News Columns & Blogs

Working the picture desk

     One of the jobs for most of the photographers here at the Eagle is processing the images for the newspaper and This is a two week shift that we call "working the desk."  The shift is a night shift that is spent in front of a 24-inch monitor, color correcting, sizing and applying codes to the photographs for publication.

      The photographs are our staff's photos and news wire photos, such as the Associated Press. They are viewed by editors in the various departments in the newsroom on the   sites of the news agencies and our own internal system of current and archived images. Once the photograph is chosen, a proof is printed with instructions, the date of publication, where the photo is being published in the newspaper, and the slug of the image is added to the image. These proofs are delivered to the photo desk, where we take over. We locate the photo in our computer system and go though the editing steps listed above and send it to a server so the page designers can access the image for building their pages.      It is not all hard work, our photo desk is next to the sports department and they have a  new huge television to watch all of the games. OK, I can not see the television until after the sun goes down, as I only get to view it in the reflection of the windows behind the sports folks, but I can still sort of see it! The page designers are around the corner from the picture desk. We work with them the most during the shift and put their needs on the front burner so they can get their stuff finished. They are a happy group, building pages on deadline must be fun or they have all lost their sense of reasoning. They move fast and they are pretty darn good at what they do.     I almost forgot, deadlines. The desk shift starts at 2:30 p.m., and most of the busy work is from about 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Most of the work is finished by then except for the late sporting event photographs that we have to process. That happens from about 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. The magic hour is about 10 p.m. when most of the photographs need to be in the system. There are some exceptions if an event is running late, that deadline can be pushed back an hour or so, but not often.     The desk shift is not the most popular with our photographers, it sort of puts a stop to all of our worlds for two weeks every other month or so, but it is an important part of our jobs. Yes, we would rather be out making photographs, but it is not a bad gig if the weather is bad outside! It is a nice way to keep in touch to what and how this newspaper gets published each day and a chance to get to work in the newsroom instead of on the streets.