Calling the Shots : Student Photographers Record 24 Hours in Long Beach

Times Staff Writer

Long Beach may not be the jazziest place to spend 24 hours shooting pictures. But at least it’s clean.

Lisa Beth Guntz snapped a photo of a man scrubbing an airplane. Mark Zaleski shot pictures of a group of guys washing police cars.

And if that was not enough, a rainstorm pelted the entire city when 13 student photojournalists and six campus reporters at Cal State Long Beach fanned out to document 24 hours in the life of Long Beach.


The teams started at 6 p.m. April 22 and roamed all night and the following day, looking for interesting pictures and stories. Their experiences ranged from wandering into a fraternity toga party to sighting hulking jack rabbits at Long Beach Municipal Airport.

‘Shamelessly Borrowed’

The goal was to produce a special edition of the campus newspaper, the Daily Forty-Niner, inspired by the myriad “Day In the Life of . . .” books published in recent years.

“We shamelessly borrowed the idea,” said Jeff Mitchell, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief. “There is so much going on all the time. This is not your typical bedroom community.”

Well, maybe not all the time. As the city closed up and the night wore on, some photographers had a trying time finding people to photograph. It was so slow for photographer Don Leach, 23, that at one point he was reduced to shuttling between an all-night doughnut shop and a supermarket.

Assigned to the El Dorado Park Estates area, Leach said his luck improved after the sun came up and he photographed a Little League baseball game, several garage sales and an athletic event for the handicapped at Millikan High School.

Brian Stroud, 23, said he took pictures of street people and the scene of a shooting in his assigned area on the east side of downtown. He said that with the limited territory and a lot of time for the assignment, he was thorough.

“Anybody that moved, we were on top of them,” he said, quickly adding, “until my car broke down.”

Editor Mitchell stayed by the telephones during the night. Besides talking with Stroud about his broken-down car, Mitchell said: “We had another call from someone at a toga party saying he was having a good time. I said he may be having too good a time and to get back out” on the streets.

The next morning’s sunshine dissolved into high winds and rain. But far from ruining the project, the photographers said the storm added diversity to their work.

“I think it helped. It added a new element,” said Marc Martin, 25, who covered fishermen and people with metal detectors at the beach by morning, an art exhibit by day and joggers in the evening.

Photo Editor Chuck Bennett, 22, said the group turned in about 50 rolls of color film and 80 rolls of black-and-white, from which he culled about five to seven shots from each photographer. The work will be displayed in a special section of the paper on Wednesday.

Professionals’ Turn

Prof. Wayne F. Kelly, who heads the photojournalism program and is chairman of the journalism department, said the effort was “a very professional performance on the part of many young people who . . . have a marvelous outlook on life.”

A week after the student project, two professional photographers took on the same assignment as part of a 24-hour “A Day in the Life of California” shoot for Collins Publishers of San Francisco. They and 98 other photographers positioned around the state will have their work published in a coffee-table book in early November.

A spokeswoman said the pros will have plenty of choices when deciding which photographs to print: 275 photos will be chosen from 150,000 negatives.