We’re in the midst of sweaty, humid, buggy summer, so it’s high time I shared my favorite photos from a Spring Forward fashion show I photographed back in April.
You can view more photos here.
For my last eight working days in June, I put down my camera and became a reporter.
It was the first part of a “cross-training” experiment of sorts, wherein another reporter and I traded jobs for eight days. I’m told there’ll be more cross-training in the future, between other departments, but as far as I know, my part in the experiment is done.
I first started this blog in January 2009 for two classes I was taking at the Missouri School of Journalism: Advanced Techniques in Photojournalism, and Advanced Reporting. One class had me working on weekly assignments to improve my ability to use different lighting for photos. The other had me reporting on state politics out of the Jefferson City statehouse three days a week.
So I’m no stranger to reporting, but it’s also been a few years since I’ve done it on a near-daily basis. If anything, my eight days as a reporter were varied. There were days I was handed a press release and told to make an actual story out of it. There were other days I was given a vague story idea and instructed to turn it around into something meaningful. Sometimes, these leads didn’t work out, but more often than not, I was able to find a story and write about it.
Here, I share the stories I worked on, roughly in the order in which I wrote them:
My first assignment was a hot weather story, but I found out that we weren’t even going through a heat wave, technically. Still, it was hot. Determined not to go to a water park, pool or lake, I went to a baseball game where I found a bronze-skinned umpire just dealing with the heat.
Thanks to modern satellite technology, Jimmy Buffett was to give a concert at about 90 drive-in theaters across the nation. After talking to the local drive-in’s owner on the phone and doing some research, I pre-wrote about half the article before I arrived at the drive-in around 5 p.m., at which point I did some more interviews for color. As activities wound down, I wrote up the rest of the story in the projection room before the concert began, and planned to end the story with some more color from the first song. Then, the satellite signal was disrupted, fans complained and I had to rewrite the whole story.
We received a press release about how the grown children of a train-loving man planned to take his ashes for a ride on a local Civil War-era replica train. For this story, I ended up talking to three of the man’s sons and learned a lot about their father, who had grown up alongside steam engines during the Great Depression and, years later, built a U.S. Navy-commissioned satellite to track the newly launched Sputnik’s path.
A quick-turnaround brief I jimmied up toward the end of my shift… after checking my own bank statement, that is.
Another quick-turnaround brief that happened near the end of my shift.
Yet another quick-turnaround story also resulting from a press release. I tried to liven it up with some detail about one video in my lede.
Interviewing kids is hard. I’ve long known you’ll get better, more genuine quotes from kids if you just follow them as they tour a fire station, and keep the recorder app on your phone rolling. But then you have to make a note at which point a kid said something awesome, or else listen to the whole recording later at the office.
I’ve covered the Senior Games in some capacity every year since I’ve been here. This year was the first I did so as a reporter. But it’s always fun to watch people having a good, competitive time, and this was definitely another instance where I just stayed with folks I’d already interviewed and kept the recorder app rolling.
I was a little nervous about covering the USA-GER World Cup match, even though I was just putting a local spin on it and not actually reporting from Brazil. Thing is, I know pitifully little about soccer. I played it in P.E. in grade school, but the day I blocked a hard pass with my sternum was the day I quit caring about the sport.
Fortunately, at Buffalo Wild Wings, I found a group of visiting Germans who happened to be passing through York on a three-week vacation to the U.S., brought their Deutschland jerseys with them and set up a little American flag on their table. Also fortunately for me, Germans tend to speak very good English. They basically saved my story.
A local blogger tipped us off that her neighbor has been upset and preoccupied by the gift of a $50 from two young girls. So, before I headed to Buffalo Wild Wings for the World Cup, I interviewed Joe Sheetz in his home. Later, I was able to get in touch with the president of the Pay It Forward Foundation, a California-based nonprofit, who gave me some background on the concept of paying it forward.
I wrote that article almost as if it were a column, largely because it was practically a single-source story. Joe was a very sweet man, and I hope he finds the answers he’s looking for, and the end of the story that he’s seeking.
This past week has been my first week back at my own desk, with a camera in my hands. I enjoyed working alongside other editors and journalists in the newsroom, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to tune up my reporting skills. But I’m also glad to be back in the photo department and telling stories the way I love most.
I didn’t attend my college graduation because I had better things to do. But, having photographed four high school graduations and one college graduation in the past two weeks (including three ceremonies in as many nights, in a row), I’ve probably heard “Pomp and Circumstance” enough times now to atone for not walking in my own commencement.
Without further ado, my favorite pictures from the 2014 graduation season:
I didn’t intend for all of my favorite pictures from the next graduation — William Penn Senior High School’s — to feature one particular senior, but it just turned out that way.
Congratulations to the Class of 2014, and best of luck to everyone!
We’re currently enjoying spectacular weather here in Pennsylvania, which certainly wasn’t the case even last month when April dared to hurl hot days, cold days and snowy days at our faces, as if the snow-laden winter hadn’t been brutal and long enough.
In January, my editors sent me to a local pet daycare where dogs can indulge in the luxury of two heated swimming pools. It was a fun assignment made better by the caring and energetic dog handlers. My only advice to anyone photographing swimming dogs: Wear rain pants. I’m glad I did.
I wouldn’t call myself a sports photographer by any means, but when you photograph as many sports as we at the Daily Record do, you can’t help but consider the immense variety of humanly physical achievements these athletes are attempting via any amount of training or number of techniques.
Take, for instance, javelin. Javelin is but one sport in the all-encompassing term “track and field,” but it’s similar to shot put in that both involve an athlete manipulating his/her physique in order to manipulate physics in order to propel an object as far away from him/her as possible. Yet, if you observe different javelin athletes, you can’t help but notice each one is using completely different techniques to attempt the same basic objective.
And that’s just javelin. Shot put has the same basic objective, but it’s achieved completely differently. And again, each athlete has his/her own techniques to that end.
Maybe I think too much about these things. But these are the types of things I think about when I’m sent to cover two very different track assignments in one day.
Track and field…
…and sprint car racing:
Yesterday was the first of two days of PIAA District 3 track and field championships at Shippensburg University. Track and field is a good sport to cover if you want to stay on your toes, because it comprises so many different types of sports (and, in the case of track, different events) that are all photographed differently.
Yesterday was also the World of Outlaws’ season debut at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg. Sprint car racing is a good sport to cover if you don’t mind partial hearing loss.
Anyway, when you cover these different sports in one day, it’s hard not to marvel at what the human body (plus the occasional gears, wheels and oil) is capable of doing.
I’ll stop babbling. Photos:
Cue the obligatory kick-in-the-pants. Like many other photo-bloggers, I’m guilty of falling way, way behind in posting current — or even old — photos.
It’s my personal rule to share pictures I made for the paper only after they’ve been run in the paper. I actually have a number of photo stories — some dating back to 2012 — that I haven’t yet blogged. I’d like to think I’m a mercilessly efficient and adept photo editor, but the reality is that I still struggle to edit many of those photo stories in a way that I’d be comfortable sharing. That said, I hope sometime this year to finally post a few of those stories.
But for now, a fun photo from an off-the-beaten-path story that reporter Rebecca LeFever (soon-to-be Rebecca Hanlon) and I covered last summer:
I think we may have just had our final snowfall of the winter — well, I sure hope so, anyway.
Whenever people here in Pennsylvania find out I’m originally from Texas, their next thought is usually the assumption that I’m not used to snow and real winter weather. What they often find out next is that I went to college in Missouri, where the first Midwestern snowfall I experienced was a 16-inch dump that canceled classes. So I’m not entirely a snow baby.
That said, I am absolutely done with snow and winter for now. Everyone in this stretch of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic is. We’ve had nearly 20 winter storms involving ice and/or snow since December, which means area students have had something like a week’s worth of snow days, municipalities have run out of rock salt and everyone is ready for spring.
In the hopes that the 1-inch pittance we just had is this winter’s last hurrah, here are just a few of the wintry-weather photos I made since December:
We watched the Academy Awards show last night, and I’ve just now been thinking about costumes and pretty dresses, and then I remembered that I never shared this photo. So, here we are and there you go.
It’s 20-something degrees outside, and we’re about to get this season’s 17th winter storm, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever see warm weather again, so it is time that I posted photos of people having fun in the sun, even if only to remind myself of what summer is. (That said, come summer, I’ll almost wish for winter weather again. Almost.)
Last summer, I went to every miniature golf course in York County — eight! there are eight! — and made pictures at each for a project at The Daily Record/Sunday News. You can view all the photos and read my snippet of an article, but here’re some of my favorites:
Last week, while washing out my Tupperware in the office’s break room, I mentioned to reporter Rebecca how I’ve known Christmas is coming up, yet I could hardly believe it was next week. She then said something that completely explained that phenomena: We at the paper have been covering Christmas-y things for so long that Christmas just feels like a marathon now, not a sprint.
I’m not sure if that makes sense written out, but it makes sense in my head.
Here are pictures from pretty much all the Christmas-y assignments I’ve had, starting in… November! I also covered at least three — maybe four? — retail/business stories focusing on Christmas shopping, so I’ll spare you most of those, too. (Whew. End-of-year holiday coverage truly is a marathon.)
Next up… my “Best of 2013″ post.
After all, I didn’t get around to my “Best of 2011″ until February 2012.
I’ll scrabble together a “Best of 2013″ — and maybe “Best of 2012,” since I didn’t get around to it last year — at some point, but for now, let’s talk about cats.
I love cats. I do. Unfortunately, I’m pretty allergic to cats. This means that every time I’m on assignment and a cat is in the vicinity, that cat finds a way to rub up against my legs. In return, I find a way to get that cat in a picture.
And then I manage to get that picture published.
According to some people in the photo department (my editor, and Kate), six published cat photos (out of nearly 1,500 published photos in 2013) is a lot.
I guess it is.
Here they are.
In my defense, two of the six photos involve barn cats, which are basically the most bad-ass domestic cats around. I mean, check out Rascal:
And I’ve also been working on a three-part series about a married couple who operate a white-glove travel agency, and they work out of home, and they have a naked Sphinx cat. A NAKED SPHINX CAT. How could I not make sure to get photos of a naked Sphinx cat?
And, finally, spot-news cat:
But even my cat-loving editor says she’s getting tired of my cat photos, so I guess I’ll have to seek out a new favorite animal for 2014.
Penn State ended its 2013 football season on a high note tonight, but here’re a few action-feature photos from the two regular-season games I shot this year. (I did shoot the spring Blue-White game, and did video for a third regular-season game.)
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:
Rest in peace, Bill, and thank you again.
Incredibly, summer is past, and we all made it through unscathed. The kids have been back in school for a month or more now, but here are a few wonderful children I was fortunate enough to photograph this summer:
The first high school football game of the season is tomorrow, and we’re sending folks to cover Penn State’s first game on Saturday. With that in mind, here’re a few pictures I made last year while working on a story about pee wee football.
For one and a half years, practically every fall evening as I drove back to the office via Parkway Boulevard, I’d see miniscule football players running through drills and practices. Finally, my interest had been sufficiently piqued and, one evening, I pulled over, observed the final minutes of practice and chatted up one of the fathers who was making sure his son wasn’t slacking. Then he introduced me to the coach, and after that, I was at practice at least once a week.
After following the “rinkies” for about a month, I pulled the story together with this basic summary:
After an undefeated regular season — and not allowing first downs or touchdowns in all but the last game — the Boys Club of York Red Raiders’ rink varsity football team lost the York County Youth Football Association championship game 12-0 to West York’s rink varsity football team on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Northeastern High School. The “rinkies” are 7-8-year olds who had practiced every weekday from August through the beginning of November on a field just off Parkway Boulevard in York. This team of rinkies has played together for three years so far and, despite three consecutive undefeated seasons, has yet to claim a league championship title.
Happy football season, everybody!
Last week, Jeff, his brother Mike and I found a T-rex skull at the National Zoo. Much to the joy of a nearby 17-year-old girl whose mother insisted she was too old to pose with the skull, I insisted that Jeff take this photo of Mike and me:
Today, while on assignment at a 30-attraction fun park in southern York County, I discovered that owner Hugh is a kindred spirit when I asked him to hop on top of an incomplete tire-saurus for a picture and he immediately struck a dinosaur pose without my prompting him:
KINDRED SPIRITS, I’M TELLING YOU.
(Read more about the Maize Quest Fun Park here.)
Softball picture from forever ago:
Pictures from forever ago, it feels like. I have even older photos that I have yet to blog, believe it or not.
This is the annual Sheep to Shawl contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this winter. The name says it all: A team shears a sheep, and then uses the wool to make yarn and weave a shawl, all within two hours.
First, the shears:
Then the sheep’s sheer terror:
And finally the kids’ sheer terror:
I’m not gonna lie: For the majority of my life, Memorial Day meant little more to me than a long weekend.
Until I met a 90-year-old World War II veteran who has devoted the past two years of his life to finding, documenting and mapping more than 70 York County veterans memorials.
Al Rose is blind in his left eye, but he spent countless hours poring through newspaper microfilm at the York County Heritage Trust, in search of any news of veterans memorial dedications. Then, before giving up his drivers license last Christmas Eve, Al put several hundred miles on his car in search of these memorials — many of which are pretty difficult to find even if you know generally where they are.
Believe me, I know: I followed in Al’s footsteps in order to confirm his work and readers’ information and to help create a map of these memorials for the newspaper.
This was a time-consuming process that took me several shifts — in one case, all the daylight hours of a shift — to complete. And I loved it. I thrilled in driving to and finding corners of York County I had never seen before. It was exciting to find an obscured memorial, and it was sobering to read the names on so many communities’ honor rolls.
One honor roll had a name listed under the Spanish-American War. Others were overwhelmed by those who served in World War II. At least three honored those who have served in the current war on terror.
After finding and photographing 68 of the 70+ veterans memorials over roughly the past few weeks (editor Scott and reporter Brandie helped out with a few of the last ones we found out about), I find it repugnant that I formerly had so little respect for Memorial Day, and that many Americans continue to do so.
York County certainly has its share of veterans memorials — over 70! — and yet I doubt that many who live here are aware of or care about their existence. It’s saddening, especially when I think about all the tiny communities who gave up so many sons that their honor rolls are too long for a readable photograph.
Yes, I’ll probably participate in some sort of grill-out this Memorial Day weekend. But I’ll draw the line at Memorial Day sales. And, thanks to a long and sometimes difficult search for almost 70 veterans memorials, I’ll remember just how much of itself York County has given to this nation.
For more information: