Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Archived photograph of FLIP.
FLIP photograph from the ONR archives.
I'm preparing to leave for another assignment. Nothing very different about that except this is an opportunity I have been hoping for since I began working for the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The research vessel FLIP, or Floating Instrument Platform, will be celebrating its 50th year of operation June 29th and I will be covering the ceremony, but more importantly, I will get a chance to photograph FLIP doing its thing at sea the next day. Now it probably won't be the most interesting thing I've photographed in the past eight years, or even the most technically challenging, however, I have always thought that FLIP was really cool.

I came close on two previous occasions to photograph this one-of-a-kind 355-foot research vessel, owned by ONR and administered and operated by the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California, but both times plans changed or missions were scrubbed.

So when this opportunity arose, I made sure that I was included. One big decision needed to be made though. Would I ride aboard FLIP or with the VIPs aboard the tugboat Diana G. where I would get the best view of FLIP, well actually flipping? Tough decision, but only because I really wanted to be aboard FLIP. In the end it really seemed to be a no-brainer to ride aboard the viewing vessel if it was photos I needed.

At least I thought it was a no-brainer. In a staff meeting this week I was briefing the upcoming assignment when a co-workier asked if there weren't already a million photos of FLIP from the perspective that I would be shooting from. That really made me think and the more I thought about it the more it troubled me because she was right. What would be different about my photos? Could I have done something really creative and different if I had made the decision to ride aboard FLIP?

Too late to change my decision, which brings me to the title of this post. It will be my personal challenge to bring back something different that nobody has seen from a vantage point that many have shot from. I'll get all the standard "beauty shots," but I will really be looking around the edges to get something very different. My goal will be to return from this assignment and show that even if hundreds have photographed something before, I can produce something just a little different.

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