NewsSpring 2012

How does it feel to be a photojournalist?

Todd Moore is an administrative editor at the Indianapolis Star and teaches classes in photojournalism at UIndy. He started at the Star in 1980 as a summer intern, was hired as a photographer, and worked with the photo staff there for 20 years.

‘The most fun job in the world’

“I tell my students that being a photojournalist is the most fun job in the world. You get to go places and do things you would not normally get to. In the 1980s I got to meet Mother Teresa up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was my assignment to cover her visit. She did a press conference and we spent the day with her. The press conference was in a school and I was standing on a metal chair when it folded up on me. I fell, and the metal chair hitting the tile floor made a huge racket. She had Secret Service protection, so when I hit the floor and looked up, I was surrounded by guys in suits. We’d been just a few feet away from her, and by the time I stood up, she was gone. They whisked her away, and that was the end of the press conference.

“I also got a chance to pilot the Goodyear Blimp. It always came a few days before the Indianapolis 500, so one year I got to go out and ride in the blimp as part of an assignment. While we were in the air, the pilot asked if I wanted to take the controls, so I did. You aren’t going that fast, but it was pretty cool, and we got to spend about two hours in the air.

Balloon swoon

“I was also in a hot air balloon that crashed. It was part of the Indiana State Fair festivities, and the balloon I was in started drifting away from the others. We took off and were heading east, and the pilot was getting nervous about landing because it was so windy. He told me that we were going to land in a bean field, but he warned me that the landing would be rough. ‘Stow your gear and hold on’ is what he said to me, so I followed directions. We went down and we were thrown around in the basket, and I hit my shin and my head. That’s the first and last time I’ve been in a hot air balloon.

“A better flying experience came up at Grissom Air Force Base. We were in a plane that refueled one of the bombers in mid-air. We were over Nebraska or Iowa, and you could look out a window in the back of the plane to watch the approaching bomber. There was a boom operator with a joystick and we were going maybe 300 miles per hour when the bomber began to approach. He got maybe 40 yards away and then the boom extended, the fueling happened, and then we disconnected and they glided away. I couldn’t buy an opportunity like that.

Wide world of sport

“I also got to drive the pace car around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They told us to keep it to about 60 miles per hour, but we were going about 70 to 80. It just didn’t feel like you were moving at all. I’ve covered Final Fours and flown around the country as the Colts photographer. The very first Indianapolis Colts game ever played was an exhibition game against Miami in Florida, and I was there to photograph it. It was all film, of course, and I had to develop my own. I was trying to shoot in color, and it was a night game, so it was quite a challenge at the time. But it was a cool thing to do.

“I also covered Pacers games for years and could go to any game and sit on the floor. I went to a Pacers game a few years ago and sat in the eleventh row with my wife—and realized it was probably the furthest away that I had ever been from the court! I’ve been to many Final Four championships, and now I’ve gotten to go to a Super Bowl game.

“This job has been so much fun. At times I miss not being in the trenches, but I don’t miss it when it’s 20 below and icy out. I’ve been inside a coal mine, a steel mill, a burning building, and even a hog slaughter farm. (Didn’t eat pork for a long time after that). I’ve gotten to meet presidents and vice presidents. As a photojournalist, you get to cover a story and be a pilot or watch a tournament or meet someone famous. There’s a lot of heartbreak that you cover as well, but a lot of it is incredibly fun. And working with the newspaper means that I got to share those exper-iences with about a half-million people each day. That’s the thrill: you get to do something, then share it with everyone. Can’t get much better than that.”

the authorMarty