Madeline Albright for The Atlantic
The funny and somewhat ridiculous thing about photo contests is their absolute subjectivity. You spend hundreds of dollars entering images that will be given a few seconds of the judge's time, spread out among thousands of your peer's best work from the last year.
So it's with complete surprise and happiness that I found out this image of Madeline Albright will be included in the PDN Photo Annual, Communication Arts Photo Annual and American Photography 29. The last of these also recognized this image of my favorite bearded journalist Mark Knoller that I shot for the Washingtonian.
Journalist Mark Knoller for the Washingtonian.
I got a call last week from the folks at National Public Radio, asking if I would be interested in covering the very first broadcast from their new building at 1111 North Capitol Street. Even better, it would be spending the morning with the incredible producers of Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon. There were a few tense moments as the systems that they had been testing for months, even years finally began pushing live radio out on air, and there was an impromptu cheer as the first segment ended without a hitch.
What makes Scott different from so much of what you hear on NPR is the way he opens himself up on air, expresses opinions and seemingly lets you have a look into what's in his heart each week. As much as I love NPR, this approach is atypical and requires enormous strength to remain vulnerable and open as your voice is broadcast to millions of people each week.
While I had a few brief minutes inside the studio and control room, it was such a privilege getting to see this first-hand. I was also witness to him clowning around with his two daughters on breaks, separated from them by the thick sound-proof glass, meaning the communicated through a series of silly gestures and funny faces which had everyone laughing. Here are a few from the early morning (the last image is from the previous day, when we shot some publicity stills).
Scott Simon with Susan Stamberg
The Hong Kong Dance Company passed through Washington, DC last week and I was hired to spend a few days with them, creating a photographic record of their various interactions with the press (i.e. photographing them being photographed, which gave me some interesting perspective into how the Chinese press work, but that's for another time). In between this work, I was able to spend an afternoon with them at the Kennedy Center as they did a run-through of their performance.
What followed was one of my favorite photo assignments I've had in a long time.
For three hours, I was able to stand in the near darkness of the space just off-stage, capturing the performance, transitions of dancers and incredible stage props. It's rare to have such complete, unfettered access and I'm grateful to have been a part of their day.
I had the good fortune to shoot twice for Time last month, for both their Inventions issue and a really wonderfully conceived project about the 2012 Presidential Campaign as a series of still lifes. Neither of these assignments fell into the general categories of work I do and that made them all the more challenging and exciting. I want to thank the editors at Time for entrusting me with these shoots.
Female body armor, for Time
During the current military conflicts, women have gone to war wearing men's body armor. The gear is often ill-fitting and clearly not designed for their bodies. New body armor is trying to fix that problem. I spent the morning at Fort Belvoir photographing the new technology and figuring out how to prop up a thirty pound vest. The write-up is here.
Card containing memory card with 47% speech, for Time
The second assignment involved going to Time's DC offices and shooting some interesting political artifacts that played a role in this election. One of my favorites was the blank Thank You card (delivered by messenger) that had the faint indentation of a memory card inside of it. This card had been delivered to Mother Jones journalist David Corn and contained the video of Mitt Romney's 47% speech. Spending the morning with these historical artifacts provided a somewhat quirky window into the minutiae of political campaigns. The full gallery (mostly shot by the incredible Grant Cornett) here.
Jon Huntsman's briefcase, for Time
Feather Quill Pens used at Supreme Court, for Time
As photographers, or more specifically photojournalists (of which I'm not so sure I identify with anymore), we inhabit a world of transit, interrupted by brief, often intense experiences as we drop into stories, spend a few hours or days on them, then just as quickly move on to the next.
I watched the path of Hurricane Sandy filled not with an itch to cover the next big story, but with memories of the New Jersey shore, where I spent parts of each summer of my childhood swimming, surfing and making sand castles. Now we take our children there and I still marvel at this narrow stretch of land, how fragile it is, and how new and different the ocean and sky can be each day. Our family has a home in Mantoloking, where one of the more iconic photos of the storm, showing the Mantoloking Bridge descending into water, was taken. The house is about a five minute walk from that bridge and for a long time, we had no sense of whether our house made it through the storm or not.
So this was unmistakably my story and my place and I immediately felt protective of how it was covered and of all the little details that journalists were getting wrong (the bridge was misidentified by the Times and others as being in Seaside Heights for nearly a week).
These photographs are from a single day (last Monday), as I walked along the beach starting around 4AM until the sun came up. To reach the beach, I walked down silent roads, framed by bumpy piles of waterlogged mattresses, sofas and tables stacked high on the sidewalk. With no electricity, the beach and sky were deeply dark and there was no delineator between horizon and sky. The destruction was mostly just jagged dark shadows against a slightly lighter sky.
The news media quickly moved on past the Jersey shore and rightfully so, as many areas of New York were hit much harder with much more vulnerable populations. Still, this place, my place, is just in the beginning of rebuilding, and inevitably, this will be the place I return to, again and again.