Rover Mill Road in West Friendship, c.1993



In 1988 I arrived at the Howard County Times fresh out of college. Twenty five years ago the Times was published as an oversized tabloid, known within the industry as a "stretch tab." This allowed for a photo-heavy, visually sophisticated presentation which was anchored by the newspaper's weekly cover stories.

Cover stories allow a photographer to develop ideas over a series of images — cover, inside lede, secondaries, and detail shots. At the Patuxent Publishing-owned Columbia Flier and Howard County Times of the early 1990s, cover stories were given a luxurious amount of space — a minimum of a full-page cover and four inside pages with no embedded ads. Some stories went twice that long.

That wasn't necessarily a nod to great photography. We simply had space to fill. The staff of eight young photographers shot for a total of thirteen weekly newspapers with what can only be described as a glorious amount of editorial news hole. One of the papers, the Columbia Flier, sometimes topped 250 pages.

Shooting a single cover story is a wonderful opportunity for any young photographer. In 1993 I photographed over a hundred of them. It was heaven on earth.

The image above was the cover photo for a story by reporter Susan Thornton, entitled All Quiet on the Western Front. Her story was about how life was different in western Howard County as compared to the more suburban eastern end. Susan had pre-written the piece and I drove west, looking for photos to match the phrases I had highlighted from her story.

Susan and I had grown to be frequent collaborators on covers. We met in 1988 and within a year our newsroom romance was an open secret. By 1993 when this story was published, we were newlyweds. The collaboration continues to this day, with two teenage kids as our most successful joint projects. And a 30x40" print of this photo hangs in our upstairs hallway.

Tags: Made in HoCo, Create, Sense of Place

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