This is my blog! I chose this image to represent this page because I think this is what my brain looks like most of the time. A little chaotic and all over the place, but I'm always thinking! I aim to share some of my inner thought processes and perhaps give you a glimpse of my life as a photographer. I apologize in advance if I ramble.
first post: Photography And realities
My first job out of college isn't what I expected; I photograph children's school portraits. Is this my dream job? No. Does it help pay the bills? Yes! Not to mention I work with some of the kindest people I've ever met. It's certainly not glamourous. I often wake up around 4:00 AM, load up my car with studio gear, and drive to a school somewhere in mid-Missouri. We get to a school, set up, usually start photographing by 7:30 AM and then tear down and roll out around 2:00 PM.
I realize that photography is often idealized. I need to make it clear that being a photographer, of any kind, is hard work. I absolutely love photographing weddings, but photographing a wedding from sunup to sundown is exhausting. It makes sense if you think about it; I'm usually standing, or crouching to take photos and running back and forth between different locations. This usually means at least 8 hours of nonstop work. It's physical! Especially if it's an outdoor wedding and the elements are against you. This job is no different. Lugging around lights and stands from the car to what is sometimes the depths of a school is taxing. I come home from work sweaty, blistered, and sore. I'm not complaining, I just appreciate the actual work photography is much more since I started working as a professional. And I applaud all of those people who trek around the world with all their gear. It's highly expensive stuff, not to mention heavy, and one false move could mean a large set back financially. I myself was too afraid to bring my camera white water rafting in the Grand Canyon. But to think about all the amazing photos I could have gotten! I still kinda kick myself about that sometimes.
This job is very useful to me. I'm getting more time with studio equipment, I'm employed in something related to my field (huzzah!) and I'm learning SO much about children. I'm just going to say it, kids can be brats. But they can also be angels! Photographing the kids that love having their photo taken is a breath of fresh air. Photographing kids who understand the directions you're giving them is also a relief. It's the kids who stick out their tongues, who hide behind their hair, and who give you crazy eyes that make the job a bit less enjoyable. I know I hated having my photo taken from about 7th to 12th grade. Those are awkward years! I don't want to have them remembered. I see that in a lot of the kids we photograph. I've found that when it's a self esteem issue, it's better to tell them they don't have to smile with their teeth, or try and tell them something funny about yourself, then the fear goes away.
Now with the kids that are giving me psycho face, I just say something like, "Aw come on! You can do better than that!" And they usually change it up. Or I may be a little more stern and say, "The sooner you give me a real smile the sooner you can leave." (Heads up, they really want to leave.) I've never had to turn in a photo of a kid with their tongue out or psycho eyes. They always cave in the end.
It's only a seasonal position, we don't have enough schools to continually take photos throughout the year. So my time as a school portrait photographer is quickly coming to a close. I may not be around Missouri for the next season, or have different employment, but I'm glad I took this job. Aside from the steady paycheck and the lessons on work ethic, I think I'm very well prepared for motherhood. Kids man, they're difficult and exhausting sometimes, but it's really rewarding to make them laugh.
Diamonds Are Forever
Diamonds are the worst to photograph. It's just a fact. First of all, they're tiny. Trying to take a picture of a diamond without a macro lens is like trying to photograph sports without a fast shutter speed, it doesn't really work out well. Another problem with photographing diamonds is that they have so many surfaces, all at very slightly different focal lengths, so trying to get exactly what you want in focus can be a headache. Third, if they're attached to a ring, the band can sometimes reflect back to camera whatever is in front of it. It's safe to say I've never had so many technical things to think about at once for any other photography I've done.
I've never been particularly fond of diamonds myself, I prefer turquoise and colored gems. There's nothing wrong I just have my preferences like most people. But after having to photograph them on the regular I've grown to dislike them for more personal reasons. Sure, they looked gorgeous when I put them under the lights, but it somehow didn't translate into the images I was taking. They didn't have the right "sparkle", and the focus wasn't clear enough. It's so frustrating for something to look perfect to the naked eye, and then fall short when translated to an image. It was probably even more frustrating to my jeweler employers who didn't understand the technicalities of the photo process and didn't understand how it was so hard to take a picture of something so beautiful. So I toiled for weeks, testing out different theories and settings on the camera and in the photo program that the light machine used. I read articles online, asked other photographers for advice, and plain messed around with variables on a whim. It took some doing, but I finally figured out a way to showcase the diamonds as best as possible online.
Look at that baby sparkle! I had the exposure, f-stop and focal length down, but then I thought, "hell, let's put that diamond on a black surface". I personally liked the contrast between the bright diamond and kind of mysterious and murky surface. And then I thought about how to best show all sides of the diamond. Before they had been taking 36 images in a row of the diamond in this machine, and letting the viewer spin it around any which way they liked. This worked okay, but my employers really wanted to emphasize sparkle. I thought about how diamonds in person sparkle when you move them, to get the different facets lit up. So I decided to tinker with video. Luckily the photo machine could continually revolve and all I had to do was set up the camera to film the ring for 30 seconds while it made a full loop around. I also decided that people would probably like to see the ring on a finger for size comparison, and that could be video as well with the finger moving a little to catch all the light. I showed my findings to my employers and they were thrilled. I imagine they were mostly thrilled to be done with the trial and error process and get new rings up on the site for people to buy. I was just happy to have a working system and get moving. Trial and error my friend, that's usually the way to go. Check out all the video and images at the Buchroeder's website, anything in black is something I've done (and worked tirelessly to perfect.) Until next time, blogosphere.
Baseball, also known as the sport where Katie sunburns
I currently work for the Columbia Daily Tribune in my hometown of Columbia, Missouri. No, I did not venture far after graduation, but now I can say I've worked for just about every publication in the Columbia area, so there's a win in there somewhere. My role at the Tribune is primarily as a Web Producer and Image Tech. I tone photos for print and publish articles on our website. I also get to photograph assignments on Sundays, when the staff photographers are having their day off. Sundays around Columbia typically involve sports, which is wonderful for me because I love to shoot sports. The first Sunday on the job I got the assignment of photographing a Mizzou baseball game in town.
I photographed baseball for the Missourian while I was a staffer there, so I wasn't too nervous about it even though it was my first photo assignment for the Tribune. I became more nervous when I realized I had to use a 400 mm lens rather than the 300 mm I was used to. Turns out the Tribune 300 was destroyed by a Mizzou basketball player pummeling into one of the staffers this past season. So I trudged out to Taylor Stadium with this huge lens propped on my shoulder. People around me commented that I resembled a sniper, and I replied I suppose it was similar, I had long range targets and I was "shooting" them, to use that unfortunate word for photographing.
I got to the stands and took my first spot of the game, right above first base. I usually start there because that's where most of the action is in the beginning of the game, and it has a good view of second base. I used the 200 mm lens mostly for this since I was right on top of them, and I switched to the 400 mm when plays started happening on second base. The first piece of advice I received for photographing baseball was that most of the exciting stuff happens around second base. Many of my best action shots from baseball or softball are around second base, so I suppose I agree.
About halfway through the game I switched to a spot right above third base. Mostly to get a new angle on the field so the photos didn't look monotonous, and also so I could photograph the other side of the pitchers and action on third base more easily. If you've ever heard the phrase, "Hurry up and wait," in regards to journalism, it should be easily applied to baseball. Plays are made very quickly and don't last very long, and then there's a lot of waiting time for the pitcher to refocus, for the next batter to take some practice swings, etc. Because of this, I find baseball very difficult to photograph. You have to have an understanding of the game, to know what possible plays could happen, where best to point and focus the lens. Trying to swing around a 400 and refocus it on the action in a few seconds is a hard feat, so it's better to anticipate where it's going to happen. Even when you're already focused on the action spot, you only have a few seconds of action, so it's best to rapid fire the shutter to get as many images as possible.
By the end of the game I was hurting, not from standing for three hours or holding the camera, no, it was the sweet sting of sunburn as I placed all my straps in their proper arrangement and hoisted all my gear down the hill from the stadium to my car. "I put on sunscreen!" I wanted to shout into the sky. Ah well, I'm pretty sure every photographer has been there at some point, I count myself among them proudly.
I am not Classy Enough for Golf
Golf is one of those sports I've never been interested in. Due to my lack of interest, I have no knowledge whatsoever about the game. I mean sure, I know what golf clubs are, I know that the goal is to get the ball into the small hole, and I know there are 18 holes on a regular golf course. That's where my knowledge ends. When I was asked to photograph Golf for the Tribune, I asked the staff photographers for guidance. It seemed that there were a lot more rules for photographing golf than I realized. First of all, I couldn't be in their line of sight. That means no front face action. You can stand a bit off to the side and still get most of their face, but it's going to be slightly angled away from you (like the photo above). Also, it is strictly forbidden to photograph before the player swings. "Golf is a game of concentration," I was told endlessly. And hearing my shutter click while they're plotting their next move is distracting. A rule that I (accidentally) broke, is that you can't go way down field from them near the hole they're aiming for, even if you're off to the side. Some officials got miffed when I did this, trying to get a farther away shot with my 400mm lens. "They're aiming directly at you!" They shouted to me from their golf cart. I was on a concrete path to the right of the greens, but that was apparently too close for comfort.
Since the scoring of golf is foreign to me, I asked the sports reporter who was in the lead and who they thought I should include in my photos. Golf is also difficult because they don't have numbers or their names on the back of their shirts. They're all dressed similarly, and if you don't follow them from the beginning you have to hunt them down from hole to hole, passing casual golfers along the way asking, "Where are some people that are involved in the invitational?" The casual golfers I conversed with were very polite and took pity on me, realizing how ignorant I was of the game. It always pays to be polite and respectful , otherwise it's hard to find those willing to help you.
I also made the mistake of not dressing "well". Now for baseball and basketball, photographers are pretty casual. Jeans, t-shirts, denim shorts, etc. are acceptable, (as long as they're not trashy or provocative.) But golfers and the officials tend to dress nicely, casual, but there's clearly a dress code there. My cutoff denim shorts, tennis shoes and sleeveless t-shirt were obviously not on par with their khaki shorts and polos. It's not that I had to dress like a golfer, but I should have at least worn denim shorts that weren't frayed at the bottom. It made me look even more of an outsider, almost an intruder by the looks of some of the officials. My bad, guys.
I could tell everyone thought I was a newb, and to be fair I was. But I got some decent shots out of the day, and now I can say I am a newb no longer! I also got to drive around in a golf cart, because lets be real, I'm not about to trek all over a golf course with a 400 in tow. And golf courses are pretty! It was a refreshing break from standing in a stadium for 3 hours. Here's one more photo from the day that wasn't published (this golfer was in second place), to show how I mixed up the angles I shot from.
BOUDOIR: AN EXPLORATION OF PERSONALITY
Firstly, I have never done a boudoir photo shoot before. I decided it was something I wanted to do because I like the idea of making people comfortable with their bodies, and being able to share themselves with those closest to them in a way they can preserve, through a photograph. I photographed a friend of mine, who is recently engaged. I thought it would be a nice present for her to give her fiance and for her to enjoy herself. I stressed the importance of her being herself. Most people have the impression that boudoir photo shoots have to be a glamourous affair. Full on lighting and studio equipment, lots of racy lingerie and a pound of make up and hair products are what first jump to mind. And while that is totally valid if you want to express yourself that way, not everyone has that kind of personality. Boudoir photography is inherently intimate. Being yourself automatically makes the process much more comfortable. It's pretty easy to tell when people are uncomfortable in photographs, and that sentiment gets passed to the viewer, not exactly something people aim for in boudoir photography. And if these photos are for a person to cherish, why not make it a fun experience they'll remember every time they look at it?
I knew my subject was on the shy side. She loves cats and Miyazaki and writing. And her fiance obviously. I told her she could bring whatever outfits she wanted, and if she wanted to wear make up and do her hair that was fine, it was also fine if she'd rather not. She showed up sans make up, as I usually see her, I was relieved she felt comfortable doing that. She had brought a few outfits and we did three different scenarios (at a private location I might add) with each of her outfits.
Look at that stunna! I love her leg tattoo. I wanted to feature that as much as possible. She posed for a lot of the photos, but I kept talking to her (which is easy because she's a friend) and got some candid moments where she's smiling or laughing. I love candids, they portray emotion so well, and of course her personality.
Honestly I'd rather see photos like these on the pages of Victoria's Secret catalogues. She's a beautiful, relatable American woman. (And sporting Victoria's Secret btw.) Most women I meet are not 5 '10, size 2, and perfectly made up all the time. Doesn't she make you want to buy that bra, rather than women who's figures are unattainable by most? (There's no way I'm shooting up to 5'10 from my average 5'5, and I don't have hours a day to work out or the money to hire a nutritionist or personal trainer.) It's great that beautiful women are born, can embrace themselves, and reach physical "perfection". But the other 99% of women in the world deserve to feel empowered, sexy, strong, and most importantly comfortable in their own skin.
I've struggled with body image in the past, and I still have occasional struggles with it to this day. It doesn't help that my Mom is a tiny 5'2 103 lbs. It also doesn't help that all the media I consume (or most of it anyways) features unbelievably thin, gorgeous women. When there are more regularly sized women, not of "exceptional beauty" portrayed, they're the funny, unsexy friend. And men aren't held to the same standards. Sure to be an action hero they have to be beefcakes, but sitcom dads rock a "father figure" expected by most 9-5 working men in America. The wives on the other hand have to keep themselves looking fine and svelte, even after having children. I'm tired of it. More power to yah if you have the genetics, love working out and eating healthy. But for many working parents it's just not that easy.
The body I have is the one I was born with. My genetics gave me terrible eyesight, even worse hearing, and acne. But I was also born without serious defect. I'm grateful for that all the time. I'm grateful I'm alive. I'm grateful that I can run half marathons, go swimming, hike up mountains, and dance my ass off. But I'm also grateful I can enjoy fried chicken, margaritas, frozen custard, and take out chinese. If my genetics didn't give me speed of light metabolism, a towering frame, and perfect features, that's fine by me. It's a waste of time trying to to attain the impossible. So LOVE THYSELF. Improve thyself if you want, but don't get obsessed. I'll get down off my soapbox. Preach.
So shout out to my beautiful model, partly for being my guinea pig, but also for being confident and comfortable with yourself. You don't have to take half naked or nude photos to be confident, but it sure is fun! If anyone else wants me to photograph them in their skivvies let me know! You can keep them for yourself, share them with loved ones, or let me post a few with your permission. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone (call/text): 573-355-3278.
Making Something out of Nothing
Daily assignments are not always the most interesting. As a journalist I've had to swallow my opinion and learn to observe and make the most of any situation. I was assigned to an annual celebration put on by the Boone County Republicans. The event was held on National Ice Cream Day, a holiday started by Ronald Reagan, beloved Republican. Boone County Republican government officials and candidates scooped out ice cream for their constituents. My primary goal was to photograph two gubernatorial candidates scooping out ice cream , at least that's what the assignment request was. However there was a lot of other mingling, (and bbq), so I made other images while waiting for their turn to serve.
I was approached by candidates, thanking me for being there as a member of the press, and they subtly suggested I not photograph them eating. That's a low blow anyways, so I refrained. The more abrasive approach was actually by one of the constituents. He was a caucasian man, probably in his fifties or sixties, he came barreling towards me from across the room with a determined look on his face. I was a bit alarmed, but he seemed like he genuinely needed to speak to me about something. The first thing he said was, "Obama's ruined this country, for you especially." I wasn't about to argue with him, I smiled and tried to introduce myself. He cut me off saying, "He's just ruined it for all of your children, your generation needs to protect them!" I smiled and nodded, that seemed to satisfy him. He said a few more things about how great Reagan was, and how he hoped a Republican president was next. He saw his party and bid me good day. I let out the breath I was holding.
It's really hard for me to just button my lip sometimes, but it's highly necessary. I wasn't only there representing myself. I was there in a professional capacity as a representative of the Columbia Daily Tribune. I didn't want to be the reason why our paper was excluded from further events. And it's really not my place to change his mind. As a journalist I can only present the facts and hope people understand and draw conclusions, at least get them thinking about it. I don't think this event was some grand opportunity for me to educate the public, it was simply a statement of occurrence, "Look, that gubernatorial candidate served ice cream, and enjoyed bbq, and mingled with others." I tried to have fun with it. Which is why I posted up by the Ronald Reagan standee for awhile. Who could resist that smile? See the article and full slideshow here.
Another Sunburnt Tale
I wear sunscreen, I promise. Yet I get sunburnt every time I photograph outdoor sports. Such is my woe. This time Missouri soccer was the culprit. Photographing soccer intimidated me a bit. I knew that it would be more akin to photographing football than basketball, meaning I wouldn't be able to plant myself in one spot (sitting down, yay!) and photograph only people coming towards me. I also had the 400 again. College soccer is played on a rather large field, not Faurot Field size mind you, but much larger than my peewee games were played on.
The biggest obstacle I faced was having to photograph players at a long distance (hence the 400mm lens) and right in front of me. Oh, and not get hit by the ball. There were a couple close calls, but I always seemed to be able to duck just in time. I was told to use the 400mm as well as the 70-200mm for when the players happened to be directly in front of me. This did not go as planned. I've described the bulkiness of the 400 several times I'm sure, and having to switch bodies back and forth, trying to find a stable place to rest the 400 when I'm not using it is better said than done. I usually ended up only getting a few frames with the 70-200 before having to switch back to the 400. In the second half of the game (that went into double overtime) I used the 400 exclusively. My positioning was ideal, so I didn't miss any good action, but I really need to work on being able to switch between the two. Maybe I should lift more weights. I can see it now, me hefting up the 400 while simultaneously snapping photos with the 70-200. I'll walk around saying, "Do you even lift?" How sweet that would be.
I did see another photographer sitting on the ground with the 400 shortened and his 70-200 slung over his shoulder. He had broader shoulders than I and swung the 400 over his shoulder when he needed to use the other camera. I've told myself I'm going to try this, as frightening as it seems. I keep picturing the 400 falling to the ground off my shoulder in slow motion. I can't afford to replace that thing if it falls, that's the stuff of nightmares. Also, I feel like I'm much more vulnerable to the ball at that height. Soccer is very fast paced and that ball whips out of nowhere. I've had near misses on my feet, I can only imagine how fast I would move sitting on the ground. *shudder*
The other advice I was given was that I didn't have to run up and down the field, but I should change up where I'm standing throughout the game. I started out towards the middle, but not directly in the middle so that I could get both goals and sides of the field well. Once I saw Missouri's offense struggling a bit I moved towards Missouri's defense a bit so I could get the other teams' offense and better shots of the defenders trying to hold them off. When it evened out again, I moved towards the other goal, also just for variation. I think it's a pretty decent strategy, and luck when it comes to plays has been on my side. I probably just jinxed it, le sigh.
The only other issue I encountered was during the second Mizzou game I photographed. This game was televised for the SEC, and that meant camera men and their assistants moving in front of me all the time. They, unlike me, moved with the action constantly. It was hard to pin point a safe place where their backsides weren't in the way. Unlike other sports I've photographed, (looking at you basketball), the refs in soccer are not constantly in the way. They run around and stay in the thick of it, but they're never directly in front of me. I was so relieved the first game I shot when I realized this. But then game two rolled around and I have other backsides blocking me, SEC backsides. There's not a whole lot to do in that situation, just try to move away from them. In basketball you can't even do that, so I count myself lucky. Check out the Tribune articles with full slides here and here.
Maureen and Andrew
October has always been my busy wedding month. Honestly if I were to get married I would choose October too. Fall is the best time of year, hands down. The weather isn't too hot for outdoor weddings, the fall colors are at their peak, and the traditional crazy "wedding season" is over so venues and caterers are usually more available. Maureen sent me a message in July asking if I was available. She had been referred to me from my first wedding with Staci and Eric Eggemeyer, she was actually one of Staci's bridesmaids. Referrals are everything in this industry. I greatly appreciate them.
For funsies I threw in an engagement session with the happy couple in August. We did a couple different locations, using both natural and urban back drops. It's always kind of funny to see how people react to me saying, "Pretend I'm not here.....whisper to each other.....okay now kiss.....maybe put your hand in her hair.....?" It probably sounds pretty creepy to passersby, but I promise it's what makes the photos better. Candid photography with couples is usually better. And I really like for people to feel comfortable. I want to get as close to how they really act with each other as possible. Well, an all-dolled up version of that.
It's amazing to think how much time passes for most couples between engagement and the wedding ceremony. The big day is tomorrow! I haven't seen them for a couple months, they've probably been hiding away making last minute preparations. Having been a bridesmaid this summer I completely understand how stressful the situation is. However, it's always a fun event, and one of the most memorable in people's lives. I really enjoy helping make those memories last, the good ones anyways! Here's some of my favorite engagement photos from their session. I'll be posting weddings from October up here soonish. Busy busy busy.
Basketball, My old Friend - November 16, 2015
The first sport I ever photographed was basketball. I was fortunate to go to the Missouri School of Journalism, where the students get hands on experience as employees of a community, not just school, newspaper. I took staff photography in the spring semester, which meant I wouldn't be photographing college football, but basketball instead. Mizzou is definitely more enthusiastic about their football program, but basketball isn't suffering. And there's both a men's and a women's team, so I had the opportunity to photograph twice as many college games, in addition to all the high school ones I photographed as well. Needless to say, I became pretty comfortable with photographing basketball. It was nice because I was able to sit on the floor, and I didn't need a huge 400mm, just a 70-200mm. It was much kinder on my arms.
Basketball presented challenges though. It's a terribly fast sport, blinking could mean missing the perfect frame or action. That made it more exciting to watch, but also more difficult. There's also the issue of sitting on the floor. It's nicer than running up and down a field with a 400, but it also means things, more specifically people, can move into your picture. Referees are the worst about this. It's a joke amongst photographers to post all of their "ref butt" photos. Their jobs are seemingly more important than ours, so they get priority unfortunately. There's also the issue of the golden girls and cheerleaders. They sit down for a lot of the action, but when there's a timeout or a break they stand up in their ridiculously short skirts and proceed to bounce around in front of you. Awkward. Especially since their derrières are right at eye level. The first game I photographed I was told I had to sit on the side of the court they were on, so that my older male colleague wouldn't be subject to awkward photos of him seemingly staring up their skirts. It's hard to look anywhere else! Many a photographer has been looking at the stands or the score board and had themselves either photographed or filmed in a misleading way. Very awkward indeed.
Sitting on the other side of the arena is also troubling. At Mizzou this meant sitting right in front of the band and the equally loud Antlers. Antlers are the charming group of sports fanatics at Mizzou that really love researching the other team beforehand so they can throw out incredibly personal, or just downright stupid, insults during free throws and other moments of calm during basketball games. I've heard things like, "Makes his own mayonnaise!", "Took his mom to prom!", and "Four eyes, no points!" Delightful. In the first game I've photographed for the Tribune a couple players went into the stands with the Antlers after their win to sing the fight song with them. I wanted to tell them not to encourage the Antlers, but I doubt they need it anyways.
Before this game I hadn't photographed basketball in over a year and half. I missed it. I think I was a little rusty to start, but then muscle memory started to kick in and I got some good shots! I may take a longer lens next time, the 300mm perhaps, but it's difficult for me to hold that one for very long. And until I get the zooming in and out really quickly down pat again, it may be safer to stick with the 70-200mm. I suppose my answer is to take both. And do some weightlifting. Here's a link to the article online.
Our Town - Dec. 26, 2015
I've been preoccupied. I daren't make my masses wait, but family/friends/travel/obligations have taken over. I did my first Our Town for the Tribune this month, granted it was the beginning of this month, but it's still this month! Our Town is a weekly photo feature in the Community section of the paper that is what a lot of journalists call a "slice of life." Basically, we cover a specific person, or group of persons, and describe what it is that they do and why, and how it sets them apart in their community, AKA mid-Missouri.
I wanted to do something a little topical, but not too topical (no Santas, please.) So I decided on focusing on a busker. Buskers are musicians who perform outside, often on sidewalks, for tips and the enjoyment of their craft. Obviously, people meander outside a lot less in the winter months, which means money is scarce, and playing musical instruments with cold fingers or gloves is not ideal.
I've been working at the Columbia Daily Tribune for almost nine months now (um what?) but up until December they didn't need me to do Our Town. Because of financial reasons, they needed me to start picking up Our Town for one week every other month. It' s not a huge undertaking, and it brings me back to my college days that involved more than sports journalism. Don't get me wrong, sports are AWESOME, but it's nice to flex my writing skills and photograph something I chose because I believe it deserves attention.
The man I photographed, JW Caldwell, is stupidly talented. I was in choir when I was younger and I believed that to be a chore. But this guy can play eight instruments. I can't imagine being able to devote time to that, or have the patience first of all. He said some things that I was expecting, such as playing in the winter sucks, you have to deal with a lot of crappy people, etc. But he also told me a lot of personal things about himself, without my prompting him too much. I was amazed at how open he was about his experiences and hardships with a virtual stranger. I don't have that sort of courage, and I spent most of my interview in awe of him.
Journalism is meant to inform. Yes, that means huge global events such as the Paris attacks and the national election dominate. But it also means informing citizens about other people around them. I imagine I a lot of people don't know what a busker is, or more specifically how much energy is put into being one. It's worthwhile to get to know those in your community. As a community newspaper, that's one of our most important jobs. That part of journalism is often overlooked. I always hear people say that the news is always negative; a lot of it is, but a lot of it is positive too. Look to your town, there's often a good story there. Here's a link to the story online.
Women's Basketball Feb. 3, 2016
I can't lie. It's nice having such a good women's basketball team. Mizzou's men's basketball team isn't doing so hot, so everyone is paying attention to the ladies, who are doing rather well. Who says people won't show up to women's sports? The women's team is having regularly double, triple, quadruple, etc. the crowds they have had in the past. When I photographed them for the Missourian in college, only 2 years ago or so, they had maybe 1000 people in the stands. If that. It made me a bit sad. The men's games I covered were usually packed. The women's games rarely filled the student section, and most of the rest of the stands were empty. It was almost eerily quiet compared to the raucous crowds that showed up for the men.
Fast forward two years, Mizzou's guys are having another disappointing season, while the women are simply killing it. The fact that a lot of their starting players are graduates of Rock Bridge High School in town is probably another large draw. Locals have been rooting for these women for the last 4 years, and their fan base continues into their college career.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's exciting to photograph them. I have a vested interest in the team since I'm from Columbia and went to Mizzou. It's nice to see them winning, and being incredibly passionate in the process. Sophie Cunningham is always expressive, and Head Coach Robin Pingeton always has a very readable face during games. It makes for good photos.Since the fans have been showing up in droves, they've been more expressive too. That produces more good photos. Just click through the slideshow and you'll understand what I'm talking about.
This particular game I covered against Florida was extra exciting. Florida was ranked only one spot ahead of Mizzou in the SEC, which meant it was going to be a tight game. It didn't disappoint. The first half was back and forth with them constantly tying with each other. There were lots of fouls, many of Mizzou's fans voiced their concerns over the ref calls, and Florida was upset at some too. Those games are always the most fun to photograph. And Mizzou was triumphant, which made it all the better for me personally, and photographically. Check out the article here for the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Our Town: Muse Pole Fitness - Feb. 15, 2016
I really like this Our Town gig. It's a nice, simple way to introduce the people of Columbia to someone or something they haven't been exposed to before. I have heard of Muse Pole Fitness from a few friends and acquaintances who take classes there, but I realized that probably not a lot of Columbians know the place exists. The studio is tucked away behind a grocery store, and up until this month, they haven't done a whole lot of large performances, just end of the year student showcases for the students interested in performance.
I decided this was a good time to feature them; they've been in their current space for over 2 1/2 years now, and owner/instructor Jordan Mazur is looking to expand. Physically, they're doubling their studio space so they can offer more classes. They're having an open house on February 19th to get newbies in the door and welcome back their regulars. And Mazur wants to expand what they do outside of classes. They're having a new kind of show for them February 18th, in which students, instructors, and out of town pole experts will show off their moves in solos, group performances and duets in a production called 'Vertical Desires' at Rose Music Hall. With so much change coming about, I knew it would make for a good story. Not to mention the visuals, I mean look at that! I'm in awe of her, really.
I get the impression that a lot of the people that read the Tribune are older than college age. It crossed my mind that the older audiences may not find this sort of exercise class appealing, or that they would think having a photo of a dancer on a pole in their daily newspaper isn't "wholesome", but people surprise you all the time. I thought my parents' reaction would be a bit more, "Whoa! They let you print that!" than, "Wow that's really neat, she must be super strong."
It's an interesting part of our community, and it's a good service to those who want a complete body workout and confidence. And really we shouldn't be reading the news to only feel comfortable, the whole point of reporting is to share information with the larger community. Usually that information isn't something people find out easily on their own. Similarly to Mazur's pole fitness classes, it's about reaching out of your comfort zone in a safe way. Since the article was published I've heard at least one new person joined Mazur's classes as a direct result of reading the article. I'm not going to lie, that feels pretty neat. I wrote eloquently enough, and photographed well enough, to convince someone to try something new. Well, here's a link to the article. And since the Our Town section only has one photo, I'll share another one I took of Mazur, honestly just because it looks cool.
Our Town: The royal Ping Pong Club - Mar. 30, 2016
It's my third Our Town and I think I'm really getting the hang of it. This time I went to Facebook and the internets to find my next story. It's amazing what you can find by just browsing. For example, I came across a Facebook group called "The Royal Ping Pong Club". The "royal" in the club name definitely had me intrigued, but what the real catch was that I couldn't think of any other ping pong or tennis table club in the mid-Missouri area. Yet, the sport itself is something we're all familiar with. I had probably one or two friends growing up who had ping pong tables in their basements. It was a fun joke around activity we could play without getting too competitive or athletic after dinner.
The ease of the sport is actually what made it popular. It was created by bored British soldiers while they were serving overseas, which is where the "royal" in their name comes from. They brought it back to Britain where it quickly became an after dinner family game people could do indoors. It wasn't too strenuous and it was inside; imagine playing tennis outside in Britain at night, presumably after you've eaten and maybe had a few. The weather is pretty gross in Britain. Table tennis took all the negatives away from traditional tennis and made it more friendly year round.
I contacted the club at just the right moment. This weekend is their first open tournament. Open meaning available to everyone who wants to join, regardless of age or experience. It's largely free, and can be as competitive or chill as the competitors want. They hope to get more interest and a better space to practice with and more consistent scheduling.
Because of this they were very happy to have me interview and photograph them. They said they've already had people asking about them since reading the article (which published yesterday). People who attend Columbia College, where the club is based, didn't even know about them, but now they do! That's always rewarding to me, giving coverage to local events and groups who really want and need it. And who doesn't like ping pong? I'd like to think I introduced a great social activity to those who like ping pong, but either don't have the means (access to a ping pong table) or the friends to play with. Check out the article here, and the club's website here. They accept people of all skill levels and you put in whatever hours you want.
Mizzou Softball - April 27, 2016
Man, the Mizzou ladies' teams are killin' it lately. The Men's basketball team was a disappointment and the Women's basketball went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. The baseball game I photographed last week was a brutal 15-2 loss, and this past weekend's softball ended with an exciting victory for the Tigers. I'm just saying, the women's games I've been photographing for the past 6 months have been much more exciting than the men's, it's just a fact.
Unlike the depressing baseball game, this game was very close. Most of the game was scoreless, Mizzou had one run in the third inning, and Texas A&M didn't tie with them until the 7th. Then in the bottom of the 7th, the exciting conclusion to the game was a super close call on a slide into home base by Mizzou's Emily Crane. The ref called in favor of Missouri, leaving Texas A&M looking sour and distraught. I don't blame them, and I appreciated their crestfallen expressions since they made a couple good images. I can't say I'm not biased, Mizzou is my alma mater, so yeah I hope they win. But I photograph the game fairly. I had images of their run where they look happy, and an image of a Missouri player being called out at second base. It just so happened that this game ended well for Missouri's and my interests.
In the past I've had issues with where I was and wasn't allowed to stand according to the workers at University Field and the SEC cameramen. One was telling me to stand in one place and another was telling me to stand in another, eventually it got sorted out, but it was annoying to say the least. This game the rules seemed slightly relaxed. I'm going to try to move around more if I'm sent out there again. I really liked my positioning for the most part, but it's exciting to change things up. And it adds variety to the picture framing which makes it more interesting to the viewer.
I really liked the time of the game. It started at 6:00 which meant that the sun was still up, but it was slowly going down throughout the game. The golden hour, or the hour when the light takes on a magical golden appearance, put the whole game in a nice hazy light that made some of the images really nice. I took a couple just for fun that didn't really bear any importance on the game. I didn't include them in the slideshow on the Tribune website for that reason, but I kept them because well, they're pretty. I'll post them here just so you can get an idea what I was looking into for most of the game. A bit bright on the eyes, but beautiful! And it was past the time of day where I sunburn easily, so I remained burn free for this week at least. You can read the article here, it uses more softball/baseball terminology than I'm used to, but my parents are trying to teach me.
Our Town: Jeannine Anderson - May 24, 2016
In my next Our Town for the Columbia Daily Tribune, I interviewed and photographed Jeannine Anderson after I saw on Facebook that she was raising money to be tested for Huntington's Disease through GoFundMe. Before interviewing Jeannine, I knew a little about Huntington's Disease, or HD. I only knew that it was genetic, and that it was fatal but the symptoms didn't really start to show up until middle age.
Jeannine told me that by some kind of chance, she chose to research HD in tenth grade biology before she knew it was in her family. After she received her grade for the research project, her mom, who has HD, told her that was what Jeannine's grandma had.
I couldn't believe that her family hadn't told her anything about the disease beforehand. Although it made more sense after Jeannine told me her mom denied having it for years, even after the larger symptoms revealed themselves. Right after she'd done all this research on the disease, she learned that she could possibly have it. It's a pretty rare disease, so I can only imagine how shocking that was for her.
There isn't a lot of space in the Our Town section of the Tribune, so I couldn't include all of the family stories she told me, or the issues she said she'd been having with the county about her mom's conservatorship. I passed along the information about the county government ignoring her attempts at communication to the city government reporter here at the Tribune. If the Public Administrator's office is ignoring Jeannine, who knows how many other people they're ignoring, particularly incapacitated people who don't have family to look out for them. I thought that story needed someone with more expertise in government bodies, and who had more time to devote to it. If what Jeannine says is true, then the story deserves at least that much.
My only issue with this story is that it wasn't particularly visual. I still really wanted to cover it because I thought it was really important. But it wasn't as obvious a visual as a pole dancer or people playing ping-pong. Jeannine's mom wasn't in a position to be photographed, and the focus of my story was more focused on Jeannine raising money for testing. I didn't realize how much it cost just to be tested, and I doubt most people know that. If it turns out you have the gene after spending $1500 just on the tests, you have to prepare yourself to spend more money on care in the future. People with HD start having symptoms around their prime working years, and once the symptoms progress enough, they're unable to work. Then they have to move into assisted living homes where they can receive around the clock care. These types of nursing homes don't usually accept insurance so they have to be paid for out of pocket.
If I had a chance to do it over, I would probably ask Jeannine to share photos of her mom and grandmother. It's such a prominent gene that it used to be called the Family Disease. If you have it, your children have a 50/50 chance of having it as well. It would have made sense to show more of her family, even if she's just holding photos, since it has such a profound effect on her family. I like the images I made of her however, I think it shows the optimism she has for her future. Jeannine wants a family, but she doesn't want to pass on the gene. She said if she had the gene she would probably adopt or selectively fertilize her healthy eggs. I'm glad I focused on Jeannine's experience rather than just her family's, but it's so centered around family that I needed a better visual to match such a compelling story.
This July and August I had the supreme pleasure of taking a road trip out to western United States. I had been dreaming of this trip for a very long time, and I couldn't believe it was actually happening. My boyfriend Daniel and I both have a lot of family and friends out west and had been promising to visit for many years. Having people to stay with certainly helped our planning, and having locals on your side when planning on what to see and do is extremely helpful. I strongly recommend all of the western states, they're simply breathtaking in their individual ways. Even though our trip was over two weeks there's still a lot we intend to go back and see in more depth. Our main stopping points were in Colorado, San Francisco, Seattle and Bend, Oregon, but we were able to drive through so much more than that. It was also fortunate that we were able to do this trip during the 100th anniversary of the National Parks System! We visited three national parks on this visit and several state parks. I'd say we clocked around 4000 miles! Luckily our car was very patient and carried us the entire way. These photos are much more personal to me than what I've previously posted, so you'll actually see my face and some other family/friends in these! I couldn't help myself with the scenery though, so there's TONS of those. I'm not even posting all of them here for fear of exhausting whoever looks through this. Thanks for enduring my selfishness for a bit, and enjoy!
John and Raine
It has been a minute! I'm trying to get back into my posting and blogging groove, starting a new job around Christmas has dampened that a bit. As well as trying to take care of myself emotionally, mentally and physically in light of the 2016 election. I don't intend to get too political on here, but I was pretty devastated by the news. I needed to prioritize my health for a bit and refocus on my goals. Honestly though, health should always be a first priority. I've taken it for granted a bit too much, particularly during college. But now I'm back with a vengeance! (sort of.)
I photographed this two person band, John and Raine, about a month ago in a small coffee shop in New Orleans that has a bit of a stage area for local performers to play. It's nothing too snazzy, but seeing as the band members were just starting out in college I thought it was pretty impressive that they already had gigs, a music video, and music sales.
The coffee shop itself was the biggest obstacle, because they were performing at night, and I was told I couldn't use flash. So sorry Advanced Techniques in Photojournalism! I had to rely on ambient light and my ISO settings on my camera. Fortunately my camera does fairly well with low light situations, however getting the most light in means slowing down the shutter speed which can cause blurriness if the subject is moving a bit. I had plenty of blurries this time around, but I had some clear ones that worked well in my opinion. The coffee shop had Christmas lights up and a lot of colorful posters, and I think it added to the mood of the photos.
Another issue with the set up was that I could really only photograph them from about two angles. The piano (which both of them take turns playing) faces a wall, so I had to sit directly to the side of them without being too disruptive. The main stage area was pretty caged in too, so most of the photos are either off to the side slightly or dead center. There's always something to work around, but hey, that's what I'm here for!
They're pretty great if you want to check them out! https://www.facebook.com/JohnandRaine/