Thursday, December 31, 2009

year end BABY!!!!!

so, yeah, i just couldn't let myself go out like that, and somehow, ending with lensBABY pix seems far more appropriate for, what to shoot - well, i've never shot a poinsettia before....

nor myself in the mirror of my new little Charlie Brown xmas tree red glass ornament (and let me just say - self portraits with a macro lens baby - woo, holy technical which i did not master, as you can see!) - i always loved that little tree - i think if i were a cartoon character, i would be Charlie Brown (though my facebook quiz says i'm Schroeder, which also kind of fits) - i'm a complete and utter sucker for the underdog, and that little tree was truly the underdog of the xmas tree world!

by the way, on my list of new year resolutions, between looking at my facebook postings/notes and my posts here, i firmly resolve to try not to be the over user of the !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

there, think i got it out of my system now?

out with the old

in the interest of not ending a year with unfinished business, and my "must clean things up before a new year" mantra, i'm gonna go ahead and post up the last pix i've taken this year - it kind of sux that my final post of the year will be sports, average features (from sports) and a women's exercise class, but it is what it post-xmas-back-to-work motivation has been sorely lacking, and i just couldn't manage to dredge up a single thing feature-wise the other day - i mean, everyone here must be hybernating in their houses - school's out, many are off work, but they're not outside, nor in the libraries, nor the community, here it is....

girl's basketball

and yet more girl's basketball

as part of a New Year resolutions story, we covered a group of women who meet at one of their homes with a personal trainer and do a "bot camp" style workout once a week...pretty intense, non-stop 40 minutes these ladies put in - they kept telling me to join in, but i told 'em i was pretty okay with just staying behind the camera for this was kind of hard, actually, a lot of their exercises were face down on the floor of this woman's basement, but eventually they flipped over or moved to squats and leg lifts against the wall.....

so, there you have it - the last of 2009, unless i manage to take a foto within the next 4 hours, in which case, i guess i'll have one final deadline to meet before the year is out!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

end o year catch-up

before the year ends, i want to get caught up on the posting back-log...i smell a new year's resolution on the near horizon - i.e., don't get behind on posting, cos, really it's almost silly to do this now - i don't feel what i felt when these images were made, i just can sort of remember what i felt - kinda defeats the whole purpose of blogging in a sense, but, whatever, since i'm here, may as well do it...

not going to post everything, cos frankly, a lot of it was pretty pedestrian - average portraits or features, not that what i am posting is so amazing, just a little better - don't want to make myself look like a total schlep (sp??)

so, yeah, sports, lots of sports - that's been still the bulk of my assignments it seems - basketball and more basketball (and based on the assignments sitting in the bin when i got back after the holiday, that looks to be my future postings for the week)
but there was a state silver gloves boxing tournament the weekend before xmas...i've always had a somewhat inexplicable liking for this sport - watched it when i was young and whenever i see it on tv...i really don't know why i like it so much, but i i was kind of happy that i got this assn., though it is a tough sport to shoot technically (for me, at least)....silver gloves is all young kids - 8-15, so the bigger challenge is that these aren't real skilled fighters, especially the littler kids, who are kind of a mix of a tazmanian devil and fists of fury - the older kids are a little better and easier to shoot....really liked these 2 little brothers - one 9, the other 11, and dad says he got them involved in the sport because they used to spend all day beating the snot out of one another, so he figured he may as well put their angst to a more organized use....both won, and as you can see, they're very proud of their prowess...

then, there was the sole girl representing Monroe in the tourney - she would be the one on the left, who just beat the bejeesus out of this other girl - this was the only bloody fight i saw that day, and halfway through they stopped the fight, because this girl was just getting completely beat to hell....if i were the other girl, i don't think i could have kept going - i mean, she was just a bloody mess - but apparently that's just me, because not only did she NOT ease up, but she continued to go for the face! yikes

then there was the latest of the H1N1 flu clinics - i think this is the fourth or fifth one i've shot in the last 2 months - i guess the hook here was that it was the first open to the general public with all restrictions lifted, and they were expecting huge lines.....well, there weren't really any lines, huge or otherwise, so, yeah, so much for that idea.....i think the whole hoopla over the swine flu has passed, but still, the nurses there managed to persuade me to get one (despite the fact i'd decided i wasn't going to) - well, really, what else was i going to do while waiting for people to show up? posting this just because i liked the expressions on the kids' faces as they watched mom brave "the needle" for her vaccination - they all got the nasal spray least i didn't suffer through any further hearing loss from the high-pitched shrieks of screaming children this time!

i'm losin steam, and must attend to laundry, so this'll be brief - shot from a cancer benefit concert featuring a headlining performance by Ruben Studdard of American Idol fame

and finally, just a portrait i like for a story on kids who can't play their sports due to inadequate GPA's

more to come!

Friday, December 25, 2009 and there

first holiday season with our newly pared to go home at least thru xmas eve, which is when my family always celebrates - well, at least the opening gifts and party-ish side of the holiday...but i had to leave this morning to drive back to michigan to work the evening and weekend night deadline desk duties, it was short and sweet, then back it was, and i am now here on the desk waiting to tone the page 1 fotos...really doesn't feel like xmas, and the wet, brown ground isn't making it look a lot like xmas either...anyway, at least i got to be home with my family at the holiday for part of the time, got to help decorate cookies, see my little kitty-boy - going on 16 years and still kickin! go Kashi go!!!! he's such a sweetie, but sadly, i think he is beginning to forget me some, at least when i first got there, but after the first day, i started getting lots of little nuzzles...or maybe he just realized i was another set of hands from which to elicit back scratches! oh well, doesn't matter, still good to get some love no matter what the reason...
although i have plenty of catch-up to post from the last week or so, i'm posting these now...just cause i feel like it, and i'm bored, and there will likely be nothing to do work-wise for the next couple hours, so i may as well get productive here....

this is what our little family xmas scene looks like to the outside world - you'll have to use your imagination to put me in the scene, as i was, familiarly, the girl behind the camera

except for the morning after before i got ready to drive back - clearly i had not yet had my xmas morning caffeine!

here's my Kashi! cute cute cute

and Mr. Lucky, my parents' cat

they've become really good buddies...well, for the most part that is

so, back to the xmas joyousness, from the inside now...while Mom gets things ready, lights the candles, Dad takes a few pictures of the tree and gifts and us...before we get down to the serious business of tearing our carefully wrapped and decorated boxes apart! this photo thing kinda runs in the family

so, we're opening, and we're having some champagne....a good time is had by all

especially when Dad opens one of my sister's packages....before the holidays, when we were trying to get some gift ideas, my folks gave us more of the what-not-to-get list - no more clothes, no more knick-knacks, trying to cut down on so much stuff - so when pressed they said, 'give us something useful, like a gift certificate to a restaurant, or soap....'

and yes, there you have it, my sister did indeed buy my father a 3-pack of Dial soap for xmas (well, that wasn't all - there were less utilitarian presents exchanged - just in case she reads this and fears i have told the world that she just gave our dad a bar of soap for xmas)...anyway, i was about doubled over laughing - it only got better when he later opened up the Speedstick deodorant!

so, here's the scene in michigan - my little home taste of xmas - thankfully none of it got stolen while i was away! hopefully i'll be home enjoying some of it tonight before the holiday officially ends...

merry christmas!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

all things revisited

this week, i got a second chance at a story that i had begun several years ago, and at a feature/news assignment, got a chance to revisit with some kids i had shot a feature of several years ago, as, either i've been here too long (which is quite possible), or i haven't quite accomplished yet what i was supposed to have done here (also quite possible)....and of course there was some other stuff inbetween, like the start of the next sports season (no break from it - i thought we'd at least get a week, but apparently i was mistaken), portraits, and play rehearsals for the upcoming holiday theater fare, and calls and arrangements, etc, etc.....
so, first things first....

a church has held a weekly give-away of clothes/food/miscellaneous items since the spring, and we were doing a story on it - it being the start of a new month when assistance checks roll in, it was pretty slow, only a handful of people came by to get things...there were a couple kids volunteering there, and as i was getting their names the boy asked - did you come by a house on 4th street a few years ago and take a picture of kids playing in a pool? well, i've done that about a hundred times, but i looked at these kids and then it clicked - yeah, i did shoot you and your twin sister playing in your kiddie pool, and good lord, yeah that was about 4 years ago now! so, here they are, all relatively grown up, teenagers, and i got to tell them how that picture actually won in our state's monthly clip contest - which they were super excited about,, a sort of lame assignment turned into something pretty cool, despite the not so great photos...i mean, we go out and shoot so many people, especially kids, between sports, school stories and just feature hunting, as in their case, and it's always kind of interesting to run into them years later and see how they are now and what they're like....just a fun little aside to doing this job i guess....

about 4 years ago, i started researching a story on a facility for people who would be homeless and have co-commitant issues of physical and/or mental health that have compounded or often led to their financial difficulties - it's a huge old building outside of town, probably passed by it a million times since i first got here, and in the course of chatting with someone, i learned about what it was, and that it is one of only two remaining "county poorhouses" in the, i made an appt. with the then-director, talked with him and got permission to work on a foto story - actually, they were incredible about pretty much letting me do whatever i wanted, come whenever i wanted, etc....that kind of access is hard to come by in most facilities, so i was really excited about the project....started it in december of 2005...but like so many open-ended, long-term projects, i let myself get caught up in the demands of the daily - well, especially that time of year, when there's so much holiday STUFF going on, the month flew by before i got back to it, then it was onto a new year, and you know, a couple mmonths or so go by and you realize you haven't gone back, and you feel bad and regretful, and then that feeling alone starts to make it feel harder to go back, because you feel like you must seem like a flake to them, and then more immediate demands come up and more time elapses, and well, now, i just really feel bad, so it lapses into another of those great project ideas that you seem to be letting slip through the cracks, and then, it just gets filed under the "things i started and didn't follow up on" regret file...

this is Ruthie - she mostly walks around in her own world having conversations with, as she calls the, her voices....she has been living there for about 15 or 20 years now, and she was one of the people that i really wanted to concentrate on for the story, because she so seems to embody the unique service that this home provides

so a couple weeks ago we get an assignment to go there - their funding is running out and the county has decided to put its fate up as a millage on an upcoming ballot, and we want to do a story so people are aware of what it is and what they're being asked to vote on funding....we couldn't schedule time til this week, and it's under new directorship, but again, i get pretty much full and unlimited access to do what i want, as long as the residents give their i went back a couple times - everyone there has such a great story - and i mention to the new director that i'd started something there years agop and let it slip, and i would be interested in trying tl pick it back up - even though this story is running this weekend, i'd like to come back and keep doing more - i almost envision this like some of the work that Eugene Richards did in the mental hospital that's in Americans We or something....i mean, not that i'm that good, but the idea of it, and hopefully it would be that good...anyway, this is my second chance i think, and if i let it slip again, then i think i really am an, that millage vote isn't coming up until the summer - got pushed back til then due to funding issues - so, it would be very timely to have something more in-depth come out before then - i mean, these are people that really couldn't (at least quite a few of them) function on their own, even if they got state funding for their own places - accident victims with brain damage, seniors, or schizophrenics not an immediate danger to themselves or others, but they simply wouldn't be able to live independently and would likely end up abused or dead if they were out there completely on their own...
anyway, here's a few from this week's shoot there....

Ruthie is still there, years later - "i love it here" she tells me, lining up to purchase nightly snacks with her tokens...i cannot imagine what would happen to her if Fairview were to close

lunchtime - the food at Fairview is provided by the kitchen staff at the Monroe County jail - granted, Monroe has been known to have the best jail food in the state, but still, it's jail food...residents say EVERYTHING is made with turkey

residents can use the facility's phone room - calls limited to 10 minutes

tokens in hand, residents begin to line up and wait for the snack shop to open for the evening snack time

naptime after the post-lunch afternoon meds have been dispensed

Jim has suffered several heart attacks and recently 2 small strokes, which have left him, not paralyzed, but without feeling in the left half of his body....he lost his home after separating from his wife and before coming here lived in his van in the parking lot at Meijer, where he was subjected to taunts and pranks from teens who noticed that he was basically homeless and living there....his wife also lost their home since he left and is living in the Salvation Army with their children - she has had trouble with their oldest daughter, whom she kicked out and got a no-contact order against - she is now living with family friends, isn't currently in school and comes by Fairview nearly every day to hang out with her father...Jim hopes he can get custody of all the children when he gets back on his feet...his daughter, Amanda, wants to get back in school and also loves photography - she learned about it in a class before she stopped going and told him all about photoshop and how she could remove that funny mole on the back of his neck with the cloning tool....
friday morning, went to the historical museum for a day-long visit/tour by students at a local elementary school...they were there to see the annual xmas tree festival the museum holds, but they also got to tour the museum exhibits, which they were far more interested in than the was pretty hectic - i mean, elementary kids running willy nilly thru a museum - bit of a challenge, but i wound up sticking with a group and got some pix i liked, as well as a couple random ones either for still life or our community page

Sunday, November 29, 2009

xmas is here

saturday, i went out in search of a feature for page 1 sunday, as there was nothing planned, which was mentioned to me friday before i left...well, all rightey then, guess i gotta muster up something - i had planned on finding a feature anyway, cos there was nothing scheduled to shoot that day, i needed to find a photo for our InSight community feature foto page, and one of the copy editors mentioned they needed something for another inside community page next week and could i check out a couple things for that feature - they were the two things i was gonna go to anyway - really, the only visual things going on - the start of xmas tree sale season at a local farm, and then a "santa's workshop" at the old mill museum in another town - santa was set to arrive at both places at the same time, so i kept debating which to go to - and the old mill assn. only lasted 2 hours, so i decided to go to the farm early, since finding a feature of people tree shopping/cutting could take a while, and then i could shoot santa arrival there, and still make it up to the mill feature (for either page 1 if needed, or at least for that second community foto -- and hopefully, i could find something at one or both places that could also serve for an InSight foto) - turns out i missed santa in BOTH places - i was too far back in the fields with a tree-hunting family to catch santa on the farm, and the mill feature turned out to be a craft event, no santa per se....but, oh well, we'll be shooting santa again at some point very soon most likely, so that's not really a big deal, or "the" picture to get - honestly, i don't think anyone really cared, so long as i had something for A1 - i mean, it was practically told to me in passing on my way out after the super early friday a.m. shift - "oh, yeah, i saw there wasn't anything on the board to shoot saturday - we don't have anything for A1 sunday"....
"so, we need a feature for A1?"
and there you have it, the planning of a day's paper, just in passing....
just as a note, that isn't necessarily the norm, but it just cracks me up (and scares me) cos i can just have seen me walking in saturday night with the copy editor asking, so, where's the page 1 art, and had it not been for a semi-off-the-cuff comment about the need for main art, i would have been thrown into a complete tailspin! i guess any communication, then, is better than none at all!
anyway, here are a few i liked from that day on the farm....despite fighting a cold that just hangs on like a bad piece of lint and which had left me virtually voice-less by that day, i kind of liked some things i found, and then i headed up to the mill for the other feature...then had to get back for a girl that needed to come in for a headshot in the studio...then it was just the night desk duty after taking a break, and back home....

and so to back home, where a little kitty, probably about a year old has recently become a regular fixture on my porch - he's been coming around steady for a couple weeks now and is very very sweet - that night, as i was walking in the door, he grabbed onto my leg with both paws and just rubbed his face against my foot - he wants to not be outside SO bad, but i'm mid-knitting, and i'm not sure how he'll deal with stuff, so i need to kitty-proof the place before i'd even think about bringing him in - but he's a real heart-tugger, i mean, seriously, grabbing onto me and rubbing against me, like "please, please, take me with you" - oh my god, it broke my heart!

i call him "Ernie"

Friday, November 27, 2009

big voices & big sales

this morning, up at quarter to 4, yes, sadly, in the a.m. - being the morning gal on fridays once again now that football is winding down, i had the great duty of shooting Black Friday - done this a million times (okay, that's massive hyperbole, but you get the idea, i done it before, and more than once or twice!), we tried to find a family to follow ahead of time - they huddled on t-day to devise their strategy, but being an afternoon paper, a pre-event photo of an event that would have been done by the time we hit the stands, wasn't gonna make much sense, so we still had to cover the actual shopping, set the alarm, call reporter, ask her to call me when she gets up just to be safe, sleep with cell phone very near head...alarm goes off, call comes in, and i'm up and i'm out, and there's a chill and it's misting, but nothing crazy, so i think, well, we're surely not getting the snow they forecasted....not that it matters, cos it turns out the family is going to walmart, who has decided that shoppers will line up inside this year after the stampeding death of last year - gonna get there around midnight to get in line, then stay in line for the 5 am checkout sale start - so we show up about 4:30, which is actually much later than i anticipated having to get there for this, but that's when they told us to come - turns out they'd finished shopping several hours ago (they really didn't have that much stuff in the cart actually, and i guess they did it super early, then just got a good space in line for the actual check-out time) - whatever, finally locate them, reporter is interviewing them now as i am trying to shoot - hard working on top of one another - i mean, we both have our jobs to do - about 25 minutes into it, a walmart associate approaches - "mam, you can't be taking any photos in here" - but we're just doing the usual black friday story, and we were just here for you grand opening with no problems ( when, in fact, every employee in the place was tripping over themselves to make sure that "i had whatever i needed" hmmm, does that include a new hdtv? or wireless router for my printer - cos i, personally, really need those, and just so long as you're asking....), and always in here for the annual shop with a cop and no problems --- well, apparently TODAY i have to contact their corporate media office, so i get the number and call - "thank you for calling the Walmart corporate media offices...we will not be accepting any calls from thursday thru sunday due to the heavy business of the season" - yeah, and isn't this pretty much really the media office's PRIME BUSINESS time? and they decide that they're too busy to deal with the media????? isn't that pretty much ALL you're there to deal with, in the designated media office, on the busiest, most reported-on media shopping day of the whole friggin year?!!!?!
so, out we go - reporter's got her story, and i do have some stuff we can use - there were such better pix there, maybe not necessarily of this particular family, but just general black friday pix, and i had gotten myself actually kind of geeked up to go out and make the best of it and bring back something pretty kick-ass, but apparently it was not to be...
anyway, at least this is kind of a nice moment of the event...this family has been doing the black friday thing for years after losing their grandfather and trying to come up with some way of getting together as a group in his honor.....and i guess nothing says "remember grandpa joe (or whatever his name actually was)" like engaging in a morning of crass consumerism!!!!!!!
(wow, i sound like a total b____ch! - no offense to them, just being a smart-ass!)

neglected to bring home some pix to post from the choir rehearsal pre-parade last weekend, so here they be - i especially liked al the eyes going in all directions in the one foto - not one for the story maybe, just something i liked as a moment unto itself

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

spirit, of the school & santa sorts

last saturday, back out on the road for sports - this time, not nearly so far as last, thankfully, and even more so, it was a day game to boot - haven't had one of those in a long time - our sole remaining team in the state semi-finals, and what a crazy game - they were down, then tied, literally going into the final seconds of the game - i was convinced that they were going into overtime, and then they decided on their last play to go for the field goal kick 30+ yards to win - all with the kid who'd never made a kick that far and who'd missed the kicks after the td's - the sideline was crazy, so much energy, the guys all linked arms, swaying back and forth before the kick, and from each of them, utterances of "c'mon, seth, c'mon seth, do it, do it"- even i had so much adrenaline pumping just watching them and awaiting the reaction shot that i think i was literally shaking (and i don't even really LIKE football!), and he makes it - but the umps throw a flag, and they have to re-do the kick - so now, the kid who'd never done this before, not only did it once, but he has to do it again! so, same thing all over again, more adrenaline, more heart pumping, and he makes it again! frickin nuts! then the other team fumbles on their first down with like 10 seconds left and they recover and actually end up getting another touch-down....i didn't even know that happened til later, because i was just focused on the sidelines the whole time at that point - i just knew everyone was going nuts, and then it was mass chaos at the end, which makes getting stuff either really easy or really hard, and in this case, it was more like the latter, but it was cool nonetheless, and sadly, since i have to go cover the wackos lining up at 3 am to do the black friday shopping, i'm not on-shift to cover their finals game at Ford Field in Detroit late that afternoon....i'm seriously thinking about going anyway - and that's saying a lot for a girl who really doesn't dig the sport - but, i really love everything that surrounds it - all the emotion, the intensity....i may just have to whip out the press pass and go anyway

sunday was the annual holiday parade thru downtown monroe - i had to shoot a chorale rehearsal beforehand, then i drove down to the pre-parade line-up after i ran into the paper to dump my cards (just in case i needed all of them for the parade - 256 mb cards don't go too far in the D3) - there was a girl scout troop putting the final touches on their costumes - pin a green fleece blanket around a kid, and viola, you've got a little walking xmas tree!

and then, i jetted up to the paper, parked, then walked back down the street in time for the parade start.....i'm sure i've posted this before, but, man oh man, these are tough to shoot - you'd just think it's absolute gravy with portfolio images round every corner, but they're really kind of hard....particularly when you factor in the whole getting id's thing...but they are where all photojournalists master the great skill of walking backwards, which, given michigan streets, full of cracks and potholes, becomes more than a tad bit dicey! anyhoo, here are a few from the event