By GREG POND
Photo editor: I have the pictures we shot for the Death of a Steel Town story.
Editor: How are they? Not too dark, right? I mean, not too depressing?
Photo Editor: They’re great. A little dark, but dark in the right way. Really powerful.
Editor: We shot in color, right?
Photo editor: We shot it in color and black and white, but I think the black and white is stronger. I want you to see them.
Editor: I’ll look at them, but I think I’ll want color. I don’t want to run dark pictures.
Photo editor: OK.
Editor: They’re not too down, are they? I mean, not too depressing and dark?
Photo editor: We should look at them. Probably better to talk after we’ve seen them.
Editor: All right, but make sure they’re not too dark and down. Make sure we have some smiles. We need smiles.
Photo editor: OK.
Photo Editor: It’s pictures of laid-off workers, so I’m wondering if smiles are … well, you know. But, sure, yeah, OK.
Editor: [Walking away] Smiles! Color! Energy!
Photo Editor: OK.
The above conversation didn’t actually happen, but similar ones have. In fact, they happen all the time these days. I’m the photo editor in question and I admit it, I’ve become guilty of the sin of saying OK. I’m not fighting it out with editors as much as I should be. Not the ugly fighting of course, but the great back and forth that leads to exciting stories and strong layouts, brilliant pictures, and award-winning illustrations. OK is the safe choice. OK is business as usual. OK is sticking with what you know. OK is not taking chances. OK is not asking that one time too many for the extra spread you think your story deserves. OK is not risking the black eye you might get if you push back with your boss about that opener you believe in.