It's nice to see that what I learned in journalism school still holds true: act as though you belong and no one will bother you.
I first heard about the Underwear Affair a few months ago. I had seen posters for it in Westboro. It's a worthwhile cause: a 10-kilometre and 5-kilometre run to raise money for all cancers that strike below the belt, such as ovarian, prostate, and testicular. Runners hit the courses dressed in their underwear to raise more awareness for the cause.
When I learned that one of my Twitter peeps was running in the event, I was more than happy to make a donation. I also started looking into the event, and learned that there was a pre-race party and costume contest. Curious, I grabbed my camera and headed to Carleton University.
At first, I was a little shy and didn't want to draw attention to myself, so I strolled nonchalantly through the crowds of scantily clad people, taking the odd picture from a distance. When I spied more photographers with similar equipment, asking runners to pose for them, I became more confident that I could ask the same.
When I shot one group of women, they asked me where they could see the photos, and I gave them my business card. And so, ladies, here you go:
It was only a short time later that a woman carrying a clipboard approached me and asked which media outlet I was affiliated with. I could almost see the security folks escorting me out, confiscating my SD card (actually, it's been so long since I removed the card that I wouldn't be surprised if it's fused into the camera).
I was honest with her. I told her I wrote an Ottawa blog. I gave her my card. I told her I was interested in covering the event for a post. And then, to give myself a little more credibility, I said (and I'm sorry for using you like this, guys), "Have you ever heard of OttawaStart?" She had. "Sometimes, my stuff appears on their site."
So there. I told the truth. My conscience is clear. But I still expected to be thrown out.
Not at all. Instead, she told me that I should have a media pass because, otherwise, someone might try to stop me. She led me to a tent, gave me a pass to wear around my neck, and offered me a press kit, which I took with thanks.
And then I continued to shoot pictures, confidently, knowing that no one would stop me. One photographer asked me who I was with. My answer: "I write an Ottawa blog." Nothing more needed to be said. I had a media pass.
I didn't stay for the whole event. I stayed for the contest for best male costume, best female costume, and best superhero costume. But then the rain started to fall and I had to get to another event anyway: a family dinner. But here are a couple more shots. And I have put the rest on my Picasa Web album.
When I returned to my neighbourhood, I remembered that another race was being held; one that went very close to my street. I pulled over, grabbed my camera, and started shooting.
And no media pass required.