I lost a friend and colleague this week. I visited Carl Finchum the day before he passed. The bond between a photographer and a reporter is like a marriage, with some ups and downs as well as zooms and pans. Our working relationship lasted a decade, and much of the success I had during those years was because of Carl’s expertise at his job, his flexibility with my method of reporting and my erratic style. He was a true professional.
At his funeral, the eulogies included remembrances about Carl’s faith, his passion for cars and his love of Laurel and Hardy. I had no idea about that last part. I wanted to share some favorite memories, but time ran out and the service ended. Here’s my fondest recollection:
We were doing a remote shoot on Meridian Street near WISH-TV at the old advertising agency Caldwell Van Riper (CVR). They were promoting upcoming Pacers games. CVR was next door to WRTV (Channel 6), a fierce competitor with my station (Channel 8). My beagle companion, Barney, accompanied me on every shoot, and he was always escaping and running away while I did my segments.
That morning we taped on the front lawn of CVR, so I tied Barney’s leash to a flagpole. As always, he managed to get loose. Carl was in position, pointing the camera at me, ready to go live. He never knew what I was going to do. And neither did I.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that Barney had wandered over to the Channel 6 front lawn and was sniffing the signage. Carl saw Barney as well and realized that the sign was just too easy a target for a beagle. I motioned to Carl to pan his camera over to Barney, who I knew was about to leave his mark on the WRTV logo. Carl thought this was an unwise thing to do, No. 1, because it would showcase a competitor, and No. 2…well, let’s just leave it at No. 1 for now, although I was pretty sure Barney would leave No. 2, as well. Carl shook his head “no,” fearing that both of us would get in serious trouble if the boss saw this.
Finally, live on camera, I said, “I’m asking Carl to show what Barney is doing and I want our general manager to know I take total blame for this.” Carl shrugged his shoulders, flashed a huge grin and panned over just in time to catch Barney in the act. No, both of the acts.
Back at the studio, I said to Carl, “I think we are in deep doo-doo.” Carl burst out laughing: “Yeah,” he said, just like the Channel 6 sign.”
Later, a note from the boss. “Funniest thing I have ever seen. You guys are a great team.” Yes, we were. Like Laurel and Hardy.