Every year, it seems, the Drake Relays are like a celebration equal parts sport and spring. This year was no exception. Despite cool, rainy weather leading into the weekend Friday and Saturday were two truly great days. There were many big moments on the track and some impressive solo efforts in the field events and on Saturday the action didn't slow down until the final athlete crossed the finish line. I have been coming to this event since I was in high school and every year it seems to get better, especially now that I am granted unique access to witness, and photograph, some of the most memorable moments. There is something about track that really resonates with me. The sport is rich with great and meaningful metaphors for life and as a photographer, working for a big newspaper, I can appreciate the individual effort these athletes make while representing something bigger than themselves. Below is just a sliver of some of my favorite images from the week. Check back in a few weeks when the Iowa High School state track meet rolls into town and we do it all again!
As we make the rocky transition from the miserable, cold winter months into the less miserable, still unpredictable months of spring here in Iowa I've been grateful for fewer assignments indoors and more time out working in the daylight. Although days are getting longer the schedule has been relatively relaxed, giving me some time to work assignments a little longer, travel to shoots a little farther and share more time visiting with subjects, which is truly one of my favorite parts of the job. So here are some of my favorite moments from the last couple weeks. Here's to hoping summer isn't far off!
Last week I had the good fortune of being assigned to a story by opinion columnist Rekha Basu just outside the small southeast Iowa town of Fairfield, where the residents of Maharishi Vedic City drew attention after a recent dust-up with law enforcement. (You can learn more about the story by clicking on the video below) Vedic City is this small enclave of Indian religious followers who came to America to pray, chant and practice Vedic knowledge in an effort to promote world peace. As you drive north out of Fairfield the "Anywhere, Iowa" agricultural landscape slowly gives way to an increasing number of ornate, palace-like buildings. As my first trip to Vedic City, Iowa I was unprepared for what I was about to experience. I arrived on campus and was treated to a tour of its facilities. I met with many nice people who, surprisingly, loved having their photograph made. The four-hour round trip drive was such a nice escape from my daily routine. Lately, it seems, I've been traveling the state less often so I try and cherish opportunities like this one.
Pregnancy is nothing new but for first time parents, like my wife and me, it feels like it. Last summer we returned home from a late night viewing of Despicable Me 2 when Jessie began complaining of nausea. I quickly diagnosed it as a classic case of "bucket-o-popcorn for dinner" and settled into my nightly domestic routine (television, ice cream, pants optional, etc…) It was only minutes later when I heard my name called from the upstairs bathroom in that unmistakable, uncertain and slightly terrified tone… "ummm, Charlie?" followed by those two unforgettable words: "we're pregnant!" It was at that moment, well realistically several weeks prior, our lives changed forever. It sounds dramatic but really the change took time. Nine months to be exact. There were new things in our life like weekly neonatal classes, countless trips to baby consignment stores and several in-depth discussions about the use of the word "preggers." Despite these changes we continued to do the things we love. We still went on long meandering walks with our dog, we still made regular trips to the cabin, we slept in often, ate at our favorite restaurants and made time for our work. Yes work. As "D-Day" approached our
anxiety excitement manifested in different ways. Jessie learned to sew and became a regular at the Des Moines Public Library, while I explored daring new flavors of ice cream and started saying things like "this could be the last time…" before nearly every daily activity.
After thinking about, planning for and stressing over the delivery it came and went as smoothly as we had prayed it would (although Jessie might have a different opinion).
After nearly a full day of laboring at home and in the hospital our daughter, Jameson Lucia, was born at 2:19AM on Sunday, March 2. The experience was unforgettable. Something you picture in your mind's eye for months but when it happens it is way more than you could have ever dreamed.
We're so happy.
I don't know exactly when it happened, but there has been a dramatic shift in my professional life. Recently, after a long day of reporting on one thing or another, I returned home, dropped my bags at the door, collapsed on the couch and looked to my wife and confessed: "I can't remember the last time I had an assignment where I focused only on still pictures." Lately I've been dedicating more and more time and energy every week on improving my skills in video, setting aside the relative simplicity of still moment storytelling for the complexity of capturing moving moments. It's a unique world that newspaper photographers occupy these days as we simultaneously straddle two dramatically different worlds. There's our role in the old guard, as producers for the printed product, which is plopped daily on the front porches of readers who not only look to us for information and insight, but as a sounding board. Then, there's the new frontier, where the drum of the daily deadline tends to lose all meaning as we are called on to provide constant updates to a website, answering as both photographers and videographers (we'll leave out the term "multimedia journalist" and other labels that have cropped up to define these new roles). This new world offers a dizzying array of possibilities. It's bright. It's flashy. At times, it makes the old guard look like the dumpy cousin you took to prom. But even with all the luster, I find myself still drawn to that search for a still moment.