Luck under pressure

N0130SMITH05c.jpg, originally uploaded by ©JL.

Had about ten minutes to shoot a portrait of a Boulder Police officer before rushing off to shoot two rivalry games between Boulder and Fairview High Schools.

The officer was receiving an award for his actions during the stabbing of a University of Colorado student last August. He subdued the alleged assailant and prevented the attacker from killing himself. The dilemma was how to shoot a photo at the cop shop. There wasn't a whole lot of visuals to work with so I bailed on the standard portrait of him next to his bike and enlisted the help of Metro student Logan Lyles, who was along for the long ride that day. He made a pretty good light stand and we were able to knock out the picture and hustle to the game.

This was the last frame and I just spun the shutter dial to let in a bit of ambient and didn't really look to see if it was better than the others. Just fired and said thanks to the officer. On a side note, he pulled me over and handed me a ticket for having license plate covers last year. I didn't like him back then. The other day he was very polite and accommodating. Can't fault a man doing his job, right?


Gateway to the soul

This last week I was handed two assignments that had to very different opportunities for photos. One was about a man who was thrown in Panamanian jail by a business partner for six months. He was in the office for an interview and it was after dark. The story was to run the next day, so I was asked to make a glorified mug shot.

N0118BOBBY05c.jpg, originally uploaded by ©JL.

As soon as I met Bobby Hammond I felt I needed to illustrate the story as best I could given the situation. I had already set up the studio to make a photo, but quickly decided that I needed to show this man's patient yet aching eyes. I tend not to look too much into people's eyes when I talk to them. I feel that it is intrusive at times and wouldn't want someone else peering into my soul with professionally trained eyes. But Bobby's eyes were so bright despite all that he had endured in what is regarded as one of the worst places to be put jail. He had his collarbone broken while detained and although it healed, he is now limited in his work as a landscaper. He waited as I fumbled and flailed to capture his gaze into the camera.

Portraits of people in their environment are fairly easy to create. All you have to do is carefully select aspects to keep in the photo, find a good location for the person to sit and literally throw some interesting light on it all. A straight up portrait is much harder to do in a photojournalistic sense. There is nothing to fill in the information other than a persons face and eyes. I don't know that I was able to show Bobby's story in his eyes, but I hope they are engaging enough to make you want to read the story.

N0121BRUCE51c.jpg, originally uploaded by ©JL.

The following day I was sent to make some photos of Bruce Randolph Jr. He has a barbecue restaurant in Boulder and was present for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington D.C. in 1968. He also cut the reverend's hair in a Denver barbershop during the civil rights movement. Once again, how to illustrate an event that took place in another city at another time? I made several photos of Daddy Bruce Jr. working and serving up his beef or chicken plates. But I didn't feel it would hold water for the story about MLK. As Bruce sat near a window to talk with another man I couldn't help but watch his eyes as he talked. He is a very carefree man and told me to go about my business as soon as I walked into his world. I just made photos of him as he talked. He showed an entire range of emotion as he talked about an issue with family and church members. After he finished he went about his work and I asked if he would let me get some audio of him while he worked. I might not have stated it clearly, but it seemed that he would rather sit and talk than just speak as he worked. So I clipped the mic and barely hit the microscopic red button to start recording when he began to talk about the trip to Washington D.C.

For this story the audio was the key to conveying the message. His eyes were a an integral part, but to hear his voice and the feeling behind it is completely different. To hear the tone and richness of his voice about the civil rights movement and how it effected him struck me hard. The problem was all the photos I had made had nothing really to do with his interactions with Martin Luther King Jr. Just random portions of time in a place so far removed from those difficult times. So here's a video that may be a bit different, but hopefully the message still comes through it all. Thankfully our society has changed. Not nearly enough, but maybe it will continue to change for the better.


Holy cold Batman

Had the pleasure of shooting aerials today in a small rickety plane. It was about 20 degrees and the plane was flying at 115 miles per hour. So the wind chill was about as cold as environmentally possible. I've finally thawed out after sitting in the sauna that is the newsroom.

It's always fun to see the world from a bird's view. Everything gets reduced to simplistic shapes and tones. The catch is making interesting photos of it all. Today the clouds were not participating very well, as it was overcast and made the light flat as grey steel. Despite all that I was still having some fun just shooting what was underneath me. Little hints of snow and large sheets of ice among vast amounts of brown. What's not to like about that?

I was shooting for an assignment that will run on Sunday. The photos were not real hard to make, just a matter of getting the pilot and plane in the right spot and angle. This must have been my sixth or seventh flight for the Camera and I'm still figuring out the best way to communicate with pilots.

Considering I come back to the office after each trip I guess I'm doing pretty well. Some of the planes I've flown in look very questionable. Gotta love tail-draggers.


Hard Work

N0113SKIWAX17.JPG, originally uploaded by ©JL.

Had a rough day at work last Friday. Was given the task of going to Eldora Mountain Resort to shoot photos of people skiing and boarding to go with a story about how some ski wax is toxic.

Regrettably there was 10 inches of fresh new snow on the mountain. It didn't make things easy to shoot, as it was snowing pretty hard the entire time I was there. But I did manage to pull off a few fun frames and make a few awkward turns. Having a camera in one hand and both ski poles in the other was interesting. It actually forced me to use better skiing technique, instead of being a lazy ski bum and just tearing down the mountain.

It was a good warm up day, as I went to Keystone later that day to get up Saturday and hike to a completely untouched powder-filled Bergman Bowl. Here's a photo of the bowl. Haven't been the first one down a completely virgin bowl before. It was so deep that I didn't even have to turn. I just glided along and giggled like a little boy. Then hiked about a half mile back up to the steep ridge to do it all over again.

Fun times.


The start of the political storm

N0104OBAMA06c.jpg, originally uploaded by ©JL.

Let the games begin! In what could be one of the most pivotal election cycles of recent history. The ravenous media machine based on the up-coming presidential election is going to get tiresome I'm sure. Even more so when the Democratic Convention comes to Denver in August. It's going to be a hoot with all the parachute journalists and national media pushing the local media around and out.

I covered the Barack Obama Campaign party in Boulder tonight. They were gathered to watch the Iowa Caucus results come in, and they were very pleased to see that Obama won fairly handily over the crowded field of Dems. The election is not until November, it's the third day of the year, and I am already getting an uneasy feeling about shooting too much campaign coverage.

But here's to trying to shoot things in a respectful and honest way. Hopefully it will be better than I am predicting.