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
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.
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.
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
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.
I spent the better part of this week covering all of the happenings of the Solano County Fair festivities. Not the busiest fair I’ve attended in my career. I’d imagine that the organizers were frustrated about it too especially when they are competing against a Six Flags roller coaster park across the street. For my money the Ferris wheel just can’t deliver. Still, for the few kids that did attend you could tell they were enjoying themselves. Like most fairs around this country, we had the 4-H livestock competitions. I was never in these events as a kid but watching them now it is pretty fun to watch the kids and their reactions during the events. You can tell that each has put in a lot of work to get here and they all take it quite seriously. Separate from the 4-H events, I stumbled upon a new event of pig racing. They were pure comedy. An uplifting end to what has been a very long and hot week here in California.
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
This was a pretty cool story I got to do earlier in the month. I spent a week following Anthony and his Labrador retriever Saffron around in an attempt to show their unique relationship. Anthony is a diabetic and was having a lot of trouble monitoring his sugar levels. So his parents in their search for a solution came across this cool program called Dogs4Diabetics. Enter Saffron. She is a trained service dog that can smell when Anthony’s blood sugar levels are getting low often times up to 15 minutes before he actually is low all through his breath and sweat. She’s trained to jump on him and warn him. This process can happen up to 20 times a day. It’s was a pretty cool relationship to watch. Since Anthony’s sugar levels can fluctuate at any time, the two are essentially together 24/7. The assistance doesn’t come without responsibility. Anthony is the only one in the family who can care for the dog. As a service dog going into places most dogs don’t, Anthony must also keep her clean. A task that has developed into taking her into the shower when he goes. As his dad puts it, “Having Saffron by Anthony’s side serves as a safety barrier between him and the emergency room.” I had a lot of fun shooting this piece and getting to know them.
Spring is California is incredible. Everything has been so green and the temperature has held steady at around 65 degrees. All this nice weather has really brought people out in the community. It’s like someone flipped a switch. Now all of a sudden their have been a constant flow of pretty interesting stories and overall everyone around here has been in a good mood from the nice weather. Always a good thing. It has also been extremely busy around the newspaper. Hence my lack of posting. So here are some photos that I shot from the month of March.
December has always been a great month for me. Despite the obvious Christmas appeal, it also is the month I was born. So close to the new year and have taken to using the month as a time for reflection. This December was particularly nice due to the fact that I was finally able to have a vacation and be home with the family for the holidays. It just doesn’t feel like the holidays unless I am back in Chicago with the sleet and rain. It was a great time. I now am focusing my attention on the coming year. Changes are on the horizon. Big things to come. Can’t wait. Happy New Year everybody. -M