Those Sudden Moments that Can Change the Entire Direction of Your Life.
Some one once said…
“The Aim of Education is not to Acquire Knowledge but to Take Action” – How true!!
Having returned for 13 months on the road in England and Europe I found myself now playing drums in The Foundry Brass band in what was known then as The Old Forge Nightclub in The Strathcona Hotel. This was a six night per week gig,..”A Musicians dream”. During the daytime I was also teaching drums at Hall & Fairfield Music on Fort Street.
One day the guy who repairs musical instruments at the store is getting rid of some stuff from his house and asked me if I would be interested in purchasing an 8 millimeter camera, a projector and a screen for $150.00. I don’t know why I said yes, but I bought the package, through it in the trunk of my car an didn’t look at it again for three weeks. When I finally opened the trunk, I thought it would be fun to make some slapstick movies with my musician friends and show them at the Christmas party at the Forge. They went over so well, that I thought
this photography stuff could be fun.
Now I’m starting to Hang with amateur photography friends but as they would throw around terms like “Depth of Field” “Hyper-Focal distance” etc., I realized I new nothing. So I bought a 35mm Pentax single lens reflex camera and took a correspondence course from the The School of Modern Photography in New York, finished the course and and really got into 35mm black and white work.
My every day routine was to open The Colonist Newspaper and look at the photos taken by Colonist Photographers. Wow!! I thought… wouldn’t it something if I could be one of those guys. Then a voice inside me said “Why not”? Well I do have a good eye for photos I thought, but am I good enough to have my photos in the newspaper?
So one morning I put together my best 5 or 6 black and white photos and boldly walked into the Colonist office with my pictures. Now at this time the Times/Colonist was a morning paper, (The Colonist) and an afternoon paper, (The Times). There were around 5 or 6 Free-lance Photographers that provided most of the pictures in the paper and were paid so much for each photo that was used.
There were some really great photographers at that time with names like: like Jim Ryan, Irving Strickland, Bill Johns, Bill Boucher, Bill Halkett. These guys were all top notch at their jobs. Because most of the staff started at 3 p.m. and worked till midnight, the whole Colonist newsroom was empty when I arrived. This was surely one of the defining moments in my life. I nervously walked in. There was no clicking of typewriters, just quiet with the faint clicking of a Teletype Machine in the background.
Way at the back was the City Editor at his desk. Darn! I thought. I have to walk all the way up to his desk, which I did slowly looking like a Deer in the headlights.I had thought out this scenario of meeting The City Editor a thousand times and was ready for either..”. Wow! what great photos”… or “Your stuff sucks, go home kid”.
The City Editors face is buried in paperwork as I approach and I cough slightly…Huh Huh!… Nothing!… I cough again and he lifts his head but his eyes or still on the papers. “Yep” his says. “Hi my name is Barry Casson”, I blurt out in a broken voice… I thought you might like to look at my photos…He finally makes eye contact and says “Just leave them on the desk here” and drops his head again. Wait a minute, I’m thinking, this is not supposed to
happen I want you to look at them and I mean right now! I need “Wow” or “They Suck”. “Was there anything else” he says? “aaaah… aahhh…no”, I mumble…”Thank you” and I make my way out of the building feeling somewhat cheated by the response.
I finished the gig at The Old Forge that night and got home around 3 p.m after hitting Paul’s Restaurant for chips and gravy. Woke up around 10 a.m. grabbed the morning paper as usual and suddenly?… Naw!… It couldn’t be. But there it was!… one of my photos splashed real big all over the front page of the Colonist with my name underneath it. I couldn’t believe it? I was literally stunned!
There had been a fire a few days prior in a warehouse where the Delta Hotel now stands near the Johnson Street Bridge. I had taken a shot of our Parliament Buildings framed up in a burnt out window pane and now almost everyone in town was looking at my photo.
I spent the next several years shooting for the Colonist and went on to become a staff photographer at another local paper called The Victorian. I estimate that I may of had as many as five to six thousand published photos during those seven years as a news photographer and it all started like the rhyme in the children’s story book… The Little Engine That Could!…”I think I can…I think I can…I think I can!
Hope you enjoyed this piece o fmy life. If you know anyone interested in learning drums, please pass on my name. They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-721-2113 or go to my website for videos and blogs www.drummerboy.ca