Dispatch from Washington: The Best Pros Still Have Manners

One of the major stories of last week was the funeral of our (the older photographers’) friend, President Gerald Ford. The memorial service was held at the Washington National Cathedral, and a large pool of the regulars was selected to be in the balcony — the only place the cathedral allows us on these occasions. Although the balcony is large, there is only one area way over on the right-hand side to get all of the attending presidents in one frame.

Believe it or not, most of the time we like to do things in an orderly manner. The first person arrived before 5:30 a.m. for a 7 a.m. call; it was Carol Cole of the Los Angeles Times (you may remember her Pulitzer for her Mosque story). Mark Wilson of Getty was next, and I was about fourth or fifth. The folks at the cathedral asked us to come into a large meeting room and served us coffee.

Everyone kept their places in line, which grew to about 40 photographers, including video and stills. About 6:45 a.m. we were asked to go outside, and we queued up in the same formation in the direction they told us we’d be headed.

At 7:30, one of our many handlers — not from the cathedral — went to the back of the line and yelled, “Mags (the security screening area) this way!” Of course, that meant that the last in line would be first! There was a mad dash, and we all ended up in a crowd in front of the Uniformed Secret Service who were doing the security.

Calmer heads prevailed and we decided, “Enough, let’s get back into the order we are supposed to be.” The photographers in the front went to the back, and in a minute we were back in our original places. We went through the mags and proceeded in an orderly manner to the balcony.

There’s a lesson here: The best of the business are professionals — and we were not going to be made to look like fools by people who didn’t know what they were doing.

[tags]Dennis Brack, advice for photographers[/tags]

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