Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Church Exposed

A visiting pastor from a church in New Orleans made a stop at a local Christian church, and I was sent to take his photo at a reception. I really like his expression here, very joyful. I wish I had shot more straight on and lined up with the stained glass windows in the back, but unfortunately there was another church goer standing to my right. I'm kind of shooting over her shoulder. I didn't think elbowing her to the ground at a church function would have gone over so well.

Despite my restraint, there was still an awkward moment. The reception was held in a room right off of the main sanctuary, separated by some sliding walls. I was hanging out in the room waiting for the service to be over and the reception to start, when this woman started pushing the walls away. I felt very exposed as the room opened up and there were a room full of worshipers looking over at me as they performed their final song.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Basketball Diaries

Every so often, a nice photo falls in your lap.

This photo, from the Arkansas/Alabama game I shot yesterday, was a little too literal for me.

Lucky for him (and me, but mostly him) he managed to hit the ground and miss the 300mm lens I had sitting on the floor. The video cameraman to my right (his shoe is in the bottom of the frame) had a closer call then me. He had to scurry up into the bleachers to get out of the way.

I really didn't get anything else exciting from the game, but there is something cool about the trip worth mentioning.

The Bama game was a jet trip. We got to take the phat corporate jet and fly in and out the same day, rock-star style. We do it for every away football game, but it is kind of unusual for basketball.

The inside of these planes are nice. Here, columnist Harry King relaxes as a fellow staffer reads a column by Harry King. Its super awesome, with the comfortable seating, free snacks and a mini bar (which we are unfortunately banned from using). And apparently if you use your cell phone while the plane is landing or taking off, the plane won't come crashing down.

They even roll out the red carpet when we arrive. There's no security checks getting on or off the plane, and sometimes they even have the rental car parked outside the plane when we arrive. Its seriously unfair that anybody gets to fly like this, especially a group of scrappy journalists.

Aside from the game, the Alabama fans provided some nice distractions. I loved this sign about Arkansas player Steven Hill. I don't know where the caveman reference came from. I guess because he has long hair.

Although now that I think about it, he does look a little neanderthal on the court:

Unfortunately for Bama fans, the caveman had a really good game last night.

The elephant man was not amused.

And just for fun:
Remind Me.mp3 by Röyksopp

Monday, January 22, 2007

Behind The Scenes (Now With Slideshow Goodness)

I'll admit, I felt a little uncomfortable shooting some of these images. I was taking pictures backstage at a Miss University of Arkansas pageant over the weekend, and I think I got some pretty stand-out stuff.

I know it's hard to miss with pretty girls in bathing suits, but beyond that I like the lines and the framing of these photos. The top one is somewhat risque for a family newspaper, but I love the look and feel of the moment as they are getting ready backstage. Even though it is half naked girls, I still think there is respect for the subject.

For the most part I think I felt more awkward being backstage then the girls did. Probably because they knew I was out numbered.

This girl was my absolute favorite. She was totally at ease around me, and she gave me so many good images backstage. She went on to win the competition.

I took tons of images and even collected a little audio. I've really wanted to get back to making audio slide shows, so I thought this would be as good as anything to pick it back up. I was shooting this for one of our weekly Sunday sections, so I have a little time before they run to put together a little slide show. I'll throw a link for it on my blog once it is done.

01/26 UPDATE:
It won't be promoed in our paper until the package runs Sunday, but the slideshow link is now live and online, for anyone who cares. Click here to see it.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Killer Bees

She may have lost the spelling bee, but this girl was a winner to me.

I know I'm several months behind here, but I'm really into The Killers' new album Sam's Town right now. I wasn't really that excited about it when it first came out in October, but I got it for Christmas last month and I think it's a pretty solid album. Although the Deadwood-meets-rural-county-fair image they are working is a bit of a turn off, the music is strong and I think as a whole better than their first album.

Sam's Town.mp3
Read My Mind.mp3

Monday, January 15, 2007

P-O-Why I Hate Myself

There's nothing like awards season to chip away your self confidence. I'm putting together my clips for various photojournalism contests (including the POYi competition due Friday), and the more I look at my images the more I hate them.

While going back over everything I shot last year, I did come across something I almost forgot about. I shot a local Mexican-style rodeo with fellow photographer Neemah Esmaeilpour back when we were trying to learn how to do audio slideshows. He recorded sound, I shot photos. The story was never published by our newspaper, so I thought I'd bring them to life on my blog. A version of the slideshow can also be found here.

I probably don't have a shot, but here are a few I'm thinking about entering in the Sport Picture Story category. They are in black and white for two reasons: 1) It's kinda cool, and 2) I want them to win.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Black (& White) Church

If you have never been to a predominately black Baptist church before, you are missing out.

When I used to work in Wyoming as a religion/military writer and photographer, there was this one traditionally black church I was absolutely in love with. Every other week I would make excuses as to why I needed to be at their service. A story on how people dress these days for church? I've got to go to Second Baptist Church for that. A story about the lack of interest in the priesthood? Surely the folks at Second Baptist have an opinion. An enterprise piece on the Mormon church in Wyoming? There's only one place to start...well, the Mormon church, but it's off to Second Baptist right after.

This isn't Second Baptist, but the spirit, joy and strong faith was all there. And just for fun, the photos are in dramatic black and white. Sort of.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fallen Heroes

Addrin Adams, 6 of Waco, Texas, sits in father Marks Adam's arms during a memorial service for Adam's big brother, Army Spc. Jeffrey Paul Shaffer at the Fallen Heroes Living Memorial in front of the Town Center in Fayetteville. Shaffer, who joined the military while living in Harrison, Ark., was killed on Sept. 13, 2006, while serving in Iraq.

This little kid was breaking my heart. He was at some points indifferent, but mostly somber. I probably shot 50 frames of this kid sitting in his father's arms, but there was something so visually arresting about the photo of him in a dead stare looking back at me.

I don't know what was more sad. The boy who misses his brother now, or the 2-year-old daughter who will never know her dad. She is just staring at her grandmother in this photo, obviously not understanding why she is crying.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Playing Games

I'm not sure how these go together, but today the public library had a video game tournament. It was good times though, and the kids seemed to like it.

This kid was my favorite. He went through a wide range of emotions in about five frames.

And in honor of Ken Ritchie's hand obsession, here's a tight shot of kids playing Guitar Hero.

Speaking of things that don't go together...

A couple of random movies came out this weekend that, sadly, I kind of want to see. It has nothing to do with content and everything to do with marketing. When I first heard of that "Freedom Writers" movie I thought it sounded stupid and predictable. Then I saw the trailer with that awesomely beautiful song "Breathe Me" by Australian singer Sia. It reminded me how much I love that song, and suddenly I'm thinking, 'maybe the movie won't be so bad.' That and "Children of Men," which uses Muse's "Map of the Problematique" in its trailers, are now both on my list of ways to waste my afternoons off.

It's not uncommon for me to go to a movie I have no interest in seeing just because of a well crafted trailer score. The only reason I saw "King Kong" last year was because they used Coldplay's "Fix You" in one of their trailers. I was in love with that song and the band at the time, and I was tricked into seeing Peter Jackson's self indulgent, three-hour bore of a movie. And I had no idea what the movie "Closer" was about when I went to see it in the theater a few years ago, but a trailer featuring Damien Rice's "The Blower's Daughter" made that detail irrelevant.

Anyway, save yourself the price of admission and just enjoy these songs.

Breathe Me.mp3 by Sia
Map of the Problematique.mp3 by Muse
Fix You.mp3 by Coldplay
The Blower's Daughter.mp3 by Damien Rice

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year's Eve.

My resolution this year? To continue to fill the moments of sheer boredom that bring you here with interesting images and maybe a song or two. And unlike my other resolutions, I'm getting started on this one right away.

A car slid off the road and down a steep embankment yesterday. It sounded bad on the scanner, but once there I realized only one car was involved and only one person was injured ( a broken nose). I hung out for a little bit though. When the car crashed, the vehicle ran over this road-side cross marking the site where another car had slid on the same curve during a fatal car accident a few years earlier. I kept waiting for someone to get near it or read it or something. I thought it made a nice shot when this police officer finally came over and picked up the pieces as the wrecked car sat in the background. Right after I shot the photo, some sheriff's deputy standing behind me laughed and said "You were just waiting for someone to pick that up, weren't you?"

And the new year isn't starting so well for Arkansas football fans. The Razorbacks lost to Wisconsin today in the Capital One Bowl. I wasn't one of the photographers sent by the newspaper to cover the game, but I did take pictures of people watching it. Here fans look shocked that Arkansas isn't winning. Really?

By the way, check out the new and improved menu bar that runs down the right side of the blog. It's got some java script that took me way too long to execute, and an expanded list of photo blogs worth checking out. I don't know all of these photographers personally, but I respect their work and visit their sites often. You should too.