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.
A look into the preparation of of the California Farms Duck Club and their efforts to create habitat to sustain their life-long love of duck hunting in the Suisun Marsh.
For the past couple of months, a reporter from my newspaper and I have started working on a year long documentary project focusing on the Suisun Marsh and the Delta. With water usage being such a hot topic in California, we wanted to explore all of the groups and organizations that are staking their claim for water rights. Our first subjects were members of a local duck club and their year-round dedication and passion for creating habitat for waterfowl. I had a great time hanging out with these guys. Stay tuned over the next year for other installments to this series. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. -M
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
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
June has, so far, proven to be a crazy month for me at my newspaper. For much of the time, I have been working solo due from a mixture of co worker’s injuries, vacations, and departure from the photo staff. Between attending meetings and running around non stop shooting all of the assignments, I’ve had little time for much else. Oh wait I also shot my first wedding of the year. You can check out my images from it here. I knew there were more reasons why I’ve been busy. Now that school is out in Solano County things have started to cool down. It has been a month of big transitions for everybody around here. Me with my crash course into becoming a temporary one man band photo department and departure of a co worker. My photo editor Brad Zweerink and I said goodbye to a good friend and fellow shooter Chris Jordan after his decision to work freelance and shoot weddings got the best of him. I must say I was sorry to see him go. A great guy and and a solid photographer. I learned a lot from him. I wish him all the best. I still have half a month to go but here are some of my favorite images that I’ve made so far. Cheers. -M
Towards the end of December I went to photograph a woman that was starting a Womens Gun Club at a local shooting range. These photos are the second part of our coverage for that story. You can read the story here. Along with the initial portrait I shot of her, I also did a little photo story of her teaching the other women in the club. I grew up shooting rifles as a Boy Scout but had never actually shot a hand gun before. These ladies were kind enough to let me try one out. I can see why if holds so much interest for people. It was pretty fun to shoot.