I visited the San Joaquin Valley twice in March to photograph the Fresno Country Blossom Trail and surrounding area. Compare my photos from the first visit and the second visit. During the drive to and through the valley, I reflected on ”being from the Valley” while listening to the radio. On my first visit, a local radio station asked listeners to name their “theme song.” A theme song was described as the music that would play whenever a person walked into the room.
Well, I knew my theme song (or at least I thought I did.) It was Bad Company, by Bad Company. Yeah, this guy with a face of fear “chose a gun and threw away the sun.” It does not make sense. It is a great song, but as far as a “theme song” it falls apart after the first two lines.
Company always on the run/ Destiny is the rising sun… after that, who wants a theme song that announces your bad disposition and willingness to die using firearms?… Read the rest
Lately, I have wondered if God were my D.J. At the exact moment I need to hear a song, Pandora, Whole Foods, or some random person selects the song with the appropriate message. During the last two weeks, I have heard John Denver’s Country Road two times. I am not from West Virginia, yet the song reminds me of my old Central Valley home town. The day after hearing the song a second time, my favorite Fresno County farmers told me to visit the Fresno County Blossom Festival. NOW!
On my good days, I trust that God and farmers will feed my soul and nourish my body. I am grateful that I listened last week. I woke up two hours before sunrise Wednesday morning, turned on the radio, turned onto the interstate and headed for the country roads. As the sun rose, ”I (could) hear her voice, in the morning hour.” Fresno called me… taking me home.… Read the rest
When I fell in love with women’s flat track derby, I was already a fan. Derby answered a nagging question… or rather, derby helped me answer all those people at UC Santa Barbara who nagged me with the question, “So, what is a man gonna do with a BA in Women’s Studies?” This man is gonna listen to Joan Jett, drink a beer, eat a vegetarian tamale, and watch women skate around in a circle and hit each other.
Finally, I could go somewhere an not worry about my bad reputation (not that I really worry anyway). Derby had all types of women competing and every demographic supporting their aunts, sisters, mothers, girl friends, daughters and friends. Derby was like Glee all grown up, except I knew the music, I understood the references, and every competitor was someone I wanted my daughter to meet. One of the skaters even named herself belle RIGHT hooks!… Read the rest
I am like an official women’s derby photographer now. I am more than a little excited. I’m running and I won’t touch ground. Eva Menace, the PR person for The B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls, invited me into Saturday’s season opener on March 2, 2013 at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California. Now I can take photos of REAL LIVE DERBY GIRLS like Lulu Lockjaw. Lulu actually let me take her picture. Wow. What’s a boy to do?
I think I have a found my derby persona too. As I understand derby personas, they are like an alter egos. My derby alter ego uses the word “like.” He also has the exuberance of a respectful high school sophomore boy who happens to drop his camera and damage his lens. (Assuming this never happens again, it was worth it.) If you are one of the five people who read my blog, you know that I usually take my self way too seriously.… Read the rest
Two years ago, I taught multimedia at San Marin High School in Novato, California. I love teaching and I loved the San Marin community. I was especially fortunate that the year I worked at San Marin, the boys basketball team won its first NCS Section Championship in school history and the baseball team shared a section title. (The shared baseball championship might be the only one in California history.)
Some of my former students play on this year’s San Marin High School football team. The Mustangs started the season slowly. When the playoffs began, the team started winning. On Friday, the football team almost won the school’s first North Coast Section football title.
Instead, the Justin-Siena Braves defeated the San Marin High Mustangs 27-13 to win the 2012 North Coast Section Division 4 Football Championship at Dodd Stadium in Napa, California.… Read the rest
The Fresno High School Senate was established in 1890. Until the 1970′s, the club only admitted boys. (There was an equivalent for girls during part of the first 80 years, but the club is so old, American women did not have a Constitutional right to vote when the Fresno High Senate started. )
We’re talking old.
When I joined Senate, MTV was a few years old. My classmates and I raced home and watched new wave music videos. Now, I am starting to sound old, which I have been for several years at Stogie Bowl. This year, I was the second oldest.
Most of the people were not born when I attended my first game in 1984.
Sometimes Senate seems as if it is merely a debate club with a football problem… or is it the other way around? We love a good debate. (We love any debate, but we love each other.) Senate trains its members to argue assertively and respectfully.… Read the rest
Since the top two teams at the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association West Region Tournament automatically advance to the national tournament in Atlanta, the third place game between the Bay Area Derby Girls and the Rose City Rollers was probably the most dramatic of the tournament. The bout was especially exciting since the BAD Girls hosted this year’s West Region Tournament.
The bout was close the entire game (though not as close as the seventh place game) and there were very few two minute jams. (To those who have not watched roller derby, there were not many penalties nor big scoring plays… a lot of field goals.) The home crowd was excited to be returning to nationals. Portland fans are cool too.
For more photos from the evening see this link. Great light at the Craneway Pavillion.
Was there any doubt that the bout between Angel City Derby Girls and the Sacred City Derby Girls was the greatest match of the 2012 Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Western Regional Tournament?
The two teams are bitter sweet rivals with a relatively long history. When the bout ended, Angel City’s tournament MVP Jammer Fifi Nomenon fell to the track one point short of Sacred City, but many fans thought Angel City won. The two teams fought, pushed, skated, and tugged the entire game. When Sacred City eventually won, players from both teams cried. Players from other teams cheered.
I love close games and I would watch these two teams compete every day. I also wish my children had attended so my son and daughter could have watched how the players respected each other despite the fierce competition. Despite losing an agonizing bout, Angel City congratulated their rivals. Sacred City celebrated without being arrogant.… Read the rest
Yesterday was the “Seventh Annual Day in the Park” in our Oakland, California Maxwell Park neighborhood. The Day in the Park is the signature event for our neighborhood. The event is held at a little park with the same name as our neighborhood. There is also an old Maxwell Park Elementary School just down the street from the park. (When the school was built, the park did not exist.)
The event occurs on the second Saturday of September. One block is closed to traffic, except for the food vendors, musicians and community fire officials who bring plastic red hats.
This year, the event seemed especially important for the neighborhood and the organizers. We have amazing neighbors.
(Edited at 9:15 pm Sun 9/9/12) One of our neighbors who prefers not to be photographed, agreed to photograph me. I think she enjoyed taking pictures, and probably would make a good photographer.… Read the rest
A year ago today, my family returned from Redding, California before our kids began school. My younger child was beginning kindergarten and my daughter was starting second grade. I am posting these photos from the Sundial Bridge at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park.
I have learned that when I am in the middle of processing my Mothers of Angels photos that it helps if I continue to enjoy my own children. I have also learned from the mothers to enjoy my family the entire year. The mothers remind me to honor life… not to take it for granted.
I showed these photos to my six year old today and he remembered our visit to Paris. We have never been to Paris, but then we have never been to China either. (Yesterday, he confused Chinatown with China. Before I could decide whether I should correct him, his sister solved my problem.)
My children have traveled enough for their age and they have done enough for their age.… Read the rest
Napa seems far away from Oakland. Napa Valley is not really part of the Bay Area, but Napa is closer to Oakland than other Bay Area cities. If traffic is light, I can make it to Napa in about an hour. On Friday, I went to Napa to spend the night with my wife. We worked during the day and visited downtown Napa on Friday and Saturday.
I have been experimenting with my new cell phone camera. At the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, I photographed an interesting French antique at Heritage Culinary Artifacts. I returned the next day with my real camera, but the piece was being packed for a new buyer. The blackberry photo was also taken with my Android cell phone.
The Oxbow Public Market hosts a Saturday Farmers’ Market. My wife and I found some of the most colorful food, flowers and farmers. On Friday, we ate an amazing lunch at one of the restaurants.… Read the rest
I attended UCSB and lived in Santa Barbara for twelve years. Two weeks ago, I returned with my daughter to meet many of my good friends. I wanted her to meet the people who shaped me and to learn how to create community. We visited my old school and my old church. My daughter met my old friends. It was one of my all-time favorite weekends.
I planned the trip around Sarah Fenstermaker’s farewell party. Sarah was the Women’s Studies Chair when I became UCSB’s first male Women’s Studies major. She is leaving Santa Barbara for Ann Arbor where she will direct the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender. When Sara and I first discussed my becoming a Women’s Studies major, I do not think we realized what I was giving up. I also did not realize the life-long relationships I would gain and that my own daughter would meet Sarah’s daughter.… Read the rest
Tuesday June 5, 2012 was election day in California. The last time there was a California Presidential Primary, President Obama and Hilary Clinton competed for the Democrat nomination. Clinton won California. McCain defeated Romney. In 2008, California held its primary on February 5.
In November 2008, Obama won California and the presidency. The same day that Americans elected the first African-American President, Californians passed Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage. Many Californians who voted for Obama mourned the initiative’s passing.
On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals declined to hear the most recent appeal, overturning Prop 8. The United States Supreme Court is the last remaining court to hear a challenge. Prop 8 forced some people into democracy. The 2008 Presidential race also excited voters. In our neighborhood, neighbors stood on street corners arguing for both sides of Prop 8. People placed signs in their windows and on their lawn.… Read the rest
Last June, the North Coast Section 3 baseball championship was shared between San Marin High School and Acalanes High School. I have photographed some unusual events, but the game that ended in a 4-4 tie might have been the strangest. After ten innings, the umpires called the game because of darkness. Nobody celebrated winning.
Photographing the final was anticlimactic. To explain what it was like shooting the game, compare the photos from the NCS Basketball Championships with the photos below.
A championship game should have celebration (or jubilation) and sorrow. For such a close game, there was … almost something. Acalanes led 4-2 going into the bottom of the 7th. San Marin tied the score and loaded the bases with no outs! San Marin needed one run to win the championship… but didn’t. In the 9th, San Marin threw a runner out at home. The game was exciting, but there was no final resolution.… Read the rest
As a former Oakland school teacher with two children in the Oakland public school system, I can sympathize with the families who protested on May Day. Five OUSD schools will close next year; communities will be displaced. Children will be forced to attend different schools. If our Spanish immersion public school were closing, I would be protesting too. Instead, Melrose Leadership Academy is moving into one of the “closed” schools and a charter school is moving into our current site. MLA is moving to Maxwell Park Elementary and The Urban Montessori School will move into our current building.
Urban school districts must balance many unfair choices. School closures seem especially unfair since the disruptions will ripple throughout the district for years.
Protesters cause disruptions, sometimes unintentionally. As the photo above illustrates, disruptions create confusing messages. To the left, a person looks into the trash while a man blocks the word “Fe, leaving the message “Save Santa.” In March, some protesters disrupted a school board meeting, but their message confused potential supporters. The disruption affected our school also, postponing our new parent orientation and other planning for our eventual move.… Read the rest
About three years ago, I changed my diet. I forgot how much I enjoyed restaurants until my recent visit to Washington, D.C. when I ate at Vapiano three times. The last two times I photographed the chefs.
In 2011, during a family visit to Washington, DC, my wife and two children found Vapiano. My kids still remember it. When I visited this year for a late dinner, the atmosphere was more energetic. Perhaps the “European lifestyle” encourages families and young adults to enjoy the same restaurant. I love the healthy food, happy chefs and open light.
Light is important.
One month ago, I traveled to Washington DC for the National Walk for Epilepsy. The night I arrived, the Wil Gravatt Band was performing downtown at the Hill Country Boot Bar. Wil Gravatt operates Wil Gravatt Entertainment when he is not performing. Wil also helps my friend Chad Barth organize the Concert for Epilepsy.
In 2007, Chad started the benefit to honor his sister. The first event, a “Karaoke-off,” raised $2,500. By 2011, Chad had recruited experienced event organizers and he was able to organize a benefit concert with two well known country acts. Gravatt deserves some credit for sharing his expertise with Chad. I have only met Wil a few times, but each time, he feels like an old friend. I am looking forward to September when we have the 6th Annual Concert for Epilepsy.
How should journalists cover traffic accidents? Should journalists cover every aspect of a murder trial as if it were a sporting event? What is the impact on families each time journalists trivialize tragedy? How can journalists tell richer stories without becoming lost? After several years photographing families whose children have died, I am still asking the questions. I included the photo gallery from Monday’s press conference for further discussion.
Imapct Teen Drivers asks teens and adults to drive safer, but the organization does something more complicated. The organization recognizes the humanity of law enforcement officers while supporting grieving families. Both themes are difficult for journalists to cover. Impact Teen Drivers also acknowledges that distracted driving accidents affect an entire community. Journalists are part of the community too.
I live in Oakland, California. Depending on traffic, Oakland is about thirty minutes from Concord, California. On Saturday April 7, I was listening to the news when I heard that a Concord family was beginning a horrible journey that started when a teenager lost control of his Cadillac Escalade. The father, Solaiman Nuri, had taken his two daughters for a bicycle ride. Both daughters were hit. Solaiman and his nine year old were killed. One daughter survived. Solaiman Nuri and I are about the same age. I have an eight year old daughter. It was easier to imagine that something similar could happen to my family simply because I was being a good father.
Solaiman Nuri was an excellent father. His daughter was happy. She left behind a mother, a sister, and a large loving family. Many of them attended the vigil in Sacramento, California.
Impact Teen Drivers honors those affected by distracted driving, such as the Nuri family.… Read the rest
Student press supporters often claim that students “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” At a recent national journalism education conference, I noticed a different version of this quote. Outside the schoolhose gate, students express themselves too.
Fourteen year old Malcolm Sutherland-Foggio, started a non-profit for pediatric cancer research after Malcolm watched his friends die next to him in the hospital. Malcolm and his mother brought the national angel quilt to Seattle, and coincidentally, were stationed at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. The journalism students and educators from JEA/NSPA would pass his table several times each day.
During the convention, I met with students from the Carlsbad High School Lancer Link. These students somehow operate inside the school gates with readers throughout the world. I was familiar with the publication before the teacher asked me to critique the publication.… Read the rest
At the 2012 JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, Mark Murray and I presented a photography portfolio workshop. We have presented thirteen portfolio workshops at the last twelve JEA/NSPA national conferences starting in Nashville, Tennessee. (We have also presented at other conferences separately.)
At last year’s Anaheim convention, we presented with Jim McNay. Jim is an influential photojournalism educator who helped us create the original presentation. I can trace most of my photography relationships to Jim. Jim also connected me to Grant Morris the photographer who allows Mark and me to use his college photography portfolio for our presentation. Grant was a student at Brooks Institute and the Eddie Adams Workshop. Jim started the Visual Journalism program at Brooks and he has worked many of the Adams weekends.
Just as I am about to lose faith, I meet someone like Tyrone.
I am in the Washington, D.C. Metro area for the 2012 National Walk for Epilepsy. Yesterday, I flew into Baltimore Washington International Airport. I spent the night in Baltimore and took the MARC train this morning from Baltimore’s Penn Station to Union Station. Since I visited Baltimore last year, Penn Station celebrated its 100 year anniversary.
While I was photographing Jonathan Borofsky’s Male/Female aluminum sculpture in front of the train depot, a homeless man approached me. We both saw an opportunity.
I probably over share. Sometimes this is a character flaw, but other times, I meet people with stories they want to share. Tyronne needed money, but he probably wanted me to take his photo even more. He wasn’t begging for attention, but he appreciated the interaction. He appreciated the food and change too.
This is not the most interesting part of the story, because I meet interesting people every day.… Read the rest
Press photographers avoid ribbon cutting ceremonies when possible. Ribbon cutting ceremonies can seem overly staged and unemotional, but yesterday’s event at the new Maxx Value Foods grocery store felt bigger.
Opening an urban grocery store is newsworthy, even if Save Mart merely changed Maxx Value from Lucky. Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan, District 4 City Council person Libby Schaaf, and other Oakland community members attended the grand opening. The company and the community want the store to succeed.
According to Save Mart, Maxx Value Foods is the second store of its kind. The Oakland store is the first outside of Modesto. (Save Mart’s corporate headquarters is located in Modesto.) Will this lead to more big checks and grand openings?
You can view the photo gallery here, or wait until the MacArthur Metro columnist writes the article about the grand opening.