Last year, I worked on a project about foxhunting in Virginia — something that was really new to me, culturally, as I had never seen anything like it in the Midwest.The season lasts from October until around March. I began my project last year sometime deeper into the winter, so I missed the opening hunt, which is also the “blessing of the hounds.” It’s a tradition dating back to the 8th century, and is tied to St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters. A local clergyman comes out to the hunting stables, blesses the hounds, the land, the hunters and all the surrounding animals. Then, the hunters take a drink — wine was offered to the Middlebrook Hunt Club, though some also had grape juice. I don’t know how often I’ll be able to make it out to the hunts this season, but it was nice to be there on a Saturday this year — I wasn’t often able to see Middlebrook’s formal attire, pink coats and all. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s a saying that I have on a button that hangs on my camera bag, accompanying me on every assignment I go to. It says, “It’s their story, not yours.”It’s a mantra I learned early on in my career, and it’s a constant reminder that this job is not about me — it’s not about winning contests, taking beautiful pictures or gaining accolades. It’s about the people the stories are about. I really think this was my mantra throughout our story on the Mastrandea family and the process of losing their daughter, Norah — a story reporter Megan Williams and I worked on for over six months. As much as we wanted to tell the story, and as much as we thought it was important, we couldn’t have done it without a purpose from the Mastrandea family. This project has been incredibly difficult and heartbreaking, due more so to the fact of how much we fell in love with the Mastrandeas. Going over to their house often turned into a thin line between what I could clock for work hours or whether I was just there for fun. I so often stayed hours after I got the pictures I needed, just watching television, borrowing novels, eating snacks, chatting and laughing. They became like a second family to us, taking care of us amidst all they were going through. Over six months, we followed the Mastrandeas to birthday parties, family outings, MRIs, softball tournaments, weekly hospital visits and regular nights at home. Through it all, we talked constantly about their vision for this story, what they wanted to get out of it, and made sure they had a reason they wanted to do it. Without their drive and purpose — creating a legacy for Norah and to truly show, in depth, the pain of childhood cancer — I don’t think we could’ve done the job we did. Their persistence and deep beliefs that what happened to their Norah was tragic and unfair were the driving force behind this story. Megan and I were just the platform to give them a voice. In the days leading up to the story, I was worried we were showing too much — showing the true pain, the true agony, and the real heartbreak this family went through. But after many talks, emails and messages from the Mastrandeas, my worries changed — maybe it wasn’t enough. Did we really capture the pain and heartbreak of losing your 8-year old daughter — the spunky, sassy, sweet and wise-beyond-her-years Norah June? But after seeing the reactions from our readers and the comments from their friends and family, I think we got as close as possible to telling their true story.
I was excited to work on this story with reporter Laura Peters about the South River and its long, and sadly polluted, history. The South River has become a staple of Waynesboro’s livelihood, as it’s quickly becoming known as a fly fishing destination. However, there is still a consumption advisory for most fish in the South River, as a result of a decades-old pollution from the DuPont plant that is proving difficult to clean up.Read the rest of this entry »
So, I haven’t taken senior pictures in a while. I did it a lot while I was in high school, and a bit while I was in college, but I was definitely a bit rusty. However, my adorable red-headed baby sister is a senior in high school this year. Though we tried to find someone else to take her senior pictures back in Kansas City, we decided since we were both going to be in Cape Cod this summer, there would be no better place to take pictures and no one else to do it than me.
My uncle lives in Harwich, Mass. and after polling a few of my cousins, we found that Saint’s Landing in Brewster was the place to go. It was perfect — low tide, low sun, abandoned boats and all. We took pictures until the sun went down, and the next day took a few quick cheesy ones that Mollie really wanted at Earle Beach, a block from my uncle’s.
Summer’s over, but that’s alright with me. Because it’s fall now, y’all. I took some pictures while stuff was still green, though. Hopefully the rest of my pictures for the next three months only depict the colors orange, red and yellow.Read the rest of this entry »
I spent the day with reporter Laura Peters at Blue Mountain Brewery, where a collection of hops farmers were helping to harvest the hop yard on the brewery property. I really love agriculture assignments, but I love them even more when the final product involves beer.I learned a lot about growing hops with the guys from the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative, a group of hops farmers in Virginia that work together to teach and educate about hops farming. Apparently, hops need very little space to grow. Clusters of hop plants are called crowns, which grow upward toward the sun, and farmers build rope contraptions to help the plant grow up. And the eventual rope of hops, which is cut down upon harvest, is called a bine, not a vine. Read the rest of this entry »