wine and giggles

Send out a photo pitch that says anything about wine, and you can count me in. grape stomp

These photos may seem a little untimely — obviously, these pictures are a bit too green to have been taken in December. But I couldn't avoid sharing them eventually.

couple kissing drinking wine

I took these pictures in October at a grape stomp and wine stroll at Les Bourgeois Winery in Rocheport. I've waited so long to post them because Vox has been waiting to publish a story by them and I didn't want to release them too early! But I've been longing to put them up because it reminds me of what a beautiful fall day it was, with weird light that was really inspiring.

drinking wine laughing

There will be a bit of a dry spell with blog posts for the next few weeks. I'm on Christmas break now and am at home with the family. I'll probably enjoy shooting some film and personal pictures of friends and such.

wine grapes

I'm also done as staff photographer at The Missourian, but have some exciting prospects next semester! I'll be finishing my degree at MU (fingers crossed) with my capstone, Picture Story, and have a great new job for the spring semester with some multimedia production that I'm very excited about.

grape stomping

Enjoy some not-so-wintery photos while enjoying the very unseasonably warm weather (at least in Missouri), for the time being.

grape stomping

fa la la la

The holidays are here. And if you didn't notice it by the decorations set up around you, and just walked into the newsroom, you'd know by the amount of Christmas-related assignments. santacon

I've had a couple of Christmas-related assignments so far — some to come, some I've pitched, some just from feature hunting on my own free time. So have a looksie!

santas parying

magic tree

putting on ice skates

crown center ice terrance, falling on the ice

kansas city city of fountains

clipping out cancer

There's just something about hair. I remember a quote that I saw in my hairdresser's hair when I was growing up that read, "The higher the hair, the closer to God." I think women actually think this sometimes. washing hair at a salon

I've been intrigued by hair ever since doing my story about the hijab in Denmark. I think there's just something about what hair represents. After all, women put so much time and effort into crafting hairstyles, choosing color, deciding on hair cuts. Or even if someone doesn't put that much effort into their hair, they probably care what it looks like in the end.

woman with cancer hair grown back

That's why it was interesting for me to go to photograph a woman who styles hair for women with cancer. Susain Haines, who own the hair salon Captain's Quarters, lost her sister to cancer. But she made a promise to her sister, which was to help fight cancer by helping women feel beautiful with the side effects they experience with chemotherapy.

washing woman's hair

Haines fits wigs on her clients, or even goes as far to shave their heads if they don't want to deal with the clumps of hair falling out. She also is trained in knowing how to take care of skin and nails that have been damaged by chemo.

I went to photograph Haines cutting the hair of her client, Elaine Grev. Grev has been Haines' patient for 30 years, but got breast cancer two years ago. She is since in remission, but it was amazing seeing the bond these two women have had over hair. They both know each other's children, have watched them grow up and have been there for each other through rough times. I guess it just goes to show what a bond hair can bring between women.

hair rollers old women

Also, please read the story written by Abbey Sussell, who is just a joy to work with. I worked with her before on the 9/11 portraits, so I was really happy when I found out I'd be taking on another one of her projects.

curling hair old women

another close one

Traveled to Kansas City again this Friday for another high school championship game that ended in a loss. I might be bad luck, it looks like. losing soccer match

This game was ridiculous. I don't watch a lot of soccer, but it was pretty entertaining — when I wasn't cold, at least. For a non-scoring game, there was a lot of excitement and scrapping and close calls.

saving soccer goal

The game went into overtime, 0-0. Then it went into overtime again. According to MSHSAA championship rules, after two overtimes with no winner, the teams each get five penalty kicks. This means five players from each time line up on the field and take shots at the other team's goalie. The one with the most penalty kicks wins.

rock bridge high school soccer Eli Sherman

It's not the best way to decide a game, but after such a long game, there's not really another way. Oakville ended up winning by the penalty kicks, 5-3. The boys were devastated. They were in the final four and that game would've had them play for state championships. Instead they went on to play the next day for third place.

Eli Sherman rock bridge high school

It still never ceases to amaze me, how these boys get so upset at the end of their season. I guess I never played sports, so it's hard to compare it to anything, but I can only imagine how putting your all into a game, or a season, that ended that way would be devastating.

rock bridge high school soccer

extreme photography

I think I need to start realizing that photographing athletic people means sometimes I have to be athletic, too. cross country xtreme

The Cross Country Xtreme event at the Midway Travel Plaza center definitely lived up to its name. People came out in droves, costume-clad and ready to run. The course involved multiple obstacle courses, including mazes and mud pits. I avoided the mazes and embraced the mud with my rainboots.

cross country xtreme

It's put on by the same people as the Epic Mud Run I photographed, so I was looking forward to it. I also had seen a lot of photos from this event before, such as Jeff Lautenberger's always spot-on work and Parker Eshelman's surreal photos. I definitely didn't shoot as beautifully as them, but it was still fun.

naked ronald mcdonald

After that shoot it will be nice to have a week off of work and school for Thanksgiving. I plan to wear nothing but pajamas and indulge in re-reading Harry Potter. Have a safe holiday, all!

cross country extreme

crazy 5k races

crazy running races

awesome races

cross country extreme

 

diner dash

It's been a busy semester at the Missourian, and since I have Friday night shifts and Wednesday nights, it seems that most of the time my shift is booked with assignments. When I'm not shooting, I'm trying to scarf down dinner. Or, in this case, finding feature assignments where I can shoot and eat dinner. 63 diner

I haven't had to do much feature finding this semester, but we do have to turn in weekly "idea logs" to keep the creative juices a-flowin'. I wrote this idea down after my boyfriend ended up taking me to the 63 Diner for dinner one night. I have a bit of a diner obsession, what with my love of '50s culture and milkshakes, so he knew I would like it. I immediately fell in love visually with this place, with the waitresses in their poodle skirts, the plethora of memorabilia and the fantastic '50s music playing.

old school diners

One of my assignments was cancelled last night, and I had resolved just to sit in the photo bubble, eat my homemade enchilada and listen to the scanner. It's late in the semester, after all, Thanksgiving Break is next week and I'm usually dying to just get a couple of hours of free time. I figured my "idea logs" could roll over to next semester, when I am in Rita Reed's Picture Story class, surely hard-up for feature story ideas.

vintage diners

But then I thought, why? I'm usually not that hard-up for feature ideas and I'm sure new ideas will pop into my head next semester — I haven't had much trouble the last four years. I didn't see any reason to be lazy and sit and wait for a story to happen. Instead , I wanted to exercise my photography skills and go to a place that I genuinely enjoyed, hang out and take some pictures. After all, isn't that the beauty of this job?

poodle skirt waitresses

So, I did. And I'm glad. I get a little lethargic sometimes before shoots. I'm not sure why — once I get out to a shoot, I really get into it and I don't just laze around, not working to get photographs. But it's always the motivation factor that's hard for me. Mostly the getting-out-of-my-pajamas factor. My cupcake flannel pants are just too comfortable.

diner waitress

What was especially great about this was, when I came back to the office, my photo editor, Kristen Zeis, loved it. I was honestly surprised because, since it wasn't assigned or on the budget or anything, she honestly could've just flipped through them and then sent me off to my next assignment. But Zeis wanted to run a photo gallery (and there are some great comments on it already). So that was really rewarding.

63 diner

This place is pretty remarkable. The lights are insane, the food is fried, the music is hoppin' and their milkshakes are to-die-for (I say this objectively, of course). Quite the site to behold.

vintage diners

 

backstage

It seems odd, when you get an assignment, how every assignment seems to have potential. But once you arrive at your assignment, some just seem to have more potential than others. backstage high school play

I've been shooting a lot of assignments in high schools lately, and I think this is one of the reasons this assignment had so much potential — high schoolers are just so weird. I think we always forget what it was like in high school. I was a high schooler only four years ago, yet it seems like a foreign place to me sometimes.

backstage high school play

In high school everything seems so important — so dire. If something bad happens, it is the end of the world. High school seems like forever. And that's why it's so fun shooting assignment's in high school. There's so much at stake, so much importance placed on every event, whether it's a test or a football game or a play.

backstage high school play

I arrived at one of the first dress rehearsals for "White Christmas" at Hickman High School. I felt so bad for these kids — they've been rehearsing for a Christmas play since September. I'd be pretty sick of Christmas by now, if I were them.

backstage high school play

My first instinct was to just go backstage. It seemed like there would be a wealth of pictures back there and I almost forgot to go in front of the stage and get pictures of the kids rehearsing. I wanted to just hang out with the kids, fly-on-the-wall style and observe what was going on.

white christmas play

Mostly, I think it worked. I wish I would've worked the light more and been a little bit more surrpetitious. But, high schoolers, especially girls, are so aware of what is going on and what people think of them, so I was bound to be noticed. It was fun, regardless. So don't forget out to check out the pictures and story in the Missourian!

white christmas musical

So Close

I don't get too upset about sports. I don't really get involved in stats, players, wins, losses, or anything like that. But somehow, when you spend most of your Friday nights with a high school football team and they end their season with a close loss, it's really pretty heartbreaking. high school football team loss

I travelled up to Kansas City to photograph a playoff game for the Rock Bridge High School team versus the local KC team, Rockhurst.

rock bridge high school football

Rock Bridge was definitely the underdog for this game. They haven't been in the playoffs since 2005 and didn't even have the best record this season. On the flip side, Rockhurst won the 6A state championships last year and are a notoriously good team.

rock bridge high school football

I didn't really go to Kansas City expecting much. I expected another whatever football game. I expected Rock Bridge to probably get killed. I would get in there, photograph some action, then head home to northern KC to see my family.

But damn, it was a good game. It was a close game — 10-9. It was a heartbreaking game.

rock bridge high school football

Rock Bridge came into the game on fire. Though it wasn't a high-scoring game, it was an intense one. Rock Bridge was the only scorer in the first half, even scoring with a safety, something almost unheard of in high school football.

rock bridge high school football

And they didn't really lose their fire in the second half — Rockhurst just finally came into the game. Rockhurst scored a touchdown sometime during the third quarter, and it was still anyone's game. And then there was the Rockhurst field goal in the last minute of the game.

After that, there just wasn't enough time. Rock Bridge would lose by one point, ending their season. (Sorry if this synopsis is strange, I'm no sports writer).

rock bridge high school football

And when you're in college, you forget what it was like in high school. You forget how everything — your friends, the dances, your organizations, and sports — mattered so deeply. So, after this loss, the Rock Bridge boys, who had obviously put their all into the game, just broke down. They were all crying.

rock bridge high school football

There's something about a bunch of 16- and 17-year old boys crying that just gets to you — though I cry at Hallmark commercials, Pixar movies, everything. But they were just so sad, so tired and so devastated.

It was hard to take pictures of their sorrow. Though I photographed them all season, it was just so personal and there just seems to be such a stigma of men crying. So I still took pictures, but definitely didn't take as many as I could have.

high school football loss locker room

sink or swim

I've always wanted to do underwater photography, but it's often costly or the equipment isn't great and makes one super nervous about putting their camera underwater. When I picked up this Vox feature about Jowan Qupty, a Palestinian swimmer working on the Israeli Olympic team, I knew I finally had the chance to make it happen. jowan qupty

Qupty is a really great guy. I showed up to practice about three or four times to photograph him practicing and interacting with his teammates. Of course, because he was being singled out, he got a lot of teasing from coaches and teammates, but was ultra cool about me being there. He gave me all the access I wanted — though I didn't even try to go in the locker room — and was really not camera shy. It's probably because this isn't the first time he's dealt with the media, though.

jowan qupty

Because this was a Vox shoot, I knew it needed some art direction and I couldn't just rely solely on documentary photos because of the cover. Not surprisingly, Jowan was completely chill about being directed for these shots too, in not one but two sessions.

arab swim team

For the underwater portraits, I knew a lot of the story was going to be about two facets — his training for the breaststroke at the Olympics and his being an Arab on an Israeli team. I had some ideas running around in my head about how to conceptualize this and ran them across Qupty. He was the most flexible model ever and was all for it — a photographer's dream.

jowan qupty

Timmy Huynh, the Vox photo editor, helped me immensely on this shoot. We initially were going to shoot in the Tiger Grotto because I thought there would be some nice natural light in there, but the water was too shallow and the sides of the pool were white. I wanted blue really, really bad. So we put our bathing suits on and went to the MU Aquatic Center's diving pool.

arab national swim team

I bought hard plastic fish tank a few days before. It's important that the tank was plastic, because it was more lightweight and also because glass is rarely allowed in a swimming pool. I had some grandiose ideas about handles being added to the tank and things like that to protect the camera, but Brian Kratzer, the Missouri Director of Photography, assured me that just a fish tank would be enough. Of course, he was right. The buoyancy of the water against the tank was a lot of protection in an of itself.

missouri swim team

We were shooting in the diving pool, which at its deepest is 18 feet deep. I felt completely uncomfortable treading water with a fish tank with my camera inside it — both because I couldn't imagine treading water for 45 minutes and because I'm an uncoordinated mess. But what worked out really well is sitting on the side of the pool. Timmy would push the tank down to the level I desired, fighting against the buoyancy, and I would stick my arm in the tank and shoot away as he was doing that. It was really a two-person job.

speedo butts

A lot of the shooting was spraying and praying, as the tank was submerged in the water and I was still on land, hairstyle intact. Thank god for digital, amiright? We had some focusing issues, too, but used manual focus on a few if Jowan was to stay at the same plane of focus as when we were shooting.

jowan qupty

We did four different ideas for the cover. Naturally, I had him swim breaststroke toward me, since that's his stroke. Then, I had him float fluidly underwater for a few seconds while I took a wider shot (it was Qupty's idea to blow a bunch of bubbles. Love him). Then, I had him swim down to the bottom of the 18-foot pool and swim up at me while I shot through the bottom of the tank (those didn't work as well). Lastly, I had Jowan jump off the diving board and plunge into the water feet-first like a pencil then swim back up in the same spot, which is the shot we had for the cover.

missouri swim team practice

It was really fun doing all of these pictures, and not just the underwater ones. Qupty was completely easy and fluid to work with, which made the shoot just so much easier. Make sure you check out the fantastic story in Vox, and also the finished cover, designed by Stef Kienstra.

jowan qupty