Tuesday, February 18, 2014


One of the best things about the new age of media is that anyone can get their message distributed widely and quickly -- as long as it's interesting, they've established good channels to work through, and they're nimble enough to move quickly.

I've counted the communications arm of the United Methodist Church as a client since the 1990's, and they definitely fit all three criteria.  They've been distributing photos via the internet since the days when such a thing was only barely possible.

Yesterday they asked me to photograph a protest outside the White House in which Methodist bishops and others were arrested while objecting to the Obama administration's immigration policies. Of course my photos were good (goes without saying!), but before I'd even left the White House sidewalk, United Methodist staffers had the photos popping up on Huffington Post (photo of bishop being arrested paired with op-ed by bishop), on Voxxi.com (a Latino news site),  and that night on Rachel Maddow (extensive use of the stills starting around the six-minute mark).  Today the interest continues, with hundreds of views on Flickr and numerous retweets of photos.

In itself the event was not that big an action. But with the group's ability to distribute text, photos and video quickly, it had a much bigger impact.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When bad weather makes for good video

When a group of Episcopal bishops organized a public "Way of the Cross" in Washington as a witness against gun violence, they planned a walk down the open, grassy spaces of the National Mall. And they probably hoped for good weather.

But a week before the event, police told them the Mall was a non-go. The march had to use city streets. As for the weather, it could not have been worse: "mixed precip," alternating between freezing rain and melting snow. (You'd think a group of bishops would have more clout!)

So there were about four hundred cold, wet people walking down Pennsylvania Avenue huddled under umbrellas and praying at places like the U.S. Justice Department and the Capitol. For those who stuck it out, it was a much more memorable day. For those who saw the photos or videos, it was visually a much more powerful witness.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March: In Like a Lion

Gun violence.  Immigration. The minimum wage.  The most interesting video work is coming in this month.  So look for some good pieces soon!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The tipoff

The secretive email came in at about 7:15 on Wednesday morning:  "Be at Lafayette park by the White House at 10:30am today."  Nothing more. But I knew what it was about.

The Sierra Club -- perhaps the most credible, and mainstream, environmental group in the U.S. -- was going to break its own 120-year-old rules, for just one day.  Its leaders were going to get busted.

(Why the secrecy, I'm not sure.  Other groups do civil disobedience all the time and release the info well in advance.  They all, including the Sierra Club, also reach out to the police to let them know what's coming -- you don't want to show up to be arrested and find a shortage of police officers!  So, please don't send me early morning emails thinking I'll be intrigued and show up.  I was expecting this one!)

As it happens and is rarely the case for a poor freelancer, this fit just perfectly into my schedule.  I was planning on making a video short just a few blocks away, and a few hours earlier.

This one, on a bishop taking her work to the streets of Washington (in full bishop regalia) turned out to be surprisingly moving.  It's gotten a good number of plays, and in checking the stats, I can see why.  "Ashes to Go" turns out to be a Facebook hit, with the biggest chunk of its traffic coming from people putting it on Facebook pages.

Both videos are below.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"I Was Shot"

I watched as several thousand people on the Mall for a gun-control march raised their hands in the direction of the U.S. Capitol during a prayer.  Many were carrying signs remembering people who were shot in gun violence.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A good seat and a nice view

Well, not an actual seat.  We pretty much had to stand for six hours.  Still, it was the first time I've photographed an inaugural from the "South Media Platform."  (Four years ago my job was to photograph people on the National Mall, "The Faces Tell the Story II", which was a great assignment for the first Obama inaugural.)  But even if there were no chairs the view was indeed a good one, and since I was there so early, it included a chance to watch sunrise over the Capitol and the Mall.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Over the cliff and into 2013

It wasn't a bad way to mark the New Year's, quietly sipping small plastic cups of champagne in the Senate press photographers' gallery as we hunched over our laptops filing photos and the nation tipped over the fiscal cliff.  Over in the correspondent's gallery they had beer and pizza.

By that time of the night there wasn't much left to photograph.  But what was surprising for me was that it wasn't my photos of Vice President Joe Biden touting the cliff deal or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explaining it to Republicans behind not-quite-closed doors that were being used.  Instead, what kept popping up was a picture of the Capitol dome I'd shot about 18 hours earlier, in the dawn light.  It become the lead in the Washington Post's mobile site, then appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News, the Washington Post, the Denver Post, the Charlotte Observer, and other places.  Maybe the early bird (or photographer) really does get the worm.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Over the cliff?

These Capitol Hill cliff-hangers can fascinate, or anger, the nation, but they also often make for some fun photography. There's something pleasant about spending a weekend or end-of-year holiday on the Hill as the drama unfolds.

According to today's stories House Speaker John Boehner, seen above headed to the White House, has given up on his divided House and handed the initiative to the Senate. Meanwhile protester Rives Grogan provided an exciting interlude when he began screaming anti-abortion slogans from the Senate visitors' gallery (and this gentleman has the voice to do it). Mr. Grogan's made something of a career of this, disrupting the Senate previously in June and interrupting a pro ballgame in October by running on the field with a sign endorsing Mitt Romney.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

NRA Press Conference

This was part of the scene yesterday as the NRA and its executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, held a press conference one week after the mass slayings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Mr. LaPierre's recommendations - more armed people at schools. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

What a relief!!