Month: May 2007

Game Over – Jazz vs. Spurs

Deron Williams, I’m as upset as you that the season’s over.

Hey folks, as much as I would love to sit here and blog all about Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Finals, it’s 11:20pm in San Antonio. That means I’ve only got forty minutes to hit Village Inn for a hot fudge sundae. (Or even better, something else will be open this late.) So you’re out of luck until tomorrow!

More Traveling

Traveling also brought back a memory from a trip ten years ago. We had just put together a new computer setup. Back then we were shooting film, then scanning and sending with a laptop. It meant for a lot of gear and the boss had put it all together in the largest laptop bag you’ve ever seen.

I had to choose between carrying the laptop bag or carrying my cameras onto the plane. I chose the cameras and checked the laptop bag.

After the flight I got to the baggage claim and stood there waiting for the laptop bag to make its way onto the carousel. Finally it appeared, coming up the conveyer belt and then dropping down onto the baggage claim. The guy next to me taps me on the shoulder, and laughing, says, “Ha! Look at that. Some idiot checked his computer!”

Heading Southeast

Another day traveling to yet another Jazz playoff game. And flying with all of this equipment (which you have to carry-on) is a huge hassle. Southwest Airlines has a policy where members of the media can jump ahead of the “regular” passengers and into the pre-board line. It’s supposed to be for photographers with lots of equipment, but invariably the TV reporters with their golf shirts and attaches end up in the special media pre-board abusing the system.

I abstain altogether.

As much as I hate the Southwest “check in, hurry up and wait” system, I just don’t feel comfortable taking the favor and jumping ahead in line. And so, since it’s essential that I find an empty overhead compartment for my cameras, I make sure I’m in the A group or at least the front of the B line.

When we were returning from San Antonio after game two last week, I paid close attention to the pre-board process. The people waiting to pre-board were a handful of elderly people in wheelchairs, a few couples with young children, and six strapping young men who worked for television stations. The media.

As these six healthy guys with minimal luggage got on the plane ahead of everyone else, the people in line became very angry. They noticed the preferential treatment, and weren’t quiet about it. I was surprised at the vitriol leveled at the TV guys, though they didn’t hear it.

When I got on today’s plane, a bunch of photographers said, “Where were you?”

I smiled, “I was in line, traveling with the regular folks.”

They laughed. And so did I.<p><em>This post first appeared <a href=””>here</a>.

Memorial Day

I know this is late in the day, but there’s still an hour left of Memorial Day. Two years ago I wrote this Memorial Day piece that was published in the Tribune:

In a suburban Utah home earlier this month— the day before Mother’s Day, in fact— the Thomas family had the table covered with photographs of their son and brother, Brandon. Photos were everywhere: Brandon as a wide-eyed grinning child, his blond hair crazy like he stuck his finger in a socket. Brandon flying off an illicit ski jump he built with his ski-buddy friends. Brandon at the military graduation ceremony where he earned his green beret. Brandon wearing sunglasses and a flak-jacket, holding an assault rifle in downtown Baghdad.

Hours before the photos were spread out on the table, Brandon had been killed in a suicide attack in Baghdad. It was in the company of these treasured photographs that his family would tearfully embrace the stream of friends visiting to express their sorrow and love. Each visitor would pour over the images and relive their memories of Brandon. With the passing of a loved one, photographs take on a value and power that is beyond price.

I was there to photograph some family photos of Brandon for the paper. I took a few photos of the family in their grief and shock, trying to stay respectful and unobtrusive. It was a difficult assignment. They were very gracious to welcome me into their home at such a tender moment.

Funerals are never fun. And throughout my career I’ve heard so many photographers complain about being assigned to a funeral. But funerals are historic moments in the lives of our subjects. Done with respect, photographs of funerals can capture the deep love for the departed and the honor and tribute shown them during the service. Isn’t it interesting that photographers sometimes look down on photographing weddings and funerals— two of the important gatherings in anyone’s life.

I had the honor of being assigned to cover Brandon’s funeral. He was buried in a touching ceremony with full military honors. It’s moments like these that I will be pondering over Memorial Day. Memories from a variety of assignments covering the Iraq war’s impact on scores of Utah families.

I will remember photographing those first troops who were being shipped off to Iraq. They were tough, grown men with young families. Tears streaked down their faces as they said goodbye to their young children. They were going to war and an unknown fate.

I will remember seeing a young boy at his father’s funeral. The father, James Cawley, was Utah’s first soldier killed in the war. A tough-as-nails SWAT officer, he was killed when— of all things— a Humvee ran over him as he slept.

I will remember being in the the room when Mandy Archuletta had only six minutes with a videophone to introduce her six-week-old baby to the baby’s father, her husband Tony, then serving in Iraq. The call was being timed with a stopwatch so that all of the families of servicemen in their small Utah mining town would get their six awkward minutes.

I will remember another funeral. When after the other mourners had left, I waited for the mother, Patricia Olmos who lost her son Cesar Machado-Olmos, to drop a rose into his grave. It didn’t make for a memorable photo, but the moment was heartbreaking.

I will remember that exhilarating chaos as cheering families welcomed the Army Reserves 116th Engineering Battalion home after a whopping 411 days in Iraq. Signs and flags waving everywhere, and I’ll never forget Specialist David Buell holding aloft his eight-month-old daughter— he’d never even seen her before.

I will remember seeing the entire town of Blanding, Utah, line the streets as the body of one of their own, Marine Quinn Keith, made its way in a solemn procession to the cemetery. Another young man dead. Regardless of your political position on the war, he deserves your thoughtful consideration.

I will remember photographing three Iraq war veterans at the public library, telling riveting and moving stories about their experiences. The auditorium was nearly empty.

Regarding all of these moments, it’s a brutal shame that all Americans are not able or willing to witness these historic events in person. Or to take time to acknowledge the sacrifices being made. Sadly, a lot of this is being left to us as photographers to record and show the country and the world what is going on.

But as much as it may seem that people would rather look away, always remember the power of still photography. Your photographs from every assignment will be pulled off a website by your subjects’ families, cut out of the newspaper, pinned to a wall or magnetized to a fridge, framed, shown off by adoring parents, pasted carefully into acid-free scrapbooks or plastic-sleeved photo albums. Your photographs will age over the years like a fine wine. And when they are brought back out, in times of celebration or loss, your photographs will be invaluable to those connected to them.

Remember to do your job with honor, respect, and honesty. For the sake of those who deserve to be remembered.<p><em>This post first appeared <a href=””>here</a>.


Is it worth complaining about security anymore? I wonder if it’s worth the retribution I might face. But can any security expert tell me why I have to pass through a metal detector to get in, but my large shoulder bag loaded with wires, electronics, and who knows what else is only given the most cursory of glances. Who is doing the thinking behind such security? Oh yeah, no one is thinking.

And special thanks to TSA for stealing my GPS’s power adapter and mount from my suitcase. Why didn’t you steal the two books I had in there? Both were great reads. Oh yeah, I guess I know the answer to that one as well.

Jazz vs. Spurs, game three, pre-game

Just set up the computer for tonight’s game three of the NBA Western Conference Finals, Jazz vs. Spurs. The photo workroom is packed. More photographers that we’ve yet seen all season. Every available table space is covered with laptops, card readers, network routers, cameras, lenses, etc. A large cooler on the floor is filled with water a ding dongs, courtesy of a local photographer who prefers to not be named on this blog.

I’ve got my two card readers plugged in, my mouse, a security cable has my computer locked down to prevent theft. I’ve set my cameras to ISO 1600, 1/500, f2.8, and a white balance of 3800K with +2 green. Large jpeg (too many photos to go with RAW). Memory cards are formatted, control switches on lenses and cameras are taped down to prevent changed. PhotoMechanic code replacement files are checked, I’ve got a roster as backup.

Two hours now until tip-off. Could we be any more ready?

Jazz vs. Spurs, game two, second half

Here are the photos I sent from the second half of the Jazz loss in San Antonio, Game Two…

This Tim Duncan dunk took place on the far end of the court, him facing away from me. But the flash of a fan’s camera makes it a little interesting.

Michael Finley pleads to the ref, “I promise I didn’t touch the ball!!!”

Deron Williams shooting against tough Spurs defense.

Tony Parker looking to pass to Tim Duncan.

Boozer pulls down a rebound on top of Derek Fisher.

Fisher collides with Manu Ginobili.

Derek Fisher finally made his first basket in the fourth quarter. Millsap patted his head. I made the photograph.

Brent Barry looking to pass out of Jazz defense. I didn’t send this one in.

Bruce Bowen hit a few three-point shots. I liked how he was holding the ball.

Deron Williams loses the ball driving on Tim Duncan.

Andrei Kirilenko complains to the ref after being called for his third foul.

And finally, Derek Fisher on the bench. Tough night for Fisher. Jazz lose

This post first appeared here.

Jazz vs. Spurs, game two, first half

Okay, here are the photographs I sent in from game two of the Western Conference Finals, Jazz vs. Spurs, Game Two. Jazz lost.

Carlos Boozer flies out of bounds, trying to save the ball.

Tim Duncan over Andrei Kirilenko. Duncan seemed unstoppable.

Boozer and Fabricio Oberto positioning for a rebound.

Robert Horry can’t believe he was called for his first foul. Very animated, a funny moment. But in the scheme of the game, a non-event.

Derek Fisher goes down after colliding with Manu Ginobili.

Paul Millsap broods on the bench, coming out of the game with three fouls.

One of the things I was assigned to look for was a vertical shot of a Jazz fan surrounded by Spurs fans. I found only three Jazz fans on my half of the arena. Before the game I made sure to get their names so I wouldn’t have to deal with that on deadline. This is Jazz fan Brian Baker of Salt Lake City surrounded by ecstatic Spurs fans as the Jazz call timeout, down by nine points.

My other fan, Leticia Tobon, holds out hope during a time out with the Spurs up 42-31.

Deron Williams passing to Mehmet Okur.

A better image of Millsap on the bench with three fouls. I sent this one to replace the first image of the same shot. With his eye cocked back toward me, more effective.

Deron Williams complains about a non-call. As the Jazz fell behind the Spurs by a double-digit margin, this photo was a good, symbolic moment to sum that up.

Carlos Boozer on the sidelines as the Jazz fall far behind. Wraps a couple towels on his head, looks down. He’s more pissed that sad, but still a strong image. Here’s how it ran on the front page of the sports section:

This post first appeared here.

Hard at work on the road

Covering the Jazz in the Western Conference Finals is a tough gig. All day I’ve been facing some hard decisions as game two against the Spurs approaches tonight at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. But here is what I’ve come up with:

The raspberry cheesecake at Outback Steakhouse has been the best dessert of the trip. Second place goes to the strawberry white chocolate cheesecake from the amazing seafood restaurant Pappadeaux. A close third to the strawberry margarita cheesecake from P.F. Chang’s. And for the record, I was too scared to order cheesecake at Village Inn last night. I went with the hot fudge sundae instead.