Penn State ended its 2013 football season on a high note tonight, but here’re a few action-feature photos from the two regular-season games I shot this year. (I did shoot the spring Blue-White game, and did video for a third regular-season game.)
Archive for the ‘Journalism’ Category
Five years ago, Bill Eppridge visited my university. He and his wife Adrienne had some time to visit with students, so I hastily threw together a portfolio for them to review. I was terrified and convinced that they’d tear it apart — Bill being a venerable visual journalist and Adrienne being a venerable visual editor — but they were completely kind and supportive in their criticism and suggestions.
Looking back now, I’m guessing they recognized that I didn’t really know what I was doing, and that prodding me along would be more productive than tearing me apart. (Related: I’ll never forget the only written comment that former Columbia Daily Tribune photo editor Gerik provided after reviewing my exit portfolio in May 2010: “Could be a newspaper photographer someday.”) I’ve since made conscious efforts, every time I’m in a position to encourage or review work with a younger photographer, to be just as considerate and supportive as Bill and Adrienne were to me.
. . .
I’ve just learned that Bill has died. His legacy includes a number of iconic images made in times of peace and war, and I’m certain he inspired and helped young photojournalists who are far more successful than I. But for my part, I’ll never forget the gentle, compassionate critique he and his wife gave me five years ago in the Missouri photo lab. My next portfolio iteration was much more restrained and well-edited enough to land me an internship at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the following summer, and I’m convinced that Bill and Adrienne gave me just the right push to get my internship applications rolling.
(With a wink in Adrienne’s direction, Bill also told me that the best advice he could ever give a young photographer is to marry a good editor. I’d like to think Jeff and I have edited each other’s work fairly thoroughly in our almost-five years together.)
Just for fun, I’m opening myself up to potential embarrassment by posting what I believe is the portfolio that I showed Bill and Adrienne on that Oct. 2009 evening:
Rest in peace, Bill, and thank you again.
Incredibly, summer is past, and we all made it through unscathed. The kids have been back in school for a month or more now, but here are a few wonderful children I was fortunate enough to photograph this summer:
The first high school football game of the season is tomorrow, and we’re sending folks to cover Penn State’s first game on Saturday. With that in mind, here’re a few pictures I made last year while working on a story about pee wee football.
For one and a half years, practically every fall evening as I drove back to the office via Parkway Boulevard, I’d see miniscule football players running through drills and practices. Finally, my interest had been sufficiently piqued and, one evening, I pulled over, observed the final minutes of practice and chatted up one of the fathers who was making sure his son wasn’t slacking. Then he introduced me to the coach, and after that, I was at practice at least once a week.
After following the “rinkies” for about a month, I pulled the story together with this basic summary:
After an undefeated regular season — and not allowing first downs or touchdowns in all but the last game — the Boys Club of York Red Raiders’ rink varsity football team lost the York County Youth Football Association championship game 12-0 to West York’s rink varsity football team on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Northeastern High School. The “rinkies” are 7-8-year olds who had practiced every weekday from August through the beginning of November on a field just off Parkway Boulevard in York. This team of rinkies has played together for three years so far and, despite three consecutive undefeated seasons, has yet to claim a league championship title.
Happy football season, everybody!
Last week, Jeff, his brother Mike and I found a T-rex skull at the National Zoo. Much to the joy of a nearby 17-year-old girl whose mother insisted she was too old to pose with the skull, I insisted that Jeff take this photo of Mike and me:
Today, while on assignment at a 30-attraction fun park in southern York County, I discovered that owner Hugh is a kindred spirit when I asked him to hop on top of an incomplete tire-saurus for a picture and he immediately struck a dinosaur pose without my prompting him:
KINDRED SPIRITS, I’M TELLING YOU.
(Read more about the Maize Quest Fun Park here.)
Softball picture from forever ago:
Pictures from forever ago, it feels like. I have even older photos that I have yet to blog, believe it or not.
This is the annual Sheep to Shawl contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this winter. The name says it all: A team shears a sheep, and then uses the wool to make yarn and weave a shawl, all within two hours.
First, the shears:
Then the sheep’s sheer terror:
And finally the kids’ sheer terror:
I’m not gonna lie: For the majority of my life, Memorial Day meant little more to me than a long weekend.
Until I met a 90-year-old World War II veteran who has devoted the past two years of his life to finding, documenting and mapping more than 70 York County veterans memorials.
Al Rose is blind in his left eye, but he spent countless hours poring through newspaper microfilm at the York County Heritage Trust, in search of any news of veterans memorial dedications. Then, before giving up his drivers license last Christmas Eve, Al put several hundred miles on his car in search of these memorials — many of which are pretty difficult to find even if you know generally where they are.
Believe me, I know: I followed in Al’s footsteps in order to confirm his work and readers’ information and to help create a map of these memorials for the newspaper.
This was a time-consuming process that took me several shifts — in one case, all the daylight hours of a shift — to complete. And I loved it. I thrilled in driving to and finding corners of York County I had never seen before. It was exciting to find an obscured memorial, and it was sobering to read the names on so many communities’ honor rolls.
One honor roll had a name listed under the Spanish-American War. Others were overwhelmed by those who served in World War II. At least three honored those who have served in the current war on terror.
After finding and photographing 68 of the 70+ veterans memorials over roughly the past few weeks (editor Scott and reporter Brandie helped out with a few of the last ones we found out about), I find it repugnant that I formerly had so little respect for Memorial Day, and that many Americans continue to do so.
York County certainly has its share of veterans memorials — over 70! — and yet I doubt that many who live here are aware of or care about their existence. It’s saddening, especially when I think about all the tiny communities who gave up so many sons that their honor rolls are too long for a readable photograph.
Yes, I’ll probably participate in some sort of grill-out this Memorial Day weekend. But I’ll draw the line at Memorial Day sales. And, thanks to a long and sometimes difficult search for almost 70 veterans memorials, I’ll remember just how much of itself York County has given to this nation.
For more information:
- A summary of Al Rose’s work and how we completed this project
- The interactive map itself
- A full slideshow of all the veterans memorials Scott, Brandie and I photographed
- A video of Al Rose working on his project… at the bedside of his wife, who has Alzheimer’s
Sometimes, when the big event is happening, I look elsewhere to make pictures — especially when the big event involves somebody at a podium.
So, I look to the children.
(I love that the fathers in the second photo can so easily show affection for their daughters without my having to include their faces: Look at their gentle hands.)
Well, I thought I was okay.
Sometime between mid-January and late March, I had ceased thinking about Newtown on an hourly or daily basis. The holiday season was finally over, I got to meet my baby niece, Jeff and I were taking ballroom dance lessons and I was back in the swing of regular work.
But near the end of March, I had a dream: I was back in Newtown, and I was interviewing a florist as she was preparing spray arrangements for a child’s funeral. Suddenly, I felt my eyes burn hot with tears, and my mind went blank. I quickly turned away for a moment, then faced her again.
“I’m so sorry,” I told her. “I don’t know what’s the matter with me.”
Then I woke up.
Later that day, another reporter who had been in Newtown wrote a blog post in which he explained his reluctance to talk much about his experiences:
1.) I’ve been nervous that [this] just comes across as me complaining about my own personal situation.2.) I’ve felt a certain amount of guilt for feeling so badly when there are obviously people who were directly and significantly affected by what happened far more than I can imagine.Additionally, I’ve wanted to distance myself a little from my coverage in Newtown. It’s not a fun thing to talk about so I largely avoid it, though there are times when I’m drinking with buddies that things will slip out.
That basically sums up my feelings.
But now I feel ready to share some of the pictures I made while in Newtown. It could be that the warmer weather and sunshine are helping me overcome the dreariness of that trip. It could be that I’m actually getting okay-er over time. Or it could be that it’s simply time to do this now.
Today, the York Catholic girls played their seventh state championship game in the past eight seasons.
Today, they lost 45-38 to Bishop Canevin.
But — they lost with grace.
I began following the team’s journey this morning after I checked in with the student tailgate outside the Giant Center:
After the game, tears:
And a pep talk:
I’d like to thank the girls for letting me follow them around, even inside the locker room, and being completely normal about it. They’re a class act, a strong team and wonderful people.
For more coverage:
- Check out the full slideshow of photos I took today
- Read reporter Matt’s game story
- Watch photographer Jason’s video about Morgan Klunk’s mother watching her last game
I’ve never taken the time to count how many times I’ve been assigned to photograph people as they work out or otherwise exercise. But even if we don’t include sports practices and games, it’s still a fairly large number. In the week around New Year’s this year, I happened to have two separate assignments that had me cover people going through their routine gym workouts.
The funny part was, people in both assignments made remarks along this vein: “I’m sorry you have to follow me around while I’m in the gym today. This can’t be that interesting. I hope they’re paying you a lot.”
I assured them that I was not suffering in these assignments. On the contrary, I see these assignments as a challenge to show the human interacting with and mimicking the form of the gym equipment.
My first-ever cheerleading assignment took me to the YAIAA Cheerleading Championship, where seven teams competed in two divisions. It was a lot of fun, especially with the presence of the youth cheerleaders who performed showcase, non-competition routines. If I shoot this next year, I’ll definitely take my shooting to the next level, but nevertheless — this was fun.
I love shooting basketball. It was the first sport I ever shot (thanks for throwing me in, Rae) and much of my first winter in York was spent covering high school games. This season, not so much, oddly enough. But here’s a collection of some reaction-oriented feature pictures — or jubilation, or “jube” — from the post-season.
And, to end on a joyous note, four pictures from the York Catholic girls’ eighth consecutive district title win — which, by the way, is a District 3 record:
For me at least, it’s easy to forget, after covering some of these girls for three seasons, that they’re just girls. They’re still in high school. They’re just kids. Then you get off the court, and they’re jumping and whooping and giving each other piggy-back rides back to the locker room, where they then break out into song and run around and remind you that they’re still girls, and that’s totally okay.
I’ve lost track of how many commencement ceremonies I’ve photographed, but I learned pretty quickly that you’ll make the best pictures before or after the actual ceremony. I tend to arrive early, just to make sure I get pictures in case I’m called away to spot news mid-ceremony, but until somewhat recently, I never mustered the courage to walk into the girls bathroom and ask if I could make pictures.
Glad I finally did.
Dinosaurs. This was reporter Lauren’s and my first assignment together since covering Newtown.
It was basically a big traveling exhibit of dinosaurs. No one in the newsroom was excited about it except for editor Kate and me. Me, I love dinosaurs. Everyone else, though, was hatin’ on it.
When I asked fellow photographer Kate about shooting wrestling at Milton Hershey School, she gave me two really good tips: Use a 300, and shoot from the track level.
I understand wrestling just enough to shoot it, so I’ve never tried to have fun with it before. Today, I did just that by acting on her tips. Thanks Kate!
Damn straight this is my first photo blog post of the new year. May 2013 be a good and happy year for us all.
(Yes, Rascal climbed up there on her own. Yes, I have real photos from this assignment. Yes, I will share them soon.)
One month and a day ago, reporter Lauren and I drove to a part of the country neither of us had really been to before: Connecticut. We didn’t know where we were staying, we didn’t know what we would we be doing and we didn’t know anybody with whom we’d be working.
This was all we knew:
- Our job was to help out a sister paper, The New Haven Register, by doing whatever they asked of us, in the wake of the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history.
- One New Haven editor’s name.
- …I think that’s about it.
We were asked to go, and we went. It was a long, dark drive to New Haven from York, and all I could think about was who, what, where, when. I didn’t think about why, or how. I didn’t dare to. I kept my focus on the road and on my job, and that’s pretty much how the next four days and five nights went.
I already wrote that, upon my return to York, I finally cried. And now I’ve had a month to think and reflect and talk to the caring editors, coworkers, friends and boyfriend that I’m so fortunate to have.
People have asked how I’m doing, and by and large, I’m okay. As I’ve already written, I was in Newtown for only four days, I never set foot inside a funeral (some reporters had to, and I can’t imagine what they might be going through), I met only one person who actually knew a victim. I’m not a parent, and I haven’t yet experienced deep personal grief or loss.
But while I’d rather not dwell on this, I won’t sugarcoat it either: Things are different now. I’m different now. How can they/I not be? When you spend time in such a small, cozy place as Newtown, where the overcast skies match the grief in the air and strangers admit they’ve been crying all day and flower- and candle-laden memorials never leave your sight, it’s hard to dismiss the thoughts and memories that linger in your mind after you leave. It actually feels wrong to do so.
• • •
I’ve so far had neither the heart nor the will to share the pictures I made there, as well as others I made before and since then. I was determined to be a human in my reporting in Newtown, and I’ve since been determined to be a human for my own sake. So, when I’m not at work, I have turned my focus to the mundane: small tasks like avoiding folding the clean laundry and large tasks like tackling a book that’s taken me more than nine years to complete.
Some day — maybe tomorrow, six months from now or whenever I’m ready — I’ll share those pictures from a month ago. In the meantime, I’m working toward normalcy.
Ten or so nights ago, I dreamed about a Newtown that I barely recognized: There were no news vans, the sun was shining and people were smiling.
Every day, I hope that dream will no longer be just a dream.
…a time for every purpose under heaven
Last night when I came home from work, I collapsed into bed and wept.
It hadn’t been an ordinary day at work. It hadn’t been an ordinary week at work.
Reporter Lauren and I had just worked four days reporting for The New Haven Register in Connecticut after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Arriving Friday night in New Haven and working Saturday through Tuesday in the Newtown area, we sought stories outside the big story, knocked on doors, found leads, lost leads, held back our own emotions and listened. Every day meant an exhausting stretch of shoe-leather journalism, and, always determined to come back with a story, we powered through.
Tuesday, we returned to York, where finally I could forget about work and cry for the lives lost.
…a time to gain, a time to lose
Like everyone else in the world, I started Friday, Dec. 14, normally. I got up, showered, ate breakfast. I heard about a school shooting somewhere in Connecticut, but didn’t realize how devastating it was until I was on my way to the newsroom and (at a red light) saw Jeff’s text that 27 people had been killed.
I almost cried then, but knew I had work to do. My assignments for Friday evening included a Penn State football recruit and a local teenager’s holiday light display. I had to hold it together and do my job.
Then, just before I planned to leave to photograph the Penn State recruit, my editor Eileen beckoned me over into the conference room.
Could I, if called upon, go to Newtown that night to help The New Haven Register (and our parent company Digital First Media) with their coverage?
I said yes. So did Lauren. Just over an hour later, we were on the road to Connecticut.
…a time to gather stones
During the four days we worked in Connecticut — four long days that seamlessly blended together amidst the confusion, the scope, the monumental sadness of the story — Lauren and I agreed to avoid the media circus as best we could. The people of Newtown and Sandy Hook were being bombarded by camera crews and reporters, and we wanted no part of that, mostly out of respect for those people in their time of sorrow.
So we spent the first three days reporting “on the fringe,” finding stories outside of the immediate area, talking to people who knew no victims but still grieved. We found a Christmas tree farm that opened on Saturday so area families could try to return to the holiday routine and to a sense of normalcy. We found a religious gift shop owner who kept her store open not just for business but for people who needed to come in and pray with her. We found a church whose mission was outreach and whose members somehow found the time and resources to organize a teddy bear drive, alongside their half-dozen other holiday-related charity programs.
The fourth day, I had no choice but to join the media circus when I was assigned to produce video of the back-to-back funerals of James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church. Two or three people who drove past the media scrum on Church Hill Road yelled at us to “leave them alone” and “go home.” Even before that, though, I felt sick to my stomach about covering funerals, and had to remind myself that, more importantly, the families and friends on the other side of so many cameras and notepads must feel worse.
The fourth day, it seemed, would be the worst day.
…a time to embrace
Then Lauren, on assignment for another story, found a hair stylist who was scheduled to cut James’s hair the day after the shooting. So after the funerals, we went to her salon, which was attached to a kids’ consignment store she also operated. We chatted with her husband about the three months of hard work he had put in to renovate the salon. Instead of interrupting her business for an interview, we waited as she gave a grown customer a haircut, even though I was under pressure to get the funeral video online quickly. We learned that she and her husband came from New York City — he from the Bronx, she from Brooklyn — so their children, now ages 20 and 24, could have a backyard.
Finally, we sat with her, and she told us, on-camera, about how she had so looked forward to seeing James on Saturday, the day after such a terrible tragedy. How he never arrived, and she thought his mother had forgotten and would reschedule. How horrified she was when she saw his name on the victim list. How, when they saw each other at James’s wake, his mother apologized for not calling to cancel the appointment.
When she was done, she gave us hugs. I think we all needed it. I did.
The fourth day ended better than it had begun: I noticed, as we left her salon, that the sun was starting to break through the clouds that had enshrouded the area since Saturday morning.
…a time to weep
I think, for the most part, I’m fairly capable of compartmentalizing emotion. I say, “I think” because I’m by no means a veteran of the industry, and who’s to say I’ve seen the worse that I’ll ever see in my career? But I’ve covered homicides, fatal car accidents, stories of loss. I’ve always maintained my professionalism, while still seeking to be a human in my reporting.
Lauren and I powered through our four days of reporting without shedding a tear, though I came close a few times. It wasn’t adrenaline. I hate to think it was desensitization.
So on Monday afternoon, as we were wrapping up reporting, I suggested that we go to the memorial near the school. None of our work had, thus far, brought us into Sandy Hook or near the school, and I felt it was important that we go pay our respects. We parked on a back road, left our cameras and notepads in the car and walked to the huge makeshift memorial site, which consisted of numerous Christmas trees drooping with ornaments and surrounded by hundreds of stuffed animals, notes and lit candles.
We did not cry. Maybe, if we had not been on deadline and had not been essentially putting off work at the time, we would have.
The tears came on Wednesday night when I was finally home again. It was then that I felt like a human again.
…a time to heal
I’ve been back in York for a full day now, and normalcy is not a thing yet. I went into work today to do some paperwork and participate in the holiday potluck and secret Santa gift exchange, but it all felt strange and foreign. Jeff and I are planning a weekend trip to Philadelphia — which had been our original plan for last weekend — and I mean to bake Christmas cookies, but it’s hard for me to focus on anything.
And yet, I was there for only four full days. I neither knew nor met any of the victims’ families. I never set foot inside a funeral service or wake, and I met only one person who personally knew a victim.
How or whether the people of Newtown and Sandy Hook will fully heal, I’m not sure. But I can say this: It is a strong, close-knit community, and even in a time of immense sorrow, the people are among the kindest, most polite I have ever met.
Many people, including the media ourselves, have noted media fatigue and even animosity toward the media. But Lauren and I encountered only one instance of animosity, which we knew not to take personally. Everyone else — and there were many whom we talked to — was so nice and helpful and friendly. We were astonished, and grateful.
…a time of peace
There’s no telling when the media frenzy will depart Newtown, but the news vans will swarm the streets again next year on the anniversary, and again, and again. The hair stylist who knew James Mattioli said she thinks many of the families will move away. There has already been talk of Newtown being defined by the tragedy, as has happened to Columbine.
It saddens me. Newtown is a lovely place. People in both directions of traffic will stop to let you make a left turn out of a driveway. There are no Walmarts, very few fast food restaurants and a lot of mom-and-pop shops. Everybody knows each other, and if they didn’t know you at first, they’ll at least remember your face and smile next time they see you.
Lauren and I have talked about going back to Newtown again sometime — not as media, but as people, just to say hi to those who greeted us so warmly and talked to us so candidly and treated us so warmly. It’s just a terrible shame that we encountered this wonderful community only by way of a horrific, senseless act of violence.
Another reporter with whom Lauren and I worked said it best:
We all are affected very deeply by this, we care very much for those it touched, and we truly wish that this all never happened.