My career in photography started at the Neighbor Newspapers, suburban weekly newspapers owned by the  Marietta Daily Journal (MDJ). I was hired as a writer. The editor never read a word I wrote before hiring me.

After a year of writing stories about local school board meetings, before which the editor of the competing newspaper (not coincidentally a co-founder of The Dew!) and I would drink a bottle of plum wine, I decided to switch to photography. The requirements were as rigorous as those for a writer.

The ultimate goal of a photographer for the Neighbor papers was to rise to the position of staff photographer for the flagship paper. Fortunately, there were often openings because the paper’s owner hated photographers and fired them on a regular basis.

cheerleader3Before long I found myself at the MDJ under the tutelage of a chief photographer who, true to form, was soon fired. Thus I quickly became a co-chief photographer with my fellow staffer, neither of us wanting to be the sole chief due to the eminent demise of those in that position.

A few months later, my co-chief was fired. He was that good.

Another photographer, fired just before we came on board, took pictures of the publisher as he was being fired. He had a party with the photos under which he had captions: “This hurts me more than it hurts you,” and “Is that your film, or my film you’re using!”

A sports writer once wrote a column. Each paragraph started with a word where the capital, indented first letters spelled, when going down the page, the publisher’s name and mentioned he was the son of a particular gender of dog….not male. The publisher was that beloved. The sports writer was fired.

I was never fired, which to those that know the paper, is a blot on my journalism career.

Photos: the publisher loved photographs of children because parents and assorted relatives would buy lots of copies, increasing circulation. Top: little ballerina; below: cheerleader making faces on team photo day.

Billy Howard

Billy Howard

Billy Howard is a commercial and documentary photographer with an emphasis on education and global health.