Friday, December 30, 2011

Photographs from 2011 that mattered (mostly to me)

I'm rather certain that photojournalists, i.e. those who use their minds, hearts and tools in harmony, enjoy looking at their work during the past year. I do. We are basically hunters/gatherers at heart and reviewing what we saw and photographed gives us reassurance that our efforts were productive. The downside is that acknowledgement from other sources, friends, editors, contests is ephemeral. So, the best one can really hang on to is the feeling of accomplishment without conditions.

2011 was a fine year for photojournalists, visually, but probably not financially. The Arab Spring uprisings, the Occupy (various) movement, the economic downturn, the 1%ers and the rest of us and the regular diet of sports, politics and daily life made for many great photo situations. Sadly a few died or were badly injured doing their work. Others were imprisoned and beaten or arrested in spite of their First Amendment rights.

I, like many other photographers, never got close to any of those marquee events; that's just the way it is. My biggest opportunity was spending a week in the University of Louisville Hospital documenting the staff and patients in the Burn and Stroke units and the Trauma One Care Center (the ER).

My grandkids celebrated their first birthday and my youngest son married the woman he met during the Obama inauguration. There was the beauty of central Oregon in fall, Butchart Gardens in Vancouver, B.C. and the spirited Cascade Cycling Classic criterium.

The Sisters Folk Festival provided some great moments. Sunday, September 11th. The performance that morning is always free to the public and this years' theme was a "community celebration" centered around the 10th anniversary of the 911 tragedy. Three musicians, Anais Mitchell, Tony Furtado and Willy Porter decided spontaneously to perform "Time After Time." They rehearsed it for ten minutes just before the venue was opened. It put a lump in my throat while they practiced (guess you had to be there). Martyn Joseph rocked the house and Johnsmith found inner peace during the final group song of festival.

And it was a great year for moons.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 1646

The admonitions are constant: "Live every day to the fullest." "Make every day count." "You'll always remember the special things you did." On and on. However, they're all true. Problem is though, how to make all the days of your life meaningful. The other truth: not all days will be special.

I've had many good days in the nearly five years since departing California for Oregon. This particular day that I determined was 1646-post Sacramento Bee was unique. I don't know the probability of all the factors coming together on a single day that made the total lunar eclipse possible: clear skies in the west and east, the moon setting over the Cascades as the sunrise began, finding the right location to photograph the scene, windless conditions that helped even though the temperature was 13 degrees.

This scene may never happen again in my lifetime. If it does, great, but I'll always be happy I was out there at 5 a.m. on 1646.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Nutcracker Memories

A former dancer with the Sacramento Ballet, Jenny Gilmore, remarked recently about how many dancers she had known had moved on to other creative endeavors or retired from the stage to pursue other important parts of their lives.  She was also reflecting on the memories they all shared from performing in the annual Nutcracker.  I was fortunate to photograph ten years of those productions from 1997 to 2006.  My work with the company began when my daughter was given a small role as a "cherub" in 1997.  Wanting to photograph her I offered to shoot the whole performance for the Sacramento Bee.  I got the assignment.  During the next few years my daughter had other roles as a "Mother Ginger child" and a "soldier" battling the Mouse King.  I continued in my volunteer role photographing the Nutcracker for the Sacramento Ballet and virtually every other ballet the company performed including their first international tour to Shanghai and Beijing, China in 2007.  I too have memories of those Nutcrackers, the incredible athletes/artists that the dancers were, the incomparable artistic directors Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, and Lt. Col. (Ret) Fred Shadle, the true heart and soul of the company.   I dug into my film archives and digital files and put this show together.  Video celebrates the dance, still photography celebrates the dancer.  The Nutcracker will always be part of my holiday season and I hope yours as well.