What Can You Do in Two Minutes?

Two minutes morphs into an eternity when you’re trying to hold your breath under water, or teacher instructs suspending your body in an isometric plank during yoga class.

Two minutes lasts an equally long (but more enjoyable) time when engaged in a passionate kiss.

In the same vein that sweet kiss is always still much too short, two minutes represents but one iota at a time when while reminding yourself how "time is of the essence" you’re trying your best as a photojournalist on assignment to capture a variety of photos of Bill Cosby, who is performing to a capacity crowd at the Genesee Theater in Waukegan, on a Saturday night. The rub is that theater staff members have fixed your shooting position side stage, and two minutes is all the time they've allotted for you to wax picture perfect.

What do you do when countdown starts once Cosby hits the stage. You get busy shooting!

To be fair, those two minutes aren't quite as insufficient as the 10 seconds Lady Gaga’s handlers gave me to photo her at Harpo Studios after an Oprah appearance.

Or the 30 seconds relegated for Taylor Swift during the Country Music Festival at Soldier Field a few years ago.

The Verdict

Yet those two minutes may as well be a Swift 30 seconds, when the venue's makeshift aisles are so densely packed with open-toe shoes caught in a traffic jam of legs flailing like octopi limbs. Some of them bared, adorned with nylons, extant one plaster cast, or finally crossed in relaxation.

The thought of my lug soles sifting through that wildly paved road, no matter how well-intentioned, poses a landmine of opportunities for stepping on toes or snagging a designer pair of stockings, not to mention catching on a chair leg on the way out of the "Amazing Race." Amid my haste to shift my position stage right, I'm convinced the mad dash to the promised land on the other side is a waste of precious time. Especially, when the outcome of that excursion may at best achieve a different but remaining less-than-ideal side angle of "America's Favorite TV Dad," who may never look my way. Were this endeavor an exercise in profiles, I'd have struck pay dirt!

Given those odds, would you risk navigating that Atlantic of a human maze? I didn’t. I couldn’t—wimp.

But why bother.

Likewise, setting my shutter full speed to make 750 (instead of a hundred or so) bordered on frivolous against a relatively static subject. I usually find this adjustment helps to conjure if only a nuanced assortment of images, particularly when I'm lacking mobility. In this case, a quiet theater combined with a noisy Nikon (unlike my Leicas at home) would serve more so as an annoyance than a creative foray. Such that, I'd be surprised if I didn't get myself thrown out prematurely in the process.

As with concerts, Cosby's stand-up (more like sit-down?) routine allowed no time for me to "enjoy" the performance, or giggle at a joke, for that matter. Not even for a millisecond. I recall laughter, although I doubt if memory-coached I could quote any punchlines, let alone recount the gist of what he said. By Jove, I even found myself back home in my nice, warm bed perusing the recorded pictures within the same hour I'd left for the venue.

Ah, the glamorous life (and dilemmas) of a celebrity/event  photographer….

I once timed myself, so I know I can shoot at least 500 photographs, when necessary, during that period. Given another two minutes, I could also clean my teeth and amply rinse with fluoride, thus, without slighting my dental care. Rest assured I'd walk away from that hygienic experience feeling entirely refreshed.

I'm also capable of completing a great many other important tasks. I cannot, however, sprint through an obstructed crowd whose masses I'm  tasked with penetrating currently clocks in at less than two minutes.

A few years ago, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut broke a record during a hamburger-eating contest for the Krystal restaurant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when he downed 28 of the establishment’s hamburgers. In other oral news, this year Dave Brunelli took 1st place of the men's division at the Chef One 9th Annual Dumpling Eating Contest, gobbling up a total of 74 dumplings.

What can you accomplish in two minutes?


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