A Midwestern Holiday

Photography: Road trip photos of Missouri

I married into a family that has many more traditions than my family. We go to my wife's hometown of St. Louis at least three times a year, and every time I go, I add to an ongoing photo essay of St. Louis and the region. St. Louis is different in a way that is hard for an outsider like myself to describe, so I do it with images.

As some of my other personal work is about the environment and our impact on it, some of the pictures I make relate to this theme. However, I also make pictures of my in-laws and their home. It's a quiet house on a quiet street, with a quiet dignity to the area that is different than the suburbs of San Antonio I grew up in, hewed out of South Texas caliche and live oak scrub.

As we become more alike in the Age of Information, I still try to celebrate the regional differences in America that give each place it's own particular flavor.

Northern California fire coverage for The Wall Street Journal

Last week, I was called by The Wall Street Journal to shoot video and still photographs of the aftermath of the historic wildfire in Sonoma and Mendocino counties in northern California. The devastation was unlike anything I had ever witnessed.

My assignments allowed me to interact with the Monroes, whose family property in Redwood Valley, California was completely destroyed. You can read the harrowing story here.

Right-wing rally at Berkeley's Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park

It was a busy weekend here in the Bay Area, ending with a sometimes violent rally held at at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. The event began quietly and then quickly ramped up into violence. I avoided the main scrum and stayed around the edges. However, quite a bit of activity happened where I was stationed near Allston and MLK, where I made the photos below. 13 people were arrested, but thankfully nothing happened as tragic as what took place in Charlottesville a few weeks ago. 

Protest coverage for the San Francisco Chronicle

Last week was busy in the Bay Area with multiple rallies and protests connected to the presidential inauguration. I was sent to cover two protests, both at or near Oakland City Hall on two separate days, for the San Francisco Chronicle.

As this was the same area that was exposed to rioting following the 2016 election, it was all-hands-on-deck. For the protest following the inauguration, photojournalists, myself included, would work in overlapping shifts that began at 7am in the morning and didn't end until 15 hours later. For those who've never experienced it, covering a large, all-day protest with the threat of possible violence in the evening required a bit of planning and mental preparation. Having covered the riots in Ferguson, Missouri, where I was shot in the arm with a "non-lethal" projectile and sucked up plenty of CS gas, I made sure my ducks were in a row: putting the flak vest and helmet into my car, as well as making sure I had a fresh respirator cartridge in my gas mask.

While covering Ferguson, I learned an important lesson. I had bought a gas mask from local Army surplus store the day after my first night of coverage where I found out just how nasty CS gas is. Like clockwork, gas came again the next night. It was only then I learned that filter cartridges have expiration dates. Whoopsy! Luckily, things didn't progress in that direction in Oakland this time around. After all was said and done, I think only three people were arrested out of a march of thousands, which I've learned is apparently very tame by Oakland standards.

By the way,  I'm totally great with tame protests. Imagine looking for moments to photograph while simultaneously keeping an eye open for anarchists looking to punch me, or grab my camera, while carrying about 30 pounds of gear following four hours of marching. It's a lot to think about.

The images I've included in this post aren't necessarily the most storytelling or dramatic, just my favorites from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!