Students Speak: Clemson University College of Health, Education, and Human Development

Imagine being incoming college freshman majoring in, say, education, health sciences, nursing, or maybe parks, recreation, and tourism management. It’s summer orientation. You and your parent of choice are lead around the campus by in-the-know students carrying silly signs that avoid loss of trailing ducklings. It’s hot, South Carolina Hot.

You’re handed a map and told to follow along as you learn the ins and outs of dinning locations, dorm rooms, and Clemson University history. Along the way, the lead student makes the entire group take a vow to forever praise the almighty Danny Ford, teaches you why you must rub the rock in Frank Howard’s Death Valley, and explains to parents that the Esso Club is not a gas station.

If you’re lucky, you might learn that there is no “P”, “Z”, or “U” in the proper pronunciation of the university name.
Finally, you are directed to an auditorium near Edwards Hall that is full of like-major acquaintances. These people will soon become some of your best friends, but not before you get to view my latest piece of higher education propaganda for the Clemson University College of Health, Education, and Human Development.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

Believe It

I was tasked to visually represent the six Learner Dispositions for the Clemson University College of Health, Education, and Human Development. These six qualities or values are not written in any text book. They are learned through exercise and experience, and are instilled in all students who graduate with a degree from the College of HEHD.

HEHD will prepare professionals who, in addition to content knowledge and skills, hold these six dispositions:

  • Possess skills necessary to work collaboratively with individuals, families, and community groups from diverse backgrounds;
  • Possess skills necessary to lead effectively and creatively in complex and changing environments and to become agents of change;
  • Demonstrate flexibility, resilience, and adaptability, caring, ethical decision-making and ethical conduct;
  • Possess knowledge of organizational behavior and how governance and systems work;
  • Engage in professional development for continual growth and life-long learning; and
  • Attain a global perspective and level of knowledge and skill necessary to succeed in a complex global economy.


The Believe It video is my visual representation of these six dispositions.


 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

Baltimore: A Story From My Time In TV News


The trip to Baltimore came as a dull story, but it was travel. And it guaranteed that I wasn’t going to be shooting a story about a big pot hole in the left lane of Pleasantburg Drive combined with a rain-laden 11pm live shot all because of random caller to the news room.

For example purposes, here it a quick look into everyday TV news.

…ring…..ring……..
Assignment Editor:
WYFF. News room.

Caller: Yeah, is this WYFF?
Assignment Editor: Yes sir. How can we help you?
Caller: Hey, ya’ll know there is a big pot hole on Pleasantburg. Ya’ll ought to do a story about that and tell some people.
Assignment Editor: Thank you sir. I’ll pass that along.

Now, everyone in TV news knows what “I’ll pass that along” actually means. However, on this one particular rainy evening, there I was with my reporter doing exactly as describe in the paragraph above. This is why we live for the big story….or the travel.

Back to the Baltimore story. The story basically involved city and county leaders making a trip to Baltimore in order to take note of city planning and all that comes with such things. Yeah.

I’d been on such a trip before except the city and county leaders did their “research” in Portland, Oregon. Now that was a fun trip. Cool city Portland. However, my reporter had a tenancy to come out of the shower completely naked, put one leg up on a chair and then wanted to talk about the agenda for that day. Remember that Seinfeld episode about good naked and bad naked. Yeah, this was the bad kind.

Again, back to Baltimore. The best part of the trip came on a day when we had little to do. So while my reporter logged tape, I walked down to Camden Yards see what the hell was up with all the protesters and cops. To my wonderful surprise, it just so happened to be THE day when the Cuban National Baseball Team was in town to play the Orioles. How flippin’ cool is that? Talk about a nat sound piece waiting to happen. But alas, I shot just enough for a little flavor in the piece above. I had no interest at that particular time to shoot a nat sound piece.

My only concern was getting into the game. Tickets, of course, were sold out. So I did what any good journalist would do. I looked for the affiliate sat truck. Once found, I simply walked in. To say serendipity was on my side that day would be an understatement. Who do I find in the NBC sat truck but an engineer who used to work at WYFF. Mike Laboone was a quite kinda guy, but nice as could be. He was a great TV news engineer.

“Hey Mike, got a press pass for me?”

With a flick of his wrist he handed me an all-access golden ticket to history in the making.

I sat in the press box, along the first-base line, behind home plate, and along the third-base line. I even had the opportunity to get Cal Ripkin’s autograph. I didn’t because I’m not one of those media people, but it was cool to see him up close and in the flesh. Here and here for more about that game.

That’s really about all. I know it’s a boring story with too many tangents. I don’t care. It was one of those I-worked-in-TV-news moments that I’ll never forget.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

The Sax Man Cometh



I shot this story around the same time I shot the Cootie Stark story. The Sax Man Cometh was part of a local musician series that I dreamed up in my head simply because I wanted to go shoot the Cootie Stark story, and I needed a reason.

My reporter, Kimber Lohman (now Suiters), found Todd living in an assisted living facility around Greenvegas. I wasn’t thrilled about the shoot because I hate assisted living facilities. I know, I know, it almost seems like blasphemy to speak of an ALF in such a way. But hey, I’m big and I sweat a lot. It’s always so damn hot in those places.

The ALF manager had set up a concert of sorts. Hearing that the Sorts were going to be in concert thrilled me to know end. You know the sorts, don’t you?

What I hear coming my way as my next assignment is an old man playing sax for a bunch of old people in a hot box the likes of which haven’t been seen since Nam. Sounds like an Emmy winner to me! (Big thumbs up)

What I actually got was an old man playing sax for a bunch of old people in a hot box the likes of which haven’t been seen since Nam. However, the story that we found and some of the images that were captured dripped with the realities of a long and experienced life.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

Be A Man, Find Your Purpose


I know because I feel it, too. Thirty-something with a good job, a great family, and some cool toys acquired over the first half-ish of your professional working career. You want more, but more of what? That sense, the little feeling, what is it?


I measure up. I have a house. It’s not as big as the houses of my friends. I earn a decent salary. It’s not as much as I believe I’m worth and it certainly doesn’t measure up to those friends who have the bigger house…and the new Honda with the duel-screen DVD player. You know who I’m talking about, the family that seem to take the trips that I want to provide for my family.


That guy who has the bigger house, the new car, and travels the world with the confidence of Indiana Jones, he feels the same way you do.


Thoreau it all a way and find your Walden. (It took me nearly 30 seconds to think of that) This is where purpose resides.


Look, I’m not saying that you have to toss that cool new Mac Air, stop using deodorant and wipe your ass with surrounding roughage. I’m talking real change, the kind that takes place in your heart, mind and soul. I’m talking the hard kind of change.


It was a two-step reality check that set my sail. I nearly lost my family and God stepped into my life.


Now, before you write me off as some Christian zealot waiting until the middle of my musings to spring my trap of damnation, take a second to realize that I’m writing about what worked for me. I’m writing about concepts, not fire and brimstone. I don’t even know what brimstone is or why it’s pejoratively coupled with fire. Heck, I don’t even know if I can use pejorative as an adverb…but I did. Call me crazy.


Out of a sense of something between curiosity and guilt, coupled with a strangely unexplainable desire, I attended Promise Keepers in Atlanta, Summer 2006. The speakers captivated me. I was a bit freaked out at the same time by 16,000 men cheering across Philips Arena, “Yes, yes, yes we do. We love Jesus, how bout you”. I’ve always considered myself a Christian, but not one that screams about it. Seems a little preacher-with-bullhorn-ish to me, but whateveah’.


After a day-and-a-half filled with biblically-centered motivational speak, comedians, and a killer rock show (I don’t even like Christian rock), I emerged with three concepts that changed my life forever. In theory, only one deals with God. In my reality, they all do. I’ll get the God one out of the way first.


Concept #1: God has created everyone for a purpose. Purpose has nothing to do with money, power, or fame. You will be who you are, period. Finding who you are is nothing more than being mercilessly truthful with yourself beyond the point of mental fatique. Then–this is the hard part–you have to accept it.


Concept #2: The only way to face life full-bore is by enlisting the strength of another. Personally, I choose God/spirituality/holy spirit/whatevah to help me. This hasn’t been easy, but it has given me more than I could have ever achieved on my own. Now remember, I’m explaining a concept here. Tracking me? Concept. That concept is that if you believe you can do life solo, you’re traveling a path of disappointment. You have to give it up, your mind, body and soul. Make yourself emotionally vulnerable and you become stronger.


Concept #3: Become the leader of your family: Say what you will, but I believe that there can be only one king, one leader at the top of the chain making the FINAL decisions. The reality is this (I am so going to take it on the chin for this one), women want men to be the leader of the family. In a family, especially one with at least one child, (most) women desire the man to be the provider. They want the man to make the hard decisions. They want the man to take care of the stereotypical man stuff along with being rock-solid on all matters.


I’m NOT saying that women should be subservient. I’m NOT saying that a man should make all decisions without consulting his wife. Or without giving her the respect that she deserves. I am NOT saying that the woman ranks second in the household. And I am NOT saying that a woman would simply fall apart without a man. C’mon, people, everyone knows that women are smarter and usually more rational than men. Hell, I would fall apart without my wife; she holds me together and makes our family run.


Leadership is a trait lacking in the majority of people; it’s not usually something that we are taught in school, and it’s a hard concept to understand. Most intelligent people will actually decline such positions of authority simply because it’s difficult, extremely stressful, and gives more responsibility than most people want. The fact remains, however, all families need leadership.


Be a leader by being a humble servant to your family. Include your wife in all major and semi-major decisions. Give her opinions as much–if not more–weight than your own.

Be decisive. Trust yourself. Do not waiver in that which you believe. Have your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no in all matters.

Discipline your children after thinking intelligently about the “crime” committed. Most adults don’t understand that children desire discipline. They need it, and they want rules. Enforcement should be out of love, not anger. Wait until you are no longer angry before allowing the child to learn that all actions have consequences. Beating NEVER helps a child understand the meaning of integrity and trust.

Give to your family what they most desire from you. Don’t presume to know, you have to ask. THIS is what it means to provide for your family. And when you do, they will give you—without even thinking about it—that for which men yearn most, to be respected and admired.


There is one last thing, but I didn’t learn this from Promise Keepers. Be open to the thought of God and spirituality. If other things aren’t working for you, explore. Christians won’t bite you. They won’t stone you for having once cheated on your wife. They won’t make you do anything that you don’t want to do. Think of it as knowledge being power. You once explored the alphabet, and now you can read. Now you can choose to read or not read any thing you wish. Your decisions are based on an intelligent understanding of how words work, not a preconceived notion of how letters fit in a particular order to form words….um…you know what I’m saying.


A great place to start without having to face all of those silly Christian people on Sunday morning is a book by Lee Strobel, a journalist, an agnostic journalist, who set out prove or disprove the myth of Jesus in A Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

Cootie Stark: The King of Piedmont Blues

When I read about Mr. Johnny Miller in a local Greenville, S.C. newspaper, I had to go meet him. I was really into playing the blues guitar during that time, and I had no idea that a Piedmont Blues legend lived no more than a mile from my home.

The projects where Johnny lived weren’t far from city condemnation at that time. I pulled up in unit four, my WYFF-TV news vehicle, during a lunch break and knocked on the door. A humble yet cigar-thick voice greeted my call with hello as he opened the door.

There he was, Cootie Stark, right in front of me. Cootie was his stage name.

He invited me in before I could finish explaining my purpose.

The dark four room dwelling had painted concrete block for walls and no decoration. I guess it made sense; he’s a guy and he’s blind. I probably wouldn’t decorate, either.

Cootie started telling me the story of his life and included things like growing up in Laurens, S.C. and pickin’ peas as a child. He spoke of traveling all the way to Greenville (about 20 miles) during the summer, and how he came to play guitar. He made mention of his relationships with Baby Tate, the Rev. Gary Davis and several other Piedmont Blues legends living in the area around the 40s, 50s, and 60s.

He also talked a lot about the Music Maker Relief Foundation, and the MMRF president, Tim Duffy. He called him Timmy. He told me how the organization has helped him survive, travel the world and feel as though he again had purpose. The stories captivated me.

My lunch hour almost gone, I asked if I could come back some time and shoot a story about his life. He agreed, and I stood to leave.

“Hey, uh, I seem to be havin’ a bit of trouble with my CD player,” Cootie said. “You any good at that kinda stuff? Could you look at it for me?”

I was honored with the thought of helping such a such a legend. I reached over and picked up the CD player. My keen sense of electronictechnogeek kicked in quickly and I determined without a doubt that the CD was in upside down. Yes, I know. My brilliance continually amazes me, too.

I flipped it and hit play. Out comes this great Piedmont Blues. “This is great,” I said. “Who is it?”

“That’s me,” he said in his polite southern gruff.

I shook his hand, set up a time to do a feature story* and departed to the nearest music story to pick up a copy of Sugar Man. I was late getting back.

I had a few more conversations with Mr. Miller before he died in April 2005. I again honored one evening at the Handlebar when I was able to thank him for helping me achieve my goal of winning an Emmy. I was also able to thank him for allowing me to preserve a dying form of true Americana.

I shook his hand and gave him a copy of the story.

“Thank you young man, you gonna to do just fine with your life,” was that last thing he said to me.

Listen to Cootie Stark:

* Kudos to my reporter and friend, Kimbery Lohman, for an doing such an excellent job on this story.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

Saving Light To Sea – The Morris Island Lighthouse

Overview:
This story profiles a group of people struggling to save to save a part of american history, the Morris Island Lighthouse located off the shores of Folly Island, S.C. I shot this story as a series feature during my tenure at WYFF. It’s full of color characters and solid NPAA photojournalism. This is one of several stories I shot* that allowed me to earn an Emmy Award for Best Photography. Additional Videos

A Brief History of the Morris Island Lighthouse:
Morris Island lighthouse stands all alone about 300 yards off shore from the island of Folly Beach. It can be viewed from the northeast end of Folly Island and from the bridge coming on to Folly Beach.

The Morris Island lighthouse is now completely surrounded by water but was once sitting on a good sized island with numerous buildings around it. The lighthouse was completed in 1876 and was the second lighthouse to be built on the island.

In the 1700s there were three islands that stretched for four miles between Folly Island and Sullivan’s Island. They were named Middle Bay Island, Morrison Island, and Cummings Point. The first Charleston lighthouse was built on Middle Bay Island in 1767. The lighthouse was designed by Samuel Cardy and built by Adam Miller and Thomas Young. The tower was cylindrical and stood 102 feet tall. The lantern room had a revolving lamp that had a range of about 12 miles. In 1858 a Fresnel lens was installed.

In the early 1800s the channel leading to Charleston began to shift causing a change in the tidal currents. Sand began to build up between the islands and this resulted in the three islands merging into a single island. Since Morrison Island was the central of the three earlier islands, the now single island was called Morrison Island. Later the name was shortened to Morris Island.

The first Charleston lighthouse continued to provide service up to the Civil War. In 1861 the fleeing Confederate soldiers blew up the lighthouse so northern troops could not use it.

Folly Beach, Folly Island, Folly Island Lighthouse, Photojournalism, TV News, Video blogFollowing the civil war, in 1873, Congress appropriated money for the rebuilding of the Morris Island Lighthouse (then referred to as the Charleston Main Light). The lighthouse was completed in 1876 approximately 400 yards from the earlier tower. It stood 161 feet tall and was patterned after the Bodie Light of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. It even used the same paint scheme as a day mark – black and white horizontal stripes. There were a total of 15 buildings on the island besides the lighthouse tower. Included in these were the keeper’s quarters, various outbuildings, and a one-room schoolhouse (the school teacher came over from the mainland on Monday, taught the children during the week and returned to the mainland on Friday).

Toward the end of the 1800s the channel had again shifted, but this time the change threatened the Charleston Harbor. In order to keep the channel open several jetties had to be built. These were completed in 1889. Although the channel into Charleston was saved, the changing tidal currents resulting from the jetties caused severe erosion on Morris Island. The island began to shrink. By 1938 many of the buildings were destroyed and others moved. The light was automated in 1938 and the Fresnel lens was removed.

Since 1938 over 1600 feet of land surrounding the tower has been lost. Today it stands alone, completely surrounded by water. In 1962 the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse was built to replace the Morris Island Light, which was decommissioned. The U.S. Coast Guard had plans to demolish the tower but petitions from local residents saved the structure. The Coast Guard built an underground steel wall around the tower to protect it from further erosion damage. The lighthouse is now
privately owned and efforts are underway to preserve the Morris Island Light.

The Morris Island Coalition is working hard to protect Morris Island. The Morris Island Lighthouse Project is working to preserve and restore the lighthouse. Please visit their sites and learn much more about the rich history of Morris Island. [Source – FollyBeach.Com]

* Kudos to my reporter and friend, Stephanie Trotter, for writing a great story and for allowing me to white balance when there was nothing white at hand.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

Do You Know Your Photojournalism? Prove it.

The Challenge
There are 52 photos in this 2:30-minute video about a handful of significant events in the history of photojournalism. All of the photos are VERY famous. All of the photographers are VERY famous (in the genera circle). Several of the photos are from the same photographer. I’m not going to tell you how many photographers. Your challenge is to send me the list of the photographers who took these photos.

The Prizes
All who take on this challenge with a noble submission will have your name/link in a “contestants” blog. For the winner, I will 1) extoll your brilliance in a separate “Winner” blog; 2) I’ll give you a permanent link on my site; and 3) I’ll display up to three of your photos in the “Winner” blog (with proper credit and linkage, of course). One caveat: If you have a site that I find offensive, repugnant and/or libelous/slanderous, you lose. Same goes with your photos.

Entering
First person to get them all correct wins. Entry is based on time stamp. Simply leave your entry in the comments section. Or, if you must, send your entries to buckeyetimmy “at” yahoo dot com. If you’re viewing this via the Worlds Beyond Rittman YouTube Channel, you can leave your entries there, too. No spam. All respect. Promise.

Side Note:
Within a few days after meeting my professor/collegiate advisor, Tony Mendoza, he told me that all photographers long for reecshe blacks. On and on he went with this while we spoke in the darkroom. “Teeem, you need to get reesche blacks. Reesche blacks Teeem.” Tony is a Cuban-American. We were the only people printing.

I decided on my way home that I was going to request a change of advisors. Screw it, I didn’t need to put up with that for the next two years. It took nearly a day-and-a-half days before I realized that he wasn’t talking about an affluent sugar daddy on the down-low. I laughed out loud in class. – True Story –

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.

Cows Escape Truck, Town Rallies City Police, Cowboys, & Mop-Toting Grandma

Cops, EMS, Firefighters, Lasso-toting Cowboys, Children and a Grandma rallied to track down a heard of cattle that escaped their captivity.

The assignment was to investigate a report of a hand grenade found by children in the a backyard. The hand grenade report turned out to be bogus, but serendipity of that moment led me to a much better – and much more fun – spot news story.

Cowgone is one of several in a series of stories that allowed me to win an Emmy for best TV News Photography.

 

Visit Worlds Beyond Rittman Photoblog.