I have never gone a spring season without photographing at least one storm damage event. It seems to be part of what every news photographer in Oklahoma does.
My first published newspaper photograph was of storm damage at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, shot on my first day of my 1982 internship at The Lawton Constitution and Morning Press. Chief Photographer Bill Dixon and I jumped into a “radio car,” one of the two vehicles equipped with two-way radios at that newspaper, and drove onto the post. I shot an image of broken branches strewn across the cannons on display at one of the headquarters buildings. I shot it with a Nikon FM with a Nikon Series E 28mm f/2.8, using Tri-X Pan Film.
It ran on the front page, above the fold, the next morning. My mom saved the clipping, and I have it to this day.
I thought of this, and the many times I have photographed storm damage in my career, Wednesday morning as our community was dealing with downed trees and power lines as a result of severe thunderstorms in the dark hours of Wednesday morning. We were very fortunate that the power remained on at The Ada News. And although my wife was at home in the dark for much of the day, I was cheered up by a text message from her at 2:04 p.m. yesterday afternoon with the words, “Power!!! Power!!!”
We were all very fortunate as well that no one was injured or killed during these storms.
Much of this also brought to mind that we have a summer intern here at our paper right now, an East Central University student named Ashlynd Elizabeth Huffman, whose trial by fire internship is not unlike mine was 37 years ago.
I am chagrined to learn that The Constitution’s new owners recently let all their remaining photographers go, a discouraging trend at newspapers all over the country. My coworkers and I are grateful every day that we can bring news, sports and photography to our readers throughout the community, and I think newspapers still have an important place in society. It is my hope that my photographic contribution to The Ada News is one of the reasons our readers continue to value our newspaper.