Because they live in the moment, photographers sometimes need to be lucky.
A reporter/writer can chase an event for several hours, going back and forth to the scene and returning to the office to call and recheck sources before filing a story.
The plight of the photographer is very different. He or she can miss the photograph by seconds and, unlike the reporter, would not be able to re-create the same story.
Anticipation and positioning are important, but so is timing.
Before going much further, let me say we're blessed with gifted photo staff, which collectively has more than a half-century of experience. Each has been honored by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.
That said, unless they sit by the police scanner and chase ambulances and fire trucks all day, it's unrealistic to expect a staff of four photographers to instantly be at the scene of breaking news in our wide coverage area.
Which takes us to Monday.
In the aftermath of the shootings in Eldorado that left Hollidaysburg student Scott Garlick and retired insurance agent Ray E. Williams dead in what is one of the worst crimes in Blair County history, Tom McLaughlin found himself in the midst of breaking news.
The 56-year-old manager of Ritz Camera in the Logan Valley Mall was looking for a sport coat at Casual Male on Plank Road "when I came out and saw two police cars go down Plank Road really fast and I said, 'something's up.'''
McLaughlin, who takes his camera everywhere and listens to a scanner in his car, followed the rush.
"There were a ton of police cars near Subway," he said.
He drove past and turned left onto Maryland Avenue.
"When I got down to the corner behind the [Miracle League] ballfield, I saw the man [Williams] laying in the road who had just been shot," McLaughlin said.
He immediately called 911.
He initially thought "the suspect [Nicholas Horner] had shot himself." Then he saw Horner "come out from behind the cars." McLaughlin motioned to police, who were in pursuit of Horner on foot.
"I was probably 50 to 60 yards from where they were running," McLaughlin said.
From his car window, with a 300-millimeter lens, McLaughlin captured the chase and sent the picture to the Mirror. We ran it prominently on Page A1.
In the days of e-mail, such transmission is much easier than it once was.
"I eat, drink and live it," McLaughlin said. "I take my camera everywhere I go. I still think someday a Pulitzer Prize photo will jump out at me, but if you don't have a camera, that's not going to happen.
"I've been around crime scenes before in different areas, but I'd never been that involved in a crime that was still going on. I never got a picture like that before."
Our photographers were at the scene moments later. We had several shots of police interviewing witnesses at Subway, and we had one of Williams shortly after he had been covered by a sheet.
After discussion, we decided running that photo would be insensitive - particularly of a victim who leaves behind a grieving family.
Similar footage rolled on TV, but still photography provides a lasting image to which we did not want to contribute.
WTAJ called McLaughlin, but he declined an interview.
"I didn't feel right," he said. "It's a tragic situation. I'll get my 15 minutes of fame some other way."
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.