Saturday, January 10, 2009

The first baby of the new year, with parents at the hospital. I look forward to this assignment. It's usually a gentle reminder of exactly what photojournalists do, the basic marking of the passage of time from day to day and year to year, life and death. 2008 had a lot of that for me.
I also like this shot because it reminds me of a renaissance madonna painting, the tones of the clothes and cabinets, the bright blue heart monitor.

Hungry Koi, hoping I was going to feed them, for a story on decorative ponds.

Daring painters work high above the the downtown street. A different view of a landscape I have to shoot dozens of times a year. Also an example of my tending to shoot more with long lenses this year, something I worked a lot with.

A Red Shouldered Hawk, glaring at me as I inch closer and closer. It was sitting in a tree on a highway exit ramp, I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I drove past, parked and tried to sneak up on him. Fat chance, he soared away seconds after I took this.

A series of local politicos on the opening day of the General Assembly. It's a day of little moments, pomp and circumstance, shaking hands and jokes, before the bloody work of legislating begins. That's what I tried to show here, although my paper usually just wants the opening ceremony.

There's a great Bodine photograph of a manhole cover in the center of a street, with the double line painted over it. Some workers had clearly removed the cover for some resaon and then replaced it with the lines now running parallel to the rest of the road. It's titled "To Hell With It", and it's an elegant commentary on a certain kind of work ethic. The kind that would, say, make a plastics company dump tons of raw plastic refuse from their factory, for decades, along an abandoned railway next to the Patuxent River. So much plastic that eventually the trees grow around the materiel, like weird neon fruit .
It's also the kind of work ethic that when the county decides to transform the abandoned rail line to a recreation trail, a good idea, somebody decides that nobody needs to actually clean up the area, just to lay the trail directly through the debris field. No need to bother with informing the public about the pollution either, who is going to notice? The hell with it.
When newspapers are gone, these are the kinds of stories that the community will never get.

A nice long snow shot, I like the yellow on white of the bus and headlights. It was pretty cold. Later that day I got to ride around in a snowplow, below.

A double homicide in an apartment complex, middle of the day. No known motive and no arrests yet. Not a great picture, and I'm really trying not to exploit this tragedy. I wanted to say something about the banality of murder, how we live with it all around us, and even though it entertains us every night, our neighbors still die every day.

The bass player for the Side Affects, a teenage punk rock band who won me over by putting on the best show while simultaneously getting thrown off of a county wide high school battle of the bands for performing a song called "Sex Addict".

A Navy diver comes down from the top deck.

A cargo ship runs aground near the Bay Bridge, and pops out of the water as the tide lowers. I shot this from shore on a rock piling, and like the neat composition here.

For a photo illustration in a story on bullying, I went to a Boy Scout meeting and asked them to act out picking on one of their own. They took to it almost too readily, and actually started getting physical with it before I stopped them.

The Valentines Day warrant sweep. Cops posing as delivery drivers for flower shops, and getting folks with outstanding warrants to sign their names on the clipboard before cuffing them. The sheriif's first name is Ron, "Arresting Bouqet", they were having a blast.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A State Police Medevac pilot prepares to lift off on an emergency rescue. These guys have had a hard year, with a fatal crash and political investigations of their spending and effectiveness. Listen, I've watched them for almost ten years now, they are performing miracles every day in Maryland. You want to raise my taxes by 20 bucks a week, I'd pay it to keep them flying.

Just a neat shot of something called a Zograscope, an antique 3d viewer.

For a story about a the cutting of a medical program that send nurses into the homes of at risk mothers, usually teenagers, and teaching them about prenatal health and infant health, especially about how to avoid SIDS. A program that literally saves babies lives, and it gets eliminated.
On working on this story, the reporter discovered that the mortality rate for African American babies in our area is substantially higher then for white babies. It makes me sick to even think about how this can be. So I proposed to an editor at the paper that this fact seems like a good starting point to do a really in depth series of stories about health and African American children.
The answer was no.
I was told, in a phrase that I won't repeat, that we write about the death of black children often. Too often, in fact, to bring up again or make a big deal out of.
You want to know why the newspaper industry is dieing? Because we deserve it.

A construction worker is forced to get creative as he smooths out concrete poured for a new sidewalk.

Watermen listen glumly to DNR recommendations at a DNR meeting about setting limits to the crab fishery. These men have been to too many of these meetings for too many years, and the writing is on the wall. Either strict catch limits kills them, or harvesting the last crab will.

A couple takes advantage of the privacy provided by an umbrella in the falling rain at the annual Navy versus St Johns croquet match.

In shooting a lot of the same thing, in this case baseball/softball games, you have to amuse yourself. Here is a season long series where I set out to capture the best pitcher shot, using the extreme foreground batter and catcher as the framing elements. One is pretty good, but two is the best. Three is second best, and four I pushed it too far and lost it completely. I got caught too, legendary Governors photographer Tom Darden called me and nailed me on it.

A family holds and pets their bearded dragon after fire fighters pulled it alive from their burning home.

A May Day basket hangs on a white painted brick wall. One of my favorite shots of the year.

Who knew they would be so LOUD?

The Chinese religious group Falun Gong stages a demonstration. I'm not sure about the facts about Falun Gong, but I am sure I was discouraged by an editor from covering this event.
"We don't cover demonstrations anymore".
Um, yeah, we do. All the time. A reporter overheard the discussion and got involved, heated emails flew. I've discovered that I'm not so good in these conflicts, so I left and just shot the demonstration. I turned the photos in and they ran, inside, but they ran.

Shooting the same assignments year after year leads to some odd talents. I try and pay attention and do better from one year to the next, but I never thought I would be able to say, "Yeah, I've gotten pretty good at shooting the Blue Angels aerial acrobatics."

Tim Russert giving a commencement speech at a high school graduation, a few weeks before he died. This was during the height of the Obama/Clinton battles, and he had to leave as soon as he spoke to get back to DC. He gave a good speech anyway. RIP.

The parents and grandfather of a young man killed in Iraq by a sniper, with a quilt made from things he was proud of and scraps of his uniform. The stories about survivors years after their loved ones deaths are often more painful then the initial funeral stories, but just as important.

A graduate is helped by his mother and teachers to rise with his diploma at a graduation at a school for the disabled. As I've said in previous years, this is one of the best assignments to cover. In a world of gossip and storytelling, the weight our neighbors bear silently goes unreported.

An attempt at a different kind of sports shot, trying to break the paradigm of shooting every game like it's the SI cover.

From a series on boats passing under a tall bridge, I leaned over and shot straight down as they passed underneath. For no story, I was looking for a different way of showing life on the water. It was ok, maybe I'll reshoot it later this year.

A Jack Russell retrieves the disc thrown by her owner at a "Regional Championship" for such things. I love how humans apply competitive terms to the pure joy of dogs catching frisbees.

Homeland Security paid for these police cameras overlooking downtown, but not for an officer to monitor them. So they are only good at catching criminals after the fact. And maybe it was worth it, they did catch the man stealing money from the parking meters.
The police installed the cameras without any public announcement, and no civic debate. We found out by accident that they existed. Then they wouldn't tell us where they were. I had to walk the streets and find them myself.
Whether or not we have street cameras is less of a concern to me then that the police thought there was no need to inform the public that they were there. Without newspapers, how will the public hold authorities accountable for what they do ? Bloggers?

From a story on comic book collectors, "not just for kids anymore". I'm a huge geek, but this life-size bust of Wolverine goes too far even for me. He appears to even have plaque. Does his mutant healing factor apply to dental hygiene?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

An immigrant holds up his approval letter granting him legal residence in the US at an independent aid center. The more I see of Hispanic immigrants, legal and otherwise, the more I like. These are good people, and we are a better country because of them.

An osprey lands at it's nest atop a light pole at a local high school field.

The commander of an Army installation at a press conference/luncheon. Basically everyone was asking him, um, lets say "softball" questions, when my reporter slammed them by demanding an explanation as to why the Army had been clearly avoiding cleaning a pollution site. Not this guys fault, he just took over, but the moment was priceless. Again, accountability, thats what newspapers do best, that's the reason they're hated by the powerful. Accountability.

From a story on life and troubles in public housing. This story is very, very hard to shoot. First it's physically difficult, not even counting the potential danger of crime (actually low), in that a lot of people in public housing do not want to be photographed. Who could blame them.
And frankly, it is young black men who should be the center of these stories, and they are the most resistant to the idea. I snuck this shot during a block party.
Any amateur can go into the projects and take arty pictures of poor black kids smiling shyly at the camera. What kind of story does a picture like that say? Are we saying that black people in public housing are essentially children? That's the message that comes across.
The young men, the ones we are most afraid of, that is the story we as an industry fail to tell. We are afraid to even admit we are afraid.

Hurricane Hanna was a tropical storm by the time she got to town, but it was still impressive.

Like the Blue Angels, I never thought I'd be able to say ,"Yeah I've gotten pretty good at shooting pig races."

More long lense work, this one is pretty successful. I love all the details of all the people at the carnival. I keep saying someone needs to invent a wide angle telephoto. (Thats' a photo geek joke.)