West Valley City , Utah

PBR Bull Riders, the process

It took at least 45 minutes to track down my photo pass for the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) event at the E Center Saturday night (October 6). When I finally got into the arena, the show had already begun. So it was scramble time.

I started shooting from the low angle, which is usually cool for events like this because it’s an angle that most people don’t see from their seats high up in the arena. But as you can see in the above photo, too many problems with the low angle:

distracting signs.
flashing lights flaring into the lens (see how red that shot above is?).
people in the background.
bad light, and little of it.

I weighed my options. There was this little pillbox in the middle of the arena, where two photographers at a time could shoot from. Problem with that, it looked like the same bad angle, just closer.

I left my exclusive ringside spot and climbed up into the cheap seats, which gave me a nice clean angle.

From above, the 300mm lens was a little tight, but I kept at it. Bull riding is so random that you can’t second guess your lens decision. You’ll miss a few shots, but stick with it.

That’s Cole Taylor (above) getting out of the way of the bull Bo Hot Coffee.

Utah rider Tony Mendes scored an 87.25 and the place went nuts.

This was a scary moment. Colby Yates flew off the bull High Waters, landing hard on his arm. Medical staff quickly converged on him and helped him out of the ring. He walked out in obvious pain. According to the PBR, Yates suffered a concussion and a lacerated chin when he was hit by the bull’s horn.

Anyway, the advantages of the view from above:

clean background.
better light, and more of it.

That’s Beau Hill riding Hocus Pocus.

Hildale , Utah

The Short Creek Playlist

Collecting runs in the family. I’ve long collected music and sound. So to contrast with the high-test football playlist I put up yesterday, here is a playlist of relaxing FLDS music to listen to while you’re in the shadow of the Vermillion Cliffs in Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona:

DMB Family – “Good Deed Doer”
Guy Musser – “Home Grown Tomatoes” from the release Keep on the Sunny Side
Aunt Luella – “There is an Unknown Grave”
Aunt Maryett and Grandma Verna – “Short Creek High School March”
Dowayne Barlow – “Nephite Lamentation” from Songs My Mother Taught Me
Misty – “A Few Good Men” from Songs for Men
Richelle Barlow – “A Priesthood Boy” from Songs of Zion for Children
Rulon T. Jeffs Family – “She’s My Queen”
Rulon T. Jeffs Family – “Keep Sweet”
Ruton T. Jeffs Family – “Deer Uncle Fred, We Love You”
Warren S. Jeffs Family – “Bless My Dear Sister-Wives”
Warren S. Jeffs Family – “A True Sarah”
Uncle Roy – “Indian Maid”
Allen Steed Family – “Stand By Our Prophet”
Dennis Darger Family – “A Little Seed”
Harker Men – “He Is Risen”
Isaac Jeffs – “Oh Dear Lord Hear Our Prayer”
LeRoy Jeffs Family – “Everything Is Beautiful”
Lyle and Ephraim Jeffs – “Only Now”
Merrill Jessop Family – “Come Follow the Prophet”
Richard Barlow – “Mormon’s Lamentations”
Ron Rohbock Family – “Never Far From You”
Sons of Alvin – “To You, Dear Ladies”
Vermillion Cliffs Quartet – “Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel”

Salt Lake City , Utah

Football Playlist

I’m easily distracted.

So for the past eighteen years I’ve photographed sports with a walkman, minidisc, or iPod. I keep the volume low enough so I don’t miss hearing anything, but the sound of familiar tunes playing helps my mind stay focused and on track.

An every sport requires a different set of songs. Here’s the playlist I’ve made for this year’s football season.

Against Me!  – Up The Cuts
Against Me! – White People For Peace
Against Me! – American Abroad
Alkaline Trio – Warbrain
Alkaline Trio – Dead and Broken
Anti-Flag – The Press Corpse
Bad Religion – Heroes & Martyrs
Bad Religion – Requiem For Dissent
Bad Religion – Grains Of Wrath
Bad Religion – Scrutiny
Bigwig – A War Inside
Bouncing Souls – We’re Coming Back
The Briefs – Poor & Weird
The Briefs – Move Too Slow
Capdown – Terms And Conditions Apply
Capdown – Keeping Up Appearances
The Casualties – Under Attack
The Casualties – System Failed Us…Again
The Clash – London Calling
Clown Alley – Unplugged
Devo – Through Being Cool
Dragonforce – Through The Fire And Flames
Dropkick Murphys – Your Spirit’s Alive
Hatebreed – Defeatist
Ill Repute – Book And Its Cover
JFA – Skateboard
The Loved Ones – Breathe In
Luckie Strike – I’m Sick
Minor Threat – Little Friend
Montrose – Bad Motor Scooter
NOFX – take two placebos and call me lame
NOFX – linoleum
NOFX – USA-holes
NOFX – The Man I Killed
NOFX – San Francisco Fat
Operation Ivy – yellin’ in my ear
The Peacocks – Too Good
Pennywise – You’ll Never Make It
Pulley – Noddin’ Off
Queens Of The Stone Age – Go With The Flow
Rise Against – Chamber the Cartridge
Rise Against – Bricks
Sinéad O’Connor – Marcus Garvey
Social Distortion – Reach for the Sky
Social Unrest – general enemy
Suicide Machines – S.O.S.
Turbonegro – We’re Gonna Drop the Atom Bomb
Turbonegro – Welcome to the Garbage Dump
Verbal Abuse – Power Play
Verbal Abuse – Unity
Zero Boys – Down the Drain
Zero Boys – Hightime

Colorado City , Arizona

Short Creek, Runners

For the past several years, the people who live in the polygamous community of Short Creek (Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona) have been inundated with cameras. Photographers and videographers from around the world come here to photograph women in pioneer dresses and children playing in the dusty streets. You can’t blame the people of Short Creek for hating the constant intrusion.

For me, a perfect journey into Short Creek follows the backpacker motto: leave no trace. There have been many times I’ve passed up photographs, leaving the camera in my lap, because I didn’t want to ruin someone’s day. I’m especially concerned when taking photos of the children. Regardless of your feelings on polygamy, they are innocent, and I don’t like to send them running in fear from the camera they’ve been taught to avoid.

Those thoughts were in my head when taking these photographs of children playing behind the walls of their home. I wouldn’t say it’s a polygamy compound, just a home with a privacy wall around it. I found a spot where I could photograph from a distance with a long lens, looking down into the yard. Neither of these are that great. I moved on before it all clicked.

I spotted this boy looking out of a second story window. I took the photo above from down the block with a 300 and a 1.4 teleconverter (basically a 560mm film equivalent), then continued to drive down the street closer. There was a shipping container in the yard, and as soon as I popped out from behind it, I fired off a quick frame (below).

He withdrew immediately, disappearing into the shadows.

Looking at the photo now, I wonder what it tells me. I’m not sure. I balance it with one I didn’t take…one I couldn’t take. Driving slowly through town, I saw two young women standing in the shady side yard of a home about a block ahead. They wore pastel colored pioneer dresses (purple and green) and long braided hair, standing among some trees. I can still see their moon-shaped faces as they looked toward my car in panic. I was at least 300 yards away, cameras put away, when they began running away. They quickly disappeared behind and into the house.

It was so sad that I thought, “Don’t run. I’ll leave you alone.”

A grew of women returned from a lunch break and were working in the field. I shot from far away, and only later realized that the teleconverter (which had dropped last week) was making my photos look all crazy blurry. I started to leave town when I saw this:

The woman and (I assume) her daughter standing on the rock made my day. Maybe it’s a common site in Short Creek, but I found it fascinating. As I pointed out in the multimedia piece I did from this trip, when she saw me way off in the distance, she didn’t run away. She waved to me with a smile. I waved back. Whoever you are, thanks for sharing that moment.

Colorado City , Arizona

Short Creek, Architecture

A couple posts about my trip to Short Creek a couple weeks back. (Short Creek is Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona, two joined towns where many members of the polygamous FLDS church live.) I’m always fascinated by the architecture of polygamy. As many people seem to have left Short Creek, so many homes remain in an unfinished state.

This is one of my favorite homes to photograph. Such a beautiful home contrasting with that ugly wall.

But now that this wall is up (above), this one’s probably my new favorite.

I photographed a lot of windows, all covered and closed.

I’d be just as fascinated to photograph the insides of the homes, with or without people, as to preserve a visual history. Any takers?

Warren Jeffs in Time Magazine

The October 1st issue of Time Magazine has a few of my polygamy photographs. I called home to tell the folks, who were pretty excited. They got back to me to ask which of the photos were mine, since they didn’t see a photo credit anywhere. I told them I’d go to the store and look at it so I could point out which ones were mine (I hadn’t seen it).

I never got to the store, so I started telling my sister I’d go to the dentist’s office to see the photos, since they would have the past few issues. That never happened either. She finally got sick of waiting, scanned these in and sent them. Any wonder why they couldn’t tell the shots were mine? Look how small the credit is:

What is that, 4 point type?

Saint George , Utah

Warren Jeffs Trial, The Verdict

We sat around for twelve hours on Monday and there was no verdict. On Tuesday the jury re-convened and eventually came to a decision. The word spread quickly among the media waiting outside the courtroom. There was a pool photographer inside the court, and the rest of us gathered around the door waiting for attorneys, Jeffs’ supporters, and anyone else to come out.

This guy came out the door, yelling and waving…having a laugh.

The first TV reporter who came out told us that the verdict was guilty on both counts as he ran past en route to his cameraman. Elaine Tyler, who runs the Hope Organization, was standing off to the side. She heard the verdict and let out a big cheer. The dilemma was between running over to photograph her and staying where I was in one of the best positions by the door. I chose to compromise and moved a little for the above shot and then returning to the door.

The defense attorneys came out and made no comment, chased by a swarm of cameras all the way to their cars.

Later the victim came out and made a statement. And then it was finally over.

Saint George , Utah

Warren Jeffs Trial, The End pt. 1

I never wrote about the last days of the Jeffs trial. When the verdict came down I drove home and went into chill mode. It was a long time to be away, working this story. It took a couple days to get it all out of my head. So now, two last posts on the Warren Jeffs trial.

It became a daily routine for the attorneys to come over to the computer where the pool images were filed from and look through the photos that had been sent around the world. I could see the prosecution liking the above image and the defense preferring the one below:

Saint George , Utah

Warren Jeffs Trial

St. George – Warren Jeffs trial. The polygamous sect leader was charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice stemming from a marriage he officiated involving a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. gary engels

St. George – Warren Jeffs trial. The polygamous sect leader was charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice stemming from a marriage he officiated involving a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. flds supporters of warren jeffs. joseph jeffs

St. George – Warren Jeffs trial. The polygamous sect leader was charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice stemming from a marriage he officiated involving a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

St. George – Warren Jeffs trial. The polygamous sect leader was charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice stemming from a marriage he officiated involving a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin. man walks out of court to horde of media

media for Warren Jeffs trial; 9.25.2007

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