Month: January 2016

January 30, 2016

Yesterday I had a profound experience. I was the lucky one chosen to photograph the ceremony where a new Justice on the Utah Supreme Court was sworn in.

I left the event feeling an overwhelming aura of positivity. My goal now is to build on that feeling and carry it with me.

The speakers at the event were smart, and funny. And even those whose politics are called into question seemed to leave those things at the door. This was a celebration of great accomplishments, sacrifice in search of excellence, work ethic, goodness.

The good words that were being said about the new Justice were the kinds of things you would normally only hear at a funeral.

And it was so uplifting to be in the room.

Of course I kept contrasting to my own field, my own situation, and my own feelings. It’s been over a decade since

I need to find, or build, a space like this uplifting ceremony. Yeah, a space, not a one-time ceremony, where people are respected, their talents acknowledged, and positivity reigns.

And where there is no love given, no love is returned.


It’s easy to start blaming myself for not stepping up to the plate and trying to fix everything. As if it’s not enough to do my job at a high level, that I have to step in and fix every problem that’s brought to my attention.


Was it about five years ago that we took the local SPJ contest digital?

So many things look so different when held up to yesterday’s ceremony. Maybe the ceremony was the exception in human life. Even if so, it should be the model we strive for.

I think back to all the work I did for a local group, and all the knowledge and experience and lessons learned that came from the experience. And the nearly complete silence when it came time for gratitude.

The group is going in a different direction now, and I wish them the best. And yet, there is a lot of sorrow in the complete lack of not only gratitude, but leaving behind the knowledge base that five years of the project built up.

Good luck starting from scratch without a single question asked. It’s a shame that things changed. When I started with the group, their was such a welcoming, loving atmosphere. But the group’s membership changed and the attitudes became different, exemplified by the number of board members who were taking home honorary awards (especially the one given to someone for an accomplishment they had specifically opposed and stonewalled for a full year!).

I tell myself that I write this stuff down so I’ll remember it. Maybe it’s more base and vain than that. Maybe I’m smarting from a lack of attention and gratitude.


I’ve had three co-workers get married without even telling me (sometimes not telling anyone in the department).

Before I would think, that’s strange, why didn’t they tell me?

My thought now that it’s happened again is, I must be doing someting wrong.

From what I understand, they didn’t tell anyone, but still – we make things about ourselves all the time, right?

I think I’ll buy a wedding gift, despite hearing the news third-hand.


When I look back on the last twenty plus years working for the place, there have been clashes. In the competitive nature of the place and the business, we’ve all bumped

Cut to the chase: the photographers I work with are people I respect deeply. Each has talents that I envy, knowledge and understanding that I lack, kindness and empathy I admire.

Do they know that?


It’s not about hate, it’s about love. The articles written and broadcast about yesterday’s ceremony won’t be able to capture the humor, the respect, the legacy of that hour.

I hope to take those things and build something for myself and those I love. Because I can handle the silence from those outside the warmth of the campfire. The problem is, there’s no campfire right now.

January 27, 2016

Sitting on the baseline with my Sony RX-100 iii. It draws a lot of questions from other photographers. The funny thing is, they never seem to get it.

And even when I answer all their questions with, yes, it is good enough for a working pro, they tack on some bullsh*t requirements that no one’s going to meet.

So tonight, I confirm the camera is ten frames a second for thirty in a row (RAW files!), that it’s great in low light, though definitely no Nikon D4s or Canon 1D-X, it’s great for just about everything.

Just glad I’m not a camera manufacturer. You can never please a photographer. Ever.

January 25, 2016

Texts sent while sitting in my car, waiting for the funeral of a slain police officer. Parked in front of me is a KSL NewsRadio vehicle that has been idling for 45 minutes, and probably won’t stop.

+ Here
+ Six shooters and we’ve got a mug online (an hour after funeral started)
+ It’s great. Steak nachos and a movie. Sitting in my car for three more hours.
+ The photo position is pretty weak for everything other than them driving in
+ Lol. I’m sitting in my car with some steak nachos. Trying to figure out which movie to watch. The photo position is pretty awful.
+ Yeah. And didn’t they send C to shoot the same thing on Saturday? The base Camp thing?
+ What’s your shot? Looking east after they pass, going up hill?
+ I didn’t see a school or anything promising along route. Might be too late in the day for students anyway. A couple churches. But hard to know how big this really is. It happened in Slc, not here. L didn’t even hear about it
+ I know. I didn’t see anything obvious. Not even a fire department with a big flag on the ladder.

Even though there is snow all around, I’m in a t-shirt and starting to sweat from the sun beating down on the car. This guy in front of me is at least 300 pounds and is still idling his car.

12:19, still a courtesy photo on the website, no live photos anywhere.

+ They’ve got one of those big flags hanging here now, from a pair of fire trucks. Just went up
+ I won’t be able to. There’s a hill between the platform and the flag, and I’ll have to be on that platform.
+ might be tough. there’s a bend in the road. you take a sharp left turn and there’s the flag. not sure you’d have a shot showing much
+ that’s what I’d recommend

One hour forty minutes from start of funeral, still a courtesy file photo on the website.

+ the funeral is over.

Two hours after the funeral starts, courtesy file photo still leads the page.

+ are you serious? I didn’t know that. Signs along 1600 N all said between 2-4, so you’re probably right. Courtesy photo only, no staff photos on website two hours after start of event.

Before I drive home, I get some good feedback from the office. I click on the headline *Photos: Funeral* and the lead image is a video.


Watching a documentary on Henri Cartier-Bresson and an interesting thought – what gives the photograph value? Primarily the artistic content. The caption, the geo-location, the EXIF, who is in the photo. These things should be the least important. At the end of your life, when your greatest work as a photographer is collected, your eye and your vision should rule the day. Who is in your photographs may matter in the immediate moment when you’re marketing, selling. But ultimately, the best photographs rise above the meticulous work I’ve put into captioning and keywording.

January 20, 2016

It’s 420am and I’m awake in my hotel room. Outside it’s 24 degrees and there’s a fresh coat of icy snow on my car. I can see it from the window, parked next to the oil crew trucks.

I’ve been awake for an hour, reading from the unending stash of magazine articles I keep saving to my phone. A former FSB agent poisoned, a French jihadi, an American criminal who uncovered the Stingray secret police surveillance device.

But I should be writing.


Spent yesterday, all of it, driving from my house to Wellington and then up through Nine Mile Canyon to Myton. It’s a 78 mile trip, that last part, and there are no services. Very little traffic of any kind at this time of year.

I made it in a car with 301,000 miles, with the thought of becoming stranded on my mind the whole way.

My only optimism came from the stores of water, chocolate and half a foot of a Subway sandwich I’d saved from lunch.

The assignment was vague, at least the subjects of the assignment were vague, so the trip ended up being very similar to how I started out in photography – driving remote roads and making photographs.

After I while I entered the oil fields in Duchesne County and the landscape became more visually interesting as far as my assignment went.


After the drive I arrived in R@osevelt, one of the worst towns in Utah. Listing the hardest places to find myself, R@osevelt and Bl@nding, two very similar towns, come to mind.

From lodging, to food, to the culture clash between the white and native populations, these towns feel oppressive.

The horrific meal at the Frontier Grill, topped with patriot country music and the ignorant table next to mine talking about how they’d be kidnapped if they traveled abroad (as if they would ever leave the country, let alone Utah, as they tried to figure out the cheapest way to order only a salad).

It’s depressing and reassuring how quickly the mind can turn critical.


Today I’ll wake up and drive south through the Ashley National Forest, looking for photographs along the way.

January 8, 2016

Been lurking on an old college friend’s husband’s twitter feed, studying the pattern of posts.

+ Idaho.
+ Immunizations cause autism.
+ Car insurance is wrong – using the public highways is simply a risk to be taken.
+ Oregon standoff guys are being setup by federal provocateurs.
+ You should be able to carry a gun everywhere.
+ You should carry a gun everywhere.

January 7, 2016

I got an e-mail yesterday, automatically sent from a WordPress site I set up a year ago and forgot about. Curious, I went to the site and realized that it was a photo gallery site that was a nearly exact copy of one the same client had asked me to build two months ago.

And it’s probably the fourth one I’ve built for that client, and every one has been abandoned very quickly. Two didn’t even launch. As for the fourth, I’m really excited about it. Documentation and advice has been sent to the person in charge. Now the wait.

Who knows? The Slack channel has also been sitting there for months, never launched.

I’m going to look back and see a real downside to working with people who have completely given up.

January 4, 2016

My bookcase is next to the dinner table.

At dinner, someone heading to Rwanda asks what books they should read. This is my cue, and I start pulling titled from the shelves.

Well, Philip’s book is the go-to. It’s quite good.

Fergal’s book is also here.

Elizabeth’s book is my favorite, may she rest in peace. It mixes in Bosnia as well.

Gilles’ book has few words, but says everything. You will have a hard time looking.

I don’t think I have Romeo’s book any more.

Immaculée’s book, which I don’t have, has a scene that burns itself into your soul, regardless of your faith in God.

Then Jean’s book is in the words of the killers. Very chilling. I only got that far into it before I needed to take a break.