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Memories, like photos, are captured in time
Click, click, click — the sound of the shutter as a picture is taken, you probably have heard it a hundred times. I know I have over the years. For those of you who open the newspaper each week and look at the photos in it, well I’m the guy who has taken the majority of those photos for the past six-and-a-half years. My time at Kitsap News Group has come to a close. For the time being, the cameras will stay in the camera bag and the lenses in their lens cases. The economy has been brutal on the newspaper industry and my position was recently eliminated.
I was very fortunate to come back home after college and work for my hometown’s community newspapers. I grew up in Bremerton and graduated from Olympic High School in 1993. I have enjoyed every minute of my time serving this community as a photojournalist. I want to take a moment and say goodbye and thank all of you who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past six-and-a-half years. Boy, has the time flown by. It still seems like just yesterday back in 2003 when I became a full-time employee with Kitsap News Group. I started out freelancing for Kitsap News Group in 1999 and eventually was hired after my internship with the Kitsap Sun ended in 2002. My first assignment, of all things, was covering my alma mater, Olympic High School. Though the Trojans lost that night, it was the start I needed to get into this field of work. You, the community, helped me bring in 77 national and state photography awards for Kitsap News Group and Kitsap County and I thank you. I learned that so many of you will go the extra mile and help out if asked upon.
After adding up my mileage logs this past week I figured I’ve traveled 82,153 miles covering events in this county. The perimeter of the United States is 16,000 miles, so I figured I drove around the United States five-and-a-half times. Parr Ford, it might be time for me to get another SUV, this one’s about toast.
Over the years I tried to capture the beauty of Kitsap County through the camera and present those images to the community. As I reflected back on my time here, a few assignments came to mind that stood out over the years. Watching the USS John C. Stennis come to port and the family dog giving its owner a first lick, rather than a first kiss, and the look on the sailor’s face was priceless. Covering high school, college and professional sports on the sidelines was the best seat in the house, being asked by the Washington State Patrol if I would like to be Tasered along with the officers going through the drill. That was a crazy moment. Another priceless memory was when I was out-hiked by Jim Trainer who after hiking for two miles hadn’t broke a sweat and was ready for more while I was dying and ready to call it a day.
Each day’s assignment was a new adventure in my eyes, yet there was those heart-tugging assignments that took some time to get over long after the the day came and went. Nothing like having to go to a highway fatality, funeral or photographing a mother telling the story of how their loved one was killed by a drunk driver. Those assignments made me a stronger person. You learn very quick it’s not always about capturing that perfect award-winning photo, but to just go in, get what you need and move on.
If I had to name the most significant things I will take with me while being employed with Kitsap News Group, it would have to be putting Kitsap County on the map by bringing 77 national and state photography awards back to Kitsap County. You, the community, were a great subject to follow. Another was working with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Washington State Patrol and community members on the DUI Drinking and Driving Web video displayed on the Kitsap News Group Web sites. Without all of your help we never would have been able to get this message out there. And last but not least was being able to present Nora Sizemore, a mother who lost her son to a DUI driver, photos of Kyle from when he played baseball. I met Nora while working on the DUI video and heard how she didn’t have any photos of Kyle when he played baseball. Maybe it was fate, maybe just luck, but when I looked back through the archives I found one CD with photos of Kyle playing baseball and was able to give her those photos to cherish.
As for all the firefighters, law enforcement and high school refs, you can breath a sigh of relief knowing I won’t be taking your picture and putting it in the paper. I am sure your wallets will be thanking me for you not having to buy ice cream, donuts and the next round for your co-workers. I don’t know where the future will take me as fate and time will only tell.
Jesse Beals can be reached at Jessecowboys@hotmail.com.