Moving on to Woostah

Due to a major recent transition–changing jobs from staff photographer at the Cape Cod Times to Worcester Telegram & Gazette–I have decided, yet again, to revive the blog. It all happened so fast! One week I was wrapping up a 6-month long project at the Times (more on that later) and then the next I was in the interview process for the position and then within two weeks my boots were on the ground in Wormtown. I barely had a moment to catch my breath between looking for a new apartment and tying up loose ends in Plymouth. On top of all that, I started the new gig on a very busy news week. My first day of shooting was the first major snowfall in the county, which was also the day before Thanksgiving, and yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the tragic Worcester Cold Storage & Warehouse Co. fire that claimed the lives of 6 firefighters in 1999. It has certainly been a whirlwind but I am really enjoying the new environment and the different opportunities the city presents. Click the thumbnails below to see a gallery of my favorite photos from my first days.

Worcester Fire Department Lt. John Elliott looks out a window and is reflected in a photo tribute to the Worcester 6 at Fire Department Headquarters on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014.

Worcester Fire Department Lt. John Elliott looks out a window and is reflected in a photo tribute to the Worcester 6 at Fire Department Headquarters on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014.

Another Manic Sunday

FALMOUTH — 081113 — Kristin Kmack of Albany, far right, cheers as her husband passes by near the finish line Falmouth Road Race with Zoey Kmack, 10, front and Hayley Kmack, 14.

There was a time when my Sunday shift was a quiet day when I would feature hunt for the majority of my shift, catch up on emails and even work on self-motivated projects if I got really lucky. This summer has changed all of that. Almost every Sunday this season has been jam-packed with assignments and breaking news. It has certainly been an exercise in keeping me on my toes. On the other hand, these busy days have also been tremendous lessons in patience as well. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hectic chaos of fast-paced day but often I have to calm myself down when I realize that a situation has the potential to become a decent picture. Then, I must for the moment to come together. I saw these gals with their pom poms and knew they were waiting for someone special. But waiting with this group of people amidst so many competing moments was a big test for me but I was glad that I stuck with it. On top of the Falmouth Road Race, I also responded to a train verses pickup truck accident on the way back  to the office and then had to cover the Pops By the Sea concert that evening. This particular Sunday ended up being a 14-hour day when all was said and done. To add insult to injury, on my way home I was met with traffic backed up to exit 5 on Route 6 at 9:00! Luckily, I know the back roads and at least my laptop hard drive held out yesterday and only decided to fail this morning, phew! I wonder what next Sunday’s adventure will be…

Finally, a parachute!

Medicare Cuts

FALMOUTH — 032113 — Dee Lawrence and Margaret O’Hara swat at the ball during a therapeutic exercise session with a parachute at the JML Care Center. Federal cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates will impact nursing home facilities on the Cape.

I always hoped that in my career of community news I would eventually come upon a parachute scene. Us photographers, we are suckers for big graphic shapes with bright, vivid colors. I figured I would find my parachute picture in a kindergarten class or an after-school program, but I never envisioned I would be blessed with as glorious of a scene as this. I was curious when I heard the laughing and general amusement coming from the room as I photographed two other ladies painting paper mache Easter eggs. The PR person urged me to check it out. It was clear that he was proud of himself for being able to offer such an enticing opportunity for a photographer. I took one look around the bend and a huge smile stretched across my face. I whispered some sort of hurried, “Awesome! Thank you!” to the PR person and rushed over to the circle, suddenly panicked that this activity might be ending soon and I might not have a lot of time to work it. Once I fired off the nervous spray of initial shots, I slowed down and tried to imagine what I was really looking for — what I had been waiting to find for years of seeing friends and colleagues come back with these exciting, colorful moments from preschools. You see, sometimes when I come across something that already has a lot of visual potential, I freeze up and forget to strategize about making the best picture possible. I’m not sure that I made that happen in this instance but I’m happy with it overall because I enjoy the essence of it. I know that there was a lot of joy in the room in an otherwise often depressing place. So, for sure, this image was the highlight of my week perhaps even the whole month, who knows, maybe it will be my favorite photo of the year.

A New Pope

Pope ReactionHYANNIS — 031313 — St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School fifth-grader Kevin Simpson, 11, looks back at other students as they watch the CNN coverage of the naming of the pope in an after-school study hall.

I wasn’t expecting to get much when I walked into the newsroom after shooting three back-to-back assignments, driving 0ver 100 miles only to be informed that I was being sent out with a reporter to capture the local reaction to the naming of 266th pope. I was pleasantly surprised when we found some prep school students with their attentions fixed on the CNN coverage AFTER school had already been dismissed.  I realized I liked this photo as I was editing it mostly because it looks like Pope Francis is patting this student on the head or blessing him but I have to admit I didn’t conceptualize this as I was firing away.  The classroom was dark so the projection of the news feed could be viewed better but this complicated actually showing the students. I made some frame of kids heads silhouetted against the screen and then Kevin turned around. I wasn’t sure if the picture would be more effective if he was in focus and the pope was in the background of vice versa. There’s no way to really know until you go back and look at your take so I tried to make different versions as quickly as I could and hoped for the best. I thought the back-focused ones would be more effective but, to my surprise, the frame with Kevin sharp worked much better. What do you think?

SNOW MORE!!!

Snow

HYANNIS — 021713 — Jake and Lily Atwell, 4 and 7, try to remain patient while their dad, Dan, shovels the walkway for them before they get to run around in the fresh batch of snow.

I am posting these two snow features in the hopes that I will reverse the curse. So far, a significant snow falling has occurred every Saturday for the past two weeks and it’s forecasted again for tomorrow. You’ve made your point, Mother Nature, but, please, we have had enough. In all seriousness, snow work days are good in the sense that photo opportunities are everywhere but so are car collision close calls car. This is often quite stressful because I will see a scene I’d like to photograph but can’t find a safe way to pull over and park for a bit or it takes too long to turn around and the moment is gone. It’s a challenge but it’s yet another occasion to go out there and give it your best shot but for 2013, I’m all set. Let’s move on to spring.

Snow

BUZZARDS BAY — 021713 — Donald Grassi of South Plymouth wipes snow off of his car after having breakfast at Leo’s Resaurant on Main Street in Buzzards Bay. “This is normal,” Grassi said of the snow.

Department of Forgotten Features

Standalone feature

DENNIS — 010713 — Northside Marina detailer Nate Severdija runs his fingers along the the side of the 45-foot pleasure boat, Dolce Vita, as he buffs out any imperfections in the gunwale, the upper side of the vessel. The boat owner told the marina that he wanted it “spotless.” It will take Severdija most of the winter season to complete the task. The marina stores about 400 boats in the winter. “On the cold days we work in the bays and on the nice days we work outside,” general manager Dan Schadt said. “Before you know it, it will be March 1st and we’ll be recommissioning boats.”

It’s never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change when planning to fill a daily newspaper. This picture represents a little bit of that chaos to me even though in and of itself it is a quiet moment. The day that I captured this particular picture was a slow one. I didn’t have any set assignments but was trying to find a family sick with the flu for a photo to accompany a tamiflu story. After hanging out in some family medicine waiting rooms and pediatrician’s office parking lots without success, I decided I needed to come up with a feature of some sort so I didn’t arrive back the ranch empty handed.

Sometimes I find I have better luck making features by injecting myself into a situation indoors somewhere rather than driving around aimlessly. This was one of those days. After driving around for a bit, I pulled up to this marina and vowed to myself that I wasn’t leaving until I made a picture.  So, I walked in and amazingly the man in the store who greeted me quickly ushered me into the back where he said guys were working and he didn’t think twice about it. This could be because I have come to this marina in the past for a feature and he remembered me. I explored the bays in the back and didn’t find much of anything aside from a guy waiting for some varnish to dry. Still, I tried to stick to my vow and did another sweep around the cluttered areas. Then I saw Nate and knew immediately that he and the million dollar yacht he was detailing would do just fine. I was really proud of the photo because it was born out a fair bit of sticktoitiveness so I was disappointed when it didn’t run. The next day was also slow and at one point an editor was going to pitch it as a page one picture. This isn’t how it all rolled out but I had hoped it would find a home some where tucked away in regional or in biz but sadly it just got passed over. I’m not necessarily complaining, it happens sometimes and it’s just part of my job, but I think it’s interesting that a photo can go from being considered for page one to being blog only material within a day or two. The most important takeaway for me is that I turned out a worthwhile photo on a slow, Janaury day on the Cape. A photo that I can live with and happily display on my blog. So here it is. Hope you enjoy! Also, if you have further ideas for standalone photos on the Cape in the winter please let me know. : )

Merrily he busks along…

Standalone feature

HARWICH — 121712 — Traveling musician Julien Collins, 26, performs in front of the CVS Pharmacy on Monday afternoon. Collins grew up on the Cape and is currently staying with his grandparents in East Harwich after hitchhiking across the country with his girlfriend for the past year. He says that New York City is his next stop on his busking adventure. “Right now is the best time of year,” Collins said referring to making a living playing music. “The people of Harwich have been generous.” Soon after, CVS employees informed his he could not perform there so he moved on to a different location in town.

busk  (bsk)

intr.v. busked, busk·ing, busks

To play music or perform entertainment in a public place, usually while soliciting money.

It’s not every day I find a street performer in these sleepy Cape towns, excluding Provincetown and Wellfleet, of course. But it wasn’t the fact that we was playing music that drew me to this scene. Initially, it was the repetitious red, sure, but more so it was the fact that I could actually make an interesting picture in front of a CVS. I never thought that would even happen. This nice guy was quite the open book. I appreciated his willingness to share stories of his traveling lifestyle. Always refreshing to come across something a little different in an otherwise banal shopping center.

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