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Smile, America - It’s Time To Have Your Pictures Taken

May 2, 1986

DENVER (AP) _ Say ″Cheese,″ America 3/8

From Maine to Hawaii and Alaska to Texas, 200 top photographers were ready today to take the nation’s portrait.

Susan Biddle plans to catch up with a man who delivers mail by boat along the Sacramento River Delta.

Bruce Talamon is headed for the Checkerboard Lounge, a blues club on Chicago’s West Side.

Sandy Colton is assigned to New York’s Adirondack wilderness.

They and 197 other professional photographers are part of the ambitious ″Day in the Life of America″ project, the fifth in a series of photo books that already have covered Australia, Japan, Canada and Hawaii.

Of the thousands of frames to be shot today, only 350 will make it into the book due out next October. Gov. Richard Lamm of Colorado and former Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee also will be shooting - Lamm in Denver and Baker in Louisville, Ky. - but no one’s guaranteed a spot in the book.

The producers do promise to use at least a dozen pictures taken by the scores of schoolchildren who have been issued cameras this week.

Roland Freeman is in Memphis, watching how Elvis Presley fans look at their dead hero’s Graceland mansion.

Laetiscia Battaglia is tracking the lives of New York City teen-agers who live in welfare hotels.

David Kennerly is looking for a way to ″pry open the door a little bit and get behind what everybody thinks about Hollywood.″

″My preference would have been to do my hometown - Roseburg, Ore. - but I’ve got Hollywood,″ said Kennerly, one of 10 Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists in the group.

The pros fanned out Thursday in every state from Maine to Hawaii, closing off two days of research at their assigned sites. Today was chosen for the project so there would be opportunities to see Americans at work and starting on the weekend’s play.

″We want to create a place that celebrates photojournalism,″ said David Cohen, one of the ″Day in the Life″ organizers.

The books give photojournalists a shot at permanence, said Rick Smolan, a photographer and organizer. ″You get a photo in Time or Newsweek - 20 million people see it, but it gets thrown out next week.″

The photographers convened last weekend in Denver, where they received assignments that sometimes had little to do with their normal daily routines.

Talamon, who often shoots stills on Hollywood movie sets, flew to Chicago to focus on the Lawndale district, a rough neighborhood that includes several housing projects and is noted for dozens of murders each year.

Whatever the assignment, a pro’s approach must be the same, he said. ″You’ve got to take your time, look around, observe. So many people go through life and they don’t look five feet down the road.″

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