Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The first few week as #EmpireSwift

I've lived in New York for a month now, working as one of the photo interns with The New York Times. The experience, on the whole, has been very surreal and I learn more and more with each assignment. Everyday I walk up to the office and remember all the other days when I stood outside of it... like this time in 2011:

But here we are on the first day of orientation, four years later

I waited a month to blog mostly because a lot of the assignments I photograph are published a week or so after they are shot. I've also been very busy and finding time to blog was difficult.

I wasn't going to have any assignments for the first week that I was there but Mark Kauzlarich (my fellow photo intern) asked if he could photograph the Belmont Stakes weeks in advance. Two days before the event I was also put on it. On Friday morning Chang W. Lee picked Mark, Sam Hodgson and I up from a Starbucks near the NYU dorms and brought us to the tracks. Chang taught Mark and I how to place remotes along the straight away, something I'd never done before but found really interesting.
On Saturday, race day, I was told to look for features until the reporter, Dan Barry, arrived and then went to work with him on his story. Dan and I went to the back lot and watched the big race with stable workers. When the race happened I didn't know if American Pharaoh had won or not until a few minutes after it had ended. Most of the people in the room didn't speak english and it was hard to know if they would have even been rooting for American Pharaoh or for one of the horses they work with. All in all, I was so grateful to have been a part of this experience.

The rest of my time since then has mostly been spent trying get acclimated to New York and to improve my photography. I think I've finally accepted that I'm never going to be satisfied with how I do on each assignment. There will always be room for improvement, and I will always be the first one to point out where it is (although I'm always open to more critique).

I've never been too big on words, so here are a few selects:

From Belmont, published here

Outtake from the back lots at Belmont. This is Miguel, he is a stable worker from Mexico.

Another outtake from Belmont. These ladies came to watch the race from Tennessee.

At the rec center at Belmont, from Dan's story

Surprisingly, I've come to enjoy doing building mugs. I think it's too easy to take a bad building mug so I try to come up with the most outrageous ideas about doing them. To get one shot I went door to door in Red Hook trying to find someone that was home and would let me stand on their rooftop or terrace. It was trying to photograph this empty lot that is getting developed into town homes but it was surrounded by a giant fence. When I finally found someone who was home and willing to let me into their home I was so gratifying... even if the photo didn't end up running I was glad to have gotten it and to have done something I never would have tried before. This particular photo didn't run but was part of a large spread in last Sunday's paper.

More from Adidas

Mary Cain is a local runner who is on a not winning streak. 

Spectators at the Adidas game

Last relay at the Adidas event

Ornette Coleman's casket being brought out after his funeral service. The only other funeral's I'd photographed were of teenagers who had died tragically. Mr. Coleman's funeral was different in that it was truly a celebration of his life. Musicians, poets, journalists and family all spoke and there was an ample amount of live music performed. I considered myself lucky to have been able to document the celebration of such a wonderful life. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg appeared in public for the first time in over a year for a celebration ceremony for the construction of a tech campus for Cornell University. 

A NYCFC versus Red Bull's game played at Yankee Stadium.

Lumberjack competition in Central Park! This is Arden Cogar Jr., a lawyer out of West Virginia. He made it to the final rounds but ended up losing to his cousin, Matt Cogar.

Second from left is Jason Lentz and to his right is his father, Melvin Lentz, a.k.a. the king of lumberjacks. Jason took second in the Lumberjack competition in Central Park. I loved this assignment because I was expecting it to be a bit more ridiculous, maybe a wee more hipstery. But instead, it made me feel like I was at home. A lot of these guys are from really rural Appalachia and took the competition really seriously. They reminded me of friends from back at home (in Vermont). 

New York as seen from the One World tower during a thunder storm. Also featured on the NYT New York Today Facebook page.

Links to stories:
Bill de Blasio & Bloomberg

Assignments I didn't link to in photos but did photos for:
Marion Cotillard in Joan of Arc
Seawife (if you're in New York, go watch this)

There were other assignments I shot but they haven't been published yet... look for me in print!
And  if you live elsewhere, come visit!

This is what my rooftop looks like

Monday, June 1, 2015

Farewell to #VirginiaSwift –– Final Days with The Free Lance-Star

I am no longer #VirginiaSwift. My time at The Free Lance-Star came to an end on May 21. The same day I shot my last assignment I flew to Southern California so I could go to Slab City and visit the subjects I spent the fall documenting. Sarah Bourscheid and I went back last weekend to take some photos. Sarah will be going back over the summer to finish the documentary film that we began.

My last two weeks in Virginia were bittersweet. I really felt as though I was just getting to know the community and I started to really develop some more story ideas but alas, Sarah Ann Jump has taken over my internship and I know she will do amazingly. I am beyond grateful for the experience I had at FLS and have difficulty articulating how much I loved my time there.

I'm now living in Brooklyn, New York. Today was the first day of my internship with the New York Times and despite being overwhelmed and still rather intimidated, it was a lovely day. I don't start getting shooting assignments until next week and am eager to get back behind the camera!

Here are some photos from my last two weeks in Virginia, see photos from Slab City here.

Bob Dwinelle trained as a World War Two fighter pilot but the conflict ended before he was given any assignments to fight in the war. Originally from upstate New York, Dwinelle moved to Fredericksburg, Va., with his wife where they lived together until she died in 2008 from Alzheimer's Disease. Dwinelle says he hasn't changed his home decor since she began her "long goodbye" because it makes him feel like she is still around.

Primping and preening before graduating from Germanna Community College

Germanna Community College graduates

Alexis kisses her son after receiving her diploma

I usually am not too keen on shoot graduations but this one was pretty interesting

Summer gets her nails done before prom.

Sarah gets her hair done before her senior prom

James Monroe High School's prom

JM prom

Chamillionaire is still a thing.

Iphones and proms

James Monroe High School prom

Brad was king and Ingrid was his date at prom

Taking a break from dancing at prom

Laughing and dancing


Goodnight James Monroe prom

I also photographed a Marine Corps half marathon

This man is in his seventies

This woman came in second to last

I would be lying if I said that I didn't get a little nostalgic photographing this track meet

My last assignment for the Free Lance-Star was to photograph a flutist at an elementary school during their lunch period.

But I'll always love the river the most. See you again soon #VirginiaSwift

Monday, May 11, 2015

Weeks 17 & 18 #VirginiaSwift

Hello all!

The last two weeks have gone by very quickly. I've been very busy with the internship but also have begun to understand the importance of actually taking time off to do things that have nothing to do with photography. As much as I love working and I would love to make pictures all the time, it was really nice to take two days completely off last week to go on an adventure. I climbed a mountain and ran down it and went to a lake and read a book and ate ice cream and it felt like summer. It was beautiful.

My time here in Virginia is winding down but I'm keeping my energy and enthusiasm up.
Here are some images:

An outtake from when I went to Baltimore. See my edit from that night here.

I think the last two weeks has had me really getting out of my comfort zone. When I was very young, my siblings and I would try to catch bees using plastic lunch baggies... I suppose I got stung a few too many times because I've always had an unnatural fear. Two years ago I stepped on a nest while photographing my friend rock climbing. I was too afraid to go through the bees and back down to safety so I tried to climb straight down... which resulted in me falling about 20 feet and breaking my ankle. See evidence of that here. So when I had to photograph at a bonsai tree farm, I dared myself to get as close to the bees as I could. 

Custodial workers went on strike, demanding higher wages and paid vacations.

Life and business partners Bob and Todd own a bonsai tree farm. Patti Smith once called them Golden Boys. 

Aubryn and her father on a hayride at Westmoreland Berry Farm.

One of the major battles of the Civil War took place here. This area is called the graveyard and is a big tourist attraction... or just a fun field to play in. 

Birdseye view of the Fredericksburg Great Train Race

Braehead Berry Farm owned by the Snead's. The Vultures in the background are circling over where a calf had been born the day before. 

Baptist preacher celebrating national prayer day

Owen Zon, 14, playing in the UMW Fife and Drum Corps at Graduation

Clearly the spectators were riveted by the graduation ceremony

I kept waiting for everyone to throw their hats in the air... Never happened. 

Cute kids are boring but these ones were actually pretty cool. 

This is a costume birthday party for a girl that was adopted from Nepal a few years ago.  Guests were asked to bring donations for the orphanage instead of gifts. 

Seven year olds can be vicious. Jasmine was into the idea of sharing her "house" with anyone.

Iron Man, Darth Vader, Jasmine and a sailor hanging out.

Lilo playing hoops.


(Not) sharing the ball

The Virginia Bazaar food court, clearly the happening place to be on a Sunday.

This is Queenie. She owns a space at the Virginia Bazaar where she sells records and CDs.

Katherine and her beau.

Setting up lights for a portrait shoot, thanks for the self timer, Nikon. It's been a long but productive two weeks, time for a nap and an air conditioner.