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Archive for the ‘Introspection’ Category

If you took Yoda (non-combative, original trilogy version), Obi-Wan (mostly Alec Guinness’s version) and Gandalf the Grey (pre-White) and mashed them together, you’d get Grant Kalivoda.

Grant wasn’t an awards-amassing ivory tower type, nor was he a lofty-minded artist, nor was he a Jedi (I think). But he was a whiz at camera, darkroom and printing technology who dreamed of organizing Segway tours of his beloved Santa Fe and who had a hearty appetite for New Mexican food and good conversation. He was the “New Mexico hippie [who] put a medium-format film SLR camera into my hands and told me to have fun” who is mentioned in my biography on this blog.

Grant passed away earlier this week.

Grant Kalivoda, 67, sits for a portrait in his Santa Fe front porch with Gnorm the Gnome on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

© 2013. Grant Kalivoda, 67, sits for a portrait in his Santa Fe front porch with Gnorm the Gnome on Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

I’ve mentioned Grant before on this blog, but only once, apparently. Which is absurd now that I think about the extraordinary impact Grant had on my life. So, I now belatedly attempt to correct this oversight.

Rewind to 2006. I had applied for several different summer jobs at Philmont Scout Ranch in northeastern New Mexico and, on a whim, included a CD of pretty craptastic photos I’d taken on my first digital camera, a Canon point-and-shoot. For whatever reason, Philmont offered me a job as a photographer. I accepted, even though I knew nothing about photography and was terrified of learning how to use real cameras and the darkroom.

Enter Grant. Grant, a photo and printing specialist out of Santa Fe, had for years been training Philmont photographers how to use the gigantic Pentax 6×7 cameras, how to develop C-41 film with the Jobo processor, how to use the enlargers and the Kreonite print processor for individual prints and how to use the Noritsu print processors for prints en masse. As the only photographer on staff who’d never manually exposed or developed her own film before, I was at a distinct disadvantage, but Grant treated me just as if I were any of the other photographers. All I needed was a bit more mentorship, which he provided.

Under Grant’s instruction, I didn’t botch up my first-ever roll of film (which I still have), nor any roll of film I shot that summer. I fell in love with film, hard. Being in complete control over every step of the process never ceased to awe me, and I was hooked. I happily lugged the heavy Pentax gear up and down mountains, relished the thudding sound of the heavy shutter and voluntarily spent many late nights developing film and printing.

This said, I was still an awful photographer. I’m not sure that the ranch was able to use most of the pictures I produced for marketing purchases that first summer. But I sure did have fun.

In fact, I had so much fun that when I went to Mizzou that fall, I slammed the brakes on my aspirations of becoming a reporter, and instead worked my tail off to become a photojournalist.

And now here I am.

A photojournalist.

© 2013. This is a control panel from one of two Noritsu printers that was saved and mounted amid the 2007 digital conversion at Philmont News & Photo.

© 2013. These prints, dating from the early 1990s, were ones that Grant Kalivoda used to demonstrate color compensation for the Noritsu printers we used at Philmont News & Service before the 2007 digital conversion.

I came back to Philmont for two more summers: In 2007, I was one of the only returning photographers from 2006 to help transition the department from film to digital, and in 2008, I headed the ranch’s weekly staff newsletter. Grant provided training during both those summers, albeit at a diminished frequency compared to 2006. Still, I loved seeing my old friend whenever he made the drive from Santa Fe, and was greatly reassured that he was only a phone call away.

When Jeff and I made Santa Fe our destination for our 2010 spring break road trip, I made sure we saw Grant. It only made sense to introduce two of the most important people in my life to each other, and of course it was great to see Grant again. We met up for green chile burgers at the now-defunct Bobcat Bite and ended the night at Grant’s house, where we ate ice cream and played dominoes.

© 2010. Santa Fe from afar, coming up north on I-25, on March 31, 2010. Kodak Portra, 35mm, not sure which ASA.

After that trip, my contact with Grant was limited to a few emails here and there. I’d occasionally catch a recurring mountain fever, but finances and time kept me from making another trip to my beloved Sangre de Cristo mountains. Then, last spring, a friend contacted me with news that Grant had Parkinson’s and arthritis and wasn’t doing too well.

That changed everything.

Three months after I emailed Grant to check up on him and one month after he replied, I was on a plane to New Mexico. I stayed three days in the Land of Enchantment; the only times I wasn’t with Grant and his girlfriend Charlotte were when I took a quick driving tour of Santa Fe and made a half-day trip up to Philmont. But we spent two days eating lots of good food, taking driving tours, sharing old memories and puttering around their home on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Usually when I make trips, I produce lists of things to do and eat, and every day is planned out to the max. But this trip, I had no agenda except to be with Grant and Charlotte. I don’t think Grant ever believed me on that — several times, he tried to guess why I really came from Pennsylvania to New Mexico — but my earlier revelation that Grant might not be immortal made me realize I wanted to share more time with him.

Earlier this month, I got mountain fever again and started babbling to Jeff about booking another trip to Santa Fe. This trip, I’d want to make a few hikes, but seeing Grant and Charlotte was definitely at the top of my list, too. Unfortunately, a few hours after I got off a 12-hour overnight shift today, I received word that Grant wasn’t immortal after all.

© 2013. Grant Kalivoda and Charlotte Schaaf stand in their Santa Fe, N.M., backyard, “American Gothic”-style in late June 2013.

Lessons I learned from Grant Kalivoda, many of which he may not have known he taught me:

  • Slow down. (Still learning this one.)
  • Knowing more than others doesn’t necessarily make you better, and often it just makes you lazy.
  • Never stop tinkering. Never stop learning. Never stop wondering. And have fun in the meantime.
  • You’ll enjoy things a lot more if you slow down and appreciate them. Unless it’s ice cream we’re talking about.
  • It ain’t broke until fixing it just makes it worse.
  • Anything can be repurposed.
  • Taking the time to enjoy a meal (slowly) with friends, sans phones and other distractions, is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The thing is, I’m just one of countless people who learned from Grant and became a better person for it. I have no clue how many summers he helped train Philmont’s photo department, and he also had a sizable presence in the Santa Fe community. The man’s influence was and is far-reaching. He helped me realize where I wanted to take my career, and I’m positive I’m not the only one who so benefited from his instruction, patience and kindness.

The Philmont and Santa Fe communities owe much to Grant Kalivoda, whether or not they realize it. For myself, I’m learning that there’s never enough time in the world to spend with those who matter most to you, but I’m no less grateful for the time that we did share.

Rest in peace, Grant. You are dearly missed.

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Five years ago, Bill Eppridge visited my university. He and his wife Adrienne had some time to visit with students, so I hastily threw together a portfolio for them to review. I was terrified and convinced that they’d tear it apart — Bill being a venerable visual journalist and Adrienne being a venerable visual editor — but they were completely kind and supportive in their criticism and suggestions.

Looking back now, I’m guessing they recognized that I didn’t really know what I was doing, and that prodding me along would be more productive than tearing me apart. (Related: I’ll never forget the only written comment that former Columbia Daily Tribune photo editor Gerik provided after reviewing my exit portfolio in May 2010: “Could be a newspaper photographer someday.”) I’ve since made conscious efforts, every time I’m in a position to encourage or review work with a younger photographer, to be just as considerate and supportive as Bill and Adrienne were to me.

. . .

I’ve just learned that Bill has died. His legacy includes a number of iconic images made in times of peace and war, and I’m certain he inspired and helped young photojournalists who are far more successful than I. But for my part, I’ll never forget the gentle, compassionate critique he and his wife gave me five years ago in the Missouri photo lab. My next portfolio iteration was much more restrained and well-edited enough to land me an internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the following summer, and I’m convinced that Bill and Adrienne gave me just the right push to get my internship applications rolling.

(With a wink in Adrienne’s direction, Bill also told me that the best advice he could ever give a young photographer is to marry a good editor. I’d like to think Jeff and I have edited each other’s work fairly thoroughly in our almost-five years together.)

Just for fun, I’m opening myself up to potential embarrassment by posting what I believe is the portfolio that I showed Bill and Adrienne on that Oct. 2009 evening:

Sgt. Curtis Webb moves forward to reinforce the line formation during the 1140th Military Police Company's riot control training on April 15, 2007. The company, which is a local division of the Missour National Guard, practiced blocks and movement patterns using wooden bats.

Sgt. Curtis Webb moves forward to reinforce the line formation during the 1140th Military Police Company’s riot control training on April 15, 2007. The company, which is a local division of the Missour National Guard, practiced blocks and movement patterns using wooden bats.

Columbia City Clerk Sheela Amin swears re-elected mayor Darwin Hindman into office on April 9, 2007. Winning more than 70 percent of the vote, Hindman won a record fifth term.

Columbia City Clerk Sheela Amin swears re-elected mayor Darwin Hindman into office on April 9, 2007. Winning more than 70 percent of the vote, Hindman won a record fifth term.

Oklahoma State junior shortstop Jordy Mercer slides home during the series finale against the Tigers on April 6, 2007, in Taylor Stadium. Mercer scored three runs in the game, which the Sooners won 8-6.

Oklahoma State junior shortstop Jordy Mercer slides home during the series finale against the Tigers on April 6, 2007, in Taylor Stadium. Mercer scored three runs in the game, which the Sooners won 8-6.

(No cutline, apparently, but this was from the first-ever Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Mo.)

(No cutline, apparently, but this was from the first-ever Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in Columbia, Mo.)

Andrea Molina and Maria delCarmen Reguera dance the flamenco during the Multicultural Dance Expo's opening act on March 19, 2007, at Memorial Union. Other dances featured at the expo highlighted Mexican, Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Andrea Molina and Maria delCarmen Reguera dance the flamenco during the Multicultural Dance Expo’s opening act on March 19, 2007, at Memorial Union. Other dances featured at the expo highlighted Mexican, Indian and Southeast Asian cultures.

Robert Ray places a rattlesnake's still-beating heart on his hand after skinning the snake in front of a small audience on April April 26, 2008, in Mangum, Okla., during the 43rd Annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby. Ray, a Mangum native who now resides in Oklahoma City, has been butchering rattlesnakes at the derby for 32 years.

Robert Ray places a rattlesnake’s still-beating heart on his hand after skinning the snake in front of a small audience on April April 26, 2008, in Mangum, Okla., during the 43rd Annual Mangum Rattlesnake Derby. Ray, a Mangum native who now resides in Oklahoma City, has been butchering rattlesnakes at the derby for 32 years.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., concludes her speech to more than 5,000 supporters on Jan. 19, 2008, in the McCluer North High School gym in Florissant, Mo. Clinton had just won the Nevada primary and was beginning her campaign in Missouri and the other Super Tuesday states.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., concludes her speech to more than 5,000 supporters on Jan. 19, 2008, in the McCluer North High School gym in Florissant, Mo. Clinton had just won the Nevada primary and was beginning her campaign in Missouri and the other Super Tuesday states.

Elton John acknowledges the audience's screams and applause after making his entrance on Oct. 5, 2007, in Mizzou Arena. During an encore, John wore a headband with tiger ears, which a Missouri fan gave him in anticipation of the Tigers' football game against Nebraska on Oct. 6.

Elton John acknowledges the audience’s screams and applause after making his entrance on Oct. 5, 2007, in Mizzou Arena. During an encore, John wore a headband with tiger ears, which a Missouri fan gave him in anticipation of the Tigers’ football game against Nebraska on Oct. 6.

Missouri guard Kassie Drew scans the court to pass the ball away from Nebraska guard Ashly Ford's block during the game's second half on Jan. 20, 2007, at Mizzou Arena. The loss was the Tigers' fifth in conference play.

Missouri guard Kassie Drew scans the court to pass the ball away from Nebraska guard Ashly Ford’s block during the game’s second half on Jan. 20, 2007, at Mizzou Arena. The loss was the Tigers’ fifth in conference play.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reads aloud a quote he always carries with him, on Feb. 1, 2008, in the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The quote, by George Washington in 1789, reads, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars and how they were treated and appreciated by their nation."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reads aloud a quote he always carries with him, on Feb. 1, 2008, in the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The quote, by George Washington in 1789, reads, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars and how they were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

A man holds up a sign to cheer on participants in the Disney World Marathon near Mile 2 on Jan. 13, 2008. The marathon course began and ended in Epcot, and went through each of the theme parks in the Disney World complex.

A man holds up a sign to cheer on participants in the Disney World Marathon near Mile 2 on Jan. 13, 2008. The marathon course began and ended in Epcot, and went through each of the theme parks in the Disney World complex.

Then-Missouri House of Representatives Minority Floor Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, waits to be recognized by House Speaker Rod Jetton during the House's morning session on April 17, 2007, in Jefferson City. Harris has since resigned from his position as Minority Floor Leader to concentrate on his campaign for Attorney General.

Then-Missouri House of Representatives Minority Floor Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, waits to be recognized by House Speaker Rod Jetton during the House’s morning session on April 17, 2007, in Jefferson City. Harris has since resigned from his position as Minority Floor Leader to concentrate on his campaign for Attorney General.

IndyGround LLC hip-hop artist Bustrip freestyles a song and a beat on March 5, 2007, at the Sapphire Lounge. Hailing from Tulsa, Okla., Bustrip has joined forces with seven other rappers to form a new record label in Columbia.

IndyGround LLC hip-hop artist Bustrip freestyles a song and a beat on March 5, 2007, at the Sapphire Lounge. Hailing from Tulsa, Okla., Bustrip has joined forces with seven other rappers to form a new record label in Columbia.

Byron Carlisle awaits instruction during swim practice in the Student Recreation Complex on Nov. 9, 2006. Carlisle, who is a competitive swimmer on the University of Missouri swim team, was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia in the fourth grade.

Byron Carlisle awaits instruction during swim practice in the Student Recreation Complex on Nov. 9, 2006. Carlisle, who is a competitive swimmer on the University of Missouri swim team, was diagnosed with ADD and dyslexia in the fourth grade.

Missouri forward Leo Lyons tries to hold onto the ball as Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush grab at Lyons' forearm during the game's second half on Jan. 15, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers attempted a failed three-point play in the game's final 11 seconds and lost 80-77 to the Jayhawks.

Missouri forward Leo Lyons tries to hold onto the ball as Kansas guards Sherron Collins and Brandon Rush grab at Lyons’ forearm during the game’s second half on Jan. 15, 2007, at Allen Fieldhouse. The Tigers attempted a failed three-point play in the game’s final 11 seconds and lost 80-77 to the Jayhawks.

Rest in peace, Bill, and thank you again.

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Earlier this month, I finally bought my dream camera, and I’m going to use it to cure myself.

. . .

For seven months now, I’ve been dealing with a struggle.

It’s not a daily gloom, nor is it definitive, long-term or easily explained. Additionally, “dealing with” is the best way I can characterize what I’ve been doing — largely because I can neither face it head-on nor avoid it, largely because I don’t know what it is.

It’s not a rut or cabin fever. I’m still passionate about what I do as a photojournalist, and I’m proud of some of the recent work I’ve done.

It’s probably related somehow to my experiences in Newtown, but I’m not sure how or why.

It’s not impacting my ability to function as a human or as a photojournalist, although I’m sure that my boyfriend would appreciate it if I helped out more with chores, as I once did.

I can’t diagnose it because I don’t know what it is, where it came from or why it’s affecting me, but I’ve recently decided that the best prescription is to care a little harder.

. . .

I think, in this age of Instagram, Facebook and quick-and-easy photo-taking/-sharing, we don’t care as much about the pictures we make. We snap a shot, share it, move on. By the end of the week, we’ve shared two or a dozen more photos, and we don’t even remember what we photographed two weeks ago.

On a related note: I love my job. We are trained to transmit photos almost as soon as we make them, in certain cases (mostly breaking news and sports). It’s fun and fast-paced, and I think it’s a neat step forward that we’re able to do. But because I work for a daily newspaper, I can have anywhere from one to four assignments in a day, which adds up to a lot after any given period of time. People ask me what I did this week, and I have to explain to them that I honestly can’t remember because every day has blurred into an indistinguishable continuum.

So, I have recently found myself pretty anxious to take a very large, deliberate step back from the immediacy that everyone else supplies and demands. (At least, for personal work.) Therefore, I’m returning to my roots, which means film. I first learned real photography at a summer job in New Mexico, where a hippie named Grant put a 6-pound, medium-format Pentax in my hands and taught me the entire process. To make frames on such a tank of a camera — and to develop the film, use enlargers and make prints, all in the same day — was incredibly empowering, and magical. I fell in love.

Last month, I went to Santa Fe to see Grant again and spend time with him. (I don’t think he ever believed that I made the trip just for him, but it’s true, Grant.) It was only a three-day trip, but it was peaceful, and in my heart, New Mexico is home. As I used my Mamiya (no Pentax yet) to make a picture of Grant and his Charlotte in their backyard, I knew I’d found a cure, or at least a relief, for my struggle.

I’m going to return to film, and make pictures that mean something to me. I can’t tell you how many rolls I’ve wasted on shots “just because,” and how many of those frames are just languishing in my binder because they ultimately are of no value to me. So I’m going to care harder about my personal photography, and it’s going to be film, and it’s going to be something that I will treasure 20, 30, 40 years down the road.

I’m starting now, with a few frames from a few rolls I got developed after my New Mexico trip. These were all taken with the Mamiya, but expect to see a lot of work coming from the Pentax from now on.

© 2013. Let’s start with Grant, who here strikes an “American Gothic”-esque pose with his Charlotte in their Santa Fe backyard in late June 2013. It goes without saying that I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Grant and his guidance, patience and warmth.

© 2012. An accidental double-exposure during a Special Olympics event at Blue Knob State Park in February 2012. This frame features two Jeff’s, and two Mike’s (Jeff’s younger brother).

© 2011. When Jeff moved in with a family in Broken Arrow, Okla., for the duration of his Tulsa World internship, they brought home a cat for him. I named her Oreo, and finally met her when I visited Jeff in October 2011.

© 2011. The Blue Whale of Catoosa, because who doesn’t love a Route 66 roadside attraction?

© 2012. I went back to Houston for a few days in August 2012, and Dad happened to match up his authentic Hawaiian shirt perfectly with his Crocs. So, this happened.

© 2012. My mom took this of Jeff and me on the morning we left Houston to drive back to York. Notice the brand-new boots.

© 2013. Step aside, Prince George Alexander Louis. Baby Layla is the only baby that matters. Family portrait with Matt, Emily and Layla, then 6ish months old, in my parents’ Houston backyard in February 2013.

© 2013. Can you tell this is May in Missouri? Chelsea and I were college roommates, and this visit was the first time we’d seen each other since senior year.

© 2013. I went up to Philmont Scout Ranch, where Grant first taught me in 2006, for a day. This is Bryan outside the News & Photo building, and he’s holding a printer that I took back for Grant. Bryan and I worked together at Philmont in 2008, and he’s now the ranch’s marketing director.

Every single one of these frames means something to me.

Is that something any given person can say about any given photo they’ve taken recently?

Probably not.

But it’s something I want to be able to say, honestly, about all of my personal work from now on.

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Well, I thought I was okay.

Sometime between mid-January and late March, I had ceased thinking about Newtown on an hourly or daily basis. The holiday season was finally over, I got to meet my baby niece, Jeff and I were taking ballroom dance lessons and I was back in the swing of regular work.

But near the end of March, I had a dream: I was back in Newtown, and I was interviewing a florist as she was preparing spray arrangements for a child’s funeral. Suddenly, I felt my eyes burn hot with tears, and my mind went blank. I quickly turned away for a moment, then faced her again.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her. “I don’t know what’s the matter with me.”

Then I woke up.

Later that day, another reporter who had been in Newtown wrote a blog post in which he explained his reluctance to talk much about his experiences:

1.) I’ve been nervous that [this] just comes across as me complaining about my own personal situation.
2.) I’ve felt a certain amount of guilt for feeling so badly when there are obviously people who were directly and significantly affected by what happened far more than I can imagine.
Additionally, I’ve wanted to distance myself a little from my coverage in Newtown. It’s not a fun thing to talk about so I largely avoid it, though there are times when I’m drinking with buddies that things will slip out. 

That basically sums up my feelings.

But now I feel ready to share some of the pictures I made while in Newtown. It could be that the warmer weather and sunshine are helping me overcome the dreariness of that trip. It could be that I’m actually getting okay-er over time. Or it could be that it’s simply time to do this now.

(more…)

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One month and a day ago, reporter Lauren and I drove to a part of the country neither of us had really been to before: Connecticut. We didn’t know where we were staying, we didn’t know what we would we be doing and we didn’t know anybody with whom we’d be working.

This was all we knew:

  • Our job was to help out a sister paper, The New Haven Register, by doing whatever they asked of us, in the wake of the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history.
  • One New Haven editor’s name.
  • …I think that’s about it.

We were asked to go, and we went. It was a long, dark drive to New Haven from York, and all I could think about was who, what, where, when. I didn’t think about why, or how. I didn’t dare to. I kept my focus on the road and on my job, and that’s pretty much how the next four days and five nights went.

already wrote that, upon my return to York, I finally cried. And now I’ve had a month to think and reflect and talk to the caring editors, coworkers, friends and boyfriend that I’m so fortunate to have.

People have asked how I’m doing, and by and large, I’m okay. As I’ve already written, I was in Newtown for only four days, I never set foot inside a funeral (some reporters had to, and I can’t imagine what they might be going through), I met only one person who actually knew a victim. I’m not a parent, and I haven’t yet experienced deep personal grief or loss.

But while I’d rather not dwell on this, I won’t sugarcoat it either: Things are different now. I’m different now. How can they/I not be? When you spend time in such a small, cozy place as Newtown, where the overcast skies match the grief in the air and strangers admit they’ve been crying all day and flower- and candle-laden memorials never leave your sight, it’s hard to dismiss the thoughts and memories that linger in your mind after you leave. It actually feels wrong to do so.

• • •

I’ve so far had neither the heart nor the will to share the pictures I made there, as well as others I made before and since then. I was determined to be a human in my reporting in Newtown, and I’ve since been determined to be a human for my own sake. So, when I’m not at work, I have turned my focus to the mundane: small tasks like avoiding folding the clean laundry and large tasks like tackling a book that’s taken me more than nine years to complete.

Some day — maybe tomorrow, six months from now or whenever I’m ready — I’ll share those pictures from a month ago. In the meantime, I’m working toward normalcy.

Ten or so nights ago, I dreamed about a Newtown that I barely recognized: There were no news vans, the sun was shining and people were smiling.

Every day, I hope that dream will no longer be just a dream.

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…a time for every purpose under heaven

Last night when I came home from work, I collapsed into bed and wept.

It hadn’t been an ordinary day at work. It hadn’t been an ordinary week at work.

Reporter Lauren and I had just worked four days reporting for The New Haven Register in Connecticut after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Arriving Friday night in New Haven and working Saturday through Tuesday in the Newtown area, we sought stories outside the big story, knocked on doors, found leads, lost leads, held back our own emotions and listened. Every day meant an exhausting stretch of shoe-leather journalism, and, always determined to come back with a story, we powered through.

Tuesday, we returned to York, where finally I could forget about work and cry for the lives lost.

…a time to gain, a time to lose

Like everyone else in the world, I started Friday, Dec. 14, normally. I got up, showered, ate breakfast. I heard about a school shooting somewhere in Connecticut, but didn’t realize how devastating it was until I was on my way to the newsroom and (at a red light) saw Jeff’s text that 27 people had been killed.

I almost cried then, but knew I had work to do. My assignments for Friday evening included a Penn State football recruit and a local teenager’s holiday light display. I had to hold it together and do my job.

Then, just before I planned to leave to photograph the Penn State recruit, my editor Eileen beckoned me over into the conference room.

Could I, if called upon, go to Newtown that night to help The New Haven Register (and our parent company Digital First Media) with their coverage?

I said yes. So did Lauren. Just over an hour later, we were on the road to Connecticut.

…a time to gather stones

During the four days we worked in Connecticut — four long days that seamlessly blended together amidst the confusion, the scope, the monumental sadness of the story — Lauren and I agreed to avoid the media circus as best we could. The people of Newtown and Sandy Hook were being bombarded by camera crews and reporters, and we wanted no part of that, mostly out of respect for those people in their time of sorrow.

So we spent the first three days reporting “on the fringe,” finding stories outside of the immediate area, talking to people who knew no victims but still grieved. We found a Christmas tree farm that opened on Saturday so area families could try to return to the holiday routine and to a sense of normalcy. We found a religious gift shop owner who kept her store open not just for business but for people who needed to come in and pray with her. We found a church whose mission was outreach and whose members somehow found the time and resources to organize a teddy bear drive, alongside their half-dozen other holiday-related charity programs.

The fourth day, I had no choice but to join the media circus when I was assigned to produce video of the back-to-back funerals of James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. Two or three people who drove past the media scrum on Church Hill Road yelled at us to “leave them alone” and “go home.” Even before that, though, I felt sick to my stomach about covering funerals, and had to remind myself that, more importantly, the families and friends on the other side of so many cameras and notepads must feel worse.

The fourth day, it seemed, would be the worst day.

…a time to embrace

Then Lauren, on assignment for another story, found a hair stylist who was scheduled to cut James’s hair the day after the shooting. So after the funerals, we went to her salon, which was attached to a kids’ consignment store she also operated. We chatted with her husband about the three months of hard work he had put in to renovate the salon. Instead of interrupting her business for an interview, we waited as she gave a grown customer a haircut, even though I was under pressure to get the funeral video online quickly. We learned that she and her husband came from New York City — he from the Bronx, she from Brooklyn — so their children, now ages 20 and 24, could have a backyard.

Finally, we sat with her, and she told us, on-camera, about how she had so looked forward to seeing James on Saturday, the day after such a terrible tragedy. How he never arrived, and she thought his mother had forgotten and would reschedule. How horrified she was when she saw his name on the victim list. How, when they saw each other at James’s wake, his mother apologized for not calling to cancel the appointment.

When she was done, she gave us hugs. I think we all needed it. I did.

The fourth day ended better than it had begun: I noticed, as we left her salon, that the sun was starting to break through the clouds that had enshrouded the area since Saturday morning.

…a time to weep

I think, for the most part, I’m fairly capable of compartmentalizing emotion. I say, “I think” because I’m by no means a veteran of the industry, and who’s to say I’ve seen the worse that I’ll ever see in my career? But I’ve covered homicides, fatal car accidents, stories of loss. I’ve always maintained my professionalism, while still seeking to be a human in my reporting.

Lauren and I powered through our four days of reporting without shedding a tear, though I came close a few times. It wasn’t adrenaline. I hate to think it was desensitization.

So on Monday afternoon, as we were wrapping up reporting, I suggested that we go to the memorial near the school. None of our work had, thus far, brought us into Sandy Hook or near the school, and I felt it was important that we go pay our respects. We parked on a back road, left our cameras and notepads in the car and walked to the huge makeshift memorial site, which consisted of numerous Christmas trees drooping with ornaments and surrounded by hundreds of stuffed animals, notes and lit candles.

We did not cry. Maybe, if we had not been on deadline and had not been essentially putting off work at the time, we would have.

The tears came on Wednesday night when I was finally home again. It was then that I felt like a human again.

…a time to heal

I’ve been back in York for a full day now, and normalcy is not a thing yet. I went into work today to do some paperwork and participate in the holiday potluck and secret Santa gift exchange, but it all felt strange and foreign. Jeff and I are planning a weekend trip to Philadelphia — which had been our original plan for last weekend — and I mean to bake Christmas cookies, but it’s hard for me to focus on anything.

And yet, I was there for only four full days. I neither knew nor met any of the victims’ families. I never set foot inside a funeral service or wake, and I met only one person who personally knew a victim.

How or whether the people of Newtown and Sandy Hook will fully heal, I’m not sure. But I can say this: It is a strong, close-knit community, and even in a time of immense sorrow, the people are among the kindest, most polite I have ever met.

Many people, including the media ourselves, have noted media fatigue and even animosity toward the media. But Lauren and I encountered only one instance of animosity, which we knew not to take personally. Everyone else — and there were many whom we talked to — was so nice and helpful and friendly. We were astonished, and grateful.

…a time of peace

There’s no telling when the media frenzy will depart Newtown, but the news vans will swarm the streets again next year on the anniversary, and again, and again. The hair stylist who knew James Mattioli said she thinks many of the families will move away. There has already been talk of Newtown being defined by the tragedy, as has happened to Columbine.

It saddens me. Newtown is a lovely place. People in both directions of traffic will stop to let you make a left turn out of a driveway. There are no Walmarts, very few fast food restaurants and a lot of mom-and-pop shops. Everybody knows each other, and if they didn’t know you at first, they’ll at least remember your face and smile next time they see you.

Lauren and I have talked about going back to Newtown again sometime — not as media, but as people, just to say hi to those who greeted us so warmly and talked to us so candidly and treated us so warmly. It’s just a terrible shame that we encountered this wonderful community only by way of a horrific, senseless act of violence.

Another reporter with whom Lauren and I worked said it best:

We all are affected very deeply by this, we care very much for those it touched, and we truly wish that this all never happened.

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Some thoughts

Ten years ago, my world suddenly became bigger.

I was in the eighth grade at a prep school that maxed out at middle school. Finding and getting into the right high school, and keeping up my grades so I wouldn’t get kicked out of the National Junior Honor Society, were my priorities as of Sept. 10, 2001.

The next day, Sept. 11, was yearbook picture day. As eighth grade students — the graduating class, the oldest students in the school — we could wear casual formalwear for our yearbook photos, in lieu of the everyday uniforms. So that morning, I chose a purple dress that I’d worn a few months ago for a friend’s Bar Mitzvah.

The lights were off in our first-period science class as we worked on some activity about genetics. Suddenly, my homeroom teacher walked into the room and, without a word to our science teacher, turned on the TV. The first tower was on fire. News commentators weren’t sure whether a plane really had flown right into the building. We didn’t know what was happening, but we knew it was important.

Then we had our photos taken. We returned to our second-period English class just in time to watch the second plane hit.

In the days and weeks to come, my world expanded. By Sept. 10, 2001, I’d already known for three years that I wanted to be a journalist, but I’d never known much more than that. After Sept. 11, I began watching more news broadcasts, reading more news magazines, poring over the sections of the newspaper that weren’t the comics, consuming online news. The world became a bigger place, much more complex than I’d previously imagined. I started questioning whether I really wanted to be a journalist, whether I had the fortitude to produce stories in any situation, whether I could even comprehend the world enough to be able to do the job.

Looking back, it seems silly that a 13-year-old girl would be so sheltered and scared and uncertain, especially since her life was never in immediate danger of harm or upheaval. But that’s what happened after Sept. 11.

I taped an American flag on my bedroom window.

Our yearbook photos had to be retaken. We never saw the proofs from that original session. I was mid-blink in my photo from the second session.

One Sunday that October, I was reading a book in bed when my mother came in to tell me we invaded Afghanistan.

I asked one of my best friends at school if she was of Iranian or Iraqi descent. (As if it mattered.)

My rabbi’s sermons gradually became more political. I started questioning what he was saying, then began tuning him out, then stopped going to that synagogue three years later.

Today, the world continues to grow, from my perspective, yet shrink. Everything became confusing, messy, incomprehensible, on Sept. 11, 2001. Now, 10 years after I suddenly doubted myself and everything that was happening around me, I’ve made it. I’m a journalist. I’ve gradually grown to understand and to put pieces together, but the world will never make complete sense to me.

But that’s okay. I think, in this post-9/11 age, that’s the norm. For decades, a common question was, “Where were you when JFK died?” Now, it’s “Where were you when 9/11 happened?”

I was wearing a purple dress, in my eighth grade science class, and completely oblivious to the world outside.

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Dad Day

Today is Father’s Day. Like the past four or five Father’s Days (and Mother’s Days), I’m at least a thousand miles away from my dad. Thank goodness for phones, right?

Three years ago, in 2008, I was the editor of Philmont Scout Ranch‘s internal staff newsletter. It was a weekly production with a skeleton staff, but I was and am proud of how we recruited other staff throughout the camp to write weekly columns, encouraged and published submissions and injected our own voices into the newsletter.

In the final full issue, I summed up three of my favorite memories from what proved to be my last summer at the ranch. One of those memories is of my dad’s and my hike up Wheeler Peak — New Mexico’s tallest peak, at 13,161 feet above sea level.

Click on the image above to download/view the full issue of The PhilNews. This reflection was published on pg. 15.

There’s a lot I could write about my dad. After all, we’ve known each other for 23 and a half years. But I’ll let the text of this reflection — copied out below — say it all.

Clouds are brewing overhead, but it’s a cool, windswept day near the treeline of Wheeler Peak. My dad has been having trouble since before we reached Williams Lake, and has had to stop after every 10 feet of gained altitude. Even though my friends have gone on ahead and I’d love to reach the top in record time, I remain with my father, making him drink water and eat energy-loaded dried fruit and encouraging him.

My dad and I have never been very close. We didn’t really start getting along until after I graduated from high school. And I’ve never been one prone to give words of comfort. I’d like to think I’m a motherly figure of sorts — I love cooking for and helping out friends and family — but encouragement is not my strongest suit. I’m really struggling with trying to keep my father from collapsing altogether, in body and in spirit.

We’re out of the treeline and almost to the snowbank that separates the skreefield from the rest of the slope, when my dad has to stop again.

“You’re doing great, Dad,” I say, and we pound fists.

“You’re a good girl, Christine,” he says. I’m a little startled at his use of my full name — it’s something he does only when in earnest.

“I try,” I say, trying to keep it lighthearted.

“No — you are,” he says, and I suddenly remember all the times he’s told my brothers and me, “Do not try; do.”

“You’re a good daughter,” he then says.

My dad never made it to the top. He finally stopped after we crossed the snowbank, and told me to go on ahead. But it means so much to me that he tried so hard.

Happy Dad Day, Dad. I’ll see you in a few weeks.

(On an egalitarian note, I wish I’d written up something about/for my mom. Next year, Mom. Next year.)

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The recent heat that’s swept across the Mid-Atlantic isn’t just making everybody wonder why summer is in such a hurry — it’s also shortened the strawberry season.

Last week, I went to Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market to photograph people picking in their strawberry fields. This is what was published on the front page:

© 2011 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Carol Brown of New Freedom picks strawberries at Brown's Orchards & Farm Market as her youngest son Mitchell, 8, searches for more berries on Thursday, June 2, 2011. The Browns -- no relation to the orchard -- moved from Arizona last week and had not been able to take their children berry-picking until now. The recent hot weather has shortened strawberry season, according to workers at Brown's Orchards & Farm Market in Loganville. Fresh strawberries are available for sale in the market, and the farm's strawberry fields have been open to pickers all week.

And this is the photo that was my personal favorite/runner-up but that I knew was too weird/messy/weird to run:

© 2011 by The York Daily Record/Sunday News. Mitchell Brown, 8, far right, gets to his feet after sampling a strawberry as his older siblings and parents pick berries on Thursday, June 2, 2011, at Brown's Orchards & Farm Market in Loganville.

I’ve lately been asking friends and fellow photographers how they would characterize my style or vision or whatever as a photographer. Some have noted a difference in how I shoot/edit for work versus how I shoot/edit for myself. Others have said that I’m not afraid to get close to people — that is, physically close to people, with a wide lens on my camera.

I honestly don’t know what my style or vision is. I’m either too young or too inexperienced to know, or maybe I just haven’t cared enough to recognize and cultivate it. Or, maybe my photographic style is that I have no style. Who knows? I don’t. I just like making pictures. I do think, though, that my personal attachment to the second photo does say something about me as a photographer. I’m just not sure what.

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Shelby

Oct. 15, 2009: I came home to find my roommates Shelby, left, and Chelsea dancing the Thriller. Typical.

Shelby, my college dormmate of one year and roommate of two years, passed away on Saturday.

Shelby was the quiet type who, when you walked to class with her and another friend, was the one who listened. You wouldn’t get to know her very well unless you happened to spend a lot of time with her. If you did know her fairly well, you’d know that she was a natural writer and editor, had a huge soft spot for babies and weirdly cute animals and had lofty expectations of the man she’d one day marry. But even if you barely knew her, you’d know that she cheered for the Ravens, was a Pepsi-loving vegetarian and was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet.

Together, we walked to and suffered through journalism classes, celebrated our 21st (and 22nd) birthdays in style and watched the Kentucky Derby three years in a row. We experienced not-unusual roommate tension, but we nevertheless bonded as we despaired over frustrating assignments, screamed at our football team when it lost and stayed up late watching bad television.

Our paths drifted after I graduated in May 2010 and as Shelby completed her degree in the following fall semester. But we met again in Columbia over lunch, and then at karaoke night at a favorite watering hole, when I visited town during that fall semester. On her birthday last month, I promised her and myself that once I was more settled in my new full-time job in York, we’d meet again over lunch. This lunch meeting would have happened this week or next.

Instead, earlier today, I attended Shelby’s service outside of Baltimore. For the first time in almost a week, I now have a sense of closure, and I can only hope the same of Shelby’s family and other friends.

From the program.

Rest in peace, Shelby. We miss you so much.

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Today’s my last day as a photo intern at The York Dispatch.

Not gonna lie - I'm going to miss the Dispatch newsroom's downtown location.

Tomorrow, on Friday the 13th, I start as a photojournalist at the newsroom across town — The York Daily Record/Sunday News.

As I wrote in my cover letter, I really think I’ve grown as a photographer since I’ve come to York, and I hope that growth continues. I’m excited to start growing some roots here in Pennsylvania and to learn and contribute at the Record. And I’m grateful to the editors and staff at the Dispatch for offering me the opportunity to come here in the first place and for enabling my growth.

I’m fairly behind in blogging some Dispatch assignments — the past week has been a flurry of assignments and projects — but even as I begin working at the Record, I’ll be sure to get caught up and take care of the backlog.

Funnily enough, it’s been a year almost to the day since I graduated from college and began a new chapter in my life. Today, that chapter closes; tomorrow, a new one opens. I’m feeling some trepidation, but more than anything, I’m excited and ready to take on this challenge and opportunity.

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There are different types of news photographers. Magazines, agencies, wires, newspapers, NGOs and other outlets have specific needs, and many news photographers dabble in more than one of these fields. Many others remain within only one.

So when people find out that I like newspaper photography and want/hope to be a newspaper staff photographer, they either laugh because newspapers are dying, give me sympathetic looks because newspapers are dying or advise me to pursue other interests because newspapers are dying.

Well, I happen to love newspaper photography. Even when I’m told to go out into the city, wander around and find people who are parking in curbside spots marked with chairs.

Like this:

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. chair marks the spot for a York City resident on the 900th block of East Philadelphia Street on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. Some York City residents, after shoveling snow out of their street parking spots, will "reserve" their spots with chairs, trash cans and even cans of paint to ensure no one else parks there, even though this is illegal by city ordinance. No monetary fines or citations have ever been issued, but if residents don't remove their items from street parking spots, the city will confiscate those items.

And this:

© 2011 by The York Dispatch. Marina Vazquez, of York City, tends to her child in the front passenger seat while temporarily parking and waiting for her husband to get some paperwork from a resident on the 700th block of West Princess Street on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011. The red chair on the sidewalk formerly "reserved" the space occupied by the Vazquez' car. At least a dozen street parking spots on West Princess Street were "reserved" by chairs, trash cans or cans of paint.

I love being a newspaper photographer because I can get to know the community. I can tell people I’m from the local paper and they’ll (usually) accept me. I love being a newspaper photographer because every day is different — except when it snows every day.

Being a newspaper photographer can be frustrating on slow news days or, alternately, when you’re still in the newsroom five hours past your shift. It’s not as glamorous as other news photography jobs. The paper may not be flying me (or anyone) out to Egypt or sending me to the Super Bowl — but dammit, I want to stick with newspapers for as long as I can.

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This week

It’s been kind of a rough week. Inexplicably, “I’ll Fly Away” (as sung by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch) is playing over and over in my head.

Hence, these pigeons at sunset, on the top level of the Virginia Avenue Parking Garage in Columbia, Mo., on Nov. 19.

Life this week, in brief:

  • I ordered a dry-aged prime rib roast for our Christmas Eve dinner. I’ve never prepared a big chunk of meat before, much less ordered one, so I’m reading up on the subject and accepting any/all advice.
  • All my Christmas shopping is done — and the wrapping, too!
  • Except, we are to shop for gifts for ourselves (to be “from” my parents and grandparents) because…
  • …My dad is now undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, which has him and my mom pretty preoccupied.
  • This also means I’ve been assuming more responsibilities in the house, to help out my parents.
  • Finally, I’m also trying to nail down my housing situation in York, Pa. I’m supposed to start my six-month internship in almost three weeks, so this is pretty crucial. I hope to get that wrapped up by early next week.

Next week, the holiday baking starts in earnest, my brother and sister-in-law arrive from Hawaii and I should really start packing for my upcoming move.

And breathe. Breathing is important.

(I also created my about.me profile/splash page. Check it out!)

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The 2010 Poynter College Fellows disbanded more than 48 hours ago, and already I miss everybody.

That said, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, when I arrived in St. Petersburg a little more than two weeks ago.

Our official group photo.

  • I had driven almost 20 hours from Missouri to St. Petersburg, Fla. (with help from my parents, who drove down with me).
  • I also missed my own graduation ceremony to arrive at the Fellowship on time.
  • I had just completed a very rigorous final semester of college, during which I also had a part-time job and worked editing shifts at the paper.
  • I had just packed, moved and cleaned my apartment in almost exactly 24 hours, with help from Jeff and my roommate Shelby.
  • I was/am on the brink of beginning a summer photo internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in early June.
  • And — I will admit — I felt a little burned out on journalism.

In the trip from Missouri to Florida, I spent the majority of my waking hours wondering what the hell I was doing. Why couldn’t I have just taken a break during the three weeks between graduation and my internship? Why couldn’t I have actually walked in my graduation ceremony and mugged for the camera with my fellow graduates? Why did I want to apply for a fellowship that would mean an intensive two weeks of even more journalism after my intensive four-year collegiate experience?

But 24 hours into the fellowship, I knew why.

From bottom, clockwise: Megan, Charlotte, Isaac, me, Jaclyn and Nezile. Photo by Eli Francovich.

The fellowship brought together 32 young journalists from vastly different backgrounds, with vastly different experiences and with vastly different perspectives — and I couldn’t have asked for a better group. I would be lying if I said I didn’t learn something from every single person there. There was no cutthroat competitiveness or need to do better than everybody else.

(more…)

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Okay — nobody’s perfect. Including me.

Portra 400VC, 120mm.

These two frames were supposed to show the flat Oklahoman landscape from the view of the road, but I severely underexposed the first frame and then bracketed in the wrong direction for the second. Oops. But these are the only frames I exposed incorrectly during the entire trip, so I’m fine with that.

It was not uncommon to see how distinct the irrigation lines are. Portra 400VC, 120mm.

On the second day of our roadtrip to Santa Fe, Jeff and I were out of Oklahoma by probably 11:30ish a.m. CST. Crossing the border meant we gained an hour and lost about 10 miles per hour in the speed limit. Ya lose one, ya gain one.

On US-412, leaving Oklahoma. Portra 400VC, 120mm.

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90ish days of summer

After our encounter with Edwardo Alvarado in the Times Square station, Jeff and I had a pretty chill time on our way to and at Columbia University.

The typical college kid thing -- you know, playing Frisbee in front of Butler Library.

Why leave lower Manhattan and make such a big detour to Columbia if our next stop was the Brooklyn Bridge? Well, we still had time to kill, and I remembered enjoying my time on campus when I was there for the Columbia for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association‘s Gold Circle Awards with five other staffers of my high school newspaper.

Low Library, back in March 2004 when my high school newspaper adviser took six of us staffers to New York City. This photo was taken with a really crappy disposable film camera.

That was a really great trip. I had joined the newspaper staff at the beginning of the schoolyear and loved it more than anything. It was also my first out-of-town trip without my parents, which was liberating and wonderful. It’s no exaggeration to say that I felt a lot better and more confident about myself after spending a week in New York City with some of my favorite people.

Now, of course, I’m a bit out of touch with them. A few months ago, I e-mailed everyone on the trip to see how they were doing, but no one has replied. I’m wondering, especially because each of us were particularly passionate and eventually became editors on the paper, if anyone else in the group is still pursuing journalism as I am.

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Introduction

As perhaps thousands of people now know, my conflict (for lack of a better word) with the Boone County Courthouse didn’t end a month ago.

If anything, these people know that:

  • the judge rejected my written apology and offered a second opportunity to send another apology,
  • I declined that second opportunity and did not send another apology; and
  • the judge declared a 30-day ban for me to enter the Boone County Courthouse effective Dec. 15 unless I filed a request for a hearing.

What the vast majority of those people do not know is this: I never declined that second opportunity. Additionally, the 30-day ban has — as of yesterday around 10:45 a.m. — been lifted.

In this entry, I will attempt the following:

  • explain how it was that I’d never declined that second opportunity,
  • divulge all relevant details, including associated court documents and e-mails,
  • discuss the importance of reporters’ getting ALL sides of a story and
  • express my gratitude to the many who helped me and supported me through this tough time.

This account will be told chronologically. As was the case with my first account pertaining to this incident, it will be long. But so many people have read my account about how I made my mistake and tried to atone for it, and I can only hope that at least half that many will read this follow-up.

How it happened

As was published first in a Columbia Daily Tribune article and then picked up by the Associated Press, I received a statement from the court on Friday, Nov. 20. This statement came almost a full month after the Missourian director of photography, the photo editor who edited with me on that assignment and I sent letters of apology to the judge.

Click on the image to view/download the full-resolution PDF file.

(more…)

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Somehow, Missouri got it together and knocked the socks off of Kansas State yesterday, when the Tigers pulled off a 38-12 victory in Manhattan, Kan. This was a victory completely unexpected by almost everyone I talked to before leaving for the “Little Apple” to photograph the game.

A player (yet to be identified) embraces Missouri junior tailback Derrick Washington (No. 24) after Washington ran a 13-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

But I’m not here to ponder, consider or explain how or why the Tigers secured their victory.

Senior Leslie Horn reaches out to senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoon after Missouri defeated Kansas State 38-12 at the Billy Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

Rather, this entry’s title refers to the facts that:

All this means that, now that I know the game and know I can get the action, I can and should focus on working different angles and getting shots unlike what editors, fans and readers expect to see from a football game.

But as it is for now, I’ve got a few action shots from the game I’d like to share with you.

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  • UPDATE (10:38 a.m., Nov. 25, 2009) — By my general reckoning, at least thousands of people know there’s more to this story, as of this past Friday. Various editors, journalism school faculty and I have since worked to remedy the situation. Now that we’ve tied up our loose ends, I believe now is the time to clarify exactly what happened — at least on my part. Please read my blog entry for the second (and final) component to this incident.

“Hello, this is Chris.”

“Hi Chris, this is Josh. You need to tell me the truth about what happened in court yesterday. And don’t lie to me, because lying isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

That’s how, via a phone call today at 9:13 a.m., I found out I was in trouble.

Here’s why:

Yesterday, I spent almost six hours in the Boone County Courthouse as the pool photographer for the fourth day of William Clinch’s first-degree murder trial. Armed with a 300mm lens, a 70-200mm and a 17-35mm, I knew the following before I entered the courtroom at 12:45 p.m.:

  • Do not photograph the jury.
  • Do what the judge tells me to do. Do not anger or even mildly irritate the judge.
  • Be respectful and quiet. This means not firing off more than three frames at a time.
  • Do not photograph the jury.

I photographed the jury.

That is why:

  • the Missourian reporter was kicked out of the courtroom this morning,
  • the photo director (Josh, above) called me,
  • I had to explain exactly what happened to several editors,
  • I could have been put in jail for contempt of court,
  • I spent the next hour tearfully worrying and wondering what would happen next,
  • I wrote a letter of apology to the judge,
  • I ended up on A1 of The Columbia Daily Tribune and
  • I am writing this blog post.

More specifically, I am writing this blog post to clarify exactly what happened. I believe in transparency, and I believe that other journalism students and journalists can learn from my mistakes.

Therefore, I am laying out everything that happened. This is the truth and is consistent with my letter of apology and my explanation to various Missourian editors and colleagues. And the truth is long, so this blog post is long. But I hope you’ll keep reading.

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Missouri lost to Nebraska, 27-12.

Where to start?

It was cold, rainy and windy.

Missouri sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert runs the ball against Nebraska junior safety Eric Hagg during the first play of the game.

Missouri sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert runs the ball against Nebraska junior safety Eric Hagg during the first play of the game.

Tons of sloppy play.

Nebraska freshman running back Rex Burkhead fumbles a punt from Missouri senior punter Jake Harry IV during the second quarter.

Nebraska freshman running back Rex Burkhead fumbles a punt from Missouri senior punter Jake Harry IV during the second quarter.

We lost.

Missouri freshman Morgan Stephens covers her eyes during the last play of the game against Nebraska.

Missouri freshman Morgan Stephens covers her eyes during the last play of the game against Nebraska.

And I shot a lot, learned a lot and tried not to worry a lot.

(more…)

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