Friday, July 31, 2009

Save the Child.

Police are looking for Marcas Fisher.  He may be the person responsible for the death of his stepson, six year old Dae'von Bailey.

Sure, innocent until proven guilty, but I just don't think it's very likely that he didn't do it.



On Wednesday this week, I was at a press conference in front of the house where Dae'von was killed.  Community leaders were asking for the public's help in finding Fisher and also asking for donations to help the family pay for Dae'von's funeral expenses.



It's such a sad story, there's nothing of substance I can really add to it.  My observations just seem so trivial compared to the overwhelming sadness that I saw in the faces of the people who knew Dae'von.



I wanted to feel angry, but it just wasn't in me at the time.  I've been mad before about the violence in stories I've covered.  It gets to the point sometimes that the anger just doesn't have anywhere to go.

It becomes frustration.  Frustration over the things I can't control.

I see so much in news, heck, in life in general that should be more important or more closely considered, but isn't.



At the time, I think I wanted to be more angry, but all I had in me was my normal calm and a focus on doing my job.  That's a pretty safe place emotionally when the story is this tragic.

I got the shots I needed.  When Dae'von's mother cried, I zoomed my lens in a little closer.  When people began to sing, I was right there recording the good compelling video and sound.

Hearts were broken by the death of Dae'von Bailey and I can't do anything to change that.  I hope the media attention helps in finding Marcas Fisher, but I know that what I really want is for this kind of violence to never happen again.



Sometimes it's enough to know that anyone can help the world by being a good person, doing right and trying not to hurt anyone.

Yeah, sometimes it's not enough, but what are you going to do?

I'm lucky.  I'm blessed.  I'm thankful.  I just do my job.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ready to Embed

I've been testing a new set of tools for our newsgathering arsenal.


It's interesting. Some people are going to hate it. I'm seeing some interesting possibilities.
--
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Look Out! Here Comes a Long Post.

Wow.  This month it seemed like things were back to what they were like during my best years in news.  I've been writing about my journalistic adventures and posting pictures of the stuff I get to witness first hand since about mid-2004.  Lots of ups and downs in there, but things had slowed a bit in recent years.

This year and this month seemed different and familiar.

It started with Michael Jackson's death and memorial service and while that was easily the biggest story I covered this month, there was a lot going on that I either never got the down time to share or there were a few more pictures that I wanted to post.

Well, I hope it doesn't bother anyone, but here are a few more photos and tidbits that I thought might be of interest.  Let's start with Michael Jackson.



I lost track of how many of these huge message walls were set up outside of Staples Center and I have no idea how many people signed them.



I just thought it was a great way for fans to be given a chance to become a part of the events taking place to say goodbye to "The King of Pop".



Just wonder though, if anyone mentioned the anime convention happening around the same time as things were being set up or the Jackson memorial.

Attendance wasn't as big as Comic-Con, but We saw dozens (maybe hundreds) of people in full anime costumes walking past Staples on their way to the convention center.



It didn't seem to bother the Michael Jackson fans and it certainly kept us entertained.



I got to add to my collection of Suzie Suh photos.  This is just one that I liked and wanted to share.



The Michael Jackson coverage wouldn't have been complete for me without a trip to Neverland Ranch.  It was pretty strange to be out there early before the fans and trinket vendors showed up. 

I've been to Los Olivos quite a few times, but it was amazing that I finally got to actually see the ranch.

Hey, also a guy selling t-shirts insisted I have one after I gave him directions to the other locations in LA where fans were hanging out (Staples and the Jackson home).

Hmmm, I'm actually mixing up the dates a little and getting ahead of myself.  Before the actual Jackson memorial and my trip to Neverland, there was the 4th of July coverage of the fireworks show at our station.  I got to wear my field boss hat for the day and our reporter helped us score a VIP prime rib meal that I'm positive would not have been ours without her smiling intervention on our behalf.

Thanks again, Ms. McLarty.  I'm really sorry though that the photographer who was shooting and cutting for you didn't get a chance to break away for bite.  We owe one to Jake.



Yeah, the 4th was a long hot day and shooting a live fireworks show for twenty minutes that evening was interesting, but wasn't nearly as much fun for me as, say, an outdoors performance of Shakespeare that includes fried chicken and beer.



The picnic meal and an opportunity to just get away from the regular routine of Saturday night at the movies all help make for a cool afternoon and night out.



The Shakespeare by the Sea performances are an annual event for us and I'm sorry I didn't get any of the pictures from the performance posted sooner.



I dig it.  I think it's cool and I really wanted to share pictures from the event.



Lately I've just been a busy news photographer.



Sadly, I've been too busy to find out if the missing woman from Aliso Viejo was ever found.



Being the dedicated photographer that I am, I followed a search and rescue dog down into a steep brush area with my camera to get footage of the search.

In this case, the word "dedicated" is actually a euphemism for any form or variation of the word "crazy".



I'm enjoying playing catch-up, but I'm going to have to start wrapping things up.  I just wanted to mention that it's even been an interesting few days at work for general assignment stories.



It's not every day that I get to witness a helicopter being towed away after a (safe) forced landing.  That was last Friday out on Venice Beach.



Also this week, I got to see what it was like to cover a story that took me from the LAX area out to Riverside.  The story was about the state budget.



If it's okay, I'm just going to block that day out of my mind.  Working with Reporter Dave Bryan was great.  Driving from LAX to Riverside during rush hour was exquisitely torturous.

"Thank you, sir.  May I have another?"



Much easier day, yesterday.  I worked on a story about the City of Pasadena getting input from local residents, joggers and cyclists about the way traffic is routed arounbd the Rose Bowl.



Lots of people wanting to use an area that's popular for exercising and very hazardous at certain times and days.



I love the story because of one piece of nat I dropped into the package of a bulldoog being walked and just breathing hard.

Yeah, I know.  Silly, but remember, I'm "dedicated".

Okay, I feel better for having caught up a bit.  I'm going to get ready for work and let's hope I get something interesting to work on.

Life can be short and difficult.  I don't know about you, but I'm going to try to make it interesting.

Don't forget to drive safely.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Go!

I promise a proper post when I get home tonight. Right now I'm standing outside the livetruck killing time. The reporter (Dave Bryan) is logging and writing the story. I'll jump in soon to edit.


We're in Riverside and we got here by way of an interview near LAX. That made for a nice little drive, but no worries. It could be worse.


Trust me. It could always be worse.
--
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

That's What You Get.

Good old middle of the day lag is hitting me right now, but for the sake of getting some words and pictures onto the internet, I'm going to muscle through.

Erin Andrews?  Don't click on any links that claim to be the portal to seeing her naked.  That's what I learned on Tuesday night covering a part of that story.

I already knew that nugget of wisdom



Apprarently, there are a lot of people who haven't learned that yet.  I understand if takes some in-DUH-viduals longer to get a clue, but you really have to be smarter than that.

Melissa McCarty and I interviewed a nice woman for the story from Symantec (they make anti-virus software).  She had one bit of advice that I really liked (and I'll paraphrase).

"You have to apply the same kind of common sense and street smarts to your activities on the internet that you would have in real life."



I'm thinking a lot of people probably don't realize that while they're sitting in front of their computers in the comfort of their own homes.

I'm going to say it again.  You can screw up your computer if you click on links that promise to take you to nude pictures on the internet.

Myself, I'm too smart to fall for that kind of trap.

Again.

I don't want to talk about it.  I'm going to work.  Have a happy Thursday and start planning the weekend now.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Alpha Dog Results

I don't remember what I was doing (or what I was supposed to be doing) before the desk sent me to Santa Barbabra to cover the sentencing verdicts in the Jesse James Hollywood Alpha Dog Justin Timberlake trial.



All I can remember is the moment of giddy joy when they told me I needed to load up in the SAT truck and boogie on up to Santa Barbara.

Okay, they didn't say to boogie, but you better believe I boogied.

I boogied like a bat out of a desk job that was boring and slowly driving that bat crazy.



You wouldn't know this unless I told you, but I had to stop here to make sure I got all the names right. Hey, pretend I never said that.

So, the assignment was in Santa Barbara and the time was 10:30am when I left the lot. Driving well within the posted speed limits (snicker) I managed to meet the Ventura bureau reporter and photographer in front of the court at just before noon.

Not bad. We had everything set and ready to go by five minutes after the start of the show, but they slotted us for 12:30pm.



We did a quick live hit and then waited for the expected press conference which began at 2:00pm(ish).

First to speak were the parents of Nicholas Markowitz, Jeff and Susan. I don't know who the woman in the middle was, but I had interviewed Susan Markowitz several years ago and I kind of recognized her to the left.



In my experience, you might never forget the pain of tragic events, but there's a point in grief where you move forward and the pain stops being what it was. It might not go away, but it stops being as large of a factor in your life.

Way back then, it didn't seem like Susan Markowitz had reached that point. Hopefully, the result of the trial of Jesse James Hollywood will help her along.



Hollywood's dad was just around the corner before the press conference. I left him alone.



Well, mostly, but not completely. I still discreetly snapped a couple of pictures of him. Would have gotten more, but he ducked back around the corner. I don't know if he saw me or if he just felt more comfortable waiting around the corner.

Right here I had some profound comments to make about Susan Markowitz being okay with the life sentence that Jesse James Hollywood got, but it's late and I probably only have a few more sentences in me before I stop making any sort of sense at all.

Naturally the death of her son was tragic. I can't imagine the pain Susan Markowitz must have felt and still feels to this day. At the press conference, she talked about not being able to get any sort of satisfaction from Jesse James Hollywood also being condemned to die (as was the trigger man, Ryan Hoyt).

(Oops, I originally had James Blatt as the trigger man. I wrote the wrong name. James Blatt is Jesse James' lawyer. My apologies to Mr. Blatt and my thanks to the person who caught the mistake. That is what happens when you try to post after midnight.)

I was encouraged by that bit of humanity. Willing to let live puts us a step up in my book. If I were ever in similar circumstances I really hope I could be as human.

Good night. I really gotta get some sleep now.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Desk Today!

Yee-haaaa! Instead of one last day riding herd over the schedules and crew assignments, I happened to be the only SAT truck operator available to cover a bit of breaking news.
--
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Quick Posted Model Mayhem at the Old Zoo

Well, here goes my second try at working with actual models.  Be nice.

A group of us got up early on a Sunday morning (some earlier than others) and made our way up to the semi-secluded "Old Zoo" area at Griffith Park.



The best way to get better at something is to do it. . .a lot.  I'd really like to get better at still photography and that's why I've been working day and night at it.



To say that I have a plan in mind for working in the still world would be a stretch at this point.



All I'm really trying to do is get better.



It's nice to have people look at my photos and give me pats on the back for doing a nice job with them.



I just know I could be better at all the technical aspects of working with stills and I know I won't be satisfied until I'm further along.



For the time being, it's a lot of hard work, but I don't mind, because it's also just an incredibly fun ride.

My thanks to Auxy for organizing the shoot, Shahada for the make-up expertise and my thanks to all the models for their patience.

I like where I am, but again, I want to be better.  It's nice to feel that I'm capable of someday getting there.
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Justice League of Photographers and Our Faces of Sunset

We all got pictures of Suge Knight at our Sunset Boulevard photo meet up, but I'll talk about that later.  It's just that I thought it deserved to be mentioned right off the bat, because, well, you know, hey, Suge Knight, you know?



As I'm writing this, it's a good morning.  Even though I fell asleep on the couch (again), I just feel like, at least it wasn't the living room floor.  I got in about 3:30am, also feeling pretty proud of myself for having eaten two Carney's chili dogs as the capper on the hastily put together photo meet up on Sunset Boulevard.



Two Carney's chili dogs?

Yeah, of course you and I both realize that I should be smarter than that.  Well, obviously you realized it sooner than I did (Carney's has were really good chili dogs).



I just say, at least we weren't doing anything that might hurt anyone.  We were not trying to do the papparrazzi thing.  We were not chasing down celebrities.



I will admit to snapping shots (along with everyone else) of the people we met, even though most of them accused us (as is now typical) of being on the job for the gossip media.  Some of them were nice enough to do a little playful vamping.



Others were just willing to at least not duck for cover.

It was still just a no stress, no pressure way to slip out from under the work day mindset.  With the kind of job I have, it's hugely satisfying to take pictures of what I choose.

After the Michael Jackson coverage?  I'd recommend it to everyone.



It's been a pretty incredible week.  Draining, but very cool and historical and for now (at least this weekend) in the past.

I have another still photo shoot tomorrow morning.  Some might think I'm crazy for trying to cram so much into the small bits of free time I have available, but these are the things that help me get my head back on straight.



Relaxation.  That's was the intent of the Sunset Boulevard photo meet up.  It was fun to hang out with friends, some of them new to our photography get togethers, but a few veterans of past meet ups were also along for the adventure.

Have you asked yourself, why we do this?



Only speaking for myself (we are not a club).  I love to write and take pictures almost as much as I like sweeping my wife off her feet with just the right words whispered in her ear.

As I mentioned, my very lovely wife is away and while I might wish I could do all three things this weekend, I have to accept that two out of three is as good as it gets.

This week.



Now, about Suge Knight.



He was spotted before I arrived, just having a shave at a trendy barber shop and (I assume) stocking up on cigars at the cigar shop next door.

We aren't papparrazzi, but we certainly appreciate a good opportunity as much as the next tourist.

Have a happy weekend.  I'm taking it easy and will try to do more of the things I enjoy.  If it's anything interesting, I'll keep you posted.
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