Sunday, November 28, 2010

Waiting and Light

I sat and I waited for something to happen in this shaft of light at a recent conference. Loved the red and the shoes.

Wonder of the Everyday

Everyday assignments can be filled with wonder, but only if you put yourself in the right frame of mind. I've been working full force on "While You Were Gone," and I find myself conserving my energy a little just to make it through these crazy past weeks. Babies are being born, or adopted, people are calling me with new stories, and just as I feel like I'm in the full swing of it, I see the end of the project looming, at least according to the timeline of the paper. How will I ever get it all done? Sometimes anything other than this project feels like an intrusion, a distraction, though daily assignments are why I have the luxury to work on this project in the first place. I've gotten good at making clean, pleasing pictures fast, so I can spend hours with my military families, but that's not always the ideal way to work.

I took a few hours the other day to linger at an assignment-- to talk, to sit, to see, to listen and to make a few pictures. He is 94, a veteran of Pearl Harbor and a long-time resident of Portsmouth, Va. who was planning to make a pecan pie that afternoon. Oh, I wanted to stay, but other assignments called for my attention. Daily work-- the routine of it, the fresh chance every day to make something beautiful out of the world around you-- makes me thankful to be a newspaper photographer, even if I'm feeling a little crazy these days.


I think of Mike Daviswhen I think of Cyclocross, though this was my first time photographing it. The course was not particularly gritty, and there was plenty of yellow tape all around, but it was a clear, crisp winter day and I was happy to be a newspaper photographer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A bitter winter wind prevents families from lingering on the pier as sailors board the guided missile destroyer USS Mahan for deployment. Trent Davidson’s mother zips up his sweatshirt and cups his teary face in her hands for a last kiss, and then his father scoops him up and begins the long walk back to the parking lot. The oldest of the Corpsman Leslie Davidson’s three boys, Trent, 8, is carried by his father Brock until the family is well beyond the ship. “Hold hands,” Brock instructs his three sons, and Trent takes the hand of his brother Connor, 4, so they can cross the street safely.

“It’s just the boys,” announces Brock as they head towards the car. “I don’t know what we’re gonna do now. It’s gonna be a whole lotta Daddy.”

“The minute I walked away, I started thinking about Leslie and what she’s feeling. I can’t even imagine how she feels right now,” says Brock as he secures his two youngest sons into car seats in the back. Trent slouches in the front seat, his head bowed to his chest. This will be the longest time the boy has been away from his mother, and the act of saying goodbye seems to have affected him the most. “They have a really special bond. He’s really opened up to her,” explains Brock. “I think he has a harder time because he’s old enough to understand what’s happening.”

While You Were Gone

“She didn’t cry in front of us when she left, and as I drove away I thought, ‘Now, what the heck am I going to do now?’” says Barry Rose, whose wife Lt. Col. Michelle Rose is deployed in Afghanistan with Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. The Roses are parents to three daughters, Michaela, 13, Barrett, 9, and Bobbie, 5, all of whom keep their father busy, shuttling between gymnastics, horseback riding and supervised homework each night. “I’ve been really proud of the way they’ve handled this,” says Barry. “They stay busy, and that keeps me busy.”

Barry, a retired Army man who met his wife in ROTC at North Carolina State, recalls their decision early in their marriage to hold off on having kids until they were out of danger of both being deployed at the same time. This is their first deployment with children, and it’s teaching Barry a new appreciation for single parents. “Our kids are independent to begin with, but they’re also at an age where they take care of one another. Every weekend, though, we count another week down to when this deployment will be over.”

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cynicism Can Suck It: Rachel Mummey Edition

Kids learn to swim at a local pool. Rachel Mummey, one of the kindest, loveliest interns in the history of photojournalism, just became College Photographer of the Year. I'm enjoying an insanely beautiful Virignia fall/winter day with coffee and perfect company. Cynicism can definitely suck it today.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


A husband and wife, living far away from one another. He's in the Navy, she is a professor and poet. I had the luxury of photographing both of them, and somehow I favored verticals in both situations, likely thinking about the designers who will be working on this story. I've found recently that a simple devotion to light and color makes the dreaded portrait assignment an exercise in craft rather than a bore. I'm coming to like portraiture again, after so many years.

Ghost Fleet

We spent the night on a boat out by the Ghost Fleet in the James River, the place where Navy ships go to die. From the deck of our small boat, I just waited and watched the sky turn every color imaginable. The calm water turned rough and we had to evacuate back to Norfolk sometime after 2 a.m., piloted by an ex-Coast Guard man while I offered moral support. Alive, home. And pretty, pretty, sky.

Monday, November 1, 2010

While You Were Gone: Adoption

The nursery is perfectly appointed, from the Humpty Dumpty lamps on the bedside tables, to the armchair by the window. The only thing missing now is the baby that Elizabeth Speigle and her husband Captain Hiram Augusto Centeno Justiniano have been waiting years to meet. The couple was ready to be adoptive parents, even when they learned their baby would arrive while Augusto is deployed in Afghanistan with Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. Just weeks before her due date, the birth mother decided to pull out of the adoption process.

“You are only given as much as you can handle,” says Elizabeth. With the nursery ready and parenting classes completed, she checks the adoption site dozens of times a day, hoping for a match that might start the process all over again. “I fell in love with that baby from day one. Especially with domestic adoptions, you decide what your threshold is for risk and you take it. When I found out we’d lost her, I was sad and I was angry, but Augusto says that we need to be patient. Someday, our baby will come along.”