in need of sleep but happy to tell you how it feels to work overnight shifts

NICK SCHNELLE/Columbia Missourian Gary Stewart waits by a back door inside Sycamore before going outside for a break from work on Feb. 9, 2011. In addition to his overnight shifts at Uprise Bakery, Stewart also works in the evenings at Sycamore. He typically works around 55 hours, combined, a week.

So, for the past three weeks I have been working on a multimedia project for my Missourian Staff Photojournalism class. Every student who takes the course creates this project, which is a weekly photo column, called Boone Life, published with a print spread and the web.

The project is basically this course’s term project and it requires students go outside of the daily story and feature coverage and to conceptualize a photo story based on a theme for each semester. This semester’s theme is “What it Feels Like.” Because mine was the first Boone Life to run (originally the second), I wasn’t able to work on a story that would take an extensive time to get my subject comfortable and/or to gain more difficult access. (I’m planning on doing a second Boone Life that I can work on through out the rest of semester.)

So, for my theme I went with “What it Feels Like: To work the overnight shift. I thought of many professions but I ended up with a baker from Uprise Bakery, Gary Stewart. Gary works shifts typically from midnight until 8 a.m. I photographed him five different days over the course of Feb. 2 to Feb 13 — not a whole lot of time to work on a term project. It was interesting to photograph someone who has a normal work schedule during these hours. I began to experience the same hard aches one normally has when first starting this type of work, as I had had to adjust my sleep schedule to photograph. I quickly learned from Gary that this lifestyle isn’t as exhausting as it’s made up to be. Despite sleeping when the comes up, he still manages to have a balanced life; he hangs out with friends late at night and is awake running errands or going to the park during the day. He tells me it’s really not the bad once you adjust your sleep schedule — it’s not hard for Gary, as he is able to sleep on command.

2 thoughts on “in need of sleep but happy to tell you how it feels to work overnight shifts

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