Month: August 2007

Real Salt Lake vs. Kansas City Wizards

Normally the first minute (or two) of a soccer game is spent getting ready to shoot. Finding a good spot, checking my cameras, formatting the memory cards, picking a good playlist on the iPod.

Not last night. Real’s Matias Mantilla scored the quickest goal in MLS history, just 40 seconds into the match.

Utah Open

Sometimes you get lucky. Dustin Volk reacts after sinking a long putt on the 17th hole at the 2007 Utah Open golf tournament, at the Oakridge Country Club.

The Funeral Question

Someone commented on my previous post, asking good questions. Here’s what they asked:

What I’d like to know is how do you deal with camera noise at a funeral? What do you consider a respectful distance? And have you ever had issues with family at funeral, i.e. asking you to leave or not photograph? How do you deal with such a situation?

Each case is so different. Here are some thoughts…

In most cases, if I’m sent to a funeral, the family is expecting media coverage because it’s usually a big story in the community. The people who work for the funeral home are often good go-betweens for us, to find out what the family’s wishes are with regards to media. In most Mormon funerals, we will photograph the pallbearers carrying the casket from the church and then the graveside service.

Access runs the gamut from full access to none. When the family asks that we not be there, a judgment call has to be made. If it’s a big story with a lot of public interest (like the Trolley Square shooting), we will probably photograph from a long way off so that the family has their solitude. This is always a hard decision to make, but my presence has never caused any confrontation.

The thing to remember about confrontations is that if you get into one, no matter where you are, it’s too late to win. By the time someone is telling you to stop taking photographs, they’re usually not going to change their mind and you have find a way to get around them.

Respectful difference also varies. With a long lens, I don’t have to be close. For this funeral, the mourners gathered around the family, so we were closer than I would have liked. You just have to pay attention to the vibe you’re getting and minimize your impact on the family. I’ve been close and I’ve been far depending on how comfortable they are.

As for camera noise, a couple of things. I use a long lens (at least a 400mm) so that there’s a distance between me and the mourners. And I always set my camera to single shot. I don’t think the sound of the shutter is as distracting as the context.

For example, say a widow bursts into tears and all of a sudden you hear a camera start firing off 8 frames per second. That doesn’t seem right. It’s like a pack of wolves pouncing on a defenseless rabbit.

But if all through the service you’ve heard occasional single shots fired off, you won’t notice when a couple of single shots are taken during an emotional moment. How you conduct yourself, in every way, sends a message.

Most often, it’s the people around the family who are the most defensive. They’re looking out for their loved ones, and that’s commendable behavior. But we are there to tell a story of love and loss. I’ve never been there to exploit the situation.

When my brother-in-law died tragically five years ago, I brought my camera bag to the funeral. As they wheeled his flag-draped casket out of the church, my extended family broke down, faces covered with tears. I felt the pull of my camera but didn’t dare bring it out in the middle of such a sensitive moment.

Through tears, my wife said, “Trent, what are you doing? Get your camera out. We need you to document this moment.”

Crandall Canyon Mine – Gary Jensen Funeral MM

I put together a slideshow from Gary Jensen’s funeral. The audio track I edited from the service is very simple (you have to keep things simple when you’re working 17-hour days). From an hour of material, I only used a hymn and a quote from Jensen’s son Robert, recorded at the service.

There were a lot of great things said by the friends and family. My notes were riddled with stars, noting the quotes I wanted to use. But in editing, nothing was more powerful than Robert’s statement, which he made as he and his brother and sisters made tributes to their father. It’s better heard than written. When you hear his voice, you realize he’s speaking right from the heart.

For the record, here’s what he said:

“Whether it be through his belief in his faith, whether it be a mine rescue, whether it be just in the community, the Jaycees, the little league wrestling, the little league programs the he did for the kids, the programs he started that affected so many in the valley that I’m surprised by or just the words when you’re in the mine and you have a problem and he’s there to lend you a hand to help you, my father lived for the people and he died for the people, and he will be remembered by all of us as one who lived that principle that every man, regardless of who you are, every woman regardless of who you are, every child deserves to be respected, deserves to be loved, and deserves to be appreciated.

He died in tragedy but he’ll be remembered as a blessing to everyone of our lives. and I swear this, I believe it, and I look upon you guys and I see it. I thank you so much for the family for all the support you’ve done. And I say this in the name of my Savior, amen.”

Here’s the link to the multimedia:

Crandall Canyon Mine – Gary Jensen Funeral

Down to Salina to photograph the funeral of Gary “Gibb” Jensen, who was killed trying to rescue the six miners trapped in the Crandall Canyon coal mine. It was a touching service, and by the end I had a real feeling for who this man was: a prankster and a loving father who was serious about his job on a mine rescue team. Truly a great man.

When you photograph a funeral at an LDS chapel, the photographs are often limited to the outside moments at the end, when the family follows the pallbearers out. It’s too bad I don’t have a photograph of the chapel, which was filled (along with the overflow seating). The stand, where the podium is, was completely filled with flowers. It was a sea of yellow flowers. I was tempted to sneak in a camera for a photograph from the back of the hall. The journalist I was sitting next to kept throwing out S- and F-bombs in our conversation (inside a church). Even he thought that sneaking a photo would be insensitive, so I didn’t.

After the service we drove to the small town of Redmond, where Gibb was buried.

The photo above shows Hayley Jensen (daughter), Lola Jensen (wife), and Jayden Shelley (grandson) as the Sevier County dispatcher put out Gibb’s last call over the radio. I can’t tell you how emotional this moment was. Words fall short. Everyone was wiping their eyes as the dispatcher, calm as a rock, paged Gibb for the last time. So sad.

Family members stuck around for a few minutes after it was over, then cleared out.

After everyone had left, Gibb’s son Robert came back to the grave and sat down. I make a quick photograph with one camera and reached for my short lens to get a better view. Before I could get the camera up, Robbie stood up, put his hand to his father’s casket, and walked off.

I had just witnessed a son’s final goodbye to his father. I don’t know what else to say about that… In fact, I’m speechless…

Crandall Canyon Coal Mine Tragedy – Media Camp

For the past two weeks, as the tragedy of the Crandall Canyon mine story continued, I’ve been thinking about this post. Originally intended to be a look at life among the media stationed at the command post, I lost enthusiasm for the humorous approach as the news got grimmer and grimmer. So here are my rough notes from two weeks ago during my first stint sleeping in the car and photographing at all hours, straight from the notebook…

parked on the highway

sleep in car from 2-7am…only wake up in the night, like 57 times

sometime in the night a van pulls in front of me, lights, doors slamming

guy’s car alarm goes off

at 424 I wake up and see all the TV lights on. it’s 624 eastern standard, so all the networks are doing their morning shows…the phone doesn’t ring so I go back to sleep; the reporter is pulling the all-nighter and has my #. I’m like a fireman…she’ll call if anything happens.

in the morning when I do wake up it’s like journalist summer camp out there. clusters of early risers with fleece jackets and coffee. there are four packs of donuts that someone has donated. They sit in the sun all day until someone goes for it in the late afternoon.

wi-fi provided by sheriff

verizon brought in a cel tower so I have phone and internet

free food- salvation army

my car is junk food heaven…2 boxes of pop tarts, chips ahoy cookies, gatorade, cake donuts, water, muffins, a 3lb box of Cheez Its, and some Hershey chocolate bars that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to keep from melting. it’s just stuff to keep my energy, and most of it goes uneaten.

Friday am press conference – 15 tripods. big story.

murray’s outfit

gusts of wind from a landing news chopper shreds support banners at the family HQ

people fighting over pool arrangements

with nothing but free time between press conferences, it seems like a class distinction breaks out between the people who sleep in their cars at the command post and those who head back to their hotel rooms in Price

the gossip crowd

AP reporter overheard this morning: “What’s today? Friday?”

Crandall Canyon Coal Mine Tragedy – 4am

This was last week. Sitting in my car at the command post, I drifted off around 2am. The walkie squawked at 4am. My heart immediately started pumping the adrenaline. The reporter told me that Murray was on the scene.

I grabbed my gear and ran over to the trailer where everything has been happening. Murray looked as tired as I felt. There was no news. They weren’t going to tell us anything until they talked to the family. I got a few more as he interviewed with TV, sent in some photos, and was back in the front seat of the car with my eyes shut, waiting until the walkie told me to get up again.

Crandall Canyon Coal Mine Tragedy – Close to the Mic

More from last week’s mass. Once people began arriving at the mass, especially miners’ family members, the organizers asked photographers not to photograph or film the families. With so many national media around, no one really stopped filming, so the media was moved. Instead of being in the shade with coolers full of bottled water, they were all moved out into the blaring sun in the weed-filled parking lot.

After the mass, a few locals came out to talk about things (at that point, there was more hope than there probably is today).

One man who braved the cameras started to answer questions and soon they were all yelling, “We can’t hear you!” and “Get closer to the microphone!” Okay, so he started answering his questions like this:

If you’ve never been around the media horde on a big story like this, count yourself lucky. When you have as many as sixteen video tripods around, the circus must be in town.

Crandall Canyon Coal Mine Tragedy – Mass

Last Thursday, a mass was held at the San Rafael Mission for the families of the trapped miners. I had planned to talk a lot about the logistics of photographing this sensitive event, but in light of last night’s tragic events at the mine (where as many as three rescuers were killed), I’m going to let the photos do the talking.

Crandall Canyon Coal Mine Tragedy – Mr. Murray

Crandall Canyon mine owner Robert Murray quickly became the focus of attention at every press briefing. A colorful, candid character, who seemed to be tireless in his efforts to rescue six miners trapped underground.

I’d be very interested to know how much sleep Murray got while the rescue effort was underway. My guess: very little.

After photographing numerous press conferences, we all started trying to come up with any kind of different angle of Murray. It wasn’t long before I found myself photographing Murray walking from his car. At least it was a different angle.

One night I got these photographs as he appeared on CNN. (I think it was Larry King Live.) Great light, thanks to CNN.