Thursday, February 28, 2008


i know -- whoa, way to go. horses and silhouettes. way to be original -- but i like quiet photos of a man with a rowdy name like rex. he is a little old man that takes care of the animals on this giant farm compound thing. he invited me back in the spring when he says i can watch him wrangle the 20 + geese by the pond.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


he was not having as much fun as his older sister on this sled ride. it snowed like six inches of big fat wet snow yesterday and i was sliding around town in my boots with no traction and falling face down into piles of it while feature hunting.

this was one of the last photos i took yesterday. he would freak out every time he got snow on his face and the breaking point was when one of his dogs kicked up a bunch while jumping up and down. i definitely sympathized with how crabby he felt.

where you at, spring?

Monday, February 25, 2008

cutting reflections

feature hunting at a glass and mirror store.

a pow wow, a photo essay and a process

click on the image for video

pow wow is a hard word to type over and over again. i kept typing powow in my captions after covering the 7th annual mid-winter pow wow here in lima last week. since it was a slow sunday, i decided to mess with video. i definitely made some goof ups -- couldn't find the good mic, so my interview audio was recorded with a shotgun mic in the loudest room ever; struggled a bit with making good photos and good video simultaneously so i feel like what i produced was just okay; still haven't figured out the exposure and wb settings on the video camera; missed some things in final cut that ended up in the final edit of the video [the weird video going on behind the stills in some parts] -- but its a process i hope yields improvement. just like typing pow wow over and over again.

click on the image for video.

one step i did make with the pow wow video was that i did it on deadline. my only other previous video attempt was part of a photo essay i did on alex evans, a kid with cerebral palsy that goes to one of the high schools here and loves his football team. this was my first attempt at messing with moving images and final cut pro, so the video is pretty imperfect and the editing [and figuring out the software] took forever and a half.

click on the image for video.
photo cred to matt

it feels like i might be getting worse with every subsequent attempt. yesterday marked lima's first brush with the presidential campaign when bill clinton came to town to campaign for hillary. seeing that i did the pow wow video fine on deadline last week, the paper asked me to do video for this event and matt did the stills. when we were leaving the house to ride to the high school together, i asked matt if we had packed a tripod. he said yes. when we get to the high school, he busts out the most special tripod ever. having really overestimated the value of a tripod covered in glue meant to hold a much smaller still camera, i found myself in a position where it seemed like the practical solution to ditch the tripod and just shoulder the camera.

as you can see from the video, this was a bad idea. i also forgot a very basic rule -- instead of being all over the place like i was, a shot should be held for five seconds without really panning or zooming or any actions of the like. my defense mechanism has generated a series of excuses for these technical shortcomings --- the first [and probably the only semi-valid one] being this tripod issue. i won't bother with the rest.

i also was totally ignorant to the concept of sound boards at events like this. this time i found the good wireless mic that i used for the interviews, but didn't plan on bringing a cord to plug into the board to get good speech audio. again with the shotgun mic.

the last thing on the short list of horrible things about this video is the glitches in the editing. having overwhelmed myself by filming too much useless footage i had to sort through, i was up until 9 this morning editing the video. sleep deprived people cant catch things like that freaky "unrendered" screen in the interview footage and the lower 3rd bar with the messed up text.

while i was uploading the video, i found myself searching through the mercury news' video stash lingering especially on their use of stills and video in their political coverage [having come off of this event]. i really liked their SUPER TUESDAY video and their Day in the Life of the Mayor. They have a very distinct style and a progressive sense of the use of the medium that I know not every one is receptive to, including our last videographer who scoffed at what he called "weird shit". In trying to break from television broadcast tendencies, i hope i don't end up trying to emulate some of this stuff and failing. I hope to get my shit together with a video camera and plan correctly so don't find myself grouchily tearing up my own work when the video is posted.

Friday, February 22, 2008

pioneer days in kalida, OH.

hyper talented lady.

sitting alone on the spinning heart ride :(

Thursday, February 21, 2008


tonya with navaeh, mai mai and pree pree.

i met tonya while dating her brother for a little bit. while that relationship is more than dead, i still get calls from tonya to hang out. we get along pretty well -- she likes talking about work and sharing cigarettes on the porch with me. we've come across some tension because of her brother, but now we both agree that he's just full of nonsense.

there's at least three kids [on crazy days, you can find up to seven] under the age of 8 at any given time at the house, all of them way too hyper for their own good. she lives in a public housing complex. the neighbors are mostly crazy and are always leaving their kids at tonya's.

she has two daughters, champreese [pree pree] and mainique [mai mai]. "i just made the names up at the hospital," she says.

she also takes care of her two of her sisters kids, ty and honesty. then there is her boyfriend gian [G], who works a ridiculous amount of shifts at olive garden and also has another daughter, navaeh.

i cringe sometimes watching tonya give pree pree pop tarts or letting her sip on mountain dew. while hanging around them now, being who i am today, i find myself judging her decisions sometimes. besides the junk food, she also liked keeping the oven running to heat the house and i would get nervous when the kids would be running around in the kitchen.

but then i remember that i wasn't raised that differently. my mom, not really knowing any better after getting to this country, never hesitated in keeping a steady flow of junk food in the house and would leave me to baby sit my two younger sisters when i was only eight. i really shouldn't be judging because i know what matters is that she's doing what she needs to do.

when it comes down to it, there's a legitimate reason that i enjoy going back to the house. her brother moved out about a month ago and that has made it much easier on me to just go back and play with the kids and let tonya vent about her shitty job at save-a-lot. she also makes some mean collard greens and stuffing for me.

tonya and g are 12 years apart. he's actually younger than me at 22. "man, tonya bagged up a young one," i said to him once. "bagged? tonya done snagged me with a harpoon," he said. he carries a lot of responsibility providing for four kids, but he does it without flinching.

and i have too much fun with pree pree. she likes playing with my hair, dancing with me to BET and pressing her face up to my lens when i bring my camera.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

aquatic medley

At first, I got really excited about shooting swimming because its the only sport I have first hand experience with. I was the second-worst swimmer on my team in high school. Primary role was cheering people and every once in a while they would throw me in a relay. I made the mistake of mentioning my past on a team to one of these actually-talented kids and was forced to share my lack of awesome battle stories.

I was good at making sandwiches for me and my teammates and lugging apples to meets.

it was pretty fun shooting this though. they were all very friendly and very supportive of each other and being around all that positive energy makes it hard to be grumpy photographer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

tick tock

Monday, February 18, 2008


only a dude like jerry could look fashionable enough to make me chase him down the street in the bitter wind for this photo. he is a classy fella.

okay --

the rev. jesse jackson came to town last week and brought lots of stone-faced security with him to his stops at places like lima senior high school.


my car and i both agree that we strongly dislike most forms of icy precipitation. i cannot wait until spring.


(c) Christopher Anderson / Magnum.

There is a really interesting discussion brewing in the comments section of the Magnum blog regarding a post about the Feb. 8 photos of the week. Magnum photographer Christopher Anderson took this photo of Mitt while he was campaigning in Michigan in January.

During this election, I've seen some slick looking images of the candidates -- really sophisticated lighting, really quirky characters, bold blues and striking reds -- all these elements that I thought made successful photos. This has none of that. It almost seems like an accident.

I was pretty confused when I saw this image because of the haphazard quality I initially perceived. It also reminded me of this also well-received and similarly harshly lit image of Obama by Redux photographer Stephen Ferry. Is this some new kind of style?

If I ever came back from an event with anything like this, I would think that I fucked up my assignment and throw it out. But then in the comments, Anderson explains the deliberate nature of his photograph --

"...I guess I just wanted it to feel like what I was seeing there. These events are rather ridiculous. they are staged and repetitive. While it may not look like it in these pictures, I do in fact know how to balance my flash and expose. It was a conscious decision to flash with this technique. It is as if throwing too much light on it might somehow expose these campaign photo ops for what the really are. The designers of these events want us to make a pretty picture. but a pretty picture to me felt like something that would be false to this event. I almost thought of the flash as being like an xray that would reveal what I really see at an event like this."

This kind of thought process is really admirable in my opinion. When I'm shooting, I try and stay weary of giving media wranglers what they want. I seldom shoot high-profile events here in Lima, but even on this level of news, we still encounter PR folks doing their job, overly manicured business men, people that smile too hard and shady local politicians.

As a photographer, I often feel like I fall short of communicating and developing my voice in an innovative and creative fashion because of the nature of some of the editors in newspapers that sometimes encourage conventional images -- bring back the "safe shot." Sometimes I get so caught up in bringing back that safe shot, make sure you are covering your butt to avoid getting a finger wagged at you, that I don't stop to make honest observations for myself.

This photograph, while initially not visually appealing to me, did make me stop and think. The ability for the photographer to refine his message like this makes me want to push myself beyond the mediocrity of more traditional photographic images.

Of course, it is a matter beyond being cool or edgy or unconventional. It is a matter of using my tools -- my gear -- to reflect my perceptions.

Read the thread. It is worthwhile.

found via dennis dunleavy

Friday, February 15, 2008

more sports

my 20d lost it a week ago. it totally flipped out on me while shooting a yoga class. error 99! error 99! i sent it to get repaired today, until then, i'm stuckity stuck stuck using the paper's nikon d1h, circa 2001. its a fast camera with little to offer other than its 5 fps for up to 40 frames. these were greyscaled because i'm too embarassed to show you what kind of color and grain i'm actually getting. ideally, if i was a good photographer, it shouldn't hinder me from producing strong images until my baby comes back, but we'll see.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


A few months ago, I saw a series in National Geographic that kinda blew my mind at the time -- Conserving Hunters by Willliam Albert Allard. A couple days after I saw it, I got assigned a poorly planned reshoot for a localized feature we did on hunting.

I went out and met the Schroeders --- Mike and his five sons, ages 9 to 17 --- to go hunting. A previous attempt by another photographer yielded photos that did not make editors happy so they sent me out on a soggy morning to tag along. I never had the chance to talk to them before that morning when we met up. A reporter set the date up for us and this was a mistake. Because of a deadline, this was the last possible day for us to do this before the story was set to run, so the Schroeders were told to show me around where they hunt. Basically, I shot a hunting demo.

[I know, this one has a ridiculous resemblance to one of W.A.A's photos. While I of course kept his essay in mind the whole time I was with the Schroeders, I never made any intentional attempts to emulate him.]

Drawing up a wish list was inevitable. I wished I had more time. I wished this was an authentic endeavor. I wished the goulashes that Mike lent me weren't 5 sizes too big so I wouldn't be stomping around like a goober. I bet William Albert Allard wasn't sploshing around apologetically giggling while he was shooting his assignment.

Monday, February 4, 2008

be[e] cool.

katie came in to the contest on a total fluke. she won third at her middle school and had accepted the fact that she would not advance to the county level. the week before the county meet, first place girl got the flu and second place girl had made some other commitment for that weekend. i don't remember what word was the one that won her that goofy-looking diamond-shaped glass statue embossed with a bumble bee, but i do remember that the whole time she was up there, she was cool as a cucumber.

i do remember a lot of the words that knocked the other kids off. number four lost because of the word colloquial. he bit his bottom lip a lot. eleven broke my heart. clearly anxious, she would shake her foot nonstop when she was sitting down. her skinny ankles and big loafers reminded me of my little sister. when she lost because of rhythm -- a word i CONSTANTLY mispell -- she would not stop crying. number ten tried consoling her to no avail. eleven [her name is halee] was downright downtrodden even up until the moment when they gave everyone their participant trophies, complementary ohio state squirt bottles and made them pose like this for parents to get a group photo. on the other end of the spectrum was isaac, number two, who won my heart because of his braces, would not stop flashing his grill with pride even though he was knocked out way before i even got there.

when i was learning english, i struggled with spelling. my inclination was always phonetic. words like wednesday fucking perplexed me. my dad would make me copy vocabulary words from his english class in my notebook over and over again. i made maybe one or two semi-final rounds in elementary school and was always a drama queen when i lost. i couldn't help but relate to halee, but wished i could be more like isaac -- just happy to be there.

i was disappointed when i got to this assignment and found such a lame venue [fluorescent lights and folding chairs], but looking at this photo makes me appreciate having been at the event.


(c) jack radcliffe

"My photographs of Alison, because of the nature of our relationship, are very much a father-daughter collaboration-Alison permitting me access to private moments of our life, which might, under different circumstances, be off-limits to a parent.

this is a beautiful set of photos of a daughter taken by her father. definitely rethinking the photographs i'm taking of my family. most positively rethinking my use of flash. damn brah, that's some fly [in a subtle way] strobe usage.

[via taylor]

comp time.

"mijita, your composition blows!" is what my favorite viejo commented on my last basketball post. he's totally right, especially about the photos in question in that post. i've been trying harder though. i promise. these definitely lack any storytelling action, but my they're a lot cleaner and make me happy. here's the [huge] photo set on my flickr with more examples of these attempts.


its no surprise to see a slip in my assignment box with the words "WEATHER FEATURE" when i walk in to start my shift, especially in the slow winter time. looking through some of my stuff though, it is a surprise to see the recurring presence of groups of three.