Monday, December 26, 2011

Why not make it pretty?

Because the assignment is the rote Kwanzaa one, doesn't mean it can't be beautiful. Sometimes I just want to have one pretty thing in my day, so I have to make it myself.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cynicism Can Suck It: Day Three

This Park Place house has seen generations of school children rise bleary-eyed from their beds to face the ritual of getting ready for school; on this morning Portia Hyman’s youngest boys Day-Day and Dion start their day in the bedroom of their grandmother, Denise Green, where outfits are picked, hair is brushed, and lotion is slathered on dry arms and legs before the boys bundle up for the short walk to James Monroe Elementary.

When Denise gave birth to Portia, it was this house the young mother came back to. Though for much of Portia’s childhood her grandparents were her primary care givers, her mother has always been a part of her life, in varying orbits. Their lives unfold in close proximity now, as the mother and daughter share the house they both grew up in with a new generation, and Denise takes an active role in raising her grandchildren.

“My mama starts the day,” says Portia, “helping the kids get ready for school. It’s always such a headache. Day-Day’s deciding which sweatshirt to wear, and I’m doing Dion’s hair. Ever since she moved in, she’s been a lot of help with the kids."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cynicism Can Suck It: Day Two

The baby is happy on his back on the bed, with a stream of people ebbing in and out of the room, picking him up, kissing his nose, and lightly squeezing his little stockinged feet between their fingers. In a big family like this one, Daquan is passed from the arms of one sibling to another, each taking on the role of caregiver without complaint. When not with Portia Hyman, he can be found on the porch with his grandmother or up in the girls’ bedroom.

Dion Johnson, 9, steals a moment alone in his mother’s room with his elbows on the bed, his face cradled in his hands. He seems mesmerized by the face of his littlest brother.

“Dion even tries to make Daquan’s bottle,” says Portia. “He’s such a little man.” That children even as young as Dion would take part in raising their younger siblings is commonplace in this large family. “The older ones are always looking out for the younger ones. They help raise their brothers and sisters. We help one another out.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cynicism Can Suck It: A week for the holidays

It's been a tough year. We've lost some amazing people in our newsroom to layoffs. We've seen storms and fires and today, yes, the end of one war whose effects will persist far into our future. But in the face of all of this, I am still deeply appreciative that I have a job as a newspaper photographer. My work day sometimes involves building relationships with people I never would have met otherwise. I'm never sure how long this dream will last-- that worry follows all of us these days-- but while it does, I'm going to love it.

I haven't been blogging in a while, but for the best reason; I'm in the middle of a story about a family in Park Place, Norfolk with a matriarch who is the same age as I am (31) with 6 children, and a newly adopted baby. The story has at its heart a Cynicism Can Suck It premise, though I'm working to be as thorough as I can be in my reporting, and not make it all about blind optimism.

I'll bring you a new photograph from this series for the rest of the week. It's ongoing, and I'll be working on it as long as I can.

The story: A few years ago, Portia Hyman moved her family back in to the house that she grew up in the Park Place neighborhood of Norfolk, and set about creating a home for her children. Recently, the family welcomed a new member: Daquan Collins who is now nearly five months old and was given up by his mother, a family friend suffering from addiction, right after he was born. He fits seamlessly into this family of six, surrounded by the love and attention of his extended family.

Portia dotes on Daquan. “I’m just showing this young man much love,” she says. “I’m giving him all the attention he needs, and he is just full of joy.

"When he's old enough, he deserves to know. His mother is sick. He'll understand. I'll raise him to be a good man. I took him because I knew he didn't have anybody. He just wants some love, that's all he asks for. His mother hasn't seen him since he was born. I look at him every night and think 'who wouldn’t want to be with him?' But I don’t judge. People take different paths, and I’m proud of the way I live my life. It was meant for me to move here. If I wasn’t here, didn’t have this home, he’d be in the system.

This is my life’s purpose: to raise my kids the right way. It’s not about me anymore. I have to make sure they go the right way.”

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cynicism Can Suck It: It's been a long time

It's been a while, but that's only because I'm working on a big project that is kind of a grand Cynicism Can Suck It. But here is a new one, from tonight's graduation. I really love graduations. Even though it's raining, and even though it's been a long day, there is something so sweet and pure about the pride we feel when someone we love accomplishes something important.

Brothers and sisters, from left, Marquita Ravenel, Tonagee Ravenel, Brittany Agent and Tonette Washington watched proudly as their mother Germaine Washington walked alongside graduating classmates at Tidewater Community College's 53rd commencement at the Ted Constant Center in Norfolk on Friday, December 16, 2011.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lost and Found

This came from this situation last year. I'm going through old Little League pictures to put together a little portfolio for the parents who won't see their kids play at Fleet Field since it closed. I really love assignments like this. The strange and mysterious pictures that exist in regular life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hampton Roads Fashion

Bella Blackney, left, and Leeza Zain, right, wear Mikasa La'Charles at a show during Virginia Fashion Week at Waterside in Norfolk on Saturday, November 12, 2011. What a night. Frantic after shooting the end of Little League, and then a nighttime fashion show. Still, fun as always.

Hit and Run

Jillian McGowan, a single mother of twin boys Joel Riley Gamble, left, and John David Gamble, right, is recovering almost a week after a vehicle struck her and four others at the city parking lot at 25th Street and Pacific Avenue in Virginia Beach early Sunday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Final Days of Fleet Park

After 54 years, Fleet Field was closed by the Navy. Sweet ball players played their last innings there on Saturday. Or, as some little leaguers said, the last "endings." I photographed there last year here and here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Alvin Lucier: A Celebration

An epic weekend celebrating my father Alvin Lucier's music and his 80th birthday at Wesleyan University.
Captions, from top to bottom:
1. Alvin Lucier meets with Charles Curtis, the cellist, in the green room of Crowell Hall at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT on November 5, 2011 during a festival celebrating the composer's music, Alvin Lucier: A Celebration.
2. Students in a flash mob carrying "Chambers" process to the Ezra and Cecile Zilka Gallery.
3. Alvin Lucier listens to items carried by students in a flash mob of his piece "Chambers."
4. Hauke Harder holds a reflector during filming outside of the Ezra and Cecile Zilka Gallery. Hauke co-directed the documentary film about Lucier , "No ideas But in Things," with Viola Rusche.
5. Alvin Lucier attempts tells a joke about Groucho Marx and sea bass to friend Susan Foster at his home in Middletown, CT.
6. Alvin Lucier congratulates the orchestra after a performance of "Exploration of the House" at Crowell Hall.
7. From left the original members of the Sonic Arts Union are David Behrman, Gordon Mumma, Alvin Lucier and Robert Ashley.
8. Alvin Lucier greets students after a performance.
9. Alvin Lucier speaks with composer and assistant professor Paula Matthusen after the final concert of a festival celebrating Lucier's music at Wesleyan University Middletown, CT on November 6, 2011. "Enough of my music," said Lucier. "Now it is time for your music."
10. Alvin Lucier walks towards his home after the final concert of his festival.

Veterans Day

Michael Larson of Cub Scout Pack 188 rested in the grass before a ceremony honoring the black veterans buried at Calvary Cemetery in Norfolk on Veterans Day, Friday, November 11, 2011. Calvary Cemetery was established as a black cemetery in 1877, and many of Norfolk's black citizens were interred there until the desegregation of cemeteries in the mid-1970s.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Survive Norfolk

Racing around in the dark, following zombies around and trying to make pictured in a twenty minute period, before deadline on Halloween . . . thankful for all the hard work I've been doing recently. Yes, It's been an while since I've blogged. I've been working on a new story. More to come. . .

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Men in Heels

The whole Virginia Wesleyan baseball team joined a crowd of men wearing heels to bring awareness to violence against women.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

After Hurricane Irene: Hatteras Island

Hatteras Island found it's only conduit to the mainland washed out after the sound flooded over the land and back into the ocean following hurricane Irene. The damage on the north end of the island seems total; houses washed out, a disaster relief shelter serving hot meals, and the only way off the island is a ferry that funs 24-hours a day but the wait to get a spot can be wildly long. We waited nearly five hours to get on a ferry that took two hours from Stumpy Point to Hatteras. Though the southern parts of the island are open for tourists, the north remains cordoned off. What kind people, though. As you might imagine, everyone is helping everyone else back onto their feet.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9.11 Memorial, Flag Themes

For the members of Boy Scout Troop 1, 9/11 is a particularly complicated holiday; the troop, which is the oldest in Virginia, was chartered on September 11, 1911, and held a flag-raising ceremony commemorated the troop's 100th Anniversary while paying respect to those who died on 9/11. It was so hard to avoid the constant American flags everywhere. . . and for us in Norfolk, we remembered the bombing of the USS COle, which was anchored in the Elizabeth river behind the downtown ceremony.


I drove into the small town of Whaleyvilled for an afternoon of portraits and features . . . two goals difficult to accomplish in the rain. I thought of a recent conversation with Rachel Mummey about knowing when the light is good and using it to your advantage. Shooting outside at those golden hours and then shooting inside where windows and shade and reflections and all kinds of other modifiers will occur naturally and make shooting a response to light, instead of a struggle against it. The light was never going to be good that day, but the rain was what I had so the rain is what I used. I think knowing and using cliches is okay sometimes (raindrops/windshield/school bus anyone?) if it lets you stay longer and play with a situation you can't change.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day

Even though I was up earlier than I wanted to be, it was a thrill to be at the first day of school.

Monday, August 29, 2011