I haven’t shot much worth posting lately, so I thought that I would switch gears and show some of my favorite editing work.
Back when I was the assignment editor here at The Free Lance-Star, a photo request was submitted asking for a portrait to be shot of a University of Mary Washington student. Shin Fujiyama had organized a group called Students Helping Honduras. The portrait was meant for a story previewing the group’s upcoming trip down to Honduras.
My initial thought as an assignment editor was that a portrait was a bullshit way to go. By the way, “bullshit way to go” is a technical term they teach you in photojournalism school.
The story to be told was happening down in Honduras. I knew it was a longshot, but I presented to the newsroom leadership the idea of sending a photographer/reporter team to Honduras to document the group’s efforts on location.
To my complete surprise the proposal was accepted. However, I was also surprised by the fact that I had to fight to be the photo editor for the project. Being the assignment editor, I was low man on the editing totem pole. I stood my ground by taking ownership of it. After all, it was my idea in the first place.
This idea, which I considered to be a no-brainer (but I wasn’t really management at the time, so what did I know), was my first taste of success in my career at The Free Lance-Star. Reporter Rusty Dennen and photojournalist Scott Neville knocked the story out of the park. Editing Scott’s work was concrete evidence that the portrait was the bullshit way to go.
In the recent days of DMWL (Doing More With Less), I long to taste that kind of success again.
The pages presented here are from the first day of the four-day series.
Recently, I was searching through some old photos of the first trip that I took to the Gulf Coast as part of Operation Photo Rescue. Co-founder Becky Sell and I traveled to Pass Christian, MS in late January of 2006 just a few short months after Hurricane Katrina wrought so much devastation.
Upon arrival after a two-day road trip in my truck, I was visually overwhelmed by the destruction. However, within the hour the sun began to set and I was presented with a level of beauty that seemed unearthly.
These sunset pictures never saw the light of day. They were never printed and were pretty much forgotten after being burned to a cd.
When I saw them today, it struck me that these are examples of what is on the verge of being lost to the oil spill. And that made me think that they were finally worth sharing.
“You know that just made me realize how much luck plays into what you guys do,” Justin Rice, assistant sports editor for The Free Lance-Star.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” Seneca, 1st century Roman philosopher.
What Rice was referring to was the above photo that I took during the fourth inning of a softball game between Mountain View and Stafford High School. Mountain View’s Sabrina Hill charged down the third baseline and collided hard with Stafford catcher Ashley Chenoweth. Hill scored the run. Chenoweth was knocked out of the game.
For the first three innings of the game, I shot from my on-the-field position near third base. At the start of the fourth, I moved to the outside of the fence behind home to get head on views of the starting pitchers.
Had the collision happened in any other inning, I would not have had that vantage point. From the third base position I might have gotten a shot, but not one that showed both player’s faces at the moment of impact.
From the first base position that I later worked from, I would have missed it because my view would have been blocked entirely.
And that’s where it all came together. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. The opportunity unfolded before me. And I was prepared to capture it.
As the month of May comes to a close, I realized that I have spent a lot of it shooting sports.
For the first couple of weeks, I filled in on the night shift while Free Lance-Star Photographer Peter Cihelka traveled to Haiti along with reporter Amy Umble to document the work of area locals helping with the earthquake recovery.
I’ve been hit or miss in my sports photography. And to be honest, I feel like I’ve mostly missed. Reflecting on it, I think I just had bad habits like relying more on the technology and less on my instinct to help me make a photo.
Part of it I realize is being an editor. Since I’m not shooting day in and day out, I’ve often felt like the seldom used player who’s always a little rusty whenever he’s called off of the bench. I guess that’s one positive of DMWL (doing more with less). I’m shooting more than I ever have.
Covering these games the past few weeks, I find that I am more patient and much less trigger happy. I’m settling into the game with a more focused attention which enables me to better anticipate the plays. Although, I’m still finding soccer to be a royal pain in the a**.
(All photos © of The Free Lance-Star)
So it appears that I suck at this blogging thing. My site has been up for months and I still only have one post up. I’m trying to change my ways, but change isn’t easy. Just ask Obama.
A couple of weeks ago it was St. Patrick’s Day. I’m old, married and the father of two young boys, so now March 17 is just a day when I’m obligated to wear something green. However, this year for some reason got me thinking back to 1999 when I was actually in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day.
I was in Ireland to visit my friend Heather who was attending an art program at a university in Belfast. During my visit, I rented a car and we explored the Irish countryside. The last day we ended in Dublin. Because we had to take the car back, we didn’t get to stay long for the celebration. We caught the parade and walked for a bit, but we saved the drinking for the university’s student union party later that night back in Belfast. It was one of the most fun times of my life.
I recently traveled to Quito, Ecuador to serve as a faculty member for a Truth With A Camera workshop. The Saturday before the workshop began, those of us who arrived early took a day-trip to Otavalo.
The small mostly indigenous town sits in a valley surrounded by the peaks of three volcanoes: Imbabura , Cotacachi and Mojanda. Otavalo is best known for its Saturday market in the Plaza de los Ponchos, but there’s also an open-air livestock exchange during the early part of the day.
We made the livestock exchange our first stop. It was only supposed to be a 10-minute-look-see, but there was just too much to at which to gawk. The scene would have made a PETA volunteer’s head explode on impact.
Small groups of pigs were left out in the open knotted together by a single rope that grew smaller as they individually twisted and turned. There were boxes upon boxes of live chicks packed like sardines. And the local puppy mills seemed to be in full production.
This was not the place to be if you happen to reside on the low end of the food chain.
The people watching was great. Many of the women were dressed in traditional garb: white embroidered blouses, with flared lace sleeves, and dark over skirts. Many of the men looked aged beyond their years as they haggled over roosters that were bound for the cock-fighting ring.
I’ve never been in this type of situation and admittedly I was too timid with my camera. It didn’t help my confidence any that I was shooed away by a couple of people and one old pig-man wanted to charge me for taking his picture.
If I ever return to Otavalo’s livestock market, I’ll shoot like it will be the last time I will ever see anything like it again.