I have to be honest. When I first heard the concept for the Tribune’s Novices in Nature, I thought it was terrible. Sending a pair of writers with no outdoors experience into the woods so they can write about their complete lack of knowledge and the mishaps that ensue? No thanks, I thought. The correct model is to have our reporters be the experts. I am used to working with writers who are experts in their field, with a clear grasp of what’s going on and how to do things. Why would we even entertain the idea of giving up that position?
After photographing Maggie Thach and Roxana Orellana kayaking for the first time (at Butler Wash, Green River), I finally understand why this idea might actually be brilliant. It’s because Maggie and Roxana are genuinely free-spirited and funny people. Their perspective is fresh. We get to experience their hard-earned successes as well as their failures.
Tech-wise these photos were made with my camera in an underwater housing that my friend Trevor was kind enough to loan me on short notice. It’s basically a heavy duty plastic bag that goes around the $4,500 camera so you can dunk it under the water. Luckily, no leaks whatsoever.
The only thing wrong with the Novices in Nature premise as I see it now is that it isn’t really a newspaper article. This is a TV show. There were so many hilarious moments that I couldn’t capture working solo in the water. Having to drive 50 miles away, twice, to cover a plane crash also impacted the coverage. To do this right we should have two videographers (one on each writer) and two sound people working booms. And since this is a fantasy Christmas list, we need at least a week to edit the final, twenty-minute piece. I’m telling you, this would be a great TV show. Maggie and Roxana, get an agent.