My 2013 Memories as a Salt Lake Tribune photographer

I have the best job in the world. Here are some of the people and moments that left their mark on me over the past year…

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Stephanie Cook’s mother, Bobbi Campbell, went missing 19 years ago. Balloons were released on the anniversary of her disappearance in a quick and quiet ceremony. Attached to the balloons- an ultrasound picture of the child Stephanie was expecting.
balloon release for bobbi campbell, missing for 19 years

The Marriott Center was crazy loud until Matthew Dellavedova hit the game-winning shot to beat BYU at the buzzer. It was one of the greatest endings to a game I’ve ever seen. What a moment. Even Cosmo couldn’t believe it.
matthew dellavedova hits game-winning shot vs. byu

I met Andrew Brown at a night out for children with autism. We made an awesome team, my motor-drive and his endless supply of cool poses. What a fun kid.
andrew brown

To my knowledge, no one had ever photographed a fundamentalist religious service before we were invited into a humble church in Short Creek. To the people who invited us in, thanks for trusting us with your story. We did our best to be respectful and quiet. I hope you feel we treated you fairly.
william e. jessop's fundamentalist church

Being watched and tracked by this security camera in the FLDS-controlled town of Hildale while a swarm of passing cars blared their horns would have freaked me out several years ago. These days? I’m kind of used to it.
flds security camera

I was lucky to photograph the national champion Lone Peak High School basketball team three times this season. Congratulations to the Knights.
lone peak basketball, 2013 national champions

Model Deena Marie Manzanares and I were told that we could use “the green scooter in the parking garage” as a prop for our fashion shoot. Only after we pushed it out of the garage and around the block for an hour or so did we realize we had the wrong one. Grand Theft Scooter. Hopefully the owner never noticed.
Deena Marie Manzanares

Canon was kind enough to loan us some of their latest equipment for a week or so. I shot this comparison of our old gear and the new. See if you can guess which half of the frame is which.

And while we’re talking about old cameras, this frame came out of one just before I was able to retire it for a pair of Nikon D4s. Thing was freaking out! But you know, it’s actually a pretty cool effect.

Siyani Chambers put on a show, leading Harvard to their first NCAA basketball tournament win ever (left frame). The second game, at right, was a little tougher. He chipped a tooth in the loss but stayed in the game, trying to will his team to victory. They lost, but what a show of heart.
Siyani Chambers

I don’t know who you are, but girl, you made my day when you made this hilarious face when I was photographing young Mormon women at the LDS Conference Center. Thanks for that look!
LDS young women

Bryce Longaker, a veteran of two deployments to Iraq and a Unified Fire Authority firefighter and medic, is no longer with us. His brother Erik and mother Paula Garner received a standing ovation as they were presented with a posthumous award their loved one had earned through his heroic actions. This was a tough night for his family members, one of many I’m sure. I want to thank them for allowing me to be there. I was honored.

A lighter moment from a family birthday party, where my young niece encouraged the piñata bashers to strike harder. I laughed out loud when she yelled out, “Hit it like it’s a person!”
piñata

I continue to be amazed by the FLDS story and the many moments where we’re able to photograph something that previously seemed impossible. This time we were able to tour a home that had been built for Warren Jeffs. I never thought I’d see inside those 10-12 foot high walls.
home built for warren jeffs

Sometimes you can’t believe your good fortune. Like when there’s a flood on Lazy River Drive.
flood on Lazy River Drive

Nikki Breedlove is one of the toughest people I met this year. Hit by a car and suffering a major head injury, she was facing another surgery when we talked. Only later did I find out she used to do my wife’s hair. I hope you’re doing well, Nikki.
Nikki Breedlove

The family of LDS church leader Thomas Monson was grieving their matriarch, Monson’s wife Frances, who passed away earlier this day. Ann Monson Dibb put on a brave face and spent an afternoon talking to various media outlets about the life of her mother. Sadly, we had the last interview of the day and by the time our turn came she seemed drained. Who wouldn’t be? Thanks for taking the time to talk to us on this tough day.
Ann Monson Dibb

Snow Canyon players honored their fallen teammate Kreg “K.J.” Harrison, who drowned last year, by holding his jersey aloft following their championship win. He must be proud of you guys.
Snow Canyon players honored their fallen teammate Kreg K.J. Harrison

These girls eating candy at the state softball championships made my day. I remember all the time I spent at sporting events as a child. My heart is always with the kids hovering around the snack shack.
girls eating candy

Being honored at Westminster College’s graduation, commencement speaker Robert Redford cracked me up with a quick bit of physical comedy, tugging on his collar.
robert redford, westminster college graduation

The tension between the supporters of Matthew Stewart and the supporters of the Odgen Police Department was the most I’ve felt in a long time. There was so much emotion in the air that I felt frustrated as a photojournalist. There seemed to be no way to possibly capture the intensity of the moment. Not in pictures, words, or video. It was a something you could feel more than you could see.
supporters of Matthew Stewart and the supporters of the Odgen Police Department

We were lucky to get some time to photograph in the LDS Church’s Missionary Training Center (MTC). It was a quick ninety minutes so I shot everything I could. Everyone kept staring at me. I stood out from everyone with my camera and beard. But also, everyone was so friendly. I was trying to make a candid shot in this hallway as missionaries walked past portraits of former church leaders when this fresh faced kid went by smiling at the camera. Normally I’d discard such a photo but in this case his reaction says a lot about the MTC, where everyone I saw was very happy and very friendly.
LDS Church's Missionary Training Center (MTC)

It was really cool covering the stocking of nearly 5,000 golden trout into a remote mountain lake. But sometimes I think I should have been a reporter. While I was running around with a bunch of heavy equipment shooting video and stills, the reporter seemed very relaxed with only a small notebook, a GoPro and a fly rod. Someone has their job figured out better than I do.
golden trout in echo lake

The Stadium of Fire. So over the top, year after year. It’s a photographer’s dream assignment.
Stadium of Fire

The Tour of Utah was my highlight of the year. Riding on the back of a motorcycle from Panguitch to Torrey, going in and out of the peloton, was the most thrilling thing ever. These riders are superhuman. We were so close I could have reached out and touched these guys.
Tour of Utah

And as the motorcycle raced along in the Tour of Utah, there were so many amazing scenes as fans lined the route. This is one of my favorite photographs ever. Just look at these cool kids out to cheer on the cyclists with their pots and spoons. You guys are amazing.
fans at Tour of Utah

Before the government shutdown, Senator Mike Lee held a town hall meeting in Spanish Fork. I couldn’t believe my ears when he opened with a joke from Emo Phillips’ 1985 record E=MO2, one of my favorite comedy recordings. The rest of Lee’s material? Whether it was funny or not is up to you to decide.
senator mike lee, town hall meeting in spanish fork

Joshua Petersen was seated alone in the jury box, waiting to plead guilty to killing his infant son. What a tragedy. I took one shot. He heard the camera go off, looked at me, and tears started to pour out of his eyes. He covered his face and put his head in his hands. So sad, and so alone…
Joshua Petersen pleads guilty

This is the view from my desk on Paul Fraughton’s last day at the Tribune. We lost a lot of good journalists this year. I’ve been horrible about keeping in touch – dreadful really – but I miss all those we lost and wish you the best in the future.

The Milky Way over Torrey, Utah. Thanks to the great friends who gave us a place to relax for one weekend, out in the dark, away from the city. It was a wonderful break, at just the right time. Little did I know the government shutdown would keep me working out of town driving hundreds of miles and staying in multiple hotels, for a full week right after this pleasant break.
The Milky Way over Torrey, Utah

This scene, FLDS boys playing on an old tractor, reminded me of a similar one I photographed on my first real trip to Short Creek in 2005. I have a dozen or so frames in both cases that come close to a masterpiece. But it’s hard to capture the magic of a scene from a block or more away. The excitement and frustration from watching scenes like this bring me back to Short Creek time after time. Imagine the photographs I could make if the people didn’t run away when they spotted me.
FLDS boys playing on an old tractor

Utah Attorney General John Swallow spent much of the year under investigation. I shot this one during his historic resignation speech.
Utah Attorney General John Swallow resigns

I was lucky enough to photograph Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Finals (Portland) and the MLS Cup (Kansas City). I came away with tons of great action and celebration shots. But the this one meant the most: RSL coach Jason Kreis with a tear in his eye after the win in Portland.
RSL coach Jason Kreis with a tear in his eye after the win in Portland

We got new cameras in November. They are amazing. I got out before the sun rose one snowy morning and shot this dark scene hand-held. The shot was very popular online, where some readers claimed it had been photoshopped or shot as an HDR image. Actually, this is pretty much how it looked straight out of the Nikon D4. I made only a few minor adjustments to tone, white balance and saturation in Lightroom. Within hours this photo had nearly 600 likes on Facebook but it was never published in the paper.
snow in sugar house, utah

I drove out to the Christiansen Family Farm in Vernon to photograph kids and turkeys. The bacon they gave me was so good I’ll never be able to eat grocery store bacon ever again. Thank you! What a beautiful place. I could have posted a photo of the family or the turkeys, or even the bacon. It was a great assignment with all the right ingredients: good subject, wonderful people, and also my favorite thing… on the way there, lots of open road. There it is…
desert road

Let’s see what the open road brings to all of us in 2014. Best to you all.

2013 Utah SPJ Awards – A Good Year

Had a great run in this year’s SPJ contest. Here are some awards I’m proud of…

Best Photographer

My thanks to these amazing photo editors: Jeremy Harmon, Keith Johnson, Lennie Mahler.


1st place Photo Essay – Life Under Warren Jeffs

My thanks to reporters Lindsay Whitehurst and Nate Carlisle and the Holm family.


1st place Best Single Blog PostTime Travel and Ethical Photojournalism.


HM Best Overall BlogThe Polygamy Blog
My thanks to co-bloggers Jim Dalrymple II and Nate Carlisle.


2nd place Sports Feature photo – Opening Day
Opening day at Brighton Ski Resort, Tuesday November 13, 2012 in Brighton.


3rd place General News photo – Last Goodbye


FLDS Young Men – The Fire

FLDS boys and a bonfire in Hildale, Utah

This scene was my reward for spending a long day driving around Short Creek looking for anything or anyone worth photographing. In fact, here is the route I drove through the day:

and here are the locations of the photos I took (all from the street, didn’t meet anyone, talk to anyone, or go into any homes):

After a few minutes the boys saw me and moved off into the darkness.

Bittersweet Surrender

Garrett Lines is a teenager with autism who lives in a group home after his mother, Nikki Lines (at rear left), turned him over to DCFS a few years ago.
Garrett Lines is a teenager with autism who lives in a group home after his mother, Nikki Lines (at rear left), turned him over to DCFS a few years ago.

Writer Julia Lyon and I won the inaugural DFMie award for the package Bittersweet Surrender on autistic teens.

You won a dundie?

No, Smokey. We won a DFMie. Pronounced DEE-EFF-Emmy.

Let’s get back to this story, which was about this: Families who can’t afford mental health care, behavioral therapy, other services for their autistic kids are giving them up to the state.

I spent about an hour with Garrett. There’s a lot I could say to young photographers about getting on the level of your subject, trying not to be noticed. Those things came into play with Garrett, a super intelligent young man who noticed everything that was going on yet struggled to communicate his feelings. At times he would just sit and not answer questions. At those moments it was important to just chill, slow down and wait for him to process.

It was an interview shoot, which can be challenging. You walk into a an interview shoot and two things can happen:

1. You get in a quick portrait shot before the writer starts the interview.

2. You sit through the interview and shoot while they talk, then get something after if needed.

In the first scenario, the quick shot rarely leads to much, since it’s contrived and staged and you don’t know much about the subject.

In the second scenario, you might get good reactions during the interview when the subject touches on an emotional memory. If you’re smart you pay attention to the interview so you know the subject’s story. When you have time to photograph after the interview you know exactly what to focus on. The problem here is that by the time the interview is over the subject may be out of energy and not up for a lot more.

In this case, the writer (Julia Lyon) and I met with Garrett and his mother Nikki for a nice conversation. It was only an hour or so. Here’s what made a difference: being quiet, listening and watching.

I could not have made the photo of Garrett (above) without my Fuji X100, a small and silent camera that allowed me to get in very close without distracting him. Funny, they just announced the X100S today. Maybe I’ll put my prize money toward paying the sales tax on a new one.

Our second subject was Michael Chambers, who you saw with his lightsaber in a previous post. These were also shot with the Fuji, which is so small and quiet that people forget it’s there.

My Unforgettable Moments from 2012

Here are 20 unforgettable moments I experienced as a photographer for The Salt Lake Tribune in 2012.

These are people I met along the way, moments that touched my heart, things that reminded me what a wonderful world we live in, and a few moments that remind us not to waste a single day because life is fragile and easily lost. Mixed in with these powerful moments are a few photos from sports assignments, which are not at all important. (Hey, that’s a joke!)

But seriously, these experiences mean more to me than any portfolio of award-winning photos I might come away with. It is a privilege and honor to be a witness, to act as your eyes in the community.

Note: No endorsements of movements, wars, religions, football teams, political candidates, etc., are intended.


Funeral for Jared Francom, January 11, 2012
Erin Francom, widow of slain Ogden police Officer Jared Francom, has a quiet moment following the graveside service at the Ogden City Cemetery.
Erin Francom, widow of slain Ogden police Officer Jared Francom, has a quiet moment following the service at the Ogden City Cemetery.

This was a tough one. When you’re photographing a moment like this, you do so with the utmost respect and reverence. And you never forget.


Utah Jazz beat the Miami Heat, barely, March 2, 2012
Utah Jazz guard Devin Harris (5) is fouled by Miami's Dwayne Wade (3) and makes the shot, setting up the three-point that won the game.
Reaction after Dwayne Wade fouled Devin Harris, setting up the three-point that won the game.

You should have seen LeBron James turn it on in the fourth quarter. It was an amazing show. This photo is what happened next, when Devin Harris got fouled in the final seconds and put the Jazz ahead for the win.


LGBTQ Teen Panel Session, March 9, 2012
A panel of teens spoke at the Utah Pride Center's first summit for adults who work with LGBTQ youths in foster care. Caseworkers say it can be challenging to find welcoming homes for foster kids who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ).
A panel of teens spoke at the Utah Pride Center’s first summit for adults who work with LGBTQ youths in foster care. Caseworkers say it can be challenging to find welcoming homes for foster kids who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ).

Six teens in tough situations spoke from the heart and shared their most candid feelings and experiences. They told heartbreaking stories but I was left with optimism for their futures and a lot of respect for the courage they had to speak out.


Fabian Scores, March 17, 2012
Real Salt Lake's Fabian Espindola (7) puts the ball under his shirt and blows a kiss to his pregnant wife after scoring a first half goal vs. New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake’s Fabian Espindola puts the ball under his shirt and blows a kiss to his pregnant wife after scoring a first half goal vs. New York Red Bulls.

Amazing celebration from Fabian.


Mom vs. the CERT Team, May 9, 2012
Weber State students Adam Strader and Rachel Taylor try to resist a Federal Bureau of Prisons CERT team during a training scenario at the Mock Prison Riot in Moundsville, West Virginia.
Weber State students Adam Strader and Rachel Taylor, role playing as rioting inmates, resist a Federal Bureau of Prisons CERT team during a training scenario at the Mock Prison Riot in Moundsville, West Virginia.

Everything about the Mock Prison Riot was unforgettable, but watching Rachel Taylor, a mother of six, charge into a CERT team full of bad-ass dudes firing pepperball guns from behind riot shields? Well, that just blew me away.


Photobomb, June 7, 2012
Rick Ledbetter, Environmental Health Supervisor for the Salt Lake Valley Health Department, urged residents to defend themselves against waterborne illnesses at a press conference at the Liberty Park pool. In the pool behind Ledbetter is Ruben Saldivar.
Rick Ledbetter, Environmental Health Supervisor for the Salt Lake Valley Health Department, urged residents to defend themselves against waterborne illnesses at a press conference at the Liberty Park pool. In the pool behind Ledbetter is Ruben Saldivar.

Thanks to the awesome Ruben Saldivar for sliding into the photo op and making me laugh on a routine summer assignment.


National Guard homecoming, June 23, 2012
Mickaela Hawkley embraces her husband Bleu as the soldiers from the Utah Army National Guard's Second Battalion, 211th Aviation unit returned from a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Mickaela Hawkley embraces her husband Bleu as the soldiers from the Utah Army National Guard’s Second Battalion, 211th Aviation unit returned from a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan.

Can’t say enough about the sacrifices being made by military families during our two long wars over the past decade. I know I’ve said this before, but every time I’m sent to see troops leaving or returning I feel that all Americans should be forced to attend these events so we can see the effects of the wars we have been ignoring.


Crandall Canyon Mine Memorial, August 1, 2012
The memorial to six miners and three rescuers who died in the 2007 Crandall Canyon Mine disaster near Huntington, Utah.
The memorial to six miners and three rescuers who died in the 2007 Crandall Canyon Mine disaster near Huntington, Utah.

An anniversary story on the mine disaster brought me to this beautiful secluded spot. It’s very peaceful. My thoughts go out to the families. For them, the media focus on anniversaries must be painful.


Desert dust storm, August 1, 2012
A dust storm blows through the lonely town of Woodside, Utah.
A dust storm blows through the lonely town of Woodside, Utah.

I stood in an old cemetery in the desert watching this dust storm coming at me like a huge wall of brown. It hit hard and I looked to the right and made this photograph. There’s nothing like the desert and the way it pulls you in.


Jen gets married, August 18, 2012
Jen Comer dances with her son, T.J., at her wedding reception in Hunstville.
Jen Comer dances with her son, T.J., at her wedding reception in Hunstville.

I’ve been photographing Jen for nearly a year now as part of a larger project at the paper. Her wedding was filled with great moments but this one was my favorite, a touching dance with her young son.


Republican National Convention, August 28-30, 2012
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, with their families, close out the Republican National Convention in Tampa
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, with their families, close out the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Let’s see, political conventions are scripted and staged, there are too many photographers and not enough real subjects. I felt ridiculous succumbing to the temptation to photograph people in red, white and blue hats and such. But still, it was pretty cool to see history being made— or at least one possible version of history.


Aggies beat Utes, September 7, 2012
Utah State players storm the field after beating the University of Utah in Logan
Utah State players storm the field after beating the University of Utah in Logan.

This was the start of a special season for the Aggies. Wish I could have been there for more of it, but my schedule kept me away from Logan most of the season.


Meeting Michael, September 12, 2012
Michael Chambers wields a lightsaber at the foster home where he lives
Michael Chambers wields a lightsaber at the foster home where he lives. Due to the lack of services for children with autism, a small number of families are turning their children, like Chambers, over to the child welfare system each year desperate for the services they can get in state custody.

Michael was one of the most thoughtful kids I’ve met. He gave me a tour of his room, showed me his wonderful artwork, and posed for a few photos outside with his lightsaber. Be well, my friend. Life is good and it only gets better.


Utah beats BYU, September 15, 2012
Brigham Young wide receiver JD Falslev reacts to the loss to Utah.
Brigham Young wide receiver JD Falslev reacts to the loss to Utah.

One of the craziest endings of a game, ever. With no time left BYU attempts a field goal for the win but the ball bounces off the post. You’ve got to be kidding me. My colleague Chris nailed this moment. I was shooting right over his shoulder and blew it so this one’s really two memories for me… sweet (the thrilling game) and sour (missing the shot).


Retiring to Huntsville, October 3, 2012
LDS Church historian Merlin Jensen at his home in Huntsville, built on the land he grew up on.
LDS Church historian Merlin Jensen at his home in Huntsville, built on the land he grew up on.

Nice people, good conversation, and a beautiful place.


The end of Corey Kanosh, October 23, 2012
Charlie Lafferty at the spot he believes his cousin, Corey Kanosh's body ended up after he was shot by a Millard County deputy following a high speed chase. The family of Corey Kanosh is seeking answers in Kanosh's death.
Charlie Lafferty at the spot he believes his cousin, Corey Kanosh’s body ended up after he was shot by a Millard County deputy following a high speed chase. The family of Corey Kanosh is seeking answers in Kanosh’s death.

I’m grateful anytime a family opens up to my camera, but especially so during one of their toughest moments.


President Obama re-elected, November 6, 2012
Hussein Adawe reacts to the re-election of Barack Obama
Hussein Adawe reacts to the re-election of Barack Obama.

I was excited about this photo of Adawe celebrating Obama’s win, and then he pulled out a copy of the photo I took of him four years ago doing the exact same thing and my mind was blown!


54-yard field goal for the state championship, November 10, 2012
Manti's T.J. Pogroszewski and Carlo Garcia watch Garcia's state record 54-yard game-winning field goal in overtime, giving Manti the 2A State Football Championship
Manti’s T.J. Pogroszewski and Carlo Garcia watch Garcia’s state record 54-yard game-winning field goal in overtime, giving Manti the 2A State Football Championship.

Okay, Garcia, I have to admit I thought you had no chance of making that 54-yard field goal. You guys had lost so much yardage, there was no way you were going to make this kick to win the game. Luckily I was smart enough to fire off a couple of frames just in case, but I almost didn’t even bother. Then you made it, setting a state record and becoming champions. What an amazing end. Congratulations.


Reggie Dunn’s NCAA record touchdown run for the win, November 23, 2012
Utah Utes wide receiver Reggie Dunn returns a kick for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Colorado Buffaloes host the University of Utah in Boulder
Utah Utes wide receiver Reggie Dunn returns a kick for the game-winning touchdown as the Colorado Buffaloes host the University of Utah in Boulder.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that excited to travel to Boulder to see the Utes take on the 1-9 Buffaloes on Thanksgiving weekend. But having Reggie Dunn win the game for the Utes by running an NCAA record fifth career kick return touchdown right at me changed my mind. It was a great trip after all.


Children going over the fence, November 30, 2012
Children climbing a fence at what was once a thriving community zoo in Hildale, a town where many residents are members of Warren Jeffs' FLDS church
Children climbing a gate at what was once a thriving community zoo in Hildale, a town where many residents are members of Warren Jeffs’ FLDS church.

Watching this group of children climb the zoo gate was an amazing sight. I felt like I’d gone back in time to the mid 1900s. I was so happy to be getting the shot, all the while knowing I was too far away and had an obstructed view. I wish I could photograph a moment like this up close without scaring everyone away, but this is Short Creek, a town where the people are intensely private and will run from the camera. I had to settle for getting what I could, shooting with a very long lens from far away.

I’ve been covering the FLDS and polygamy for past several years. It’s been some of the most important work of my career. Sometimes I’ve had good access and other times none. Through it all I’ve tried to photograph this community objectively and without shoving a camera in anyone’s face unless it was absolutely necessary.

Right now there is little access. The FLDS have shut off all access to the outside world. I must be one of the few photojournalists doing a long-term project with a subject that’s unwilling to participate. Normally I build trust and rapport with my subjects, so this has been very frustrating. But I’m okay with facing the challenge. It’s important to keep telling their story. I feel that someday they will agree.

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