Lodi Grape Festival…

Sometimes ya just can’t get your head into a story. That was the case with the annual Lodi Grape Festival this week. I went by Wednesday evening to shoot the grape murals – nothing. I knew I had to put something out this weekend for the Lodi News Sentinel, but the motivation wasn’t there.

So how do you shoot a story if there is no “there” there? What do you do if you’ve done it so often you think you’ve done all there is to do? Well, if you’re lucky, something about the assignment grabs you – but at times you need to go out and find something to grab. You have to dig, look, really examine.

I went back yesterday…and wandered and wandered. And wandered.

Now I’ve been going to this event since I was – ??? Seven or eight?? Fifty years with a few years skipped. The wandering, as could be expected, turned into a trip down memory lane…and something began to wiggle on my camera hand. A shot here. Another there. Not a story…just a few flashes of a vision.

Went out to check on the husband, who was playing bingo – in our family we call it Bingo for Meat because if you win, you get a ham or a brat. Almost thought that was the story…no…maybe next year.

For a while I tried to convince myself that the folks buying and sipping wine would be the story…but it wasn’t.

Through the Fine Arts exhibits and commercial buildings…and kept checking out what has to be the strangest show I’ve seen at a fair. A greenscreen setup. Plop down your bucks and sit on stool with a few friends and allow yourself to be draped with lime green cloth. The proprietor turns on the music and – voila – there you are/well at least there your head is – dancing on a cartoon character body in exotic locales. Possibility for a story.

Out to the midway…and up in the sky a giant ball soars. Another quirky possibility – the Slingshot. Get strapped into a cage and be propelled into the sky and jerked back by giant bungees.

Now I’m beginning to get shots and sound and interviews. I still don’t know if I have a focus. I am getting video.

Back through the Fine Arts building…hmmmm. There is a trio of teens hiding behind one of the display tables. They’re relaxing and joking. Oh. And charging a cellphone. The nerve of them – stealing public electricity! A few quick questions and it seems to be taking shape.

This isn’t a single focus story – it is a look at an event through a prism. Light coming in and scattering in unexpected directions. Facets that appear to reflect one thing, but shimmer into another. A community coming together…young, old, resident, stranger…in the mystery and grandeur of darkness. Okay, so now my fingers are flipping along with words…I’ve logged the sound and interviews and it is now time to put it to proof.

Watch this space…I’ve put the youtube url above so you can see how it looks. As soon as the Sentinel posts, I’ll switch to their site.


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