Running through rainstorms and coming home drenched every day, its hard to believe that a couple weeks ago I was in 110+ heat in Texas. Moving across the country was fun thanks to kass, and now I’ve begun the adjustment to Utica. Its hard to believe I’m staying here a while, I’m so used to knowing I’ll be on the road again in a few months, but its a nice/scary feeling to actually think about buying furniture, having an apartment long term, becoming a New Yorker.
On a related note, it has been a awesome experience to actually get to be a Staff Photographer. Of course, internships were never negative experiences for me. I was lucky, I worked for great papers with wonderful people and awesome editors. I really didn’t mind two years of moving every 7 months, the constant long hours and working most holidays, because I genuinely love my work. I love getting up everyday and getting to spend the day taking photos. Its really that paralyzing uncertainty of not knowing where you’ll be in 4 months, of trying to make it in a field that is constantly changing and making cuts, that’s the challenge that interns are really faced with these days. Its become harder than ever to get an interview, not to mention a job. Most community papers have a staff of 12+ writers, but they only have 2-4 photographers. That makes actually landing a position quite a feat. Sometimes an intern is lucky and a position opens right after their internship and the paper keeps them, but those are rare and lucky circumstances. I only know one or two people who actually got that. Photographers always told me to stick it out and never give up, but it was extremely hard at times. And even then, who knows? Maybe I just got lucky. Maybe I was in the right place at the right time. But I do know I am overwhelmingly thankful that I got a job here at the OD, and that at least for now, I get to do what I love everyday.
So while I’m waxing poetic about photography, I’ll tell you its been an interesting first week. I’ve covered a Broadway show rehearsal, soccer practices & games, a homicide follow up, and education stories. Tonight is Football Friday, which ends my official first week at the Utica Observer-Dispatch. Its been a fun week, everyone here is really nice and easy to work with. So far, I’m really loving it here. I’ve included a few photos from assignments this week below, just to show what I’ve been up to.
This week has been a week of saying goodbye. To my friends, my editors, my colleagues and even my subjects. I’ve been working for a few months now on an Autism series. I’ve spent a lot of time with these families, sometimes hours just to get 10 seconds of footage that I needed. Its kinda new for me because its actually a video project, the photos were secondary. But what I realized when they all called or messaged me today to say goodbye, was how much they’ve inspired me and become a part of my life here in Texas.
The mothers in my Autism series are incredibly brave, strong and amazing women. They juggle full time jobs, providing for their families, daily duties and they take care of the very specific needs of their Autistic child. Autistic individuals need structure, stability and constant care. They are intelligent, focused and prefer to be occupied with something. The children in the series are in physical therapy, speech therapy, sports classes, after school activities and everyday regular school or in some cases, special school for Autistic kids. These children are going to need constant care and attention for the rest of their lives. They will probably never go to college, get married, drive a car or be independent in any way. They won’t be able to cook a meal, go to the store or pay bills. If their parents can’t afford to give them a full time nurse the rest of their lives, they’ll have to be there themselves. These mothers not only embrace this challenge but they completely own it. They know their lives have been changed forever.
To see these strong women stepping up and taking care of their kids, planning for their future, structuring every moment of every day around their kid’s needs, just to make their children’s lives a little easier..it completely floors me. I feel touched and honored to have been let into their lives, their struggles and their joys these past few months. I have never been so affected by a story I’ve done.
I wish them the best in their lives and really truly hope they update me on their kid’s progress in future years. One of the mothers txt’d me today just to tell me that her four-year-old was able to say actual words: mama, papa, num num, yes, no, one, two, three, four and five. When I started the series a few months back, he was completely non-verbal. It was a huge milestone in his life and I was touched she wanted to share it with me.
Its days like these I just know, I will never love anything as much as I love being a photojournalist.
Yesterday was a very busy day for a writer and I. There were 13 fires reported in our coverage area. We were able to cover 5 fires in one afternoon, no easy feat mind you. We encountered multiple grass fires, structure fires and home fires. Though I have plenty of flames photos, these two were my favorite from the day’s work.
One aspect of Texas that I gave into, was boots. I admit it! I own cowboy boots. Despite my family’s everlasting horror, I wear them even when I go home to California. They are probably the most comfortable shoes I own. That said, I wish I had waited to get boots like the ones that this man creates. He has been making custom boots by hand for 57 years. He builds his own tools, stitches each design and cobbles it together in his workshop. Each boot is precise and perfectly fitted to the person who ordered it. As someone who simply went into a boot shop and tried on various pairs, I wish I could say I had a pair of these instead. They were beautiful. And now after 57 years he is closing his shop and retiring. Despite having 12 children (yes, 12! His wife is a champ.) none of them are following in his footsteps. So another little piece of history and craft is disappearing. I wish it weren’t so.
Click for video:
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