Adaptable, adept

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.

This entry was posted in WXIA on by .

About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

14 thoughts on “Adaptable, adept

  1. Kay Flowers

    What a great tribute to a great guy. When I first started at WXIA, Richard scared me, too. But this cub soon realized that grumpy ol’ bear was actually a teddy inside. Although Richard certainly is committed to news and to excellence, he’s always had his priorities straight: family first. Good dad, good husband. I had the honor of RC shooting hundreds of beautiful pieces for me, and when, during the first Gulf War (back in the day), I was “deployed” to cover the home front in my hometown, Richard was a hardworking warrior and also a gentleman at my Mama’s dinner table when she was hosting the news troops. Thanks for lifting up one of the good ones, Doug. He deserves that and more.

  2. juanita driggs

    God bless the few Crabbes still left out there who continue their valiant struggle to reach shore each day. The precipitous decline in quality on the shooting and production side of Atlanta’s news operations(no need to name, just watch their casts and count the increasing number of screw ups) has become glaringly apparent where the rest of their Crabbes have been sacrificially steamed in corporate crockpots. Bon appetit!

  3. Jim

    Nice to see the shooters get recognized. Too bad the brass at these places (for the most part) don’t understand the importance of having someone shoot while someone else reports. We all know that one person can do both, but, the truth is, you miss things when flying solo. It can’t be helped. I guess they’ve decided the viewers won’t notice (they do).

    Open thread: Looks like this is gonna be a busy summer on Lanier and Allatoona, rescue wise. Have y’all done your “safety in the summer” package yet?

  4. Element

    Well done, simply produced piece. And Richard has certainly always been amenable when about.

    One thing- Who was the first gentleman?

    Maybe its better with just Richard and Dennis?

    A dying breed of quality storytelling!

  5. Cal Callaway

    Let’s see…Richard has covered most of the major stories in Atlanta for more than 3 decades; helped teach dozens of reporters, producers and assignment editors on the right way to do things; can still shoot memorable stories with or without a reporter; remains one of the best sports photographers especially when shooting UGA (granted, great material to work with here); and above all remains a true broadcast journalist.
    Yep, I’d say that easily deserves induction into the NATAS Silver Circle, and I bet he does smile when he’s inducted.

  6. Bill Hartman

    As another great Atlanta photog, Eric Hager, would say… “love me some Richard Crabbe!”
    And… he and Ray Goff were separated at birth.

  7. Alan Hand (shooter)

    Richard never scared me! Probably cause I admired his quiet, get it done demeanor. I am still in the trenches of shooting and it is always a pleasure to see Richard show up on a scene which is very rare now because WXIA doesn’t cover “if it Bleeds It Leads” theme anymore. Richard has always been a Gentleman and I don’t think that will ever change. Unfortunately, the true News Photographer, and I am speaking of the guys that have been in the business 30 years plus, is a dying breed. We are being replaced by reporters that had to shoot their own stories when they got in the business and now sadly have to do it to stay in the business. Then there are the people that just happen to be there when something happens and they record it on their cell phones and post it on the internet. Then they want to think they are now a professional.
    You could tell that Richard had feelings of the Deputy literally dying before his eyes. I have had that too many times in my life as a News Photographer also. The older I get the more it bothers me. I should become a Grief Counselor in my next job as I, like Richard have done it too many times with families that have lost love ones in so many tragic deaths. So I applaud you Doug, for putting Richard in the spotlight, he truly is deserving of his brief moment of recognition. Like I have said many a time with out a News Photographer you would be nothing more than a radio station. You can put on a Newscast with few reporters but you can’t do it without the News Photographer. The one things that keeps me going good or bad is that the viewer sees it all through the eyes of a News Photographer. God Bless the Richard Crabbes!

  8. actionphil

    Thanks for writing about an original. Richard deserves this…yes Richard you do. Don’t believe for a minute though that he doesn’t smile a lot. Heck, someone ask Eric Hager to take a look at the yearly Hawaiian shirt game photos that we took at Georgia games…and an occasional mascot photo too.

    Spent 10 years in Atlanta and Richard was one of the best…and guys I knew only by reputation coming in…he is every bit of that and more. Got the chance while covering Georgia football to talk to him at length about a lot of things…truly one of the masters of the art of shooting.

    Hope he doesn’t get mad at me for saying nice stuff about him too.

  9. Ed

    I’ve known the man for 40 years and the stories he tells are great. The pictures are always incredible. The editing exceptional. But, it’s the stories he hasn’t shared yet, that’s what I’m looking forward to hearing. He has my admiration and respect, always has and always will.

  10. Denis O'Hayer

    As the one who was with Richard that awful day, I’m thrilled he’s getting a little of the recognition he’s deserved for years. On that morning, in the middle of 360-degree chaos, Richard calmly moved from one element of the story to another: the frantic efforts to revive the fallen deputy; the search for the gunman in the parking deck; the early attempts at crowd control. I just tried to stay out of his way, and help him find the next shot. No words spoken; just a glance and a pointed finger, and Richard was on the next scene as if he’d been there all day. When you see those images, it looks as if several photographers took them, each one working a different scene. But it was just one: the remarkable Richard Crabbe. Still, that work–exceptional as it was–showed just one facet of his talent. Check out any of the Wes Side Stories that Richard shot and edited for Wes Sarginson. Not only do they reveal his gift for feature storytelling; many of the ideas for those stories came from Richard. And, as a number of folks have said already, he’s one hell of a human being (if you want to see him smile, ask him about his family). Best of all for his colleagues and viewers, Richard is only one of a group of hugely talented photographers at WXIA who turn video into memorable–often beautiful–stories. Thanks to them all. Nice post, Doug. And, Richard: long may you wave.

  11. John Pruitt

    I’ve worked with Richard from the Great Wall to New Hampshire and a lot of places in between. He is as solid as they come, as a journalist, a family man, and a friend. I’m sure he’s somewhat embarrassed by the praise he’s receiving from his colleagues, but he deserves every word it it and more.

  12. Fran



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