Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rep. Josh Gottheimer

Maintaining a foot in the photojournalism world has been difficult lately, because often assignments come with very little notice, whereas the corporate and event planning worlds generally schedule jobs weeks in advance.  It's tough to keep the calendar open for occasional photojournalism jobs to get through.  I wanted to be proactive and change that in 2017.

I've always enjoyed the unpredictability of photojournalism.  The feeling that you're "in the middle of it".  January 3rd is that date that the new Congress convenes and newly elected representatives are sworn in.  There are lots of opportunities for pictures.  Open houses, lots of back slapping, friends and families are all around.  I circled the date on the calendar and found a couple freshman congressman whom I thought would be interesting and were from parts of the country where I had connections to the newspapers or magazines.  My first idea didn't pan out, so I contacted The (NJ) Record on the morning on Jan. 3 about covering newly elected Rep. Josh Gottheimer and the ceremonial swearing-in.  Thankfully I received a positive response very quickly.

I settled into the Capitol and went about finding Rep. Gottheimer on the floor of the House chamber, voting in favor of Rep. Nancy Pelosi as minority leader.  And then I went about the unfamiliar task of waiting outside the chambers to catch Rep. Gottheimer as he left.  The hard part was finding him, the easy part was following him around for the rest of the day.  Here is what ran in The Record.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ, 5) poses with his wife, Marla and House Leader, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI, 1)

Here are the outtakes:

Rep. Gottheimer, leaves the U.S. Capitol with his daughter and son, on the way to his new office across the street.

Family, friends and supporters crowded into his new office during an open house to offer congratulations. 
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) stops by to congratulate Rep. Gottheimer. 
Sen. Cory Booker, stopped by as well, and even high-fived Rep. Gottheimer's daughter (below).

Rep. Gottheimer with his son in Statuary Hall, awaiting the ceremonial swearing-in

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Corey Stewart for Northern VA Magazine

Corey Stewart speaking to attendees and political power players at the Page County GOP Jamboree on June 25, 2016.

Recently I had the opportunity to work with Jonathan Hunley on a political story.  He and I go back several years to our days at a community paper in Woodbridge/Manassas (The Potomac News/The News & Messenger, '08-'12).  This was our first time in 4 years to get the band back together, so to speak.

In March, Jon and I were munching Tex-Mex at Bar-J in Occoquan when he talked about wanting to do a political profile story on Corey Stewart.  Stewart was gearing up for his run for Governor of VA and had a schedule of appearances throughout VA.  He also happens to be the Virginia State Chairman, Donald Trump for President.

After a few weeks and several emails pitching the story to various publications, Northern Virginia Magazine said "yes".  Pick up the issue, if you have a chance.  Jon did a great job putting it together. Jonathan attended a rally in Norfolk, did a sit-down dinner interview, and finally we both attended the Page County GOP Jamboree where Stewart would be, along with every other GOP Gubernatorial candidate.

Corey Stewart talks with Vance Wilkins, a long-time political player in VA.  Wilkins was a Republican delegate from 1978-2002 and served as the 53rd Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates in 2000 leading the shift from Democrat led legislature to the current state in which the GOP holds a healthy lead.
Corey's signature Caiman boots
Attendees listened as Corey worked the crowd at the Page County GOP Jamboree

Corey Stewart had his chance to make his case as a GOP Gubernatorial candidate.
I went ahead and scheduled a meeting with Stewart to do a more formal portrait in his Prince William County office a few days later, which is ultimately what ran in the magazine...

Corey Stewart in his office as Chairman, Prince William County Board of Supervisors.  This ran in NVMag. 

This all happened in June just a couple weeks before the GOP convention, and it finally ran in this month's Northern VA magazine.  I would've loved to see more pictures, of course, but I'm satisfied with putting others up here, and NoVA Mag was very easy and nice to work with, so hopefully I'll get a chance to do something for them again in the future.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Dr. Charbel Moussa and Finding the Cure for Parkinson's

I was honored and excited to get the call to photograph a portrait of Dr. Charbel Moussa (Georgetown University) for an article in the relatively new medical news journal, STAT.

Some of you may already know that I used to have a career in Neuroscience Research before starting my photography path in '06.  It was nice to dip my toe back into that world, and after we did our pictures I had a nice 15 minute conversation about what he was working on and how he got there.  It's a fascinating story and definitely worth a read.

This article is so illustrative of the obstacles presented to trying to cure major diseases.  It isn't all about the science.  Politics and money (doesn't it always?) play a role in the race for the cure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sherron Watkins, 14 years later

Last month I had the opportunity to photograph Sherron Watkins speak at George Mason University.  Sherron Watkins is known as the whistelblower of the Enron Scandal, which happened 14 years ago this month.  I don't suppose corporate malfeasance started with Enron, but it sure feels like it.  Since then we've had the recession, and countless numbers of corporate shenanigans.

Knowing I had a chance to photograph someone who participated in something so historic, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to shoot a portrait.  We all worked out the particulars, and I assured Sherron that I'd be ready for her and we'd take 10-15 minutes of her time.

For a larger selection of portraits, visit my photoshelter gallery, here.

Watkins has been touring and giving speeches for years, now.  I thought the most interesting observation she made was comparing the leadership of Enron to the fable, The Emperor's New Clothes. Those that did speak up, Watkins admits that there were several people who raised red flags, were quickly brushed aside.  So up and up the ladder the buck is passed.  Eventually you're left with a scandal.

It was an interesting talk, that I felt priveleged to listen to.  But even better, I could make some portraits of someone who was at the center of a defining moment in Corporate US History.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Lessons in Holding on to Your Pictures

I recently received an email request from New York Magazine regarding a portrait I took of Dan Backer.  It was a little surprising, if only because the picture they were thinking of was one I did of Dan 4 years ago.  He and his wife are personal friends of ours.  In 2011, I was a staff photographer at the News & Messenger and working on getting better at portraits and specifically business-style portraits.  So we agreed to meet up.  He needed professional portraits, I needed to practice, so we met up and spent a little time doing some portraits.  He's still using those portraits.  Which is how NYMag found me.
Shot in Dan's apartment, 2011.  NYMag eventually selected this one for their article.
I contacted Dan and we met up quickly on a Saturday morning before one of his meetings and we did a little refresher session.  NYMag ended up going with the one I did 4 years ago, but that's ok.  I have more portraits.  And so does Dan.  It's a good lesson in hanging on to your work, because you don't know who will come looking for you.

On the mean streets of Old Town Alexandria, VA.  2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Save Oak Flat

I don't usually use this blog to talk about causes, but two days ago I became aware of one of the more perplexing land swaps in U.S. history.  Perhaps for the first time ever, the U.S. Government is attempting to transfer sacred Native American land into the hands of a private foreign interest.  How?  Why?  Maybe we should follow the money.

The pictures are from the demonstrations held on the U.S. Capitol lawn yesterday.  These are the San Carlos Apache and their supporters. To see a full edit, check my gallery here:

Carrie Sage Curley, San Carlos Apache, dances to music played by fellow members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

In December of 2014, as we drew near another shutdown, the Defense Authorization Act was passed in Congress and at the last minute, a rider was slipped in...

Buried on page 1,105 is a land transfer of 2,400 acres of Tonto National Forest in AZ which includes Apache ancestral medicinal, ceremonial and burial grounds to Resolution Copper.  This land transfer was tried twice before in the House and failed.  Naturally, with any bad legislation that makes a few people very rich, there's no reason not to sneak it in by any other means possible.  They found that way by doing it at the 11th hour on the back of a must-pass defense authorization bill.  We should thank Arizona Sens. McCain and Flake.

The argument they make is about jobs, naturally.  And technically, this land is "Public Land".  Oak Flat is just beyond the reservation line in Tonto National Forest.  But the agreement has always been about "allowing" Apaches to return to their ancestral land to conduct ceremonies and rituals.  Let's forget for the moment the actual concept of Apache land not being in their possession to begin with.  At what point is it even relevant to talk about jobs when the way to get there is to destroy land that is culturally significant to indigenous people?  And by destroying this land you are, by proxy, destroying a people.  This is their sacred land.  They have coming-of-age-ceremonies here for women.  No one would ever consider selling off the Mt. Sinai if there were some metal to be dug up from underneath.  No one would consider demolishing Mecca, if they thought they could get some more oil out of the ground.  Why does it make any sense to steal the land from people?  The only answer, of course, is that these are Native Americans.  They are impoverished and small in number.  It's too easy.  Hell, we've been doing it for 400 years, why stop now?
Sandra Rambler, makes her way to the Protect Oak Flat demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol.

Aside from the disputable jobs/money figures Resolution Copper puts forth, the better question is to ask what right they have to take land that the Apache's would never had any intention of selling for the right to completely decimate the landscape and line their pockets?  In case you aren't sure, the particular brand of mining would hollow out the land, allowing erosion to leave a 2 mile wide crater.

Baase Pike, 10, Apache, awaits the demonstrations.

It's hard to understand why anyone would think this is a good idea...unless you realize that a few people would probably stand to get very wealthy off of this deal.  It's the only way to make sense of it.

Wendsler Nosie, Sr, tribal councilman, speaks to fellow members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and their supporters in front of the United States Capitol to protest the transfer of Apache land to a private Australian-British mining corporation 

Either way, the Apache naturally didn't stand pat.  Aside from starting their own form of "Occupy Oak Flat" movement, they came to Washington to protest the land grab.  Another AZ representative, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3), introduced H.R. 2811, which would repeal the land grab.

Carrie Sage Curley, San Carlos Apache, watches Wendsler Nosie, Sr, tribal councilman, speak to fellow members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and their supporters in front of the United States Capitol.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Shooting as a Generalist

I am a "generalist", as they say.  In some circles this might be the kiss of death.  Often the advice is to specialize and market the heck out that one thing you do really well. 

But as someone who cut their teeth as a photojournalist at community newspapers, I rapidly found  that I enjoy doing different things.  The mix helps keep me fresh, and engaged alowing me to always be thinking about how to do something better.

Even though I consider myself a generalist, I do tilt toward the editorial and portrait world.  So when I shoot other things like events, conferences, often I think about how I would shoot this if it were an assignment instead of a commissioned job for a corporate client.  The dilemma as a generalist is keeping my portfolio up to date.  So I'm always looking out for the moments that might work for the client and for my portfolio.

Here are some of the best of those from the past couple months:
...during a video shoot.  Just checking light and looking for a good angle for this Benedictine Sister in Bristow, VA

...on vacation in Puerto Rico.  We sat down for lunch and mojitos.  I decided I had to take her picture after seeing the beautiful light in front of the restaurant in Old San Juan.
...I covered a few events for Rodney Choice and I saw these moments.  Here is the Mayor of Memphis just chatting with some nice window light.  Thanks Rodney!

...What's better than a mechanical bull?  Being able to shoot from above a mechanical bull...

...shooting inside Senator Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) office in the US Capitol...