May, may go away

Well I’m almost two weeks late in posting, but I have been busy and honestly wanted to put off going through photos from this month. It was a long one. There was a lot of baseball and graduations, but a lot more tragedy.

A shooter killed 10 kids at Santa Fe High School. Santa Fe is a small town that the Daily News covers frequently. Santa Fe is great community and tragedy struck it horrifically.  Covering this has been the biggest challenge since I began my professional career. Although Harvey affected people on a greater scale, there is no heartbreak like watching a community mourn 10, young souls that were taken too early.

This was a hard lesson to learn. Everyday that I had to cover this, all I wanted to do was put my camera down and cry. However, that was not an option. I had to buck up and do my job even though we were unwanted, and still are. I hope the people of Santa Fe come to realize that we are here for them and only want to tell their stories.

Here are my top ten photos from May.

Bay Area Regional Medical Center declares bankruptcyLois Gibson forensic artistClear Springs vs. Kingwood baseballClear Springs vs. Kingwood baseballVigil in League CityWorship at AldergateCCISD protestTurtle releaseGreater Barbour's Chapel Baptist Church prayerLa Marque graduation

May was a lot of people and a lot of emotion. I think I did a better job at capturing this emotion compared to Harvey. The power and passion people have within them is incredible to me and I hope that you can see that in my photographs.

Here is a little extra of just baseball since I didn’t have any in the edit. I think I got a lot better a shooting the sport as the months have gone on, but unfortunately our Clear Springs did not make it past the regional semifinal playoff series.

 

I’ll try to stay on top of my photography from June and actually be on time next week. Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

I’m the April fool

April was a wonderful month for me! I did not work as much as usual because I took some vacation time for the first time since August. I was able to visit friends in Missouri, shoot my friend’s engagement and then I went to Denver for The Image, Deconstructed workshop. The workshop was absolutely incredible. I was able to see and stay with some close friends from the J-school and I learned so much from extremely talented photojournalists that gave us lectures on how to be better storytellers.

During the workshop, I was able to get a portfolio review. Yeah my portfolio got destroyed by a Seattle Times editor. He called my work decent, which I completely understand. He made me realize what I was missing in my photography and I really hope I can truly improve with this advice. It is so easy to get stagnant or even too confident in your work. It is important to stay grounded in this industry so you can continuously improve and work harder to be better. This caused me to immerse myself into finding stories and I have found a couple to work on, so I’m excited for these to come together.

Below I’ve attached my 10 best images for April. This definitely wasn’t my strongest month, but I included a lot of stuff that is different than the regular features I show.

Marika Fuller and Gum Bayou

I love this portrait. Marika Fuller is passionate about changing the drainage systems near her neighborhood so she and her neighbors don’t have to experience another Harvey. I think this portrait makes her look strong and determined.

Tall ships parade

This is a photo from Galveston’s first tall ships parade. I like that you can see the beautiful ships in the distance. I think this photo is good at giving the viewer a realistic perspective.

Tall ship tours

This photo isn’t the most exciting, but you can tell how interested in the tall ship they are. I think the foreground frames them well, but this could have been done better.

Devil and the Deep Brew

This photo was for our business section about a new brewery. Instead of a regular building shot, I decided to get the brewer actually doing his thing. I love the focus on his face and you can tell how much he cares about each batch.

Ball High vs. Texas City

In baseball it can be hard to get good facial expressions, but I love that you can see his face clearly and you understand what everyone is trying to accomplish in the photo.

GC Rodeo

Cows are amazing. Just look at this sweetie shaking off the water. I think this works well as a detail and relays the message that these cows gotta be clean for a show.

GCFR Auction

A more obvious shot, but I enjoy the father/daughter moment. They are working toward the common goal of dressing up her goat. The rodeo was full of fun characters, but I don’t think I shot it as well as I could have. I have never been to a rodeo or livestock auction, so I think I’ll be much more prepared next year.

Clear Falls vs. Clear Creek baseball

There is nothing like a fun celebration shot. I like how this just looks like a snapshot of a moment. You know exactly how these guys feel and it’s nice feeling that through a photo.

Texas City fire

I’ve talked about how breaking news is not my forte and it still isn’t. I included this “meh” photo mostly because of the colors. The yellows and reds pop so much because the smoke has completely covered the apartment. I think it also shows the exhaustion of the firefighters.

I just really like this food shoot. Probably my best so far. 🙂

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

 

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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