Waiting for the Huckabus

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.


I really like to photograph wrestling matches. There is so much energy in the room. And there are so few limitations to where I can be in the arena. It I could have figured out how to hang from ceiling in there, I probably would have.



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?

It's started

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.


Gi Gi

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.

Reaching out

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.



Learning to fall isn't easy, but decidedly funny.

Duck, duck, ?

This brave middle school principal bet his students they couldn't raise $40,000 for the school's technology fund, which is how he ended up on the roof in a duck suit for 24 hours, much to their amusement.

Behind the scenes

Quietly waiting behind the curtain, between scenes of a community Christmas play - a moment between father and son.


The Purple Lady

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.



I had a hard time not crying along with them, especially the ones with babies who had yet to meet their fathers.  It's amazing the joy that comes out of tribulation.



Football in daylight - what a gift! Gardler would be so proud of my manual focusing (with a Nikon 300mm older than I am).

First fruits

For those of you who swore I could kill anything I set out to grow, here's living proof. Look, Mom, I grew it myself.


Trick or treat

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.


My feature photos have gone to the dogs the last few days.

Head of the Hooch

Nothing funny. That's actually what it's called. The second largest rowing regatta in the country came down the Tennessee River Saturday.