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I’ll Never Tire of Telling Stories That Matter

Posted By Peter Phun On May 13, 2009 @ 7:24 am In Photojournalism | 2 Comments

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I left the newspaper world five years ago. There are things I miss about it, and things I don’t.

I miss receiving a steady paycheck to go out and about on new assignments every day. I don’t miss the restrictions and frustrations that came along with that paycheck.

I ultimately had to ask myself what type of animal I was: the well-fed specimen behind the bars at the zoo, or the one out in the wild — emaciated, but free to roam. The characters in the movie Madagascar found themselves in such a dilemma, and decided on a jailbreak.

And so I, too, am now out on my own.

As a freelance photographer, I don’t have to put up with editors second-guessing my judgment as to which picture tells a story best. Or whether a particular subject is worthy of attention.

But I still get to do what I love most — tell stories that matter, about people that interest and inspire me.

People like Eddie Dee Smith.

A Video Tribute

When Kris Lovekin, director of media relations at UC Riverside, asked me if I would take on a project to create a video tribute on Eddie Dee Smith, I jumped on it.

It hardly paid my day rate, but I knew this was a project too important to pass up. Since Smith was in her late nineties, this might be one of the last opportunities to formally thank her for all she had accomplished for our community.

I have been following Smith’s work, and documenting it with my camera, since I was an intern at the Riverside Press-Enterprise in 1987. Her work is a reminder that sometimes when you give to your community, you get back a whole lot more than you could ever imagine.

Smith suffered the murder of her husband, and had no children. Nonetheless, she leaves a legacy that will long endure.

She volunteered for the Red Cross for over 30 years. She helped found the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church because of the lack of a Sunday school to serve black children in her area. She formed a Girl Scout troop for black girls. She was a founding member of the North Rubidoux Women’s Club, which sponsored the Rubidoux Senior/Community Center. That center has since been renamed the Eddie Dee Smith Senior Center.

Eddie Dee Smith recently passed away at age 99. I thought I’d share this video as a reminder of why I love my job. Perhaps it’s why you love yours, too.

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2 Comments To "I’ll Never Tire of Telling Stories That Matter"

#1 Comment By Susan On May 13, 2009 @ 7:49 am

"I ultimately had to ask myself what type of animal I was: the well-fed specimen behind the bars at the zoo, or the one out in the wild — emaciated, but free to roam." Thanks Peter, this one sentence puts it all in perspective and will without a doubt, get me through another week of cereal. Keep up the good work.

#2 Comment By Peter Phun On May 15, 2009 @ 11:53 am

Thanks for commenting. I hadn't intend to put that line in until I saw the movie again recently. There you have it, if anyone says kids movies are simply mindless entertainment, this one resonated with me.

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