Jun 22, 2009

Zack and Kristen get married

This last week I spent a few days in eastern Oregon, where I was the best man at my longtime friend Zack's wedding. Of course I brought a camera.

Congrats you guys! It was beautiful,


Jun 17, 2009

An honorable end

On Sunday afternoon I attended an annual ceremony by the local American Legion post where unserviceable American flags are retired and burned in a respectful way. I've been to this a few times before but liked this years results better than years past. I was planning on doing an audio slideshow, but there was too much wind noise in the audio to make it sound good, so instead I just did a gallery.

I also wrote (what?!?!?!) a short story to go with it, which you can read on the Observer Web site HERE if you like


Jun 15, 2009

My boy, at 2

On Sunday we celebrated Wyse's 2nd b-day.

We shared the event with our friend Theresa, whose daughter Josie turned 2 about a week ago.

It took Wyse a couple minutes to decide that he actually wanted to blow out his candles — meanwhile all the bigger kids were ready to give him a hand.

The Karaoke machine that Theresa and the girls brought was a big hit, I even got Ness up there for a song!

Here's the birthday boy spying on the band playing in the next room over at the Artisan where we had the party.

Beachhouse hijinks
For some reason I never posted these, but I took these one day a couple months ago when we were down at the catering shop. I guess file this under kids do the funniest stuff category.

Examining some watermelon:

Searching for a lost ball:


Jun 13, 2009

Graduation Day part deux, Futbol, and ...Football?

Tonight was Naselle's graduation night. Here's a few I liked.

These two are of the same couple. I liked them both, thought I'd put them up here for now and think about which is best for publication. I tell ya, I've been pretty lucky in finding young couples at these things the last couple weeks.

A few posts back I posted a couple pix from the story we were working on about a team in the Liga Hispana men's futbol league that was made up almost exclusively by students from Ilwaco high. The story ran last week so I thought I'd add the photo that ended up being the lead for the package. I think it kinda shows how hard it can be as a young player going up against these older guys with more experience. Cool thing is, in the first round of teh playoffs they knocked off the number 2 seeded team, so I'll likely be shooting their semifinal game on Wednesday night. You can see a gallery of pix of the team at the sports blog

And finally, even though school is now out at both high schools here, the sports calendar is almost as busy as the regular seasons. On Monday I shot a spring scrimmage between IHS and NHS. Here's a nice find I got.

I meant to add this to my last post, but it didn't seem right, so for those family and friends who care about such things: A couple weeks ago at the annual awards dinner for the Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists I repeated in winning the photography portfolio award in the non-daily category for the second year in a row. It's given in recognition of the best body of work for the year, which is really what I care most about. I also took first in spot news photo and a second in feature photo. What was one of the cooler things on the night was randomly being seated next to a man who is the son of Bill Wagner, a buddy of mine who lives in Astoria and has been a photog at the Daily News in Longview for years. He was there because his wife was winning something. She's out of the journalism now, and they recently got back from somewhere in South America where they were doing research on penguins of all things (not the arctic kind I guess), pretty cool.


Jun 10, 2009

The Last Good-bye

I can't remember how I heard that the Tlohon-nipts Alternative School was closing, if it was a passing rumor or someone stating it as fact. A little over a month ago I called up Karyn Veland — a teacher at the school since 2003 and the only teacher for the program this year — and she confirmed that she was being let go and that the program, which has served as a safety net for hundreds of kids over the last 12 years, would cease to exist.
Karyn and I have been friendly for several years now, as some of the first stories I worked on when I started working for the CO in Sept. '02 were about the alternative program. Over those seven years I have photographed or written a number of stories about the program and have shot the graduation ceremony all but one of those years I believe. I even had the chance to give a presentation of my photographs to the school last year. I knew that I was seen as a friend to the program and hoped that it would give me an "in" when I asked to document the final weeks of the program. Turned out they were all more than happy to have me. Here are some of the photos I made while working on this that I liked and felt helped tell their story.

On the first day I stopped by there wasn't a lot of opportunities for pictures at the school, but I heard that some of the students were in a metal band and they practiced at the home of Jasmin Schaefer, a senior at the school, and that several other students would hang out all together over there after school most days. It was here that I made the first "real" pictures of this story.

I was great to have them acknowledge I was there but also forget about me so I just drifted into the background and took pix of them being themselves.

Over the next few weeks I'd drop by as my schedule allowed, catching senior project presentations, an art show featuring works by Jasmin, and a trip to the Ilwaco City Park celebrating the last day for seniors.

Inevitably the last day came. When I visited that day that mood was much more somber than it normally was. I think the kids could sense the finality of it all, however many still kept things pretty light. Its a commendable trait I think to be able to do that in such times.

This one is probably the best of the bunch IMO as it touches so many facets of the story I think. It's important to note that prior to this year the school did not accept students into the program who were dating another student from the school, but in this case Karen allowed it and it made all the difference as she said that Jimmy probably wouldn't have made it through the year without Misty being a driving force in encouraging him to stick with till the end.

Graduation day was a fun time as I hung with them that morning while they rehearsed (though mostly it was having a few last laughs together) and then the ceremony that night. I had the distinct honor of being the guest speaker at the final graduation of the school. You can read a portion of my speech as part of the column I wrote in the paper this week.

Now I am certainly not disillusioned enough to think that my pictures are necessarily going to change the school district's mind about closing the program down. However, it was my goal to perhaps enlighten some of the public that though these kids were in the "alternative" program that they were really not all that different from any other high school kid, and that supporting them through a program that was able to help them reach their goal of a high school diploma is something a community should do. Hopefully it will at least start a discussion within the community as to the importance of giving every kid a chance, even if it is a different way of doing so.
I'd like to thank all 20 students of Tlohon-nipts and Karyn Veland for being so gracious in sharing their lives and stories with me!

BTW, I also produced an audio slideshow of the story. You can click HERE to watch it (it's a little too big to embed in my blog template) it features quotes from some of the graduating seniors and excerpts of their "life poems" they wrote about themselves as part of their senior projects. I think it turned out really well. You should probably let it load all the way before playing it for the best experience.