Things have been trucking along here at the newspaper over the month of May. As of late, I’ve found that I’ve been up close and personel with a lot of animals on assignments lately. I adorned a bee keeper suit as I photographed a guy and his bee colonies, I’ve had my head chewed on and nuzzled by a friendly farm horse and later huddled close to a fallen tree as hundreds of wild bison trotted feet from me as federal authorities hazed them back into Yellowstone National Park. It’s never a dull moment in my line of work. I’ve been enjoying myself. More photos to come. Thanks for looking.
A quiet month of photos but fun to make all the same.
Hey all, What a month. I’ve been busy working on a long term documentary project all this month in addition to all of the normal daily assignments and I’ve just now had a chance to post my recent work. Whew! My project “For the Family” debuts tomorrow! Stay tuned. For now, a look at some of the more successful images I’ve made this past month. Thanks for looking. -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
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.
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
Ahhhhh, Graduation week. That special time of year when working as a staff photographer feels a lot like the movie Groundhog Day. The same over and over again. One of the challenges that my fellow shooters and I bestow upon each other is to try to reinvent yourselves as the week goes on. Because on the surface, all of the graduations are so similar. Repetition in the ceremonies, the speeches, the celebrations, etc that it can quickly feel like you are taking the same pictures. This year I was assigned to shoot three of the five high school ceremonies. I tried to keep a look out for something different than the typical ecstatic hands in the air shots of the graduates. The class president of the student body offered that chance. My favorite photo from the week was the one of the girl with the monarch butterfly in front of her. The caption for the photo ran as follows:
Vanden High School graduate Heaven-Leigh Christensen, 18, center, is visited by a monarch butterfly during the Class of 2010 graduation ceremony Friday afternoon. Butterflys were released by class president Sharlayne Moynahan, 18, not pictured, as a symbol of hope and transformation into new beginnings.
This shot was made well after the release of the butterflies. I saw this moment happening out of the corner of my eye and turned to snap a couple frames before this rogue monarch flew off. I thought it was a pretty neat ideal to incorporate in a speech and a different twist on the graduation photo scene. It made me think back to all of the transitions I’ve had in my life since high school graduation. These kids are in for a wild ride. I wish them the best. -M
Holy smokes! I have been busy these last couple of weeks. So much so that I haven’t had much free time to update on my blog. I continue to cover all of the local sporting events happening around Solano County. The winter seasons are beginning to wind down. Playoffs are upon us. Here are some of the more interesting shots I’ve made over the last couple of weeks. -M
Here are some snaps from this past month. I’ve been working hard with some business items for my photography. Change is coming. Stay tuned. I am so thankful for all the love and support all of you have given me over these years. It gives me strength to keep going further. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. -M
Alas, my fall sport shooting opportunities are winding down. All of the local teams are finishing up their seasons and I am bummed to see them go. Indoors that is. The northern California fall has been epic this year. Gorgeous colors and a steady 60 degrees. But the inevitable rains are on the way and with them activities and daily assignments will tend to be held indoors. Not necessarily my favorite place to be. Oh if only there was high school downhill skiing in Fairfield. Wishful thinking. Here is some of my recent outdoor fall sport pictures. Best, -M
Coming off my football portraits last week, I have been pushing onward with the start of fall sports. It is nice to be busy again here at the paper. I’m looking forward to what comes next. I found out that I have been featured on the blog of a new up and coming fly fishing magazine called The Flyfish Journal. You can find the link here. The magazine is set to be on news stands throughout the states at the end of September and I will have numerous fly fishing photographs from my travels in South America expedition featured in their inaugural issue. Feel free to let them know what you think of my work. Best, -M
Well after a long summer, football season has finally arrived. Things are starting to get busy around the paper with the dawn of the new school year. Prep sports are getting underway and my newspaper, like so many others, does an annual prep football preview section to ring in the new season. I was assigned to shoot portraits of the new guys filling in the empty positions on varsity. I have been shooting nothing but portraits all week. Actually a fun change of pace for me. The last two are from another story about die-hard pro football fans. Getting ready for some football. Go Bears!
It has been a very busy week running around shooting all of the local high school graduations here in Fairfield.