Back to Work – Men vs. Women

My first assignment back at work after the Olympics was a murder. A woman, Maralee Andreason, was found dead in her apartment. Police said it appears her boyfriend, Thomas Valdez (aka Jimbo), beat her to death. From the Trib: West Valley City police LT. Bill Merritt said Valdez indicated he was in the apartment alone with the woman and there was some kind of argument, but, “He did not flat out confess to anything.”

I photographed the cops standing around outside the apartment, but as much as I worked the scene, great photos didn’t appear. Not even a single shot worth posting here, and nothing that’s going to beat this portrait of Valdez taken by the jailers:


That was yesterday. Today I was in the state prison to photograph a parole hearing. I arrived extra early because it’s always a bit uncomfortable mingling with the families of convicts when you’re there to photograph their loved ones in a prison jumpsuit. There was one woman there when I walked in. She looked me over and said, “They let cameras in here?!”

Here are some quotes from the board as well as prisoners from a few of the hearings I sat through while waiting for the one I was set to photograph:

“You had a history of sexual offenses as a juvenile.”

“…a subject of sexual acting out while in the prison.”

“If we release you to the streets, what can we expect?”

“You were diagnosed with mood disorders, ADHD, and intermittent explosive disorder.”

“I don’t wait to stay in here until 2022.”

Here was an interesting exchange between an offender and a man from the board of pardons:

“What do you think you need to control yourself?”

“I really have a bad attitude towards almost everything. If I don’t get my way I get very upset.”

“What’s the difference between that and being a spoiled brat?”

A sex offender was asked why he said he had completed a treatment program when the staff said he hadn’t. He said, “I completed treatment but because of the sexual acts I’ve committed in here they say I didn’t complete treatment.”

More quotes…

“I thought she was taking female medication. She started freaking out and I didn’t want to let her out of the truck.”

Another exchange…

“I had a few drinks in the club. There was alcohol in the vehicle. I’m not denying these things. I had just been sober five years, and heavily involved in Alcoholics Anonymous. I had a slip, basically.”

“How long did your slip go on?”

“A year.”

“How many DUI’s have you had?”


At the end of the hearing, and after the victims/victims’ families have been let out of the room, the guards tell the inmate to remain seated and turn around. The inmate has a brief moment to say hello to anyone (like family members) who may have come to support them/see them.

One inmate had just one supporter, the woman who asked me about my cameras. She said to the shackled inmate, “I thought that other girl would be here…Your baby’s mama.”

He said, “Me, too.”

Then it was time for the hearing of Marco Herrera, a former counselor at West High School who is serving three 1-15 year sentences after pleading guilty to three counts of forcible sexual abuse committed on a 14-year-old female student.

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His victim was in the room, and this is Herrera as she tearfully detailed the damage done to her life by his actions:

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It was tough stuff to hear. The recommendation going to the board from this hearing was to schedule Herrera’s next parole hearing ten years from now.

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Pleasant Grove Over Timpview

While I’m waiting for the parking lot to clear out, here is my take from Pleasant Grove’s victory over Timpview, which snaps Timpview’s 36-game state record winning streak.

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Jason Fanaika celebrates his first half touchdown

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Jeff Harris knocks Timpview quarterback Trevor Brown out of bounds

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Timpview’s Ofa Latu (bottom) tries to rip the ball from PG’s Kyle Tucker

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PG quarterback Dallas Lloyd leaps to get the ball inside the five yard line

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Timpview’s Zack VanLeeuwen runs the field for a touchdown, under the eyes of sideline photographers

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Timpview’s Bronson Kaufusi (right) pulls down PG quarterback Dallas Lloyd

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PG’s Jason West juggles the ball after running in a touchdown pass

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Timpview’s Colby Jorgensen puts his head down after dropping a pass on the 2 yard line late in the fourth quarter

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Celebrating the win are PG’s Shoney Ivens (88, left to right), Ruben Garces (39), Mike King (51) and Donny Lewis (15)

Assignment: The 5 Browns

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The assignment said: The 5 Browns are five siblings, all piano virtuosos. They have just written a book about their life.

I made the safe shot (above), but was more interested in doing something with this room. Here’s the scene:

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I shot a series of photos of the room for a composite image. Here is what PhotoShop came up with:


I wasn’t happy at all with the PhotoShop version so I dumped it and started from scratch, cutting down on the number of images and emphasizing the art on the wall:


I really like the greenish pillow in that version (above), but I tightened everything up and sent this one in to the paper:


Assignment: Darwin Lecture at BYU

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Provo – Prof. Daniel Fairbanks, a biologist at UVU, a devout Mormon and a sculptor, gives a lecture on evolution and the legacy of Charles Darwin while sculpting a bust of Darwin in BYU’s Maeser Building.

“But I can’t see his face!”

Yeah, he’s standing behind the clay head. Silly me.

In posting a photo from every single assignment I’ve learned about how I shoot and what I submit. I had expected to be posting some really awful images, but that was the medicine required to start making better photographs. What I’ve realized is that for every challenging assignment, I’m getting at least one interesting photograph. So maybe it’s not my photography that has been lacking lately.

That said, I’ve noticed that the interesting photographs that I’m getting aren’t always the ones that I’m sending in. And when I do, they aren’t always making the paper. So there’s something else to work on.

But I intend to keep posting lots of photographs, at least one from every assignment. Having this required outlet is causing me to push a little harder. If you are a photographer, I highly recommend challenging yourself in some way. And do it in front of an audience so that you’ve got the pressure to keep going.

Assignment: Sacred Ground/Common Ground

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This is Dr. Jenet Jacob offering the opening prayer at an event sponsored by the conservative Sutherland Institute, whose Sacred Ground initiative is a counter to Equality Utah’s gay-rights Common Ground Initiative.

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Approximately thirty protesters, including Josh Adamson (left) and Rebecca Huggins (center), were on hand to voice their opinion. I shot this available light, with the protesters lit by the lights of cars pulling in to the event.

So yeah, the traditionals lit up the progressives that night in Utah County.

Hildale From Outer Space

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Have I said this before? That I would be a rich man if only I’d started a wall-building company in Short Creek five years ago?

As camera crews from all over the world invaded the twin towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona chasing the story of polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs and his FLDS followers, the people of the community found ways to preserve their privacy. Like building walls around their homes.

Photo from Google Maps

I think this desire for privacy from prying eyes is a natural thing, whether or not you’re living an illegal lifestyle. The walls have always fascinated me and I’ve spent a lot of time photographing them.

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There are amazing photographs that could be made in the FLDS community. But for all the time I’ve spent photographing, those amazing photos always seem to be just out of reach. There are a number of reasons for that. One is the distance. It’s been difficult for me to travel that far south for any length of time this year.

I was in Short Creek last month for just a single day. It felt good to get the rental car coated in red, rusty dust as I drove around town. But the trip was too short.

This morning I’m at home in my slippers cruising the streets of Short Creek, thanks to technology. I just noticed that Google Maps has recently upgraded their satellite coverage of Hildale. You can now zoom in with extreme clarity and count the number of trampolines in backyards behind the privacy walls. They haven’t upgraded the coverage of Colorado City yet so on the Arizona side things get really fuzzy, as this screenshot shows:

Photo from Google Maps

I’m still not seeing any people outside, but once I’ve got the kids’ lunches made and sent them off to school this morning I’ll pour myself a bowl of Lucky Charms and take another quick trip through Hildale.