All of that was in March?

Every time I begin writing one of these blog posts, it stuns me how much happened in the past month. March was wild, I almost forgot Election Day took place! The month was full of softball, baseball and soccer as well as many portraits for our annual magazine, Profiles, and lots of crawfish. I definitely was not prepared for the infatuation with crawfish. I get it though, those little bugs are delicious.

In this conglomeration of photos, there is a little of everything. Unlike February, which was dominated by Mardi Gras and basketball, there is a little something for everyone in this batch. I am extremely pleased with my boldness and how it has grown since getting this job. I used to fear going up to people and asking for their names and personal information, but now it has become second nature. I also am getting much better at portraits and using off-camera flash. These were definitely not my strengths in the beginning whatsoever (sorry, Rita!) However, I have found myself challenging myself more with each portrait and actually looking forward to using my strobe, which I never thought would happen.

I was told that I would grow as a photographer after getting this job and I can really see that as a look at my photography. I hope you enjoy the 10 best from March, thanks for the support!

The Big Ass Crawfish BashDynamo vs. WhitecapsMarch For Our LivesTexas City vs. FB Elkins softballThe Big Ass Crawfish BashWorkers shuck oystersMarika Fuller and Gum BayouGalveston County primariesDown the Hatch at Stingaree restaurantShayla Edwards vigil

 

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Mardi-ruary in Galveston

February was the month of Mardi Gras and basketball and they were definitely my best photos.

Before moving to Galveston, I never understood Mardi Gras because I never understood it. The first night I shot a parade, I fell in love. I was smiling the entire time I was shooting, dancing to the bands and just enjoying everyone’s experiences. I was feeling pretty nervous about properly lighting a night parade, but I think I finally got the hang of it. Overall it was an amazing two weeks of just pure entertainment and joy. Capturing excitement and happiness is a blessing. I love being able to feel people’s energy through photos and I really tried to accomplish that.

Mardi Gras Night OneZ Krewe paradeZ Krewe paradeKnights of Momus

Basketball was almost the opposite of Mardi Gras. We had multiple schools get to the playoffs, but I was not able to take a celebratory photo I was hoping for. Capturing sadness is not as fulfilling as joy, however, you feel so much more from a melancholy photo. I finally got a photo of a player crying after losing a game. I felt bad, but his emotion was so telling of the game. The poor team lost 61-59 and they played so well. Besides taking photos of emotion, I was able to really hone in my skills in basketball. I played with framing, tightened up my frames and tried more artistic, action photos. I absolutely love shooting sports so this was a enjoyable month for me.

Pearland vs. Clear CreekLa Marque vs. East Chambers basketballClear Springs vs. Pearland DawsonPearland vs. Clear Creek

The last two photos are just two of my favorites I took this month. Volunteers came to Clear Creek to pick up trash. There were so many people and even more trash, so I wanted to get a clean photo that showed these volunteers working and I think I did well with the frame below. The other is pure aesthetic. Apparently, Galveston has a fog season and I got to play with that a lot. This photo was a happy find as I was on a bridge at the right moment.

Clear Creek clean upFog feature

Top Ten January

Hello to everyone who takes the time to read my blog! If you don’t know already, I really appreciate your time and support. 🙂

This year, I want to do monthly blogs where I edit down all my shoots from that month into my top ten favorite images. This allows me to work on my editing skills and see where I’m lacking and where I’m doing well in this job.

January was a very interesting month. So many wonderful things happened like the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Circle, which is the first photo and the beginning of Mardi Gras. However, there was a lot of loss. I was at more car wrecks and unfortunate breaking news this month than any other. I didn’t include any this round, which means I need to get better at shooting in those situations.

I find it difficult to work my shots in breaking news because I find myself in my head a lot of the time. I know that reporting the bad is just as much a part of my job as reporting the good, so sometimes I need to channel the photojournalist more than I do.

In chronological order, here are the top ten photos of January.

MLK Unity Prayer

People of many denominations gathered for a prayer of unity on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I love this photo because it shows a mass of people together for one purpose, fellowship.

Food shoot

I included this lovely pie, because I am getting so much better at food photography. When I started this job, I had no idea what made food look good. My progress in my lighting as been helpful as well as my new framing ideas.

Ice and sleet

This is one of the best detail shots I’ve ever taken. Ice never lasts long in Texas, so I wanted to portray that while feature hunting.

GISD Bond

When you think “Galveston Independent School District bond meeting,” excitement is not your first feeling. I wanted to have fun with it so I played with my focus and framing the whole time I was there. Although there is no particular emotion in this photo, I like how close the man in the foreground’s hand came to one of the board members and that you see GISD’s hashtag “gisdinspire very clearly.

Galveston College baseball

Baseball is back and I am pumped! Galveston College has a baseball and softball team that I hope to photograph frequently. Fielding is hard to capture, so I like how you can see the man in background prepare for the ball that is coming his way.

TCISD Robotics

I have been waiting to shoot a robotics team and this did not disappoint. I swear these high schoolers are smarter than I’ll ever be. I like this photo because I waited very patiently for the robot’s claw to be in the perfect position. You can see the student’s face and the task he has to complete. I have definitely become more patient as I have been at this job.

Mainland Mardi Gras

One of the biggest reasons I picked this one is for the colors. It’s very simple with not much technical thought, but it shows how hard these band members work to keep the music going. Also the lighting was wonderful that day.

Special Ball

This is from one of the best assignments I’ve had to date. This was from the Mardi Gras Special Ball at Moody Gardens. People with mental and physical disabilities were invited to celebrate Mardi Gras with family and caretakers at a safe space. I love this photo because the flash hits him perfectly and you can really see how much fun they are having together.

Special Ball

I had to choose one more from this event, because it warmed my heart so much. Volunteers made hats for anyone that wanted them. I love the smile on her face and the framing of the photo.

Dickinson vs. Clear Springs

Last but not least is a pretty good action shot from a great basketball game. Clear Springs and Dickinson have a heated rivalry, so that makes shooting super fun. I like how in focus everyone’s faces are and that you can see the struggle this basketball player is going though.

I hope you enjoyed looking through these photos. Hopefully they get better and better. ❤

November to remember

Academy World Series shirts

This photo was taken after the Astros won the World Series. Hundreds of people lined up to get shirts from Academy. It was a fun sight to see.

November was a crazy month. I had so many great experiences and was able to talk to extremely interesting people all month long. It started with the infamous Lone Star Rally, the motorcycle rally that takes over the island. It was a lot of fun to shoot. Half a million people coming to the island would be intimidating if everyone wasn’t so nice. It’s so great to take photos of people who are just enjoying their lives. However, it is a challenge to be at such a huge event and to make sure you are properly covering it. I had to make sure I included a little of everything and had to work hard to make different visuals than my colleagues. Here are some of my favorites from the rally.

Football and volleyball have been finishing up this month and I have really improved on catching the action. I also found that catching reactions are just as important, especially for play off games.

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One of my absolute favorite assignments I have done is covering adoptions for National Adoption Day. I felt so good after watching these precious children get adopted and absolutely everyone at the event was happy. It was really amazing. This was an easy event to get emotions.

National Adoption DayNational Adoption DayNational Adoption Day

I also decided to write a story on race relations at TAMUG. A student was threatened with racially-charged speech and there is currently an investigation to find the perpetrator. The incident has the entire university thinking about diversity, which is necessary when 2% of students are black. I have attached the link to the story and a portrait of the woman.

http://www.galvnews.com/news/article_c7adcf5f-0f58-5687-bff5-5690cd7a6086.html

Race relations at TAMUG

And finally I’m including photos from lighting ceremonies in the county. Christmas is a big deal down here with all the cities having their own light parade and ceremonies. I was able to attend a tree lighting and another celebration on the island. It is extremely difficult to find good lighting at these events, but it is not a place for flash. This made me work really hard to find good angles that weren’t too dark.

Galvez tree lightingGalvez tree lightingGalvez tree lightingLanterns and LightsLanterns and Lights

Something out of nothing

One of the most important parts of being a photographer is making something out of lousy situations. I mostly think of meetings and general pressers that tend to be pretty boring to capture. It’s necessary to find creative images in a boring situation. I’ve included some of the better photos I’ve made out of a very “nothing” situation.

Pension boardPilots meetingPilots meetingChemic EngineersDevereux damage

As you can tell these situations are not the best. I try to focus on light, layering and details to create better photos from these one-layered assignments. I think these are good examples, but I’d like to find more creative ways to portray these events and stories.

When you’re working on photo stories, there is bound to be something that isn’t interesting about the subject. You still need to capture those moments and make them beautiful.

What’s next?

Since the last two blog posts were dedicated to Hurricane Harvey, I decided to pull together some of the best stuff from the past few weeks. I have separated the photos by type and will talk about them like that.

I will begin by talking about a story pertaining to FEMA frustrations. Hurricane Harvey affected so many people that it has been difficult to make sure everyone is taken care of. Many folks’ homes haven’t even been seen by FEMA yet. This means that people aren’t working yet, are living in expensive, temporary housing, do not have reliable transportation, or are just scared for the future. A reporter, John, and I visited Tim Meade at his temporary home. He and his wife aren’t working, because their temporary house is far from their jobs and they do not have transportation. The desperation in his words is hard to hear, but he feels as though he is out of options. I also went to an open, city meeting where there was a plethora of emotions to capture. People just want answers and many of them are not getting any.

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On a lighter note, I’ve included some of the better portraits I’ve done recently. Artificial light has never been my strong suit, but I feel like these turned out nicely.

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We’ve had many stories about slow tourism in Galveston County since it’s a large part of the economy here. I’ve included my most storytelling photographs. These assignments are hard, because you have to find the interesting shots, they don’t come to you. Doing these was a good test for me as far as making something interesting out of nothing.

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Sports have been a lot of fun to shoot lately. Friday night football is an experience that I forgot about. It is so fun to see high school students and fans get excited about a team and really come together in a stadium. I want to capture more magic and get better action as the season goes on.

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This next small gallery are singles from bigger event coverage that I’ve done. Sometimes you get a fun moment or a detail that makes the shoot so much better. I just thought I’d include these three because they sum up each event.

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The last gallery is what I’ve done to make settings more interesting. I’ve had a lot of shoots where I had to display damage or take a tour of a damaged facility. I have chosen my favorite photo from a car dealership and two photos from a shoot about how preschoolers needed to move from one church to another due to Harvey.

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Overall, I’ve had a lot of work to do. I think I am becoming a better shooter, but I know I can be more creative. Harvey will dominate our coverage for a while,  but it’s nice to get back to the basics a little bit.

Harvey recovery

Recovery was surprisingly much harder to photograph compared to the actual flooding. Finding people willing to talk about losing everything and making new, different photos are the hardest parts. I did my best to get different shots and really show what these people are going through. My goal is to find a family to follow when they arrive to their homes again after cleaning them out. Right now, families are still living with friends, in hotels, mobile homes, or shelters.  It has been nearly a month and so many people are still displaced. Recovery will be happening for the next year at least. It’ll be interesting to see the progression and how these communities will change.

All I know is these people are the strongest people I’ve ever met.

 

Galveston County floodsDickinson floodsDickinson debrisDonation centerSanta Fe clean-upSanta Fe clean-upDickinson debrisFlood insuranceTim and Deidra Meade

Hurricane Harvey

Never in my life did I think I would be in a hurricane, let alone shoot one. Harvey was such an unexpected disaster. Homes, businesses, cars and lives were destroyed by it. You don’t expect to see disaster firsthand. I thought it would feel different, I thought I would cry but that didn’t really happen. What I felt was a sense of urgency. I felt as though I had to help and show everyone what was happening to the people affected by Harvey. The journalist inside really kicked me and instincts took over.

Covering disaster showed me that no matter how much you try, it will be the only thing you think about for days. It showed me that empathy is more than feeling sorry for someone. The experience showed me that people are inherently strong. People who lost everything would tell me “It happens,” or “We’ll get through it,” or “Many others got it way worse than us,” and the ever popular, “This is just life.” They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and started making plans. The volunteers that used their time to help and rescue people from dire situations put my faith back into humanity. There was no reward for helping, people just did it.

I am going to break up my posts by flooding and recovery. In this post I have included the best photos from flooding in Dickinson.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I had a lot of editing help from two colleagues/friends I respect more than most, Hannah Sturtecky and Ryan Berry. Check out their websites at hannahsturphoto.com and ryanberryphotography.com.

Dickinson Harvey floodingDickinson Harvey floodingDickinson Harvey floodingDickinson Harvey floodingDickinson Harvey floodingDickinson Harvey floodingDickinson Harvey floodingDickinson Harvey floodingDickinson floods

Three was a thing.

The one thing I know about community news is that days can be super busy and exciting, while others are not jam packed with action. Sometimes, you don’t get the most exciting assignments all the time and that’s okay! However, I do have to better learn how to make these assignments interesting.

I was told to get photographs of Bayou Animal Services, but I did not realize it was just a photoshoot for the animals. It was tough to get variety of animals behind cages other than varying focal lengths. This is something I don’t think went as well as it could have. Here are the boring images that came from these cute creatures.

I was also assigned to get mugshots of the Texas City Commissioners. Thank goodness they got out of a meeting early, because I caught them right in the nick of time to get good photographs where they aren’t just sitting in a meeting. I did my best to make them as similar as possible, some are below.

Early Friday night football began for me last Thursday as I photographed a scrimmage. Unfortunately, I was late to the game and the players were only wearing their practice jerseys. I tried to focus on the key players, but did not do that well. I wasn’t following the action well, so that will definitely need to change for Friday night football.

After the scrimmage, I passed by a fire at the La Marque Wal-Mart and my inner journalist decided to stop. It was late, so I took photos and got information for a story. Although the photos weren’t great, I was proud that I actually wrote some copy!

La Marque WalMart Fire

Last Friday, I had to find dogs downtown, go to a politician’s meet and greet and shoot volleyball. Finding dogs was a nightmare and I only got one pretty bad frame, whereas the meet and greet was much more successful. I find that when I don’t have as much direction, I really don’t shoot as well. I need to boost my confidence and I think those shoots will be better. On the subject of volleyball, I finally got a tight shot with the ball in the frame! (woo)

Downtown dog wasteBeto O'RourkeClear Springs plays Manvel

Today; however, I made a vague assignment more interesting and creative by creating diptychs of two parks. The park board will be handing over control of Pocket Park 2 to the county. A few years ago, the park board handed over control of Pocket Park 3 to the county. The diptychs compare a few elements of the two parks. There are two below.

Overall it was a good week. I have the goal to catch more emotion and interaction. I think I’m missing that drastically.

Week Two, woo!

After two weeks, I am feeling so at home at this newsroom. Most of my days are packed and it is so much fun getting to know the island and shooting so much. In 15 days, I have done 28 assignments. I have been loving the clips I’ve gotten; however, I think I need to focus more on storytelling. That will be my goal the next few weeks, but for now, here is some of my stuff!

I had a few difficult assignments this week as they don’t always prove to be the most visually interesting. I had to shoot construction and a demolition site. Finding different ways to shoot these things can be hard, especially when you don’t have the best access. I found that one way to fix this is to look for the details. You always need the wide shot, but something can be said for finding something no one else would see. Below are two details from the shoots.

Last Friday was a hot day for me. I had to go to the San Luis Pass to shoot some signs and people if they were there. The San Luis Pass has been the scene of four drownings this summer, so there is much more signage about no swimming. Luckily, I was able to find some people fishing who were willing to talk to me about danger. Some of them, did not even know about the danger at the San Luis Pass. With a story like this, it’s important to show readers the place where this happens and give a little background as to why it happens.

Saturday was a busy day, but it was a fun one. I shot Major League Quidditch in the morning, a suicide prevention program in the afternoon, and an annual fair in the evening. I love busy days like this, because it keeps me on my toes and I get so much experience in the manner of hours. Going from shooting sports to shooting something more serious is not easy, but I am pretty good about changing my mindset and reading a room. I have also found that it is extremely difficult to shoot a fair, because there is so much going on. It’s hard for me to think about what people want to see, but sometimes moments happen right in front of your face. For that assignment, I just wanted to give the readers a general feel for the fair. Here are some of my favorite frames in the form of a slideshow from Saturday.

 

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On Sunday, I was called in to shoot a rally calling for solidarity after the Charlottesville protests. I was not sure what to expect, because you never know how many people you’ll find at those events. However, everyone was just happy we were covering it and willing to talk about their emotions. It was a nice way to bring some of the community together after tragedy.

Charlottesville RallyCharlottesville Rally

The last thing I’ll show is just a nice picture of a turtle. Unfortunately, it seems that the Galveston turtle barn has decided to stop housing turtle hatchlings. The program manager did not give us much information as to why, but according to the NOAA, the hatchlings aren’t needed for their experiments. It is a shame in my opinion because so many more turtles live, because of these barns.

No turtle hatchlings

Anyway, it has been another good week. Having a great job makes living alone not bad at all. I feel fulfilled and happy that I’m using my degree to inform the community and spread news as far as I can.