Monday, August 18, 2014

Sheriff Recruitment Campaign

Shot a corporate job all last week for the San Diego Sheriff's Department and their Recruitment division. It was an especially fun job because "recruitment", in this case, is kind of a buzzword for photos that need to attract a younger, late teen, early Twenties demographic. That means the imagery needed to show a lot of action with a combination of hard work and having a little fun while on the job. We spent 4 days flying in helicopters, staging mock-riots, hostile pull-overs, armed structure entries, repelling, K-9 patrols, shooting all kind of cool guns and photographing their patrol cars in sexy locations. I was in guy heaven.
One of the challenges of being a photojournalist and bringing it into the corporate world is trying to make staged situations appear real and natural, as opposed to set-up and "stock-like". In the Newspaper, magazine world, we go to a scene, find the action and record it without direction. In the corporate world, we go to a scene, set it up and then work to capture an image that looks and feels fluid and natural. My mantra, if that doesn't sound too pretentious, is to first keep it real and very low key, meaning very minimal lighting, assistants and general gear on-hand which can sometimes slow things down and give the photos too slick of a look. I really try and use available light and whatever other elements can add to the overall mood. The other method is to have the subject(s) do whatever it is that they normally do while I just record it(Fly on the Wall). In all the above photos, the deputies were doing training drills and exercising the way they do every day. I just told them to "do what you normally do" Sometimes I'll turn some folks around to be in the sun or pick a more visual scene but in general, I try to be as invisible as possible.
I'm finding more and more these days that clients want to show their workers and product in a more honest and natural light. The days of perfect, set-up looking stock photos are over as consumers have become more media savvy and distrust imagery that looks too fake.
Hire a Photojournalist!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Oracle, AZ Immigration Protest(For Getty)

It was a normal Monday night, put the kids to bed, was surfing the net a bit and checking my email when I saw a story online about protesters heading up to Oracle, AZ to try and prevent a busload of illegal immigrant children from entering a facility outside of Tucson. I came out to the living room and my wife immediately knew "the look". You know, the one where you want to ask permission to go somewhere but know it'll be an inconvenience but know that person would be a total pill and nervous wreck if he didn't just go, kinda look.
I said babe, it's a good story and it's Arizona. That state never disappoints when it comes to getting good visuals. It's still got that crazed, wild West, outlaw mentality. I'd photographed the protesters in Murrieta the week before but knew this one would be bigger and probably more angry and have its own unique character.
So I hopped in the car around 11 pm with a full tank of gas and no one to shoot for. I emailed Getty while on the road and a few hours get a ping back that I was on for the assignment (thanks guys!!).
I finally get to the site in Oracle around 6 am and protesters and gob-loads of media started to show up shortly there-after. Oracle by the way is a dusty little working class mountain town about 45 minutes north of Tucson. Lots of cactus, cows and white folks. It butts up against a really beautiful national park, too.
As the morning progressed, each side of the issue congregated at different locations a mile or two apart. Word floated around that the buses were on their way up. This rumor seemed to keep refreshing itself the entire day, just as in Murrieta. My feeling from the start was there was no way in Hell those buses were coming this way. The DHS might have planned to come through Oracle but I'm sure they quickly decided to go elsewhere after seeing the crowds on TV--like Tucson or Nogales, where the atmosphere was a bit more friendly. It didn't really matter, turned out there were quite a few incidents, some humorous, some a bit more serious that provided good photo ops. As you all might have heard, School buses came through and everyone got in their battle positions, including the media and a certain congressman (cough, cough Kwasman!). He claimed those illegals kids looked sad, before he discovered they were YMCA campers. Luckily I got some shots of him running his mouth which turned out to be big story. He basically made a quick appearance and then shuttled off to Phoenix where he could have a bigger microphone.
Then late morning came and the pro-immigration protesters marched from their camp through the anti-immigration camp. That's when the hate barbs started to fly like a flock of pigeons being let out of a coop. Both sides started screaming at each other and did a little pushing and shoving to get their points across. All in all it went pretty peacefully. I don't want to get too much into the politics as I hope these images will describe it. I will say say there is a lot of intense hate out there that I think is fueled by fear of change and watching too much damn TV. People need to get out and travel and see and meet different folks of all nationalities and persuasions. Everywhere I've ever been locally or globally there have been politicians, biased media outlets and religious organizations that brainwash people in order exploit them by creating a sense of fear and hatred. You can tell because whether it's in Oracle, Murrieta, Atlanta most likely with the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, or wherever, they all throw out the exact same buzzwords as if there is a microphone in their ears and someone is feeding them lines. My hope is that people can just start thinking for themselves.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

New Selects

Just a few snaps from the last few months while on assignment for various newspapers and magazines as well as some personal picks. Hope everyone's having a nice Summer.

Friday, May 16, 2014

San Diego Fires

Been a crazy, hot week here in SoCal. As most of you know, there were several devastating fires around Northern San Diego County that destroyed homes, lots of brush and claimed 1 life. As horrible as it was, I think our responders did a great job of getting people out to safety and put-up a heck of a fight to save many thousands of homes in harms way.
These tragedies also bring out the best in human nature as everyone pitched in to house the evacuated, stomp out ember fires on their neighbors homes, and gave generously to the victims or agencies that helped them. It's not just here but everywhere. If we could only always be that kind to our neighbors.
Covering the fires is always a great practice in controlling the adrenaline rush that comes with such a fast moving and evolving situation. When your out in "the Shit" as I like to call it, sometimes it's hard to hone in and focus on all the elements of photography like composition, lighting, the right moment, especially when trying to keep yourself safe. I've found my best images come after I shoot a few hundred photos and then slow down a bit and start to finally compose and think about what the shot is saying. I have to give props to the many fine-tuned, fantastic photogs around Southern California from the wires, LA Times, UT San Diego and elsewhere that have done a brilliant job and have put me to shame. I learn from you all every time these fire hit.
I also want to commend the Police and Fire Dept.'s. They have been letting us(media folk) into the fire lines with very little hassle. I've heard many horror stories about limited access in CO, AZ, NM where they have kept the press miles from the action. It's very important to get these images out to the public.
And of course, thoughts and prayers to those who lost property and have been injured.