Taking a Leap
In order to make big change, you have to take a big leap. It’s scary, especially when you’ve had security and a rewarding career for twenty-four years–starting in 1994 at NBC affiliate KSBY in San Luis Obispo, and ending at KNBC Los Angeles.

I’ve been contemplating this decision for a long time now, ever since my shoulder issues in January 2017 which put me off work for four months.

It’s part of why we’ve been living vagabond for the last year, not wanting to settle in case I made the jump. I tell ya… pulling the trigger has been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. But I’m making it.

I’m moving on from my career as a photojournalist for NBC LA.

(2015 NBC’s Clear the Shelter Event)

I wrote this post in September just to see how I felt writing those words. They made me sad but also excited about the possibilities. There are several factors that led to this decision.

(2017 Shootout with Hetty Chang, using a smaller camera while my shoulder healed.)

Physical health is, of course, a consideration, especially after my shoulder issues. A retiring news photog with a bad back and knees and shoulders once said to me, “Don’t work so long you drive your body into the ground like I did.” Those words have remained in the back of mind.

2017 Covering the Canyon 2 Fire with Vikki

(2017 Covering the Canyon 2 Fire with Vikki)

Carrying the amount of gear we do takes a toll on the body, and while I’ve strengthened my shoulder to the point it feels good as new, I don’t want to push it.

2008 Republican National Convention

(2008 Republican National Convention)

But that’s not the primary reason I’m moving on.

2018 with Harley-Davidson Intern, Emma

(2018 Shooting a passion story with Harley-Davidson Intern, Emma}

I’m a happy, positive, optimistic person. I don’t want to be immersed in sadness every day. I don’t ever again want a cute little girl in pigtails to look up at me and say, “We hate you.” I don’t want to hear “Fake News” shouted at me anymore. Or to be flipped off while driving my news van. Or worse yet, to have the passenger in the vehicle pacing me hang their naked butt out the window and defecate. Yes. That happened.

When I see my job impacting who I am, it disturbs me. I hate when cynicism and grouchiness creep in and I find I go there far more than I’d like in response to my day.

2016 The day I got soaked and then tear-gassed at a barricaded suspect with Lolita Lopez.

(2016 The day I got soaked and then tear-gassed at a barricaded suspect with Lolita Lopez.)

 

Don’t get me wrong. There have also been a million positive things over the years, which is why I’ve stayed for so long. I have truly loved my career. It’s taken me around the world and introduced me to extraordinary people.

2000 Sydney Olympics with swimmers Kaitlin Sandeno and Aaron Peirsol

(2000 Sydney Olympics with swimmers Kaitlin Sandeno and Aaron Peirsol)

Like covering the Olympics in Sydney, Greece, Salt Lake, and the preview for Torino.

2006 Torino Italy for Olympic Preview

(2006 Torino Italy for Olympic Preview)

And being in St. Peter’s Square for the Papal Conclave in 2005. I still get goosebumps when I remember the roar that went up when the puff of smoke appeared.

(2005 In Rome for the Papal Conclave)

In Rome another time, Conan and I made the front cover of newspapers around the world while covering the Cardinal’s meeting regarding the sex abuse scandal.

I’ve been strapped and hung out the back of a Chinook helicopter for a story on the National Guard, and sat one-on-one with a First Lady about education issues.

2011 In NYC for Education event with First Lady Laura Bush

(2011 In NYC for Education event with First Lady Laura Bush)
I’ve met Presidents and celebrities and average people with beautiful stories to tell and some really nice goats.

2014 Climbing hills with the goats in Anaheim

(2014 Climbing hills with the goats in Anaheim)

I love the process of what I do: Shooting, editing, doing live shots, being in a different place every day, seeing and doing things I never would have been exposed to, telling stories that make the heart soar.

Covering a plastic surgeon who donated time to make breast cancer patients feel whole.

(Covering a plastic surgeon who donated time to make breast cancer patients feel whole.)

And I love finding creative ways to shoot a story, like this Halloween standup.

But lately, the negatives outweigh the positives.

Sometimes the universe kicks you in the pants. As I said, I wrote this post in September. I’d been talking to my boss about my transition for a while, and he very kindly counseled me through (and tried talking me out of it). We tentatively settled on my leaving in January or maybe on my NBC anniversary in February.

But then a week later, I had three incidents that pushed my decision.

While waiting to go live, a woman attacked my reporter and me. We weren’t hurt but the woman kicked over equipment and threatened to kill me with her weapon. When Vikki got on the phone with Santa Ana PD, the woman then turned on her and got aggressive, screaming expletives and pushing her with her back.

We got in the news van and the woman clung to the passenger door, spitting and pounding on the window. Finally, she let go and stepped into the street to stop traffic so we could go.

This kind of thing isn’t an anomaly, although most times we can de-escalate the situation. This one, we couldn’t.

Two days later, a man in a Mercedes paced my news van for several miles flipping me off and blocking me from exiting the freeway. I missed my exit by three.

Finally, I arrived at our location. We were covering reaction to the Kavanaugh hearing and Vikki found a man listening on a radio in his small store and asked me to join her. When I walked in with the camera gear and NBC mic flag, his tone changed. He said we were all liars, he didn’t trust us, and told us to leave.

That was my final straw.

I’m not a political person. I don’t have a side, but when the President declares the press the “Enemy of the People,” attitudes shift, and the field crews get the brunt of the public abuse–and it’s not just from one side. We get it all the way around, pretty much on a daily basis.

Those of us who drive a marked news van get the worst of it. People take out their frustration and anger because we are the visible targets. And I’ve got to say… the field crews are some of the kindest most caring people you could ever meet.

(2008 Republican National Convention)

We do this job because we have a passion for telling people’s stories, not to make some political statement or to cover crime for the sake of crime.

Okay, okay. I’ll get off my soapbox now and lighten the tone.

(2012 Shooting on the Disneyland Tea Cups)

So What’s Next

This isn’t a retirement. I’m not old enough for that yet, but that’s the point. I don’t want to wait until I’m 65 to explore some of the other things I want to do.

And what are those things?

There are many, but here are a few:

  • Finish the preservation on our two historic buildings in Winslow Arizona, something that’s challenged us considering we’re 500 miles away.
  • Continue working on my novels. I have a fantastic agent. One who believes in me. I’ve written seven novels to date, and even though I sometimes think I’m done with it, another idea takes spark and there I am, penning away again. It will never be a money maker, but it’s something I love.
  • Write freelance articles.
  • Heck, maybe even start a “feel good” news outlet in Winslow.
  • Ride my motorcycle more.
  • Spend quality time with my feller and my parents.
  • Travel the country.
  • Learn to sew for real.
  • Freelance video work to experience shooting outside of news. As I said, I love the process and love telling stories, I simply want a happier topic. So hey my peers out there… if you know of freelance opportunities, let me know! We’ll still be vagabonding around, splitting time between SoCal, Yucca Valley, and Winslow, so I’m open to any location.

There are other things on the list, but I’ll not bore you.

(2015 On a Boat with Hetty Chang for a Whale Watching Story)

My fear of leaving has been—not only letting go of the security, benefits, and job satisfaction I’ve had for so long—but a fear of how I will mentally handle not being a photojournalist for NBC.

It’s so much a part of my identity.

2012 With my news partner of nineteen years, Vikki Vargas. Cold in Newport Beach.

(2012 With my news partner of nineteen years, Vikki Vargas. Cold in Newport Beach.)

 

But I’ll never know who else I am unless I let go.

So I’m doing it.

I’m taking that leap.

Thank you to all of my colleagues over the years, especially my bureau partners Vikki and Kevin.

(Playing Role Reversal)

Yes, we play with Barbies.

(Yes, we play with Barbies.)

Thanks as well to all of the fascinating people I’ve met covering a vast array of stories, and to the locations around the world the job has taken me.

(Interviewing a surviving Rosie the Riveter about women in the military with reporter Angie Crouch)

I have no regrets about any of it. October 26th, 2018 will be my last day (although I’m off part of next week for Babes Ride Out click the link to watch the news story I did on the event!). Ten working days left. Maybe I’ll even chronicle my final days in the news biz here.

Go Pro Accidental Captures

(Feb 2011 First time using a GoPro and trying to figure out how it worked with Mario Solis)

I’ve gone on entirely too long, so I’ll stop.

Please… if you see a news crew out there, be kind to them. They are truly some of the best humans around.

Until next time…

Later Gators!

CATEGORY: Photog Life
Comments (67)

I love it, and YOU GOT THIS Lori!!!!
Cheers!!

Thank yoU!!

So PROUD of you!!! Truly. You are one of the best and the world is now at your feet!! You've got this!

Thank you, Jodie! Always loved seeing you on our travels!

Congrats Lori!! It really is a jungle out there! You've summed up what it is like to be a photojournalist these days. I applaud your courage! Big hugs! xo Beth

Big hugs to you, my friend. Be safe out there!

Love you! Such a great post and I’m so glad as hopefully it means we can hang out some more when I’m back stateside! On to new adventures!

Awwww! Thank you!! New adventures are always grand!

Wow Lori…AWESOME! GO FOR IT!
It was ALWAYS a pleasure working with you. To the Stars and beyond…
Love and OM…❤️

Thank you, Mark! I’ll always remember training together in Truck-o-saurus

Good for you girl! You have accomplished many things in life no mortal can achieve!

Thank you!

You are such a bright shining star, Lori! Can’t wait for you to share your spirit and energy with the rest of this world as you embark on this new adventure. Always one of my absolute faves 😊 Never stop dreaming, learning and exploring! Can’t wait to see where life takes you next. ✨💫❤️

YOU are the bright shining star! I love your energy Miss Melissa! Hope we cross paths again.

Bummer I gonna miss seeing your news van parked in the lot here in Orange. All the best in whatever you do Lori!! You'll be awesome wherever life takes both you and Brian!👍

We’ll still see you around the shop… just not in a news van! Thanks for the comment!

Lori!

This made me tear up a bit. We all know exactly what you are talking about and it is so, so real. I'm glad you are looking out for you. I know how hard it is to leave "home" and venture out but life is no fun without a little adventure, right?

I hope you know that I always loved when I got sent to the OC and had the pleasure of working with the Lori Bentley Law (firm). 🙂
I wish you all the best and if I am lucky, our paths will cross again.

xoxo
Steph

Oh my Steph… xoxox You’re the best.

I can relate totally with you Lori, about all the insults and rude comments from jerks when working out in the field. It was bad enough when I was shooting news, but it's so much worse now. I had 28 years total as a News Photographer. Eighteen years at KNBC. In the later years, I wanted to pursue other interests, but afraid to leave. In the end, that decision was made for me. Carrying camera equipment around will take a toll on your body. My right shoulder gives me pain from time to time and the massive heart attack that I suffered was mostly from the stress endured on the job.
I'm happy that I survived the heart attack, and my layoff in 2009. Remember, our colleague Elliot, did not.
But there is life after having a great career in TV. Good Luck kiddo.

Ben Weatherly

Cowboy Ben… we miss you. Thank you for your kind words.

passion…and guts! best to you Lori… and, big hug. if you venture down Scottsdale way, please give me a shout! your ride is calling!

One of the Best Photojournalist in the market I know her work very well she has a great eye for story telling!!

Gino my friend… thank you. Xoxo

Up until 15 minutes ago, I didn't know you. But while sending Birthday greetings to David R Busse, there you were. We probably have more than 2 things in common (??) however the lions share of my photography was between 1979 and 2005 and 95-98% of what I photographed were railroad-oriented photos. There are railfans (me), foamers (not me), train chasers (?), and you name it they are out there, but in 2005 health matters made it nearly impossible. So I went back to composing music (been doing that since 1989) and writing poetry as well as other things.

Photography and writing… my heart as well! Thanks for the comment!

Lori you are the best photo journalist ever! Such an amazing decision! Please let me know where your moving on party is! I’d love to cheers you in person. XxX Charmian

Thank you!! Will do… xoxo

Lori,as a past PIO with the Orange County afire Authority it was always a pleasure to work with you, You will be greatly missed by the fire service, but understand your descion. All the best to you and your pursuit to happiness. Marc Stone, OCFA

Always a pleasure for me as well. Thanks so much, Marc.

Fire

Lori!

This post hits home on so many levels! Although we didn't get the chance to work together often during my time at KNBC, it was enough to see what a kind, wonderful and seasoned professional you are. As someone who left the daily grind of local news last year–I can wholeheartedly tell you a whole new, wonderful world awaits!

And if we can ever connect in Winslow, let me know. It's just a hop from Phoenix!

Wishing you the very best on this new chapter in your life.

Thank you Vanessa! And best to you as well.

I retired this year after 40+ yrs in the biz I miss the people I worked with and some (not all) of the people I've recorded. The last five yrs or so things changed, we were not longer embraced. The fulfillment, the satisfaction and the fun had eroded. Take care of that shoulder and congrats. There's a new identity to explore.

Congrats on your retirement, Geoff! I will definitely miss the people I work with. They’re pretty exceptional.

I enjoyed working with you during my time as PIO for Fullerton. You were always a breath of fresh air in otherwise stuffy situations. You'll be missed. Best wishes with the next chapter of your life!

Thanks so much, Jeff! Best to you as well.

Lori, I just celebrated 30 years with NBC in San Diego. I am sad because you are exactly the person we need in our business and I totally understand why you feel the need to get out. I wish you the best in your future and am happy you are healthy enough to have some fun.
Donna M Stewart
News Ops Manager, KNSD

Thanks so much for reaching out. You have some great people at KNSD. I wish the best for you as well!

As Bob Banfield use to always say, "Scared money never wins." I always enjoyed working along side you Lori. I know your doing the right thing.

Thank you, Martin! I so appreciate it.

Lori, I am so proud of you, not only for the really great work you have done over the years, but for not losing sight of who you are and what truly makes you happy. You are a rare bird! I wish the best for you always.

Ellen… Thank YOU for bringing me into the KNBC family. I’ve truly loved my 24 years here. I think the world of you. Xoxo

Lori….your dedication and courage is inspiring. My back made my decision easier to do others jobs in and out of the industry. I still miss the great people….but not the bean counter attitude. Putting live crews out by themselves at night in particular I still scratch my head with that decision.
Congratulations on your new direction and re-discovering some old passions.

Thank you Ron!

Good luck and happy trails. It pains me to see another great photo journalist leave prematurely but it sure makes sense.

Thank you, John!

So proud to have known you as a worthy, honorable competitor. Expecting great things from you in the future. Now Mary and I want to go Airstreaming with you and Brian!

Likewise. Xoxo

Lori – i don’t know if you remember me but I always enjoyed working with you and Vikki when I was down in OC working for Orange County Fire. You two were always a class act. Good luck and best wishes in the next chapter of your life.

Of course I remember you Kris!! My favorite kilt-wearing bagpiping former PIO! Thank you for your kind words!

Lori, I never had the pleasure of meeting/knowing you, however, I was a Photojournalist for 28 years in Texas and got out when my mom had a stroke and I moved home to care for my ailing dad. He passed away the following year and I stayed there to care for my mom, her house and her affairs. Six years have passed, she has also passed on and I’m now picking my life back up. I’d love nothing more than to go back to what I loved and did best, but the current climate makes that impossible. I’ve never considered myself to be an ‘enemy of the people’ but when the ‘leader’ of the country labels you as such, who wants to go back into that environment? I wish you the best in your new adventure and please know that there are others who empathize with you cause some of us have been on the front lines with you as well. May God bless you and may you find the same happiness in your future that your previous endeavors gave you.

Thanks so much for your kind words. Sounds like you’ve had a tough road. I hope you find the place too that makes you happy!

You're an amazing person!

Maybe, but you RULE.

After reading your story at NBC brought me to giggles, tears and then sadness. People can be garbage and sorry you had to endure idiots. You are however an awesome person and excited to see what the future holds you.

Lori, my high school friend- I loved reading your heartfelt thoughts and admire your decision to take the leap. You have had an incredible life yet remain so down-to-earth and introspective about the human condition. You’ve lived it up close and personally in a way the rest of us only dream of. I can identify with the gut- wrenching realization that what we see as our life-long calling (you, photojournalism, me, medicine) comes with baggage that’s not deserved or anticipated. It drowns the spirit even though there are lighter happier moments that peek through. I love that you are putting your health and happiness first. Enjoy your new adventures- all the best to you and Brian!

My friend… thank you so much. I have so much respect for you. I’m sorry to hear you too are having difficulties. I think we get to an age where the soul-crushing is unacceptable. I hope we can sit and have lunch someday. Xoxo

I love the picture of the Field Shop! Without these people no one gets to see what is going on! Vikki and Jay and Conan and Patrick are the most fabulous people you would want to meet! I have to give special shout out to Jolly(27 and 32) He is the most Supercool of them all. I also love his Trains TOO! I see your still using the M2's. Oh I missed Angie in one of the pictures I guess I wasn't looking hard enough. 🙂 There is life after Fade Out You CAN do it!!

From a fellow photog in Minneapolis congrats on your escape! I would be lying if I said I hadn't contemplated it more than once, but still grinding away 25 years and counting. I only hope St Paul treated you well when you were here in 08 for the RNC. I was assigned to sports in those days so I think I was the only one on our staff not involved in that circus directly, and I was totally fine with that!

Nice Job Lori. I did the same and went into production years ago! Now I am venturing into other areas. I was the cameraman for Fightback with David Horowitz for a while , Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous and worked on This Old House as well as Victory Garden. Doing these shows has prepared me to do my own Video blogs on YouTube and on Facebook reviewing products and doing travel blogs. I have no doubt you will do well. Most of us do as long as we keep chasing those dreams, keep our eyes to the heavens and wish upon stars. Hopefully we will meet up when you are passing through Phoenix. Best of Health, Happiness, Luck and Love on your new journey. Remember, what is in the rear view mirror is the path already traveled and a memory. You are leaving at a good time. Best wishes!

Jeff Haymes

I’m with you right to the end…almost. I started in 1986 with a TK-76 and a BVU-100 on the other shoulder. In ‘90 I got my first Betacam and thought “Great, all the weight on one shoulder.” You know how that song ends. I’ve served my time in the Midwest. The last 17 in Milwaukee. I have lots of the same pictures you do, with presidents, sports stars, average people more interesting than all of them. I’ve had the injuries and battled back. I’ve had all the same bad stuff too. Flipping off, road rage, guns pulled. I said I was with you “almost” to the end. I have a different reaction to the latest wave of anti-media sentiment. I expect some people to just be inherently mean, it’s who they are. I can ignore that. However it rattles me to the core to see the President, my President, point at me standing on a platform and tell the crowd gathered I’m a bad person doing bad things. I am strangely energized to fight back. He can hate the media. Most presidents do. He cannot tear down the institution though. The free press is locked into our constitution. My shoulder and knees say go some days but the rest of me says I need to stay and defend. Good luck with your next adventures.

So sad/inspirational simultaneously! You are a hero/ordinary human (ok, I'll stop with the slashes now) and my hat is off to you. I wish you hadn't had the frightening and perilous experiences of the last few years – no one should – but it's certainly made you stronger and better able to take this next step. All the very best wishes and please keep writing – if it's anything like as empowering as this piece I want more and more. Thank you.

Lori I am going to miss you in the Field you
Are the Newscamera person at KNBC 4
you take care. Gary Sunkin

Best wishes, sister. As someone who's been in the biz with network affils for a couple of decades on the right coast, I identify completely, and almost daily wonder how much longer I can tolerate this. I hope in a few months to see an update that affirms your decision and/or offers hope for the rest of us.

Wow! Thank you for sharing your career with us. Thank you for keeping a level head on your shoulders when the jerks were pushing you to lose it. I wish you so much happiness!

I always leave my home with camcorder and scanner . I love tell a story through footage I take everyday.ive gotten my equipment stolen on location and pushed .which is why I can say you deserve to live and enjoy what life offers you . you've done alot for us and I will say thank you for your work.. youTube.com/jacobzonetv

So…I just stumbled upon this. I am left with a couple of things:
First and foremost, I am so disappointed I never got a chance to work with you. (Let alone, meet you.) We would have told great stories! More likely, you would have made my stories BETTER!
Second, you have guts, you have vision, you have heart. In a word, you sound "extraordinary".
Here I am on the other side of the country but…I will be rooting for you as you venture down your path and find out "what is out there."

Thoughts? Commment below!

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