There’s the adage “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” While I mostly agree with that, it’s also true that words are needed to tell you what the picture can’t.
This comes to mind with our photo shoot for this month’s cover. You always want a cover image that is eye-catching, yet expresses some aspect about the cover story.
We wrestled with how best to illustrate Waco Tours. Showing the four owners was a no-brainer. But in what setting?
Photographer Jerry Larson’s original plan was excellent. Get them with one of their now almost ubiquitous vans with the ALICO Building and a slice of the downtown in the background.
Good concept, but co-owner David Ridley pointed out that’s essentially the same image on the Waco Tours brochure.
So Plan #2 was hatched: Ditch the vans, go for something with their boat on the Brazos River. It’s a newer tour option and images on the water are usually cool.
I decided to ride with them from the dock at McLane Stadium, interviewing them for the story and maximizing time with our busy schedules.
Jerry had scouted a good spot. We would put the Ridleys and Whytes on the bank with the boat and the Waco Suspension Bridge in the background.
Some problems cropped up. The heavy rains earlier overfilled Lake Whitney, which was releasing water downstream. Most of the riverwalk was either a muddy mess or under water. But Jerry’s spot was still good.
Or so we thought.
Right before we left the dock Jerry called to say that since he arrived the river was beginning to rise. That dry spot of riverwalk was now gone and there would be no easy way to disembark from the boat to the bank.
So now we’d have to shoot pics of them on the boat. But what to do with me? I can’t be in the photo.
Our answer: I would lie down in the bottom of the boat, getting directions from Jerry onshore by cellphone while boat captain Keith Nolin lines up the boat for the photo and maneuvers around logs and debris floating downstream.
It takes a couple of passes by Nolin to get the boat where Jerry needs it. But he got the shot.
As we finished, someone spotted a young deer swimming across the Brazos near the Suspension Bridge. Thoughts went from “that’s amazing” to “we’d better help than poor thing.”
We got Jerry’s attention about the deer, which did make it across and leaped onto the bank, then sprinted around Indian Spring Park trying to figure out where to go.
Jerry got a great shot of it coming out of the water. It became the Trib’s front page photo two days later. We lost sight of the animal and hope it got some place safely.
You never know what goes into some photo shoots and the happenstance that can make for a good story about the photo.