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  Field Notes From
ZipUSA: 45701

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From Author/Photographer

Larry Nighswander

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photograph by Peggy Peattie


On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
ZipUSA: 45701

Field Notes From Author/Photographer
Larry Nighswander
Best Worst Quirkiest

Since the story was about zip code 45701, we thought it would be fun to go to the post office for a group picture. There were probably more than a hundred of us, so we almost blocked the driveway. The postmaster came out to see what in the world was causing all the commotion. He thought there might be a protest going on. But then he saw that it was all of the photographers, and since he had heard about the 45701 project, he said, "Well, all right, but just be careful you don't get hit by cars coming in." When it comes to photojournalism, this community is very supportive.

There are a couple of factors that make a project like this particularly tricky. For one thing, the large number of photographers means that if you're not careful you'll catch other photographers in the background of your pictures. The other problem arose the day we worked on 45701. We chose the day several weeks in advance, and it turned out to be the coldest, most miserable day of the fall quarter. The sun broke through the clouds about noon and everybody said, "Oh, finally. The light we need for good pictures." So there was frantic shooting for a little while, but we ended up with only ten minutes of sunshine during the whole day.

One of the students took a photograph of a runner inside the campus recreation center. It was a really nice image with the runner silhouetted in front of an American flag. We have a rule that requires us to identify anyone who appears in a photograph, but the student photographer didn't get the person's name. So when the faculty—which includes my wife, Marcy— were doing the final photo editing, a lively debate developed over whether we could publish the picture.
They were fairly divided, and it actually got very pointed between my wife and me. She said there was no way she would run it without the name. And I said, "Well, he's silhouetted. I don't think the person would even recognize himself if he saw the picture."
It was pretty tense for a while, but the story had a happy ending. We went back to the film, found a nearly identical photograph featuring an identified subject, and ran it as an alternate.

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