Tim’s Turn: Snapshots in Time
Snapshots in Time
Taking photos has never been as easy as it is today. Cameras are everywhere—on your phone, on your watch, on your computer, on your tablet. Everyone is a photographer these days. Also, getting your thoughts in front of the masses has never been easier. With blogs, social media, web stories, etc., everyone is a writer. Their voices are being heard.
I spent seven years at The Ohio State University (OSU) to earn my credentials as a photojournalist. Now, a person can spend less than an hour to go to the store, buy a phone, and set up a Facebook account.
I got my first Brownie camera when I was 10 years old and started taking photos. After my first roll of black-and-white film was used on my dog Pixie, I rowed my Old Town rowboat across the lake to Buckeye Lake Amusement Park and took several rolls of photos of the rides and all the fun things going on. I found photographing the energy and the color of that environment very stimulating, even as a 10-year-old. Unfortunately, those photos and negatives have long disappeared, but I still have a couple of the photos of Pixie from that first roll.
During high school, I was the school photographer, and I covered all the sports teams for the school newspaper and yearbook. At OSU, I was a photographer for The Lantern daily newspaper and the Makio yearbook. I was also employed by the athletic department for a short time and shot the OSU football games. Fun time. Unfortunately, most of those negatives have gone missing as well. Oh yeah, I put myself through all those years of college as a wedding photographer. During that time, I took photos at 500 weddings.
As part of my college photography courses, many of my projects centered on amusement parks and carnivals. My graduate work dissertation was a filmed documentary of Cedar Point. And following college, I joined the American Coaster Enthusiasts and traveled as much as I could, taking photos of parks, attractions, and, of course, coasters.
So it was only natural that when the opportunity arose in 1985, I jumped at the chance to join Amusement Business magazine as a photojournalist and senior editor. Since then, I have photographed more than 600 different parks and attractions in 29 countries and have shot more grip-and-grin photos of our industry leaders than I can remember. All told, I have had nearly 4,000 photos published during my lifetime.
When I see photos today, many of parks and rides, taken with a little phone, I am envious. Many of them are just as good of quality as I produced with $3,000 worth of equipment. Some of the writing I see on the internet by amateurs is much better than I produced as a paid employee many years ago. Getting good photos today is so easy that there is no reason why any business should not have an amazing array of quality photos on hand to use for marketing and public relations purposes.
I am so glad I am not starting out as a photographer or a writer in this environment today. Since I am still shooting hundreds of photos a week, I am also happy that to make a good photo today, one doesn’t have to carry around 18 pounds of equipment. My back is still sore from those days!
Tim O’Brien is a veteran outdoor entertainment journalist and is a longtime Funworld contributor. He has authored many books chronicling the industry’s attractions and personalities and is the only journalist in the IAAPA Hall of Fame.