Howdy guys. Well, it was a pretty slow April around the newspaper. But I wanted to share some of my favorite shots from this past month. Thanks for looking. Cheers to warm weather. -M
March was been a busy month for me. In addition to working at my staff position at the Daily Republic newspaper in Fairfield, I have also been developing my wedding photography business on the side. Between meeting other wedding vendors in the area, getting a new wedding photography logo and building up a new wedding website, I have had little time for anything else. It is a strange notion to me that I have to now plan out my weekends with friends often three weeks in advance. I guess this is what it’s like being an adult.
Well despite the workload, I’ve been enjoying myself at my staffer position. March lent itself to a lot of great photo opportunities. The weather here in California has been gorgeous and with it, people are coming out of their winter shells and are being active again. I’m looking forward to what April will bring. Here are some of my favorite images I made this past month. Thanks for looking. -M
Madness not in the basketball sense but in how busy I was for the entirety of this past March. It seemed that this past month was a big one for the community arts around Solano County. I had a great time photographing the Vacaville Singer/Songwriter competition finals in downtown Vacaville. I’ve been working in the area for three years now and Solano County constantly is surprising me with it’s growing culture of the arts. The lighting was awesome and it was really cool to see such talented performers for a packed audience. I hope it becomes a regular event. After it was finished, I was assigned to photograph Rio Vista musician Jason Cale who won the 18 and older category at the competition. Cale is a member of the Travis Air Force Base rock band Mobility and has traveled extensively performing his music. This guy has some talent. Check out his music here. Congrats to all of the winners and finalists.
It is a very humbling experience for me when my photography is recognized by my photographic peers. On Sunday evening at Scott’s restaurant in Oakland, California, a couple of images I made last year at my position as a staff photojournalist at the Daily Republic newspaper in Fairfield, California were honored at this year’s San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographer’s Association awards banquet. I won first place in the Spot News category for an image I made from a school shooting, third place for Best Mini-Doc Multimedia Package from a multimedia story I did on a local skateboard maker (I am particularly excited about this one) and I won an award of excellence in General News category from a candlelight vigil earlier last year. This was a pretty cool honor. There is so much photojournalistic talent in the Bay Area from Pulitzer Prize winners to National Photographers of the Year. It was great to have my photography honored in a room filled with such exceptional storytellers. Congrats to all of the winners, congrats and thank you to my colleague Robinson Kuntz and a big thank you to my photo editor Brad Zweerink for all of the support and constructive criticism you’ve given to help further my photographic career. In all, the Daily Republic photo staff took home five awards. It was a great night.
I feel like I am starting to get back into my photo groove at my staff job here at the Daily Republic newspaper. My back has been feeling a lot better and with it I have been going out a lot more on my own to feature hunt and explore the area. I’ve been pretty busy both at work and at home. Wedding season is on the horizon and I have been working with wedding planners and talking to brides no stop. Overall, February has been a lot of fun. If any of you haven’t had a chance to check out my wedding work, I encourage you to do so. Especially if you know of anybody needing a wedding photographer. I travel. Thanks for looking. All the best, -M
Patricia Armet, right, kisses her 9-month-old Blue Nose American Pit Bull Terrier named Precious as she hangs out under a North Texas Street bus stop Monday afternoon. Pictured in the background is Michael Greene, left, and Tom Love.
Vacaville resident and country singer Buck Ford, 21, practices with his band at his Vacaville home Tuesday evening.
Sam and Lydia Katchmar have been married for 21 years and they said the success of their marriage is based off of their shared love of polka dancing.
Rowland and Wanda Spaythe ran away to get married at the age of 16 together and have spent their lives seeking adventure together. For ten years they lived and traveled on a boat sailing around the world.
Employee volunteers from the North Bay Medical Center socialize between video takes of their promotional rap video Friday afternoon in Fairfield. The event was part of the U.S. Department of Health Social Services promotional video aimed at informing women about heart attacks.
Umbrellas were out in full force outside the Solano County Government Center in downtown Fairfield Thursday afternoon as rain continued to pour down most of the day.
Rick Watson practices navigating with his white cane through the upper level of the Westfield Mall Friday morning in Fairfield. Watson has a degenerative eye disease that is quickly causing him to go blind.
The student section at Armijo High School’s Girls Basketball game cheer on their team during their Tuesday night during their Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game against Merced High School in Fairfield.
Armijo High School players Erica Bossett, left, and Chloe Dawkins, right, battle for ball pocession against Merced High School’s Brittany Scott during their Sac-Joaquin Section playoff game in Fairfield Tuesday evening.
Little leaguers Dylan Martin, 6, Joseph Hernandez, 7, Ernest Turner, 6, and Armando Hernandez, 5, left to right, learn how to field a ground ball during their Fairfield Pacific Little League Single A Giants team practice at Woodcreek Park in Fairfield Wednesday afternoon.
Yesterday my assignment was to photograph a wild turkey that was being rehabilitated by our local Suisun Wildlife Center. He had had his wings clipped by someone hoping to have him for a Thanksgiving day dinner. Tom the Turkey, as he is called around the center, somehow escaped and is now healing at the center until he can be released. My job was to make a cool photo of him. Sounds easy enough, right? Not the case. He was constantly running away from me before I could get close. I was set on getting a close up photo of him. The question was how could I achieve this? My answer was to make a camera trap, a remote camera setup that I could fire the camera shutter from a far off distance much like what the guys at National Geographic do to get their photos of evasive snow leopards. Center manager Margie Furco said that Tom hated the color blue and would attack it. She had made a makeshift toy for him to attack/play with from knotting up a blue piece of plastic and shaking it to make noise. That would be how I could bait him into my trap. So all I had to do was get him to do it in front of my camera.
I spent the next hour and a half encouraging a wild turkey to chase me while shaking a blue plastic bag to get his attention. Getting him to chase me took some time but soon I was running all over the yard being quickly pursued by this large squawking bird. I’m sure the ladies at the wildlife center were watching me through the windows laughing their heads off watching being chased. When I would run past my camera trap I threw the plastic in front of my camera. Tom would stop short. I must have tried this at least a dozen times. The third picture in was the closest I could get him to my camera trap. Fail. In the end, Tom won and walked off with his plastic. I have a new found respect for the Nat Geo photographers. Sometimes our best efforts don’t work out like we planned. Oh well. Taming the wild is not as easy as it looks. -M
This is Tom attacking the plastic covered box with Center manager Margie Furco watching.
Never have I been more relieved to put a month behind me. I started 2011 nursing the wounds from a Christmas Day car accident where I was hit by a guy running a red light. Wear your seat belts folks. They saved my life. Despite my Subaru being totaled, a massive concussion, some stitches and some ongoing deep aches and pains, I am lucky to be relatively unscathed. I’ve lost count to how many doctors appointments I’ve been to in January. Because of my accident, I have missed quite a bit of work. But as I rounded out the last days of January, I could honestly say that I am starting to feel a lot better and I am looking forward to a new year of making photos. Here are a couple shots from the past couple of weeks that caught my eye.
Well, better late than never. I’ve finally edited through all of my photos that I shot over the course of 2010 and have selected out my best of the year plus a couple favorites. Looking back on 2010, I realize it has been a big year of growth for me at the Daily Republic newspaper. I have been gathering up my images for submission to all of the end-of-the-year photo contests. I find the process to be a good time for reflection on the development of my photography and a chance to figure out my goals for the new year. I have no doubts big things are coming my way in 2011. I want to thank all of my friends and family that have supported me during 2010. I’m so glad you are in my corner. It was a great year. I’m looking forward to what 2011 brings. Happy New Year everybody. -M
Rachel Nathan-Funk, 12, her sister Leah, 5, Teagan Talbot, 7, and Kylie Shields, 7, lower left to right, watch Grupofolkloriko Nuevo Amancer folk dancers during a multicultural event at Dan O. Root Elementary School Tuesday evening.
Mass casualty volunteers from the Solano Community College nursing program and EMT students watch as paramedic Perry Hookey, far right, applies fake blood on the forehead of volunteer Russ Koch, left, prior to the start of the simulated disaster drill at the college Thursday morning.
Vacaville Ballet Academy dancers Madelline Layeghi, Laura Rutter, Sonya Thrasher, Daisy Montero and Rachel Goldberg, left to right, prepare for their upcoming performance at the Wednesday CLub in Suisun City during their practice Tuesday evening.
Student members of the Fairfield High School Scarlett Brigade Marching Band rehearse their routine in the student parking lot Monday afternoon. The school will be hosting the Tournament of Champions band competition this weekend.
Members of the 60th Expeditionary Medical Support unit secure their chemical warfare outfits during a mock missle strike at Travis Air Force Base Thursday afternoon. The event was part of a three day excercise on the base meant to simulate situations at a deployed location for the troops.
Friends of an unidentified shooting victim escort each other away as Fairfield police officers perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him Monday night in the parking lot of Armijo High School.
Fairfield police search individuals who were in a home where a shooting took place Tuesday night on the 200 block of Hamilton Drive. No arrests were made and police continued their investigation into the night.
I’ll say it right off the bat. I hate these types of assignments. There are times in my journalism profession when I am forced to confront difficult situations and circumstances. Every day in our photo department we listen to the police scanner traffic. Most of the time it is fire engine crews headed out to a medical emergency. Other times it’s another call about a car accident on I-80 Interstate. But every once in a while, it is a call about shots fired. I’ve come to learn that violent crime is a very real problem in the community my newspaper serves. My job as a photojournalist is to tell a story through my images that can help our readers stay informed and also to keep them aware of events happening throughout their community. Thankfully these situations don’t come around often. But when they do I am forced to make a big decision…Do I make that photograph?
Earlier in the month of October, I was working the night shift at the newspaper when the call came across the scanner that their were a group of people fighting on the parking lot of a nearby high school just down the street. Immediately after that, I heard the dispatcher say “shots fired.” Boom! I was out the door with my camera in hand. My reporter and I arrived at the scene not four minutes after the call. Most of the police were coming in behind us. I arrived at the scene (shown in the first two photographs. The third is a separate incident) of people screaming and upon further examination a lone police officer giving CPR to a young man on the ground. It was a horrible sight. It is rare to respond to a scene and be one of the first people there. Most of the time the incident has already ended. This time was very different. I knew a wave of police would be arriving soon and would very quickly put me and my camera as far away from the scene as possible. I knew I had to work fast to make a picture. Times like this your training and instincts just kick in. Your own emotions are shielded by the camera in front of your face. A young man is fighting for his life. You just react.
In journalism school my instructors described it as “Passing the Cheerio Test” as in if the controversial photo doesn’t make the reader spit out his morning breakfast while also telling the story, the photo was considered “safe” to publish. It is this balance newspapers constantly battle with and the topic has been addressed and discussed relentlessly by my colleagues in the profession. Where is the line drawn? What is our duty to our readers? Really tough call. It was times like this when we had such a powerful photograph, a decision was made and my editors knew that the line must be approached.
My editors decided to run the two top photos on the front page. Their basis was that the victim could not be identified in the photo and the images told the story that no words could quite describe. It got a lot of reaction. I returned to work the next morning expecting to hear of all the subscriptions that were canceled because of the photos. I was surprised to find a very different response. There were tons of comments on the story online and as expected, the photos drew some criticism. But for every negative comment there were two or three comments from readers that expressed how important thought it was to show these photos. These events were happening in their community and they didn’t want to ignore it anymore. The decision to run the images had started an important conversation throughout the community. I consider that a success and those comments tell me that I am doing my job well. Regardless, it doesn’t make it any easier to make the photographs but I feel it is very important that I do. What do you think? -M
Shaina McCormick, 18, of Fairfield, kisses her new fiancee Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron Waller, 19, of Fairfield, after he proposed to her in the Sacramento airport on Oct. 9. Below, McCormick embraces Waller after he popped the question.
Dr. Seth Kaufman, left, of North Bay Medical Center waits for a medical robot controled by Dr. Alan Shatzel, on computer monitor, of the Mercy Neurological Entity of Greater Sacramento Area during a demonstration of the new machine Thursday morning in Fairfield. Dr. Shatzel can remotely control control the robot from his Sacramento location with a laptop and a joystick.
Larry Nelson, former Vacaville High School head wrestling coach, center, is being inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame. Nelson highly successful career spanned over 43 years at the school.
Travis Air Force Base KUDOS participant Justice Wong, 4, tries on a chemical warfare gas mask during a mock deployment simulation for children of deployed troops. The event aimed to show the children the process of what their parents do to prepare for deployment.
Spouses and children of deployed military troops walk the Travis Air Force Base tarmac to tour a C-17 Globemaster cargo jet during a mock deployment demonstration to give the children a better idea of what their parents deployment is like.
Solano Community College professor Danielle Widemann gives her Physical Geography science class a visual lesson explaining how the earth’s axis and orbit around the sun creates the seasons here on earth during a recent class. Widemann, along with her entire family, went to SCC for their education and she has been teaching at the school for over seven years now.
Shawn Beckett, 2, far right, along with Kalie Beckett, 3, Calece Beckett, 5, and Reese Moten, 4, left to right, wait outside their home after emergency crews evacuated them after a semi truck drove into a low hanging power line near the corner of Rocky Hill Rd and Novato Drive in Vacaville Tuesday evening. The accident left thousands of PG&E customers without power.
Here’s some of my favorite photographs I made in September. Enjoy.
Last week I was sent out to Travis Air Force Base to photograph the arrival of the California National Guard’s 49th Military Police Brigade after their year of deployment to Iraq. This isn’t the first time that I’ve documented a troop arrival. But this time was a bit different in that our fair Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would be in attendance to shake the hand of each troop as they got off the plane. This changed my approach to photographing the event in that my access to roam around was limited by the numerous “Secret Service” aka California State Troopers who are his body guards. I decided to really study the crowd and try to absorb the mood of the place. The impatient excitement of the family members was everywhere. I realized that for all the stresses I might have during my work day, none hold a candle to the military family members that must wait around for their loved ones to return home from a war. This became apparent to me when I started to watch the faces of family members as they saw their loved ones, their streaming tears of joy and then watch them embrace on the windy, military tarmac. What a release. What a relief to have your daughter, your son, your mom or your dad back save and sound. It was a pretty cool event to witness. -M
Over the last two weeks I was assigned two stories about local watering holes here in Solano County. The first was a story on the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, a non for profit group who help raise money for the community. The group is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and I spent the better part of an afternoon watching them socialize over discounted beer at their meeting hall at the Marina Center in Suisun City. They are a great group of people. The second bar I documented was the historical Bird’s Landing Tavern out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a pretty incredible place. The owner Shirley Paolini, well into her 80’s, continues to run the place since the passing of her husband Mel a few years back. The place has been around since the 1930’s and was used by Clint Eastwood to film his 1982 film “Honky Tonk Man” movie. Nowadays it acts more as a museum than a working bar. Locals still come in for an occasional beer but the highlights of the place lie in the antiques and old historical photos of Bird’s Landing and Collinsville that line the walls of her bar while peanut shells pile up on the floor. It is a quiet and peaceful which is just how Paolini likes it. During out conversation during my visit she would often look up at the photos on the wall and when I asked her about them she said, “I always feel like I am around good friends when I look at them.” She’s a pretty cool lady. I love these old gems of places off the beaten path. This both of these places were a lot of fun to shoot. -M
I find it hard to believe that summer is already half way over. But alas, mid July is here. Things have been pretty calm around the newspaper for most of June and into July. I’ve been doing a lot of cruising for feature photos aka “slices of life” around town. We’ve been quite fortunate to have a pretty cool summer this fall with the minimum amount of 100 degree days and people have been taking advantage of the opportunity. I took the opportunity to head home to Chicago for a long overdue week vacation. I just returned home early this morning. Got to see some live blues, watch some friends get married, build a chicken coop for my mom, clean a garage for my dad, visit with old friends and even meet with ace Chicago Tribune senior photographer Alex Garcia. All in all it was a great little trip home.
A couple weeks ago I did this story on a couple guys here in town who were making a Christian based hip hop album. Their group is called Immortal Ministries. It was pretty cool to watch how they piece together their rhymes and sound effects into music. It is a lot like mixing a multimedia piece for the newspaper. I’m not a religious person. But regardless of whether or not you believe in their message, it was cool to see them following their passion for hip hop and create upbeat songs. You can check them out here
Here are a couple photos that I made in the last week or so. Now that school is out things are really starting to slow down here assignment wise. This is pretty normal at small daily newspapers like mine. But these slower summer months offer good opportunities to start long term projects. Currently, I am in search of a good documentary topic to shoot. I’m always open to ideas and suggestions. My focus is turning to the end of this week when I will be headed home to Chicago for a week. Really looking forward to seeing some old friends and family. Thanks for stopping by. -M