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Manchester's Mug

A little behind-the-scenes back story on Papa Doug's photo


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By now you've seen David Carr's assessment of the Manchester-owned U-T San Diego in the New York Times. Here's a little behind-the-scenes back story on the photo.

It's ours.

Well, actually the Times bought a one-time use of it (for $200 if you're curious) from local photographer Paul Body. Paul had the photo because we sent him out to shoot it earlier this year.

We needed a current photo to go with the story we were running as part of our partnership with Voice of San Diego. VOSD's Rob Davis had secured a face-to-face interviews, and we worked to get the right photographer. Manchester is notoriously persnickety about being photographed. Until this story, the most recent photo we had in our archives (other than party pictures shot at charitable events) was at least 5 years old. Most other news orgs covering the sale of the U-T were running old photos with their stories.

Paul Body had shot him years earlier so, we figured he'd be our best shot at neutralizing Mr. Mogul and getting a good shot. The way Davis and Body tell it, Manchester gave us about 4 minutes and Body was able to shoot about 30 frames inside a private dining room at the Grand Del Mar Resort. But he got it.

We ran the photo, so did VOSD, and come six months later so did the New York Times. A photo editor who called me to inquire about using our photo said they were having a tough time getting one, too. We sent them directly to Body, who of course saved all 30 shots of Manchester, they offered their standard one time use fee of $200 and ran one of his photos in print and online.

Body says the fee is nominal. But, it turns out the Times was also in need of a "San Diego guy." They asked Body if he'd like to sign up with them to be a stringer of sorts in this region. How quickly $200 can turn into much, much more!

Three morals of the story:

1. The Manchester-Lynch story is not over. I'm not saying the NY Times hired a local stringer just because they plan to cover the U-T more consistently (there's also the little issue of the nuclear power plant that might have something to do with it ... or the Mexican border ... or maybe that reporter that wrote up their beer story is still bellied up to the bar at Hamiltons?), but the national attention on our local paper isn't waning.

2. Do what you love really well, and success will find you. Paul Body is a passionate photographer who has worked hard to make a living at what he loves. Around our office, we know him as the guy who can shoot just about anything well. In the last year, he's shot everything from the Guac-Off to Fall boots. And from small jobs to big cover stories to 4 minutes and 30 frames with Papa Doug, he's always professional and great to work with. He's never too big to take a $200 fee. And now's he's one of "the guys" for the NY Times.

3. Journalism is wild these days, with partners and deals and the smallest fees imaginable paid for good, important work. But if you love telling stories, either visually or with words, it's pretty rad. Subscribe to San Diego Magazine and support Voice of San Diego so we can continue writing and photographing our city.

For more info on Paul Body, visit his website.

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