Back in November the urge to get out on the water over came me. In the last six years of living living here, I’ve come to really love winter steelhead fishing in northern California. Especially on the swing. I feel fortunate that some of my good friends share the same passion. This trip was my maiden voyage of my sweet new Echo Spey rod. I drove up with my buddy Allison (my partner in crime from my Alaska trip) from Davis and met my Redding friends Kara and Justin to head over to the Trinity River for a weekend of chasing chrome. Had a great time. Here are some of my favorite images from the weekend. Tight lines, -M
Holy moly! I’m a bit backed up with my blog posts. I’ve been meaning to post this one for a while now. A couple months back I got an invite from my friend Allison to join her on a trip up to Alaska for a week of fly fishing for the coho salmon run on Kodiak Island. Allison is an aquatic biogeochemistry and community dynamics grad student in the Ecology Department at UC Davis and was headed up to Fairbanks, Alaska for a science conference. She decided to make a vacation out of it by going up early to have a go at the coho salmon. I have been trying to get to Alaska for years and her invite just happened to coincide with a time break in my wedding photography season. I didn’t hesitate for a second and agreed right there to treat myself to a well deserved mini vacation. Neither of us had ever been up to Alaska let alone the mostly remote Kodiak Island so we started doing some research. There are two ways to fish Kodiak Island – either by staying at a remote fancy/expensive fishing lodge or to fish along the road system. We went with the latter and ended up staying with some friends of hers who lived in the town of Kodiak. Our gracious hosts Matt and Mari lent us their old pickup truck for the week – a blessing and a curse where we had to constantly be monitoring the engine temperature due to it’s frequent overheating. They say it isn’t an adventure until something goes wrong. Kodiak is an island about 250 miles southwest of Anchorage with over 3,500 square miles of rugged wild terrain which makes it the second largest island in the United States behind Hawaii. The place is notorious for it’s lousy, rainy weather but is legendary for it’s salmon runs and large brown bears. We spent the week exploring the river systems of the Buskin River, the American, the Pasagshak and Russian Creek in search of coho salmon. It’s harder than it looks. We caught plenty of pink salmon, a few Dolly Vardens and “luckily” Allison hooked into and landed three silver salmon. I suppose it’s hard to catch a silver salmon with a camera in hand. Alas, I was skunked in the coho department. I redeemed myself later in the week when Matt took Allison and I out on his 60 foot boat for two afternoons of deep sea fishing. I’d never done it before and had a great time catching my first Halibut and a copious amount of rock fish. All in all it was an incredible trip. Alaska is too damn big to conquer in a mere week but I must say that I am in love with it. I will definitely be back soon. -M
The final hours are counting down for 2011. What a year. For me it was a rebuilding year both professionally and physically. I started out the year with being hit by a car while out on assignment for my newspaper and the result has been an intensive year of doctors visits, pain management and rehabilitation. I’m finally starting to feel better but my recovery is far from over. The car accident was a pretty derailing experience for my year and it has taken me a while to get back on the tracks. My priorities this year have been to heal my body and continue to form the foundation for my future in the business of photography. Right around the time of my accident, I had a series of pretty intense/ego bruising photo edits from some very talented and respected editors in the journalism industry. It’s always good to have that reality check to put you in your place and make you re-evaluate what you are doing with your craft. It forced me to do a lot of soul searching with how I approach my photography and my maneuvering through the rapidly changing journalism industry. It was good for me to hear and I think down the road I will be a stronger photographer for it. I still haven’t quite figured it all out but I can say confidently that I made some progress this past year and that I have high hopes for 2012. I’m looking forward to it. Happy New Year everyone! -M
Man where did the year go? To tell the truth I’m glad to be over with it. It has been a long year of doctor visits and general soreness with my injuries from my Christmas 2010 car accident. I’m looking forward to the new year. Looking back on my work for December I feel like I got enough good photos to end on a high note for the year. I’ve been shooting a lot of “Day in the Life” mini photo stories that are slated to run throughout the holiday weekend. The concept for them is that I follow around a person in the community for a couple hours and try to show what it’s like to live a day in their shoes. It’s been a lot of fun for me. So far I’ve spent time with a cab driver, a preschool teacher, a specialty cake maker and a special needs school bus driver. They have been a nice change from the avalanche of holiday stories that tend to come with the December month. Overall its been an enjoyable month. -M
Yesterday evening I covered a tear jerker of a story for my newspaper. We found out late in the day that a Travis Air Force Base military dad was going to be surprising his 4-year-old daughter and wife by coming home early and show up at the daughter’s dance recital here in downtown Fairfield. His plan was to sneak into her recital and then once she finished, he would walk out from the crowd and go to her on stage. I decided to camp out behind the curtains stage left and then when the moment came, rush out onto the stage to make my frame. It was pretty special to watch the daughter finish dancing then see her eyes grow big and tear up as she yelled out “Daddy!” and ran to hug him. Soon after, wife came up on stage too and there was a great family moment with the crowd applauding. I knew going into it what side of the stage he would likely walk up so I set up a strobe on the overhead balcony shooting down to the steps. I was thinking the moment could happen either on stage or down in the crowd. I compensated by aiming my flash so it would hit both. I got lucky that they were facing away from the audience and towards me. I think it worked out pretty well. I like how I can see the crowd in this image. The first image in this post is from when the daughter stopped her initial hug to look her father in the eyes. I think she was a bit stunned. Rightly so. It ran big on the front page of our paper this morning. You can read the accompanying article here. The local broadcast stations covered it as well. The rest are some other images from the event that I liked. It’s times like this that I feel really lucky to be working as a journalist. It warms the soul to see a young military family like this getting to spend Christmas together. Happy Holidays everyone! -M
Upon my return to work recently after my bout with pneumonia, I was given a fun, but hasty assignment by my photo editor. Often times planned scheduled stories won’t work out for some reason or another which leaves the management to scramble to fill the void. Such a time came a week or two ago, when our planned photo package for our Sunday Living section of the newspaper fell through. My boss turned to me to come up with a filler story. We’ve had an exceptional extended fall here in Northern California and my assignment was to go out and document the fall colors through a photo essay within three days. I must say I really enjoyed doing it. Although it was a rushed story, I took the opportunity to slow down and really study the scenery I was photographing. I was pleased with the results. Crazy to think we are just a couple weeks away until Christmas. These warmer California “winters” are messing with this midwesterner’s head. Is it weird that I want to see everything covered in snow for the holidays? Thanks for looking. -M
Here are some of my favorites photographs from November at my newspaper staff job. I had a rough November. For two and a half weeks I was sick at home with pneumonia. I must say it was a well needed rest and I’ve been feeling much better both physically and mentally. I’m incredibly backed up with photo posts and I’m playing a little catch up with them. More to come. Thanks for looking. -M
I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while now but not without good reason. My October has crazy busy and I have been working non stop on my wedding business. Somehow through it all I managed to fit in a couple fishing trips. I’ll post some photos of those adventures soon. Looking back on my October work at the newspaper it was pretty calm. I mostly photographed a lot of portraits. Here are some of the ones I liked from the past month. -M
Last weekend my reporter Nick DeCicco and I got to cover the entire weekend of the Outside Lands Music Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Being a local daily newspaper in Solano County, it’s rare that journalists at our newspaper get an opportunity for press passes at such a big event in the big city. Nick keeps up a well thought out music blog and pitched the idea of covering it to our bosses and in the end were given the green light to go do and cover it. I love being in big crowds and seeing live music. Ever since I was an adolescent, the majority of my pitiful income would go towards summer concerts and band tours. This time it would be different. Our press passes were our golden tickets. One of the things I love most about my job is the doors photojournalism can take you through. In this case, it was the backstage access and photo pit in front of the front row that allowed me to get a new glimpse into the music world I grew up loving. There was not a bad performance to be had. Notable bands worth checking out in no particular order of awesomeness: Joy Formidable, Foster The People, MGMT, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, Phish, Ok Go, Arctic Monkeys, Old 97’s, The Black Keys, Josh Ritter, John Fogerty, The Decemberists, and Arcade Fire. Here are some of my favorite snaps from the weekend. Keep on rocking people! -M
Yesterday went from a pretty lax assignment day to a full on spot news intensity over a six alarm fire at a plastic factory in Fairfield, California. I wasn’t thinking much about it as I made my way out towards Travis Air Force Base. Nine times out of ten fires around here are small or just smoke from a faulty kitchen appliance. As I made the turn off of Texas Street and headed down Air Base Parkway in Fairfield I immediately saw that this was no ordinary fire. I saw a huge towering cloud of black smoke billowing on the horizon. I’ve never seen a fire so big. I arrived at the scene to see fire crews from Fairfield and surrounding agencies working to put out a massive blaze that was burning stacks of polypropleyne packing bins at Macro Plastics, a local plastic factory located in an industrial area near Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield. It literally blocked out the sun and bore an eerie resemblance to the pictures I saw of burning oil fields inIraq during Desert Storm. I was at the scene for over three hours as emergency crews tried to the contain the blaze. There wasn’t a whole lot that they could do. Here are some of the photos I made during my coverage of the fire. You can read the whole story of the blaze on the Daily Republic’s website here. Crazy day. -M
June has always been a point in the year where change comes about in Fairfield. Schools are letting out for the summer and the daily work at my newspaper shifts from the sports and education reporting into a more laid back summer mode. It’s a chance to divulge more time to long term stories. I welcome it. Lately I’ve found myself shooting a lot of assignments from a high vantage point. I recently accompanied airmen from Travis Air Force Base up into a KC-10 Extender for a military mid air fueling exercise. It was pretty cool to be 40,000 ft up in the air in the tail section of a military jet looking down on a huge cargo plane. Likewise I also had the chance to document a young team of rescue first responders practicing their evacuation of a victim from the view point of their large training towers. This July marks my third year anniversary working at the Daily Republic newspaper in Fairfield. It’s crazy how fast it has all past by me and still to this day I am pleased to find myself still experiencing new situations and covering new stories. It also makes me step back and think about how much I’ve grown both photographically during my time here. I’ve been quite busy developing my wedding photography business. My role documenting weddings has quickly become a huge enjoyment for me. One that has caught me off guard at times. I think some good changes are on the horizon for me.
And I’m back. I took a little break from the blog this month. So much has been going on in my neck of the woods. Here are some of the images I made this month that stood out to me. I felt pretty good about the images I made. I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching in my photography this year. The year started out pretty rough for me with beginning it with being in a car accident and then getting some heavy portfolio reviews from my mentor Alex Garcia and legendary photo editor Mike Davis. The result of these encounters is that the first half of this year has been a big period for growth and reflection both mentally and photographically. I feel like I am finally regaining my rhythm and have started making some nicer images. All for the better. Both of those guys opened my eyes to a lot of things and I am very grateful for their honesty and time. I’ve been working really hard at getting my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography business off of the ground and it is starting to bare fruit. I’ve got five weddings lined up this year and am working on securing a couple more. Things are good just incredibly busy. Always a good thing. Thanks for looking. -M
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.
Last weekend I headed up north to the Klamath River with my buddy Ryan Peterson and his friend Scott Tucker in search of winter steelhead. I’ve been to this river a lot. With the lack of rain throughout northern California the last couple of weeks, the Klamath offered the best river conditions out of any nearby watershed. We took it upon ourselves to do some exploring of new hard to reach river access points. This meant a lot of bushwhacking through thick blackberry patches and steep hikes down into the river valley. It’s a beautiful place. Bright neon green moss covers the jagged sedimentary rocks along the river bank. We made camp stream side where Ryan cooked a tri-tip for sandwiches over our campfire while Scott supplied us with fine Napa Valley Pinot Noir. It was so nice to be back in the mountains again. Alas, no steelhead would be landed this trip. Here are a couple photos I made during the weekend.
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.