Beginning in October of 2012, I started shooting a story for The New York Times of a woman who needed a lung transplant. The only caveat was that as a Jehovah's Witness, she was not allowed to receive transfused blood products as part of the procedure. While "bloodless" transplants are common enough, the first one being done in the mid-1990's, they can actually be considered a better bet for the patient since there can be less complications in recovery since it's one less factor to worry about before, during and after surgery. The first two assignments were easy enough as far as meeting and photographing the subject, Georgia resident Rebecca Tomczak, as she went through a complete diagnostic battery of tests and also a through a day in her life as she stayed with a host Jehovah's Witness family and a brief visit to a potential apartment complex she was thinking about moving into. The last part of the assignment, being ready when a donor organ was available, was more of a challenge. The call finally came January 30, 2013 from the reporter, Kevin Sack, to tell me an organ had been found and would be delivered to Houston as soon as possible. After speaking with the public affairs person at Methodist Hospital, it was decided it would be best if I got to the hospital at 4am to be ready for surgery. Once things were in place, the surgery seemed to move along quicker than I expected, less than half a day. Meanwhile, I was able to witness the miracle of organ transplantation from a front row seat in the operating room.
I had to opportunity to tour a prison recently for The Wall Street Journal. I went to the Central Unit, a prison farm complex in Sugar Land, Texas that has been decommissioned. You can check out the slideshow here. A couple of my favorite photos are below. Even after being gutted, the place still had a menace to it. It wasn't any place I'd want to spend any part of my life in. Texas prisons don't have air conditioning and the place was infested with mold. With crime dropping, fewer tough-on-drugs laws that incarcerate non-violent offenders and less harsh sentences, the prison boom has begun to fizzle out.
Needed to find a feature yesterday for the Houston Chronicle so I found a cheerleading competition at the Reliant Center.
A foggy morning in Houston last Sunday helped me produce the couple of images below[gallery ids="2109,2110"]
About a month ago, I received a phone call from my good pal Brandon Thibodeaux, a regular contributing photographer for The Wall Street Journal. He wanted to know if I wanted to shoot the video segment for a Wall Street Journal feature story on Carol Paul and the Ron Paul Cookbook. Having a chance to produce a video for The Wall Street Journal sounded like a great opportunity, so I accepted the challenge. The shoot took most of the day, with WSJ reporter Elizabeth Williamson talking with and helping Carol Paul make a couple of recipes in Paul's new kitchen. Mrs. Paul was very gracious and a real character. She was a real pleasure to interact with and record. The editing took about a month, mostly due to being slammed with other work. The fine editors at the WSJ were okay with it, though. In fact, they were instrumental in providing feedback with my edit. It was almost like getting paid to learn.
I also made a lot of progress in finding my way around Final Cut Pro X, Apple's newest version of their non-linear video editing program. It's completely different from Final Cut Pro 7, sometimes in good ways. Other times, in not so good ways. So there was a learning curve there.
Bring your appetites and check out the video below.
I took a trip last week through the Eagle Ford Shale drilling area of south Texas. I wanted to see the oil and gas boom in action and first hand. I met a few interesting folks along the way, including the two men I met in a Carrizo Springs, Texas barbecue joint - Wes Baucom, left, and Terry Vaughn. Both are from other towns in Texas and have been working in the oil fields for many years. [gallery link="file"]
From a fun portrait shoot I did a couple of days ago...
During a massive cleaning of my office, I rediscovered some negatives from a self-assigned shoot to photograph a Tea Party rally in the summer of 2009 (I think) at a race track in Bay Town, Texas. Wanting to try something different, I rented a Hasselblad medium format camera and made the trek out to the rally. I seem to be attracted to the overt patriotism: flags and people dressed up as figures from American history, as well as a sense of the paranoia of a dystopian, socialist future that seems to drive much of the conversation at these events. Also to note: I shot a couple of different film stocks. One is chrome and the other was an expired batch of porta left over from grad school.[gallery]
Most excellent designer Caroline Roberts won tonight's Grammy awards for her design of the recording package for Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" deluxe package released in 2011. Kudos to Caroline and I thank her for her kind acknowledgment. Thanks also to the band and their associates for the opportunity to work with them. I look forward to the next time!
In April, 2010, I had the opportunity to shoot the behind the scenes still images for the Arcade Fire/Spike Jonze production of the short film "Scenes from the Suburbs." The movie, screen-written by Arcade Fire, illustrates themes explored in their Grammy-winning album of the year, "The Suburbs."
For five days, I shot a mix of Illford HP5 and Kodak Tri-X film using two Nikon F5 cameras to shoot the images that eventually were included in a booklet released with the DVD of the movie. The grain you see in the film is a result of "pushing" the film three stops in some cases. It effectively raises the ISO (sensitivity) of the film. The trade off is increased grain in the film. For this assignment, it seems to work well.
To view images from the first day of shooting, check out the link to my website here.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor to photograph Chitra Divakaruni for the Houston Chronicle. She is an award-winning author and poet who writes about women, immigration, the South Asian experience, history, myth, magic and diversity. She writes for adults and children, and her books have been translated into 20 languages. Born and raised in Calcutta, India, Divakaruni, 54, teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and lives in Sugar Land with her family.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing Jenzel Nash, the nation's leading scorer at 39.9 points a game. She was great to work with and needed very little direction. As a senior, she is sure to be rocking it in the NCAA very soon. The photos were made with a single 580EX strobe and a STS transmitter. The Pocket Wizards are in the shop, so it's been a good push to try and keep things simple.[gallery orderby="rand"]
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of photographing newest Boston Red Sox player Carl Crawford as he did an off-season workout session in his hometown of Houston. It's amazing to see how hard this guy works out. I suppose I would too if someone were paying me $142 million dollars to play baseball. Nonetheless, I found him to be very humble and down-to-earth. He's a natural athlete and could have been a pro in a number of sports. You can check out the story here.[gallery orderby="rand"]
I covered a story last week for the Houston Chronicle about a neighborhood center that is doing great things for the neighborhood - helping people learn how to file taxes, open bank accounts, and learn basic entrepreneurial skills. I spent a short time with Candelaria Galindo, who teaches a piñata-making class to others at the center. The idea was to surround her by her students' work and put her in the middle. When everything was in place, I said "Sonrisa!" The image made the front page this morning.
Gentle reader - At the risk of sounding obnoxious and self-serving, I'm asking for your help by voting for me in a photography contest. I've entered a few of the photos I made of Arcade Fire in the long shot that I might actually win. It wasn't cheap to enter - $35 an entry - so as you can see, I'm all in on this one. I have 13 images entered into the contest and you're allowed to vote for each one if you so please.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________University of Houston freshman Daniel Rojas attempts to throw a frisbee from a handstand to sophomore Edwin Castaneda as they play during a break from classes Oct. 27, 2009 in Houston, TX. They were both on an Ultimate Frisbee team, but didn't have time for practice due to their class load. The former Klein Forest high school students usually play once or twice a week at U of H. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Evon Washington has been a framer for 27 years at Heritage Art Gallery, located on Almeda. Oct. 6, 2009 in Houston, TX.
91-year-old Milo W. Ford, who was recently honored for playing the organ for 70 years at the First United Methodist Church in Dayton, TX, sits before his organ, Oct. 23, 2009 at the church. He also would manually ring the daily chimes each day at 5 pm when he was 13 years old. He only stopped while attending Rice University (and would return home to play many times) and when serving in WWII for a few years and three years that he was hospitalized with TB. He also worked as janitor at the local bank as a boy...and grew up to be the bank president and serve three years as the town's mayor.
A C-17A flies past a grounded C130 airplane at Wings Over Houston Airshow, Oct. 31, 2009 in Houston, TX at Ellington Airfield.
Mike Daly, with the commemorative Air Force, looks at a P-47 as it is started at Wings Over Houston Airshow, Oct. 31, 2009 in Houston, TX at Ellington Airfield. Daly said the plane is a predecessor to the A-10 tank killer, and was used in WWII during the invasion of Normandy. His uniform is from WWII-era 82nd Airborne. Daly is retired from the Air Force.
Bea Uhl, standing inside a B-24 bomber, looks out on a F-18 Hornet performing maneuvers at Wings Over Houston Airshow, Oct. 31, 2009 in Houston, TX at Ellington Airfield.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Aaron Phillips dressed as "A.J. 3000 as Pimp Lucius" at the Lone Star Rally, Oct. 31, 2009 in Galveston, TX in the Strand.