Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Coming Home: Soldiers Arriving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

This past month, the last Army brigade appointed to "combat" operations in Iraq came home, part of the Obama administration's effort to reduce the number of troops there, while shifting some of them to Afghanistan.

This assignment started as a video request. Originally I was just slated to do just video. I left Seattle at 6 a.m. and got to Joint Base Lewis-McChord at about 7 a.m. The families were all there, waiting for husbands, wives, sons and daughters. Minutes after I got there, I get a call from a photo editor, asking if there were any photographers there. There weren't. So, for a welcoming ceremony that lasted maybe 7 minutes, I had to shoot photos and video. I'm pretty sure the video suffered from it, watch it below. I also encountered technical problems. Later in the day, I wrote a story. It was a long day.

But the arrival of troops is always a sweet moment and we get to witness raw human emotions, genuine smiles and happiness, if only for a few moments.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fleeing Arizona: Photographing an Undocumented Immigrant

This past month, the Associated Press took a closer look at the phenomenon of undocumented immigrants leaving Arizona for Washington state, New Mexico and Utah _ the only three states left in the country that provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The story started in New Mexico, where newsman Tim Korte began gathering data from that state. From there, colleagues here and in Utah also pitched in with data.

At the end, I came in. A source of mine here tipped me to a man who had just moved his family from Arizona to Washington. I called him up and explained what I was looking for. He agreed to meet, and over lunch one day he told me the story of fleeing Arizona.

Originally from a small town in Puebla, Mexico, Carlos Hernandez came to the United States planning on only being here a year. Work was hard to come by back at home. Back in 2006, work was easy to obtain in Phoenix. So he settled, and brought his wife here. Soon after, they had a baby. (That's all the kids he wants, he told me. Parents with many kids, he says, can't provide for their children.)

But the immigration crackdown started soon after. Then the economy collapsed in Phoenix along with the rest of the nation. There were layoffs at the plumbing company he worked at. His wife drove an ice cream truck, and one afternoon they were pulled over by police. They were fined for not having the proper paperwork - paperwork he says they can't get without identification. Hernandez was tired of looking over his shoulder. His wife felt powerless.

Finally, they decided to leave Arizona. He sold what he could and packed what fit in his old car. They drove at night to avoid police, only stopping for gas and food. They made it to Seattle in two days. Now he's in a suburb of Seattle, where he hopes for a better future.

 Along with telling his story, I was assigned to photograph him. That's not normal business for me. While I love photography, I don't often get assigned to shoot my own stories, but the pros were out of the office that day. I spent a couple of hours with him as he watched his daughter play. She was beautiful and photogenic.

Perhaps most important to me was that a day or so after the story came out, I got a note from Carlos saying he liked the article.

Read the AP story here.

Carlos watches his daughter play. I crouched underneath the slide to get this shot.
My favorite of the pictures that moved on the wire. I like the mood.
This picture didn't move, but I liked it a lot.
One of the girl's favorite expressions, shrugging to her father.
I didn't notice it when I took it, but I overexposed this picture a bit too much. The girl's shirt is too hot.
Walking back home. Sadly, I didn't get a shot of a Muslim man walking by them soon after. Carlos found an apartment building that is very diverse. African immigrants, indigenous immigrants and Latino immigrants lived there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Seafood Safety

Last week, I spent an hour or so touring one of the NOAA labs here in Seattle for a story about the safety of the seafood from the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the nation's largest oil spill. It was a quick tour, but I'm glad the producer in D.C. was able to use several shots. Check it out:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Red Bear Dead Bear

My friends and I drove through Yosemite National Park on our way back from Mammoth Lakes. It's a butt ugly place and I hope they develop it, maybe build a mall atop Half Dome.

Public Transportation

Riding the BART.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Swimming Doggies

My family's dogs love nothing more than swimming in Lake Washington. The dog park in Mercer Island is perfectly situated on a side of the island that if the light hits just right -- well, it's pretty light.

The Cutest Dog Mix

I think this is a Golden Retriever-Poodle mix. I don't remember what the owners said. In any case, it's pretty awesome.


One of the coolest spots in Seattle is Gasworks parks. I took a couple of shots the other day while hanging out with friends, including the mandatory shot of people standing on the mounds. The park is superfund site - HURRAH for contamination!