Every two years, Roll Call photographers hit the road to see what we call the “real world.” Over the Easter recess, we kicked off our 2014 campaign travels with Tom Williams in Kentucky and West Virginia, and myself hitting the familiar confines of Georgia with Associate Politics Editor Kyle Trygstad . And wouldn’t you know that our first stop in Georgia was the Cobb County Commission meeting room in downtown Marietta, which just so happened to be the city where I got my start as a newspaper photographer over 20 years ago.
Entering the room for a GOP Senate candidate forum, I had a flood of memories from my days at the Marietta Daily Journal. The early-mid ’90s was a very exciting time in that county just north of downtown Atlanta. As Atlanta was just starting to gear up for the 1996 summer Olympics, the Cobb County Commission passed an anti-gay resolution, which led to large protests (by Marietta standards anyway) and eventually to the Olympics pulling official venues out of the county. The meeting room seemed like it hasn’t changed a bit form those days, with the exception of a some red, white and blue bunting placed there for the candidates forum.
Marietta was also the home of Newt Gingrich. And in 1994, I was there to photograph Newt’s election victory party on assignment for US News & World Report when he became speaker. Back in those days, digital photography, FTP and email were not an option. I had to shoot the event on slide film (Kodak Ektachrome 320t pushed 1 stop) for the magazine as their courier waited in the hallway to whisk my raw film off to Washington for processing as fast as possible.
The truth is, The Marietta Daily Journal was an awful place to work. The work conditions were terrible, the pay abysmal, and the publisher… I better stop right there. However, it was a fantastic photojournalist’s boot camp which shaped my style of shooting in so many ways. On those days when I might get a little down with things around here, all I have to do is click my heels three times and repeat: “At least you’re not in Marietta anymore.”
Trivia Quiz: Guess who else was working at the MDJ in those days. Give up?
Current CNN Political Director and former Roll Call reporter Mark Preston .