This picture is from an assignment, but has not much to do with what I was supposed to be photographing. These are three of the six children belonging to a Guatemalan immigrant. All of the children speak English; they speak Spanish to her; and none of them speak her native dialect from Guatemala.
On a Sunday night in the Bible Belt, the only place to find people is in church, particularly the Sunday before Christmas. The only other option is finding a group of skaters brave enough (or dumb enough) to be out shooting a film in sweatshirts when it's dark, 39 degrees and windy.
I came back to the paper after shooting four assignments to discover an NCAA Division I championship game pass in my mail box. I was supposed to be the runner in case something happened with transmission during half time, but I got to be on the field for a while. No stunning action shots, and I had a hard time editing my work against the four other photographers who were actually supposed to be there shooting. Oh, well. The sidelines suit me just fine.
I was handed an assignment to go find hunters at 7:30 a.m. on this wilderness tract. Does searching for people with guns who aren't expecting you seem like a bad idea to anyone else? It was raining, discouraging anyone who might have come out. The kicker? The place isn't even open on Wednesdays. This nice ranger took me out in the muck so that I could come back with a picture of something despite the many potholes along the way.
I have never before encountered a situation where I was struggling to make a picture because the subjects were on their cell phones the whole time telling people that someone from the newspaper was taking pictures.
If you're short on time this year, you can create a virtual red kettle and ask people around you to give at www.onlineredkettle.org.
It rained 12 out of the last 19 days here, effectively ending our drought for the year. But with each storm the city lost several of its older trees. This one's root system shrank during the droughts over the last few years, leaving it top-heavy and susceptible to wind.
UTC Lady Mocs basketball games are so much more fun to photograph than WKU. Maybe people here just don't care as much about basketball. Unlike Western, where you have this little, taped-off square to sit in on the floor, at Mocs games you can go pretty much anywhere. Which keeps me from having to look at the belly-buttons of cheerleaders and dancers every time there's a timeout. Woo-hoo! Something to cheer about!
Mike Huckabee rolled into town today in a bus advertising his new book and national book tour. He spent about two hours shaking 300 hands and signing about 500 books. I think I'd have a stamp made and demand hand sanitizer.
This couple stayed outside reading the book until the bus rolled up, avoiding the mass chaos inside the building. This picture turned out much better than any of Huckabee actually did. Inside, I was up against a rope with another 50 people pushing against me to take a picture of him. It was wild. Who knew what a celebrity he'd be? I thought his ship had sailed.
This afterschool program uses characters as teachers in various classrooms each day, which is a really neat idea, and adds to the creative energy in the space, to be sure. The woman who runs the center asked me explicitly to photograph these "professors" in action. After I had finished shooting (of course), she tells me I can't put their real names in the newspaper because it would ruin the illusion. Unfortunately, the reporter had decided to do that in the body of her story, which put me in a tight spot. I was very straightforward with her and said that we couldn't run a picture of anyone in the paper that we couldn't positively and accurately identify. Besides, if we're writing about the creation of these characters, we've already let the cat out of the bag. It doesn't matter whether his name is Joe or Bob, I've already told you he's acting. For some reason she seemed astounded that I wouldn't just lie to maintain their illusion. As though anyone who reads our paper would just believe that this hobo-like, 19-year-old, professor is actually an elite scientist for the U.S. government in D.C., but chooses to spend 5 days a week at an afterschool program in Cleveland, Tenn.
On a different note, did you notice the kid in the front picking his nose?
I don't know any other tree farmers who build a huge wooden platform in the middle of their fields. Perhaps they were expecting a slew of photographers. This family was out measuring fir trees and tagging them with prices before Thanksgiving. And this was the second tree farm I had photographed in less than a week. 'Tis the season, I suppose.
I had no idea wigs had names, or that they cost quite so much. I spent an afternoon in a local wig shop waiting for customers with the manager, who wears one. She actually has lots of hair, but she said it saves her 45 minutes each morning to be able to just pin on her hair and go. It always looks as good as it did the day before. Apparently, wigs are making a comeback.
A few weeks ago, dropping off a bridesmaid dress to be altered in a small local shop, I overheard a conversation between the owner and a long-time regular customer. The customer told a story about a younger woman telling her how nice her hair looked. To which the older woman replied, "Thanks. I'll let you borrow it sometime." And with that, the red wig laughed and walked out the door.
This was just fun. There is nothing better than a job where you can be outside all morning in nice light playing in the mud. And, yes, I'm talking about my job, not theirs.
This was pretty amazing - they're boring a tunnel for an extension of the sewage system in Catoosa County, Ga. (I think I'll start including place names more - ones from this area are pretty amusing when you've not heard them before). It's about 300 feet below the ground and 700 feet long, avoiding a huge natural gas line that preceded it.
We have a Spanish-language weekly we publish here and a couple of wonderful Hispanic reporters that cover life in that community. The story ideas they produce are always issue-based and consequential, which makes the assignments very rewarding to photograph.
This one was about a community health worker who was trying to help families sort through the bureaucracy of the medical system. The husband in this family had fallen from a tree while working and sustained nerve damage that nearly crippled the left side of his body and prevents him from working. Their family had to send money to the U.S. to help bail them out, usually the money goes the other direction.
She's in the phone book under this listing. The woman owns nothing but purple. Every piece of clothing, every shoe, hat, scarf and bag is purple. The kitchen countertops are purple. The tile and carpet through the entire house is purple. Even the phones are purple. Better yet, she's famous. Just google her: The Purple Lady. She's been on HGTV, Dr. Phil and Rosie O'Donnell, to name a few. Chattanooga has characters, to be sure.
The other intern and I had a shootout today in the cemetery a few blocks from the paper. We had a hour to come back with a Veteran's Day image. This was my find, but it felt very strange to stalk people through the cemetery. I ended up hugging the last woman I photographed.
It never fails to amaze me that people will share with us some of the most difficult and intimate moments of their lives. Through tears she told me her husband had not been in the ground two weeks, and today would have been his 79th birthday. It is a great honor to be trusted by complete strangers each day.
Halloween football at a school whose colors are orange and black. What are the odds? I think I'll miss high school football at the end of the year. There really isn't anything like high school team spirit. It seems to dissipate when we go off to college.