Month: June 2013

Thursday – Friday – Monday

Everything I’ll need to manage the photo staff today in one photograph.

A baby and a wedding have conspired to keep me out of the field for the next few days. Both photo editors are out of the office and I’m tasked with keeping everything running.

With all that goes on and all the characters involved, there’s an amazing reality TV show to be made with the photo department. Any photo department. For the photo editor, the questions and problems never stop coming. During an 8+ hour shift, there are very few moments where you can simply breathe and clear your mind.

I wrote this on the first day: “About a million things just happened in the last 75 minutes. A thousand questions and bunch of problems and a ton of maneuvering.”

Later I sat down and wrote, “It’s 4:33pm. Finally a moment to think.” And just as I finished those seven words, someone walked up to my desk with more questions that needed answers.

All photographers should spend time working the desk. You gain an invaluable view of the operation and how your own actions affect it.

After my first day as photo editor I leave the office and photograph a single mom. She’s very nice but is obviously a little uncomfortable being photographed for the story. As I leave she says, “I hope I never have to see you again, and I mean that in the best possible way.”

At the end of my second day as photo editor, someone forgot to put in an assignment to photograph a mountain bike trail. There’s no one able to do it so I simply shift my plans for the evening to mountain biking and sneak a few photographs as we enjoy a great trail.

On the morning of my third day as photo editor I find out that I was sent to the wrong bike trail. The photos can’t be used.

It never ends.

Wednesday – Real Salt Lake vs. Charleston Battery

sunset at Rio Tinto soccer stadium, home of Real Salt Lake

There is nothing that throws you off your shooting game like drama. And when you’re covering professional sports, the drama almost always concerns logistics. You run into problems with game day traffic, parking, credentials, where you’re allowed to shoot from, not having enough time, on and on. These problems put you in a mental place that makes it very hard to be creative.

I had a big logistical issue for tonight’s game. The problem was eventually fixed but not before I was left thoroughly frustrated. I decided to use that frustration to fuel the shoot. A great shoot would be the best cure.

Real Salt Lake's Ned Grabavoy leaps for the ball as Real Salt Lake hosts Charleston Battery in the US Open Cup Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
Real Salt Lake’s Ned Grabavoy.

Charleston's Nicki Paterson and Charleston's Dane Kelly celebrate Paterson's goal as Real Salt Lake hosts Charleston Battery in the US Open Cup Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
RSL fans react as Charleston celebrates an early 2-0 lead.

Real Salt Lake's Devon Sandoval heads in a goal in the first overtime period as Real Salt Lake hosts Charleston Battery in the US Open Cup Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
RSL’s Devon Sandoval heads in a goal.

Real Salt Lake's Joao Plata celebrates his second half goal as Real Salt Lake hosts Charleston Battery in the US Open Cup Wednesday June 12, 2013 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
RSL’s Joao Plata celebrates his second half goal.

Gear tonight, the 600mm and a 300/2.8. I mostly used the 600 to cover the field, but switched to the 300 for breakaways and set pieces at the near goal. Plus, I had the Fuji X100 on hand for any quick wide angle shots.

Most of the other photographers at RSL shoot with just one telephoto. A photographer seated in a comfortable camping chair looked over at me kneeling on the ground juggling the two large telephotos and asked, “You gonna shoot like that the whole game?”

I’m like, “Yeah.”

I’m a news photographer. I’m used to suffering.

Later I pull out my laptop to start editing and another guy says, “I didn’t know they ever gave you guys new laptops.”

I usually edit right on the field at halftime. There’s a nice work area up in the press box, with chairs, tables, drinks, and good people to talk to. I sacrifice those comforts so I don’t miss anything on the field. It pays off every time.

Wednesday – LED

IMG 5710

After a video shooter showed me a small LED panel he used for a fill light… Wait. After a video shooter showed me a small LED panel that only cost thirty bucks… Wait. After a video shooter showed me an inexpensive LED panel he used for a fill light, I ordered one.

It came today and I’ve been playing with it. There’s always a learning curve with new gear. You often start out not knowing the limitations and using it for every shot whehter it’s going to work or not. It just takes time.

The first reaction from my very unwilling test subjects was that it was blindingly bright at full power indoors. The diffuser is essential if you’re working with any subject with eyes, but it knocks off a half stop of light. This thing kicks out some serious light. I’ll be doing more tests in the next few days. Okay, let’s be real: I’ll be dangerously throwing it into real shooting situations before I have it figured out. There will be wins and losses.

IMG 5713

A few facts about the LED:

It’s primarily made for video.

It can be handheld, put on a tripod mount, or a camera hot shoe.

You can see exactly what you’re going to get, lighting-wise.

Comes with a snap-on diffuser as well as filters for tungsten and fluorescent environments.

I’ve got it mounted to an iPole Mini so I can reach it anywhere, like above the subject or out in front of me so I can back up a bit.

It’s not going to replace a flash. But for thirty bucks, it’s going to be a cool light to play with. Or, in a couple weeks it will be sitting in a drawer gathering dust. We’ll see. Either way, I’ll post some examples as we go along.

Here’s a link to it: Neewer® Pro CN-160 LED camera video lamp light


Again I find myself standing on a trail waiting for cyclists. This time, road bikers.

big mountain pass, utah

Here’s the view from Big Mountain. Perfect day and a lot of angles looking down the road to choose from.

I remembered on a spot on the Mormon Pioneer Trail where there’s a nice view of the S-curve. Grabbed the 300mm lens and started hiking.

Focusing on the lines of the road, I found options like these…

These were my two favorites:

cyclist at big mountain pass, utah

cyclist at big mountain pass, utah


Went to Ogden today for a series of portraits. Ogden is a photographer’s dream.

vacant building, Ogden, Utah
That’s a lazy frame. Remind me to go back and shoot this place right.

At a baseball stadium I set up a couple of lights with umbrellas. Despite all efforts to weigh down and stabilize them, a small breeze repeatedly blows one of the lights over. It’s hardly the first time. These light stands are built like the arms of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, completely weak and unstable. Judging by all the bent metal parts in the light kit, they’ve obviously tipped over on the other photographers, too.

The shoot goes well and I’m out of there. I drive around Ogden for a while looking for some kind of photo to make the day mean a little more. Maybe this one is it, maybe not:

Maybe this detail, plus nipple, is it:

Later I’m standing in the candy aisle at a dollar store. This elderly woman using her shopping cart as a walker crosses my path ad blurts out, “You’d better be careful or we’ll wreck your printing press!”

I don’t know who she is, and quickly deduce she is channeling the dead, right here in Family Dollar! That’s a first for me.

A hint of things to come:


Today is going to be a bit of a juggling act. I’m supposed to be spending the day covering a polygamy conference and at the same time photographing a mountain bike trail in Park City.

I hit the conference first and click off a few shots of the first speaker. “Click off a few” is what you say when you know the photos are pretty worthless even as you shoot them. You know, you don’t click off an award-winner.

Then I’m out of the conference and headed up into the mountains to the trail. It’s a beautiful day. Look at what I have to work with:

deer valley

I call a friend who knows the trail for some good locations to hit. He’s on his way to Wyoming to work on a project on the three things people from Utah go to Wyoming for: Porn, Liquor, Fireworks.

Wouldn’t that be a great portrait series? Shoot portraits and ask each subject to pick the one of the three that means the most to them, then print their response in bold type under each portrait. Between porn, liquor and fireworks there is something for everyone. On second thought, maybe the subjects would all have to be men.

We talk a bit about how interesting the West is to photograph. It’s not as homogenized here in Utah as it is in California. But my California outsider eyes are important to me when shooting here. I often find that my best photographs come when I’m in the mindset of looking for things to show my friends back home. I love being a photographer in Utah. So much to see and it’s all so different. Then again, if I could only live in California during the three months of the year Utah is scorching and the three months Utah is freezing.

Mountain Bike Trail

I get to the trail and start walking. Would have been fun to ride the trail, but there’s just no time today. Anyway, you see more clearly when you’re walking. Driving or riding, you don’t experience the place the same way as on foot. You won’t see as much, or I mean, you won’t do as much seeing.

I’m looking for a location on the trail that gives me a good shot in both directions since I don’t know where any bikers will come from. Or if any will come. I want to have two chances to get something if one does, once as they come toward me and then as they ride away. There are beautiful aspens everywhere. I find a good spot in the shade:

mid-mountain trail
and make some test shots.

Now I’m ready to stand around and wait.

And ten minutes later I’m still waiting.

And now another ten minutes are gone and I’m realizing I’ve got no food or water. I’m not leaving until someone rides a bike past me so this could turn into a life or death situation.

There are a lot of funny things that you notice when you stand by yourself in the silent woods for an hour. I noticed this weird looking fly that kept hovering in a specific spot about five feet over the trail. It would return to the same place every time my movements scared it off.

hovering fly
It looked like a golden snitch.

I shot it with my Canon and 70-200mm lens but then I set that down in the dirt and broke out the Fuji. I set the focus to the closest it would go, which is just under four inches. Then I started doing some fly whispering. After about fifteen minutes, I found a way to lure the fly in to hover at just the right distance above my lens for a sharp shot. It was some weird bug science.

hovering fly
I discovered that the golden snitch was less scared of me and my camera when I approached it from below, and I was able to get a shot of it just inches from the wide angle lens. Wow, the things you can learn in the woods. It’s amazing.

mountain biker on Mid-Mountain Trail, deer valley, park city, utah
Finally some bikers come by. Then more and then some more. One yells at me as she flies by, “Are we gonna be in the Park-Record?”

“You’re going to be in the Tribune,” I yell back.


Safety Net

When I get back to the polygamy conference, a woman spots my cameras as I approach at the door. She tells me that the members of the upcoming panel are off-limits to cameras. “They’re putting their lives on the line,” she says. “There’s one young girl here who would probably run out of the room if she saw your cameras.”

No problem, really. People get camera shy on the polygamy beat quite often. But later I do find that both of the younger women on the panel have done media before. In just a few minutes I find photos and videos online from interviews they’ve done previously.

The first to speak is K, who grew up in a polygamous sect in Utah. She began reading from a sheet of paper, telling us her story. She got very emotional recounting some of her more painful experiences. No doubt that it was a traumatic childhood for her. She’d been through a lot.

You wouldn’t peg her as a fundamentalist. She has platinum blonde hair, eyeliner, and a haircut you’d call punk rock if you weren’t into punk rock. Here are some notes I typed as I tried to keep up. I might have missed some things, but here is what I got…

Nobody’s story is the same. Everybody’s experiences are unique and different. I grew up in the Kingston community, that I know as The Order. I’m the 5th child of 12. I’ve been out for 2.5 years. My life has changed dramatically.

Ever since my earliest memory I knew that the Order wasn’t the place for me. … I just knew that what was going on was wrong. I knew the abuse, the control, the incest and the lying that is all too common in the Kingston group. It was not something I wanted to be a part of.

We all lacked the expression of caring affection. Nobody (ever) said I love you.

My whole life I was put down, told I was ugly, fat, wicked. I felt there was no way anyone could possibly love me.

I love who I have become because of my trials.

She talked for nearly twenty minutes. It was a fascinating story. I hope we can follow up with her and do something more in depth.

Near the end there were comments from the audience. Many thanked the panel for their courage. One person pointed out that while all the panel’s stories were negative toward polygamy, there is a positive side that others would detail if they were on the panel. The organizers of the conference told us that they picked those speakers for a reason: their stories are just the kind that the professionals in the audience will be hearing from others who leave polygamy and seek out help.


First assignment today finds me walking through a large apartment complex with a couple and their dog. The dog was being led by another guy wearing only socks on his feet and a spiked leather collar around his neck. Yeah, the guy had the collar on. Not the dog.

From an open window someone yells at us: “Yeah, you dumb bitch!”

I wasn’t sure if they were talking about me, this nice woman I was with, or her dog. Or maybe Mr. Socks with the spiked collar was the target.

“Looks like we’ve made some enemies,” I said with a laugh. “Don’t worry, it’s probably me and my camera.”

“There are good buildings and bad ones here,” the guy said, without laughing.

After that shoot I wasn’t quite ready to go into the office. I ended up at the Layton City skatepark, which is normally amazing but I had left my deck at home.

Devan Latturner catches air on his BMX bike at the Layton City skatepark

Pretty much just worked the shadows today. But I got a couple that I liked. Thanks to the rider, Devan Latturner, for being there.

Devan Latturner catches air on his BMX bike at the Layton City skatepark

Got a favorite out of those two?

Hit the office and set a Canon with a telephoto lens on my desk. I will, from now on, be doing this every single time I’m in the office. Last week some guy’s camper caught fire right outside the office. We had a perfect view of flames and smoke. It was an amazing scene, but none of us had an SLR or telephoto lens in the office. Lesson learned, I’m bringing the SLR to me desk every time now.

On the Chicago Sun-Times

Not really going to post this. Too many words.

I had to respond after listening to the hosts on the MacBreak Weekly podcast talk about the Chicago Sun-Times sacking their entire photo department and training reporters on iPhone photography.

And before we get started: While I disagree with their statements, I respect Leo Laporte, Alex Lindsay, Andy Ihnatko and Rene Ritchie.

I’ve transcribed their statements to the best of my ability. To hear it in full: episode 353.

LL: We’re the ones who are always saying… the new media’s taking over, and then when actual people lose actual jobs there’s a little bit of, uh, annoyance. Although I never hear this when reporters get fired. Reporters get fired all the time but for some reason the photographers… people like photographers.

We have never seen an entire department get sacked like this. It’s an incalculable loss of institutional knowledge, experience, and spirit.

LL: And some made a very good point that it’s a visual age we’re moving into and maybe those are the people to keep. … I think we all understand that an iPhone is not going to replace…in the hands of an amateur is not going to replace a DSLR in the hands of a pro.


Next to speak is Alex Lindsay. I’m going to disagree with Alex quite a bit in this post. But again, that doesn’t mean I don’t respect him. I think he’s just out of his element here. For example, he’s going to guess that it cost the Sun-Times as much as $195,535.71 per year to employ each photographer. Very doubtful.

AL: But here’s the math, so, 28 people probably runs total costs of employment is probably between ten and fifteen thousand dollars a day you know, when you really do the math, so, so… what you need is you need a handful of great photos for the front page and then you need, you know, the, the, the, folks who are writing the articles, while you’re there, take a reasonably good picture because most of the, most of the pictures you see in a newspaper…

Wait, you think that reporters go into the field? (No offense, reporters. I know some of you want to leave the office!)

AL (continued): so most of the pictures that are being taken for a newspaper are just the person who was there and of course you hire a professional photographer to do it but you don’t really need that to cover, like we were here, here’s the picture of this person, and a lot of that could be done with a very base level.

Who are the consumers looking for “very base level” content? It’s called mediocrity and it’s a dead end for any publication.

Quality is more important than putting up several short blog posts every day. As online media evolves, we will realize that all pageviews and hits are not the same. There are some readers that are more valuable than others, especially in an advertising-based scheme.

Quality content is one thing that traditional outlets can bring to the table consistently. The former Sun-Times photographers are putting out work at a much higher level than your average Instagrammer and it makes a difference to how your site looks and the way readers judge the quality of your site.

AL (continued): Now you definitely need high quality ones, but I think that if I were, if, if I were thinking about the way their management is talking about it, is hey, I’d hire five guys every day, you know, five different guys every day…

I love this one! What manager, in any company, is going to hire five different employees every day? In news we’ve got deadlines hitting every minute. Let’s say Friday night there’s a fire downtown. Will a freelancer be sitting at home, ready to go? Or would you rather have an on duty staffer ready to go? (No offense to freelance photographers. I love you all.)

In photojournalism you need people who can deliver, consistently, every single day, every single assignment. They need to understand your system, your ethics, and your needs. They need to have a certain level of equipment and a range of lenses that are not affordable on a freelancers’ income.

LL: Or use freelancers, right?

AL: They would be freelancers. What I’m saying is that I’d hire them, I’d hire different people every day to take pictures of the big stuff.

This idea of a different set of shooters every day is like a heroin piñata to me, I just can’t stop hitting it. I’ve managed photo staffs. If I had had to farm out every assignment to a shifting list of freelancers? Wow.

AL (continued): So I don’t think they’re going without. I don’t think the paper is suddenly going without any photographers. I think what they’re talking about is by moving to freelance they’re able to save a lot of money rather than having people on overhead.

Save some money, but your visuals are going to go to shit and readers will flee. Those 28 photographers know Chicago. They knew their communities, who the last several mayors were, who to talk to when something happens, the fastest way to get across town, etc. You can’t replace the institutional knowledge of a staff.

The photographers I work with (and the photo staffers in the office who we couldn’t do our jobs without), know everything about Utah. We have been everywhere, we’ve met everyone, and we’ve seen it all. That gives us an advantage over anyone working in our territory who hasn’t been on the ground here.

Without a photo staff, you can rely on wire services to send you photos of sporting events and big news stories. But those wire photographers (no offense, wire photographers) have not been following the local college football team all year long. They probably don’t know the people in the community in the same way. We prove this every time we send a photographer to an out-of-town college football game or NBA playoff game. Because we know the team and the stories we get photographs that aren’t on the wires. I could show you dozens of photos from University of Utah football games that no wire photographer ever shot or even saw. But I knew the team, and I knew that when that one kid ran back a kickoff for a touchdown near the end of a game in Colorado last year, it wasn’t just another touchdown. It was an NCAA record. None of the other photographers had a clue. Not their fault, they just hadn’t covered the team like we had.

AL (continued): Secondly, I definitely think that the most likely thing that’s going to happen is they’re going to look for people who really have that you know, “predator” background where they’re going to be able to shoot video, shoot stills, and probably be able to write.

Extra skills are always good. But when it comes to writing, good luck. We still employ some of the best writers around. “Probably be able to write” is not near good enough at a top level news outlet.

AL (continued): I mean, if you look at bloggers, there’s an awful lot of people that are posting to G+, posting to blogs, these are people who can write, they can shoot, they can shoot video, they can do all those other pieces and so, so, the um, there is a generation of, of media artists who are able to do an awful lot of these things and I think that what they’re looking for is to translate that. I mean this is something that’s happening every, every print industry. I mean I have a very high profile magazine, I’m not going to get into who it is—

Why not? Tell us who it is, because I have never heard this story. And I would have.

AL (continued): brought all their photographers in and basically said, “you need to be ready to shoot video when we put you in the field, if we’re going to send you somewhere in the world to shoot stills, we expect video,” and you know, a big chunk of their folks just walked out saying, I’m going to go do something else.

If a group of shooters from a top magazine actually walked off the job for any reason, I would have heard about it.

There has certainly been some resistance toward video, but also a lot of photographers who have embraced and mastered it. Every shop is different. We’ve also seen many in the industry realize that videos are not always the best or even most profitable approach to all stories. Photo galleries are engaging readers in a big way.

LL: My suspicion is A. If you’re going to be out of work, the best thing to be is a good photographer.

AL: I would not agree.

Alex is right. These days, everyone in the world who is not a staff photographer is an out of work photographer.

LL: No?

AL: You have to be able to do both video and still.

LL: I’m just saying, compared to a reporter… We see reporters get fired by the hundreds all the time. A hundred reporters got fired when Rupert Murdoch shut down The Daily, but I didn’t hear screaming horror over it.

There is always media glee when Murdoch fails. Not saying that’s right. But the job losses were talked about, and mourned.

RR: We’ve been doing that all the time, blogging at least, we would go to CES, we covered it for many years using iPhones or whatever platform phones, in order to dogfood it. One person would write, photograph and video, and do exactly that.

Okay, but that’s not what we do. We aren’t doing a bunch of two paragraph blog posts on things like Sony’s latest flat panel display and the release of a new Xbox accessory at a trade show. Professional photojournalists are covering things like families dealing with autism, communities dealing with horrific levels of street violence (Chicago, for example), or the local high school’s soccer game.

AL: Well and I’ve found that even the stuff that I’ve shot at NAB or CES with my iPhone and my headset, I like better, it’s just a lot less work for me to walk around and shoot video. You know, it got the information across.

At this point host Andy Ihnatko, who writes for the Sun-Times is finally on a good line…

AI: (having technical difficulties): I just had two major reactions to this. 1, I was really, really disappointed, bordering on offended, by all the people who decided to not talk about the real story here and turn it into the far more fun and linkable soundbite – the Chicago Sun-Times thinks that a reporter with an iPhone can do the exact same job as a professional photographer with an SLR. Drop that piece of that bloody chicken to the alligator pit and watch all the photo blogs go hmrph hmrph hmrph.

Andy then drops out, having more technical difficulties. Really unfortunate. He’s a smart guy, even though this first quote was pretty defensive of his employer. Because that is pretty much what they said by firing every professional photographer in the building. If they don’t think the reporter and iPhone can do the same job, they have said that the two approaches are of the same value to them in terms of money.

LL: I also look at the Boston Globe, which has the Big Picture, and it’s fabulous. They have really great, full-time photojournalists and they have a beautiful visual thing, they have an app… they have a website, and the pictures that come from those journalists are stunning and brilliant and so maybe that’s the other way to do it is to monetize better with the visuals that you’re getting from these guys. But I agree, $15,000 a day is a lot.

Yeah, it is so much “a lot” because it is a number that Alex pulled out of the air.

RR: And also, we have been putting those, the real-time journalism, I mean they’re running photos of people with iPhones on the scene, on the ground before the reporters or photographers get there. And also in emerging markets…those are probably the cameras they have and how they do news gathering to begin with. They kind of skipped over the high end equipment.

AL: And again, I think that there are a large, uh, number of events that you see covered in a newspaper that just don’t need a professional to take pictures of. It’s just coverage. If a magazine or a newspaper… We’re talking about a daily newspaper, what it needs to tell the story and the issue is I don’t think, I do think a well-trained journalist, while they’re there, can take photos that… I mean bloggers do it all day every day. We walk into these events and we see bloggers doing it and they’re taking great photos with their Android or their iPhone or whatever.

Remind me to look for those “great photos” that people are taking with phones at tech events. Though it sounds like some thrilling imagery, it is not what photojournalists do.

LL: So you think that this idea that training the writers in photography is not a bad idea?

AL: Oh, I think it is a must. I think that it is…

LL: How about give them better devices than iPhones?

RR: … And they’re supposed to shoot the video, edit the video, upload the video, all on their own.

Quantity over quality. You’ve hit it.

AL: …I think that you’re absolutely going to have to have a professional photographer shoot the big events, shooting certain things, the big news items. I think you send them out for when those things occur or when you need to cover those things or for the cover of every. You have five photographers out there every day out there shooting the big things that you’re going to put on the cover of your newspaper, it’s still a lot less money that having everybody on staff all the time. If it’s a slow news day you just send one out, rather than having twenty-eight on staff. So that’s the. I know I’m not making any friends in my own industry saying that. Um. But, the uh, But I’m just saying from a practical perspective it doesn’t, having 28 people on staff that can’t shoot video, um, doesn’t make as much sense.

You’re assuming that those 28 can’t shoot video. I don’t know the makeup of the fired staffers, but surely there are video shooters in that mix, and if they’ve bought a new camera in the past few years it will shoot amazing HD video.

LL: We’ve been chronicling the disappearance of newspapers, like it or not, all along…

AL: And I have to admit that for me… As soon as I started using Flipboard, everything else ended. I’ve barely opened a magazine since I got…

LL: But I read them online and I think that’s what some people are saying, the last time to get rid of your photographers is when you’re moving online and you want better images.

AL: You don’t need photographers, you need media artists. You probably have, and I have no idea what they have at the Sun-Times, but you probably have a lot of traditional, most of the newspapers that I’ve seen are a lot of traditional photographers with a handful of, um,

LL: Smart ones from learning Final Cut, videography…

AL: Like the New York Times is a good example where the photographers are very aggressively moving into the video market, so they’ve already embraced that process…and those are their photographers.

LL: Remember that great thing, oh it was the avalanche piece, I can’t remember the name of it. That was heralded by everybody as an example of what, where newspapers should be going when they’re going online…

Which is hilarious, because Snow Fall was an amazing piece. And here are the names of the team that put it together…

Graphics and design by Hannah Fairfield, Xaquín G.V., Jon Huang, Wayne Kamidoi, Sam Manchester, Alan McLean, Jacky Myint, Graham Roberts, Joe Ward, Jeremy White and Josh Williams. Photography by Ruth Fremson. Video by Catherine Spangler.

Additional video by Eric Miller and Shane Wilder.

Kristen Millares Young contributed research.

Sixteen people. So now we’re back to where, exactly? Do you want quality, or quantity?

Later in the show Andy Ihnatko is finally coming in clear. He has a good statement:

AI: If you keep some of the old and embrace some of the new I think that’s how you get the best stew of all.

My takeaway from all of this mess is that photojournalism has done a poor job in marketing itself. We don’t promote our work enough, we don’t promote our people and their skills enough.

I’m tired of writing. Just watch this and be done with it:


Wow. Long day. My eight hour shift just ended and I’m sitting in a gas station parking lot, nearly an hour away from my house. Great.

I just finished sending in my photos and drank a liter of water to rehydrate. Time to get home and into bed.

In tech news, I just made a couple of smart collections for Lightroom. One is for “Capture Date is Today” and the other, “Capture Date is Yesterday.” Why didn’t I think of that before?

First assignment today was a portrait shoot. Dude had a very firm handshake. Then I’m quick to the freeway. A bunch of rush hour traffic is about to get between me and Ogden and I’m trying to beat it.

Ogden parking lot
I find a parking lot to edit from. I’m big on parking lots. Look at the patches of shade on this one. Essential for this time of year – shade.

Sent in my portrait. It’s not the best one ever taken of the guy, but not the worst, either.

Mr. Fuji

Hey, did I mention that my Fuji X100, which I leave set to auto white balance, seems to always choose 4700 Kelvin no matter what the light is? That mean’s it is NEVER correct. Good thing consistency counts. And that there is RAW.

Did I ever tell you that my Fuji stopped working last year? At least, it stopped working at any aperture setting other than wide open (f2.0). Like an idiot, instead of sending it in last October, I just used it in video mode or in low light situations where I could shoot wide open. Weird thing, though, after a few months it fixed itself and started working again. Who knew cameras could fix themselves?

And really, what true photographer sends a camera in for repair unless the thing is completely unable or unwilling to fire?

Matthew Stewart Vigil

I grab some food and head to the next assignment. It’s a memorial walk for Matthew Stewart. About eighteen months ago, the the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force raided his house looking for drugs. He shot back, killing an officer, Jared Francom, and wounding others. He claimed he didn’t know they were cops. The other day he killed himself in jail, so they’re planning a short walk in his memory.

I covered Francom’s funeral. It was tough.

The case has been incendiary from day one, with Stewart’s supporters claiming he had a right to defend his home (he claimed he didn’t know they were cops). On the other side, there’s a dead policeman, a widow, fatherless children. Seemed like the entire city and law enforcement from everywhere turned out to honor Francom at the funeral.

blue ribbons
First thing I noticed, bunch of blue ribbons

blue ribbons, sign supporting dee smith and ogden police
and a sign showing support for the police and Weber County Attorney Dee Smith, who had been prosecuting the Stewart case.

The march was going to be with lit candles so to pass the time until it got a little bit dark there were some speeches.

Erna Stewart emotionally spoke of her brother-in-law, Matthew Stewart, prior to a march in his memory, Wednesday June 5, 2013 in Ogden.
Matthew’s sister-in-law spoke.

Then they had an open mic, where anyone could say whatever they felt about the situation.

One guy with hair all the way down his back got up and talked a lot about Masada, where ancient Jews committed suicide rather than be captured. He compared Stewart to those Jews, saying that by killing himself, he had preserved his power. Then he said, “Tonight I’m taking a sacred oath in Matthew’s name to fight the tyranny and to fight the war on drugs!”

“Yeah!” someone yelled out from the crowd.

“I’m asking everyone to join us and take that sacred oath!”

While several people took turns standing in front of the group to speak, all of the cameras focused on the speakers, not noticing the two guys pulling down the blue ribbons and ripping up signs supporting the police:

man ripping up signs

There were at least seven videocameras rolling on the talks, most held by participants. I guess all those talks are all on YouTube. The police are too brutal and the war on drugs should end was the message from just about everyone, including a plumber who was telling everyone how he spent twenty years in jail after the police perjured themselves to convict him. Also, did you know that the Willy the Plumber Scholarship (“specifically for children of inmates doing a lot of time or habitually getting locked up”) was just handed out? I have the flyer if you need more information. He was handing out business cards that said, “Say Goodbye to Holes.” Wait, no, that’s the card from the belt guy. The plumber’s card said, “When you need a Good Affordable Plumber.”

Activist Jesse Fruhwirth with a GoPro camera
I’d never seen this before, but a news outlet mounted a GoPro camera on an activist.

Marchers walk and carry candles in memory of accused cop-killer Matthew Stewart
The march began.

After a couple of blocks, things got interesting. I knew that they planned to go past Dee Smith’s home on their protest march,

Supporters of the Ogden Police Department stood by, waiting for marchers who were walking the neighborhood in memory of Matthew Stewart
but I didn’t know there would be a crowd there showing their support for Smith and police department.

Supporters of the Ogden Police Department stood on as marchers passed in memory of Matthew Stewart
There was an intense vibe on that street as the two sides met. There was no way for a photograph to capture it.

Supporters of the Ogden Police Department stood on as marchers passed in memory of Matthew Stewart
There were few, if any, words spoken between the two groups. An officer kept the march moving along.

The marchers had a couple blocks more to walk, but this was the shot. I needed to send it in. I sat down on the grass across the street and started editing on my laptop. One guy, one of the marchers, had decided to stop and stick his camera in the faces of the police supporters, firing off shots with a flash. It went on for some time. Here he is:

Brian Palmer photographs supporters of the Ogden police department after a march in honor of accused cop-killer Michael Stewart

Others took photos of him and at one point he game them this angle:

Brian Palmer shows his backside to supporters of the Ogden police department after a march in honor of accused cop-killer Michael Stewart

I sent in six frames right away, the best ones. That’s when I heard the people across the street saying to the guy, “You’re with the Tribune? Show us your ID card, then!”

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. I finished up as quickly as I could, grabbed my gear and crossed the street. By that time a plainclothes police officer had led the guy away. I approached the people and asked about him and who he claimed to be working for. They said he said he was “independent media” after his Tribune claim didn’t fly. I made sure they knew he wasn’t affiliated with the Tribune. Had to clear that up. A woman said to me, “You’re not going to show it like the Standard does, are you?”

“I try to show what happens, that’s all,” I said.

“Well, don’t do it like the Standard.”

“I don’t even read the Standard.”

“You’re not missing anything,” she said.