Sunday, January 31, 2010

the week past

the past week has been a little was bound to happen with our down-sized staff, i had to take an extra week-day off to account for having to work today, sunday, so i was out both monday and tuesday, and my co-worker got very sick, so he was out both those days and the next, as when i got there wednesday, our photo assignment basket was full of sheets of paper, including 5 things that (from all indications) had to be arranged and shot that day...holy that was a pretty non-stop day -- first a musical history lesson assembly, then an 83-year-old woman who has been working at an elementary school every day for the past 6 years under the state's foster grandparent program - that day also being "Foster Grandparent Day" - then a fire department on the northwest corner of the county getting pet rescue oxygen masks, then a sports feature profile portrait, then a photo of the remaining rubble from a house fire out in the country, to serve as the illustration for a sunday section story on the county's unsolved arson fires from last back to the office after shooting all that, and of course (cos Murphy's Law just has to rear its ugly head on a day like this!), i am having computer problems up the ying-yang - servers quitting, photoshop crashing - after i spent an hour downloading to the server, and then toned/captioned the same photo 3 times only to have it crash out on me yet again, i gave up - came home and did all my editing here, then e-mailed it all to the page editors....craziness!

the next day, my co-worker was back, which i wasn't expecting, so i'd come in in the morning, even though i knew there were evening assignments - just to check in, and try to do some arranging on all the stuff not critical which i hadn't called on the day before, so, i worked kind of a split, left for a while in the early afternoon, then headed out late afternoon for a party for a man who was just named the new county CEO, after that, it was off to a school to shoot a swim meet

things seemed to settle back in after that...shot kids celebrating the state's birthday - basically, they all had to bring in some dish or beverage that used michigan-based products - they drank Faygo or Vernor's, ate lots of baked goods made with Jiffy mix, ate michigan-brand chips, and had other things using state produce in them....this one kid loaded up 2 platefuls, plus a big bowl of bean soup, and proceeded, to the amusement of his classmates, to finish it all -this class was pretty funny - after roaming around some of the others, i settled on this one, because the kids were pretty lively, so at least there were moments to work with, as opposed to kids just sitting there eating while reading or something....not the greatest foto, but i had a really good time shooting it, the kids were funny and goofy - they kept saying i was writing down their names because i worked for the FBI, which in 4th grade brain translates to "Fat Butt Investigator"

so, i have a new title it seems
saturday, shot an RV expo show - oy! then went to a wrestling tournament, then got that in and did the night desk
this morning, it was up and at 'em to the far southwest part of the county to shoot a sunday school class created for special needs children...and a portrait after that

and now, here i am, posting this up at month's end and planning to relax a bit before it's back in tomorrow

Monday, January 25, 2010

more of the more of the more

sports and portraits continue to dominate - punctuated by a 4+ hour long discussion of the future of newspapers and brainstorming new directions to weather the storm - ideally, with better results than George Clooney got in "The Perfect Storm." On the cynical side, i found myself looking at the time mapped out for the meeting and thinking..."4 hours? 4 hours to discuss the future of newspapers? they're dying, conversation over!!!" but, i went in open-minded regardless, and we actually had a pretty decent talk, which didn't feel like it was 4 hours...but, let me just say that if i don't hear any more reference to "pants on the ground," it'll be too soon - unfortunately, as i sit here, for some reason with TMZ on tv (cos i'm to lazy to change the channel and wasn't really paying much attention), i just saw a segment on that American Idol episode - i guess at least now i know what the reference was, since i don't watch that show, but still, it kind of gave me a twitch everytime they repeated that phrase....popular culture, it gets to you one way or another, whether you want it or not....
anyway, none of this really has much to do with what i've shot this week -but, i guess it's my blog, i can write whatever i want, right?
it's my blog and i'll digress if i want to, digress if i want to, digress if i want'd digress, too, if if this belonged to you....
sing it with me now (American Idol audition in my future???? hmmmm??)
so, ahem, yes, sports - basketball again

and portraits...
first of a couple that had a 16x14 foot wall in their living room painted with a landscape mural of Cabo San Lucas, where they vacation every year

then, over the weekend, a young girl who created the winning logo design for the state's War of 1812 bicentennial commission - to be used on all their promotional and sales materials - which is actually very cool for her, and fairly significant in the sense that the local Battle of the River Raisin here in Monroe was considered a pivotal battle in that war (more on that later)

later in the week, i went to a morning tour of the hospital's rehab, nursing and outpatient surgery centers by a group from the newly formed "Middle College" - pretty cool program - it's a combo of high school and college classes specifically tailored for kids who want to pursue health-related fields - they essentially get their high school diploma and enough college credits to earn an associate's degree in 5 years through the local public school and community college....anyway, it's people touring buildings, which sounded like a potential challenge visually, and it pretty much was - alot of kids standing in a room or sitting in a room while a worker in the respective facility talked about the work they do....thankfully, the woman in the rehab center had them do some hands-on stuff with some of their materials....whew!

anyway, back to the battle, the annual re-enactment/commemorative events of the Battle of the River Raisin fell on my weekend - shot this so many times, i'm about to pick up a musket and fire off a few rounds myself...though, the last couple year or so the intern has shot it...and apparently they've expanded the program a little - cos we started at the battlefield center, but now we marched about a half mile down to another field, where they did the whole "battle" scene, lots of shooting, guys falling to the ground, etc, then we marched back to the center for the flag-raising, more gun firing, etc.....i was at least looking forward to the fact that the weather forecast was a balmy 40 degrees - i've shot this thing before in an absolute blizzard! - well, i don't know what doppler radar the weather man was looking at, but the weather, mmm, not so much - cold, windy, very very damp - i think my knees were cold for like 4 hours after that - my KNEES, i mean how stupid is THAT?! anyway, here are a few from the event.....

and, so that's my catch-up for now...have another day off before a long haul til next weekend, so i'm off to try and get to the next big thing on the very big to-do far, i've gotten together all the tax stuff, gone through all my yarn and bagged up a bunch of it to donate to a knit/crochet group in need of materials at a senior center, cleaned, and now, well, i guess i can check "blog catch-up" off the list, too
am i a go-getter or what?!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

in with the new?

not quite keeping in good stead with that resolution to post regularly, let alone daily, but i suppose i was waiting for the first post to be something knock-out cool, and i waited and i waited, and it seemed i was just all about more sports and portraits, and feature hunting in the last couple weeks has been simply abyssmal - don't think i've struck out so many times in my life..i mean usually SOMETHING turns up, even if it is when you're just bout ready to give up on the search, but lately not even that has panned, i can wait no lonhger, just gonna have to get the proverbial ball rolling on posting again.....
the strat of this year has been very much a continuation of the last - lots of seems that's almost all i've been doing, basketball especially, but there was a wrestling tournament in there last weekend, which i now realize i forgot to bring home with me to add in here, but, i suspect we shall all live quite nicely without it....
so, on to it......

hoops, there it is!

also got to shoot the portrait of the first baby born in the county in 2010 - this actually turned out okay, for what it is

had an assignment for a classroom page story - school newspapers, and we were observing one at the longest-running publication in the county - the Lotus Leaf at Monroe High (or, the "big high school" as everyone seems to call it)...this girl (standing right) was sarcasticaly thanking the page designer for upping her headline word-count....just liked how it reflected the camaraderie that exists in most every newsroom....and sadly, as i told one of the copy editors later, i think they had as many if not more people working in their newsroom as we do

i was back at the high school for an event that was meant to kick off the start of the following week's Winterfest activities - students would be having big wheel races through the commons...sounded like it had some good potential, and in the end it worked okay, but it's just funny how things so often have to be more complicated than they need to be...i check in at the office and they call down the woman who's organizing the event, and she comes and gets some kids to grab the big wheels out of the office, and she says "so, where do you want us to go?" and i just hate that - i mean, it's not MY event, and that kind of thing always makes me a little suspicious - am i here to document something that's going on, or are you organizing it for a photo?, i just tell them, wherever you were going to be doing it that's where i'll go, don't change anything for, off to the commons we go, and i'm wondering howexactly they're going to do this, because the commons (lunchroom) is always packed and chaotic, and where exactly ARE they going to hold these races in the middle of all that....well, the middle of all that is pretty much it - they pick a walkway between two long lunch tables, and the "race" is all of about 15 feet, with kids walking to their seats and up and down the walkway at the tables' end (i.e., in front of me and the people i'm trying to shoot), so it's a little jacked up, and after a few pairs of kids do it, the big wheels break, and so, in about 15 minutes (as opposed to the hour+ it was supposed to go on), the whole thing is over with....i just stayed and hung out in the lunchroom for a while afterwards, people watching, seeing if there was anything i could pull for our community feature foto page, and just looking at the kids, how they dress, hairstyles, how they interact, etc....i really want to do a feature on hair, wanted to for a while, but i think i'm gonna organize something - like bring along a back-drop and lights and pick a day and just shoot kids during their lunch's light and fluffy, but i think it's interesting how kids express themselves and how divergent their styles are, and in some cases how much they conform to one another - like the clan of boys that all have the skinny jeans and the really long bangs that hang in their eyes or get the super sweep to the side - same old story, just new styles, but it's always fascinating

also shot the latest centennarian portrait - this woman i've shot before, and i think she's in an old post from last Easter-ish - i followed her on a nursing home egg hunt, and she was so cute and funny - i thought it might be her from the name, and i was glad to find that it was and to see her again...she was cute as ever, and it was interesting to stay and here her interview, what she's done in the 100-year course of her life....the one job that she remembered most was the first - working at the Blue Bell Overall Factory in Middleboro, KY, she even remembered her inspection number....such a sweetie, her name is Myrtle, but she goes by her middle name, a good old Southern one - Onlee....after i took her picture she gave me a kiss on the cheek - "thank you honey, thank you...come back and stay longer next time" i think that i will!

we're starting a new investigative series - drug use, heroin in particular...there have been so many od's, with families telling us we have no idea how big a problem this is becoming in Monroe....seems every young death and many of the crimes going on are coming back tied to, we started with talking to a young woman who is going to prison after being convicted on a "delivery resulting in death" charge in the heroin overdose of a young guy last year - they had actually been friends since grade school...she'd started dealing heroin (among other things) after finding out that people in Monroe were doing it, pretty much just to make the money - she never actually did it herself, though she did have her own issues going on with pills - xanax and oxy, which is the other really big problem here....after his death, months before she was even connected and charged, she stopped dealing and even stopped her own drug use....she would like to be a marine biologist and plans to take classes to get her GED and maybe college, depending on how long she's there - her sentence is being, the portrait is pretty lame - they wouldn't let me do anything except shoot while the reporter was interviewing her - i think i'm gonna contact the prison and see if they'll let come there and do something...anyway, this is the start as i said to a series, in which we hope to shoot people in recovery, families who have lost loved ones, and people who are actively using - should be interesting...any suggestions on how to approach and get people still using to participate would be very much appreciated

though feature hunting has been pretty tricky, it's still got to be done, and Friday, after the big wheels event, i gave it another go - HAVE to have fotos for that community page, difficult to find or, driving around and around, i finally see these kids gathering up the last bits of slushy snow and forming them into balls, then trying to hit a railroad crossing sign, so i pull over and make a feature - nothing great, but it's kind of a nice slice-of-life moment, and just nice to finally find someone out doing something!

finally, got to shoot another wedding - this was a revisit to a story series the paper did in '99 on a high school girl undergoing brain surgery to replace a shunt in her brain - she was born with hydrocephalus, and the condition was caught early enough that she didn't suffer any brain damage (or death, as is the eventual outcome left untreated), but she has had to undergo several surgeries as problems with the shunt re-arise periodically....Saturday she got married, so the story was meant to be an update on her life, as she undertakes another milestone in her life and living with this condition....the family was very cool and they were extremely receptive and glad to have us there, and i knew the photographer they'd hired, so there weren't any issues with me being there and he even encouraged me to post up my fotos and give them to the family...very cool, that's not always been the case when i've covered weddings before....

so, that's been the start of the new year so far