Richard Crabbe is not my favorite photographer at WXIA. I don’t have a favorite photographer. To make such a choice would be akin to selecting a favorite parent or a favorite offspring. It wouldn’t be cool.
But Richard Crabbe is worth singling out, and not just because of the grim timing that happened to put him outside the Fulton County Courthouse on March 11, 2005 at the exact moment the homicidal Brian Nichols was making his desperate getaway.
Crabbe has been at WXIA since the 70s. I don’t mind admitting: As a competitor, he used to scare the hell out of me, for many of the qualities that I now find appealing — he doesn’t smile unnecessarily. When he has nothing to say, he shuts up. He can speak volumes with little more than a sharp look. When he talks, he tends to be blunt.
Like so many WXIA photogs, he’s seen his station and his business change over the years, and largely for the worse. Like everybody else at Gannett, his pay was cut last year. He was furloughed twice. He parks his news vehicle at the station overnight now, rather than in the garage of his DeKalb County home.
Despite all that, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Crabbe — like, I think, most of his fellow WXIA photogs — doesn’t regret his career choice. He likes telling stories. He likes documenting the human condition. He likes the challenge of performing small miracles on deadline. He likes prowling the community he’s gotten to know very, very well.
When he does speak, it’s likely to reveal something very human. Most dudes his age don’t casually and affectionately speak of their wives with the easy frequency Crabbe does.
Crabbe also happens to be very good at what he does, and has adapted to the times. He has a mastery of technology that expands his camera and editing talent — graphics and computer application skills that would rival those of photogs half his age who grew up with that stuff. An Augusta native, Crabbe was raised with slide rules, in a number-two pencil era.
If he’s not already in NATAS’s Silver Circle or whatever, Crabbe will probably get there soon enough. But don’t expect him to smile or gush. That’s not his style.
Consider this the Friday Open Thread. Keep it human. Waste no words.