Fishin and Learnin

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about heading down to the coast with some buddies. What I didn't mention is that most of them are photographers I have known for a decade or more.
Above are the photographers that made the trip this year (left to right). Jeremy is a freelancer and magazine photographer in Fort Worth. Mike is a freelancer and color tech at the Dallas Morning News. Gary is multimedia and online producer for the Dallas Morning News and Shanon is a freelance commercial and fashion photographer in Dallas.

For nearly a decade we have made the pilgrimage down south to chase fish and photos. And with five of us there it's always interesting to count up the number of cameras and photo-related toys that make the trip down to the coast.

This year was no different. I brought my first point and shoot. A Canon G7 which everyone agreed was a very cool little camera. It makes wonderful photos for such a teeny little thing and includes a lot of the features of my much larger DSLRs.
Jeremy brought a wireless TTL flash system that we played with (and I ended up buying from him) as well a plethora of used gear that he bought at a stupid cheap price.
And Gary brought the gear he uses to produce 360 degree panoramas. An 8mm fisheye, a Nodal Ninja and a computer software program called PTGUI.

Most of the day we lay around, eat, fish and have a few beers... sometimes a nap. But then at dusk a crazy thing happens. In those last waning moments of daylight when everything is golden and beautiful everyone seems to scramble. I snatch up my DSLR and wide angle lens to shoot the sunset. Shanon grabs his cameras and starts shooting stock images of fishing poles on the porch and Gary bolts down the long boardwalk to the pier with his pano gear.

Some years I shoot a lot of photos and some years I shoot none. But it never fails that on the trip I will learn something from my friends and recharge my creative batteries. Then I return... tired but rested, ready to take on the world of the daily newspaper again.

To see Gary's very cool pano of the fishing pier click on the photo below. You will need Quicktime, but it's free and well worth the time to download.

Two Years

Two years ago today I emerged from a newspaper building in South Louisiana to find the world turned upside down. Over the next two months I was in and out (mostly in) of the southern end of the state covering Katrina and her sister Rita. It was probably the biggest assignment of my life and although it affected all of us who covered it in negative and positive ways, I don't regret a minute of it.
I wanted to share part of a short essay and a photograph that I made in November of that year on a trip back to New Orleans after the water had receded. It was an interesting trip and I remember hoping at the time that New Orleans would recover quickly. I still hope that, but I no longer see it as a possibility. New Orleans' problems lie outside the reach of it's residents. The Crescent City needs the continued support of the state, the nation and the world to be what it once was... or better.

All of my blogs from that time have been transfered to this blog and are now available in the archives on the right hand side of this page.

Portrait of a Young Survivor

Children run through the halls of a French Quarter Catholic school while nuns in flowing white habits try to slow the excitement. The warm, humid November air blows off the river and through the courtyard filled with basketball and four square courts. Guided by the enthusiastic cheers of Sister Mary Rose a group of children unload donated supplies and toys from a truck with Indiana plates while a young survivor gives an interview in the corner.

Earlier... a toilet overflows in a bathroom and a nun tells a group of children they must use the one down the hall because this one is flooded. Moments later a young girl, no more than five, tugs on the sleeve of the glowing white drape. In a worry-filled voice the girl asks "Sister Mary Rose... how high will the water get this time?" My heart breaks.

Photographing Faith

It never ceases to amaze me how often I am allowed to waltz in and photograph some of the most intimate moments in people's lives. Yesterday I went with Diane Haag, the religion reporter here at The Times, to St. George Greek Orthodox Church. I really enjoy working on stories with Diane because she always seems to put me in places to photograph the core of people's beliefs. And I love working on stories about religion because I find it so fascinating how people of different cultures worship and that there is so much diversity in just the Christian religion alone.

I grew up in a Baptist church and still go to a Baptist church here in Shreveport (though copy editor Terrie Roberts would tell you not often enough) but I find it so interesting how other Christians worship and how they practice their faith. Here are a few more of my favorite images from my years here in Shreveport.

Time Away

On occasion it happens. We get a little time to rest and relax. So this weekend I am off... headed to the Texas coast with some boys I have been known to hang around with from time to time. Friday and Sunday we are fishing in the bay and the Gulf and for the first time we will be fishing offshore on Saturday. Hopefully it will yield some nice images and an even nicer dinner. So until I get back, here are a few images from last year.

'Ball Is Back!

The coach chants over and over "Twoontheendtwoontheendtwoontheend!" guiding his burgeoning players through a drill with the seamless noise, volume and pace unknown to humans outside the realm of the gridiron.

The players, drenched with sweat only 15 minutes into the afternoon workout, look at him with a confused, baked-by-the sun look and try to run the drill again... correctly this time.

August is back.... and with it the oppressive heat and two-a-day drills of high school football teams everywhere. It's a neat time of year and at the beginning it's exciting for photojournalists. It marks the end of a long, boring summer covering camps and "community sports" and the gateway to cool[er] fall nights, the stadiums packed with fans, young and old just clamoring to catch a glimpse of the hometown heroes. Old men finally have something to talk about when they sit in that tall reclining chair at the local barber shop.

Most photojournalists have a love/hate relationship with the fall. It indicates hard-worked Friday and Saturday nights, but it also provides us with great stories of young men fighting and clawing to win a battle that will be talked about for the next six days. A battle to prove to themselves, and their towns... that they are the best.

So here is to all our local heroes. As long as you can run drills, get laps and listen to your coaches in the maddening August heat.... I will tell your stories.