donâ€™t give me a chance?â€ Our eyes met and right then I knew I had won, my spirit more important than my expertise.
That night as I climbed down the stairs of Dodger Stadium, the fans screaming with enthusiasm, the artificial lights more jarring than daylight ever could be, I felt myself trembling. Weighed down by three cameras and my fear, I moved onto the field to the stares of the crowd and fellow photographers. At nineteen and a wisp of a girl, I couldnâ€™t have looked more out of place or felt more disoriented.
But the crack of ball hitting bat sparked instinct. I focused and clicked and missed every important image.
The next day I dragged myself before the Bureau Chief, embarrassed, guilty, like a dog whoâ€™d misbehaved.
â€œHowâ€™d ya do?â€ he asked.
â€œTerrible. I was really nervous.â€ I could barely look up. â€œI need another chance.â€
And I got it. And I shined, compelling the staff photographer accompanying me to submit my photo over his, and getting published across the nation in assorted papers.
The rest of that summer I shot for AP in L.A., and when the time came to return to college for my sophomore year, I started working for the bureau near my university thanks to the recommendation of the L.A. Bureau Chief.
This could be my tale of courage and perseverance, but really, it is my tale of luck. When I walked into AP that day, I arrived with the perfect balance of innocence and guts and stumbled upon a willing recipient of my style. I never sought advice as to how to land a photojournalist job, but perhaps my spirit is what gave me my first big shot.
To contact Ms. Zeitman email her at :firstname.lastname@example.org
(Here is an article form one of our readers. Thanks to everyone for a great response to the call for writers.)