it's gonna be may

Graduating embrace each other and spray silly string after the final formation during the Fishburne Military School commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Waynesboro.Graduations, spring sports playoffs, festivals, celebration — wow, May has been a busy month. I don't think I knew what it was like to be a "newspaper photographer" until this month, really. And by that, I mean, this month has been a good example of what it's like to be so busy you don't know what to do with yourself. It's hard to get focused. Cadets get emotional as "Taps" is played during the final formation during the Fishburne Military School commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Waynesboro.My biggest challenge this month has been making images for myself and also getting excited about assignments. I've also noticed that I've been pretty bad about making interesting shots. I shot a lot of track meets, where I was worried about running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to photograph all the kids I was supposed to. And all of my photographs reflected that. And by that I mean they kind of suck. I was more worried about getting a photo than making a good image. You won't see any of those photos on the blog today, because they're not good. And that's why.

Norah Mastrandea laughs with best friend Laura Gillespie in front of Chick-Fil-A on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Waynesboro. The restaurant held a birthday party/fundraiser for Norah, to raise money for her medical bills as she battles cancer and also to raise awareness for childhood cancer. I'm thankful for the nice, leisurely assignments I did have — things I get excited about, like nice light or quirky events or kids being kids or big moments. Our big graduation weekend is next week, where there are five graduations we need to cover in one day. It'll be all hands on deck, for sure. I hope I can get nice images that parents and the community will appreciate, but I hope to also take it to the next level and actually make pretty images of an important ceremony in people's lives. I'm being pessimistic about that happening though — chances are I'll be tired and grumpy. And I think it's OK to be like that, once in a while. You can't win them all.

Kids line up along the school during the closing ceremony for Ladd Elementary School on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, in Waynesboro.But if you act like that for too long, there's something wrong, and you probably need to reevaluate your mood and your attitude. That's what I'm slowly finding out, and what I'm trying to do, in dealing with the daily grind. I thought I'd hate all of my images from May, because I know how tired I've been all month — but, hey, there's some nice stuff in here.

Brooke McCauley drapes an American flag around her shoulders during the closing ceremony for Ladd Elementary School on Wednesday, May 15, 2013, in Waynesboro.It hasn't been all bad. It just hasn't been all good, either, and that's to be expected. Because what makes us able to appreciate and enjoy the really great assignments sometimes is knowing how bad it can be other times. And even if the assignment isn't all that great, getting bored and making funky images shows us where our talent really is, and why professional photographers are so greatly needed — not everyone can make something out of nothing. And that's what I'm still working on trying to do, because it's a necessary skill in this job. And if that's the worst it gets, hey — I'll take it. Because this job is amazing and I feel lucky and thankful to have it, even at its worst, every damn day.

Kathleen Mullins gives kisses to kid Callie at her dairy goat farm, A Better Way Farm, on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, in Waynesboro. Mullins, who practices permaculture, said she and the goat have a special bond because she nursed her back to health when she was sick.A sign reading "Warning: Due to the price increase of ammo, do not expect a warning shot!" is in the window at IGA on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Craigsville. Ammo is in short supply across the country, and has been since November. IGA manager Chris Robinson says suppliers tell him the shortage could continue for six months to a year.Riverheads' Kyle Bishop throws the ball to first base during the first round of the Shenandoah District Baseball Tournament against Stuarts Draft on Friday, May 17, 2013, in Greenville.A cygnet flaps its wings to dry off as it preens with its siblings at Gypsy Hill Park on Monday, May 6, 2013, in Staunton. The swans at the park had three baby swans, known as cygnets, that hatched in the past week.Friends and family watch a slideshow of graduates during a commencement ceremony for Ridgeview Christian School on Friday, May 24, 2013, in Stuarts Draft.Graduating cadets throw their hats in the air after the final formation during the Fishburne Military School commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2013, in Waynesboro.