The Mint: This was a neat assignment. I was going to the San Francisco Mint to watch the first strike of a new, 100th Anniversary Commemorative coin honoring the National Parks Service. Since I live relatively close to the mint, I thought the assignment would be pretty easy.
Media people entering the facility were required to have their identifications verified in advance. Once inside the Mint, we were escorted through the standard metal detection protocol, identical to what you'd encounter in an airport. One surprise was the stipulation that no loose change could be brought into the mint. All of this security was a bit bothersome, since all I was doing was coming to make some "snaps".
The Press Release stated that there would be plenty of Photo Ops, and a large projected image of some redwood trees formed the backdrop for the speakers taking the podium. Here is the newly appointed Chief of Staff of the United States Mint Elisa Basnight, Esq., welcoming the guests to the event.
The media was certainly present. An ABC video crew was to my left, and San Francisco Chronicle photographer Paul Chin was to my right. Mr. Chin did manage to get a shot, but he had the advantage of an entire article to support the photo, whereas I had only a few lines of text to work with.
After a faint "chug", the shiny new coin rolled out of the machine and was caught in special chute. Ms. Soskin picked up the coin with gloved hands, and showed it off the the crowd. By this time everybody who had a camera rushed forward, and started making photos at close range. I managed to get two, which can be seen below.
Second Chance: Things were not going well. Then Ms. Basnight stepped up beside Ms. Soskin, showing off the second newly-minted coin. I re-positioned myself to the left so that the coin was more closely aligned with the face, giving me a much tighter composition.
I noticed that there was a display table beside the podium with two pre-production samples in holders on a black velvet background, so I quickly made a close-up of the "reverse" (tail) side of the coin to match the one held by Ranger Soskin. I left the Mint, thinking that my editor might choose to run both images, side by side, which I felt would be mutually supportive.
When I returned to my office, I looked over my final choice, and seeing the press in the background, felt it didn't contribute that much to the context of the photo. After a small bit of cropping, I superimposed the image of the coin over the upper left hand corner of the base image, resulting in the final image: A smiling Park Service representative, holding a coin, with a inset of the coin in the upper left hand corner.
If you're curious, the San Francisco Chronicle ran their own story on Thursday too. You can read it by clicking here.