Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | 182nd Annual General Conference

What: the largest congregation of Mormons in the world.
Where: LDS Conference Center, Salt Lake City, Utah.
When: every year, for the past 182 years.
Who: the Mormon elite, including LDS President Thomas S. Monson (a.k.a. the Mormon Pope).

Several weeks ago, I posted about how photography is an excellent way to check things off the old bucket list. While this event wasn't exactly at the top of of my list, the experience was a staggering example of how those different (yet similar) than yourself live their lives. The afternoon was a stressful and rewarding glance into a belief system other than my own. The event was something much greater than I could ever explain, so I will let the LDS Church explain it to you here.

Big thanks to the other Utah photographers and conference veterans who helped me maneuver through the madness in order to get the key shots. Enjoy the tongue of God, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a gathering of 100,000 Mormons and a moment of divine prayer.

Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Latter-day Saints, address the crowd at the 182nd Annual General Conference Saturday, March 31, 2012, at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performs between speakers at the 182nd Annual General Conference Saturday, March 31, 2012, at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Twenty-one thousand individuals packed in to attend each session of the 182nd Annual General Conference Saturday, March 31, 2012, at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Levi Manley, 29, center, sits in the middle of the sidewalk with his head bowed as the finals words of the 182nd Annual General Conference sounded from over the temple's loudspeaker Saturday, March 31, 2012, at the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Manley recently returned from his two-year mission. He estimated having attended the conference six different years.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Donkey Basketball

Thought this was a joke when I saw it on the photo budget at the Daily Herald. Nope. Quite literal. Kids playing basketball while mounted on asses. This is what I consider to be a "photographic win."

The most interesting part about this - aside from kids falling headfirst from donkeys that were crapping all over the gym floor - was how challenging it was to photograph. Donkeys, as you may know, do exactly what they want - and nothing else. They stop. They start. They charge you. Which, I may add, is especially terrifying when you're looking at them through a telephoto. Oh, and they do one more thing that I previously mentioned: they crap. A lot. Enjoy the burros!

Shawn Black, left, takes a spill off of his aimlessly wandering animal during a game of donkey basketball Thursday, March 29, 2012, at Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork, Utah. The school's agriculture club used the event as a fundraiser, bringing Donkey Sports, Inc. all the way from Washington state.

Corbin Redd, center, laughs with his brother, Hayden Redd, left, as Colton Baum, right, adjusts his helmet prior to a student and faculty donkey basketball tournament Thursday, March 29, 2012, at Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Colton Baum, center, reacts to being tossed from his furry ride during a donkey basketball tournament Thursday, March 29, 2012, at Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Aaron Shirley, right, owner of Donkey Sports, Inc., briefs contestants on the rules of donkey basketball prior to a school tournament Thursday, March 29, 2012, at Spanish Fork High School in Spanish Fork, Utah. The school's agriculture club used the event as a fundraiser, bringing Donkey Sports, Inc. all the way from Washington state.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Korbin Levin | Athlete of the Year

I present to you another in the series of the Utah Valley Athlete of Year portraits, this time with a young man named Korbin Levin.  Not only does the dude have a great name, but just like Ms. Riggs from the previous post, he let me do what I had to do - no time crunch whatsoever. The image that ran in print is not pictured here (as it's my least favorite), but I decided to share a couple for the sake of the work put in. My only regret is utilizing a limited distance light kit for the shoot. It would have been great to spread my strobes out and shoot more environmental, but hey - that is the nature of the beast. Enjoy these outtakes from the afternoon's session.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mercedes Riggs | Athlete of the Year

Year after year, all over the country, youth athletes are awarded this prestigious honor... and local photographers struggle to do something different with each new batch of portraits. After I got assigned this year's load of portraits, my editor Mark Johnston made a simple request: "let's bring these back to strong, clean photography," he said. Sounds good to me.

I lucked out with Mercedes Riggs, the Utah Valley female basketball player of 2012. Not only was she a total sweetheart and came prepared in a badass Timpanogos jersey, but she allowed me to corral her around for over an hour and half as I executed various portrait ideas I had been cooking up for the shoot. The paper ended up running three portraits of her, pictured below. My only wish is that the high school had stocked more basketballs for the first image.  Another hundred orange orbs in the background of the picture couldn't have hurt. I can only hope that she enjoyed seeing them in print as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Holi: Festival of Colors | Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple

I waited for years to photograph this particular event, and the time finally came: Holi, a Hindu celebration of happiness, love, peace and the end of the winter season. Celebrated for two days by over 80,000 people in the seemingly out-of-place location of Spanish Fork, Utah, Holi only continues the streak of bizarre, visually astounding, crowd-heavy events that never ceases to amaze me to photograph.

I originally thought I would be shooting it for the paper, but the assignment was handed off to staffer and buddy Spenser Heaps, who did a beautiful job for print the next day. That being said, I took the weekend to shoot Holi as both the casual observer and raging participant. The "assignment" was actually no assignment at all - in fact, it was the first event in three months that I shot for myself with no purpose but to simply enjoy. The result? It felt great. The pictures shown here represent the feel of Holi; the happiness, the struggle to breathe and the celebration of beauty in the marriage of crowds and colored chalk. In addition to making pictures that worked wonders as a creative release, I made new friends, strengthened current relationships and checked another life experience off the bucket list in one fell swoop.  While I scrub to rid myself of colored chalk in unspeakable places, I sure hope you enjoy.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lindon Tithing House | A coming end?

At its roots, this assignment was a guy showing a reporter and myself around an old house slated for destruction. For one second, he went silent; pressing his hand to to the crumbling brick. Click.

I never would have thought a moment would have come out of this, but hey - that's the beauty of this work. You just never know. Enjoy!

Lynn LeMone, head chair of the Historical Lindon Commission, gives a tour of a bishop's tithing house Friday, March 16, 2012, in Lindon, Utah. LeMone, along with the rest of the commission, is trying save the home from destruction.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Fashion Show

Under a greenhouse roof, dozens of women of all ages awaited the start of a spring fashion show by JJeans & Things on Saturday, March 10, 2012, at Olson's Garden Shoppe in Payson, Utah.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kayden Porter | Anatomy of a Baseball Portrait

Before covering a baseball game in Spanish Fork, Utah, I was instructed to shoot a portrait of Kayden Porter. This kid (more like a 6-foot 3-inch, 235-pound, home-run-derby-winning man) is a beast, bottom line. Luckily, he is also a good sport. I had five minutes before the game to bust out an image to use for a highlight piece on the pitching powerhouse. Armed with a combination of two Elinchrom strobes, the greatest light of them all (the sun) and a red outfield fence that had caught my eye, we went to work. In less than a few turns of the minute hand, I had balanced my strobes to daylight and fired off 20 to 30 frames. Kayden - who had apparently done this many times before - was a natural. With little coaxing and positioning, I was getting the look I wanted. The second image was chosen to run in print.

What works for me is the punch of color and contrast provided by the reds of the fence and and outfit, especially when in competition with those eyeballs. The flesh and and hair catches the pure white of the strobes to produce an almost plastic feel, which I love in an artificially lit portrait. The detail in the stitching of the glove and hat adds tasty little details. While he may not be too stoked on it, the cracked lip is awesome.

While it is by no means a perfect portrait, I sure hope he digs it. After all, he looks like a total badass. Read the accompanying story about Kayden here. Enjoy!

Technical info: (1) bare Elinchrom strobe to the left (set cheek-high), (1) bare Elinchrom strobe to the rear-ish right (cheek-level), sun from high and behind, powerpack, Canon 5D Mark II, 135mm f/2L @ 1/200th and f/11... from what I can remember.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Baseball season arrives

And with lovely Utah light. While some hate the slower pace of baseball, it has to be the runner up to basketball as my favorite sport to photograph. Not much to say here except: expect more of this in the near future. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I live with what must be the only two Muslim guys in Utah County, and it is fantastic. Not only do they keep me sane for diversity's sake, but they're outstanding individuals who keep me laughing and having a good time while living and working out here in the beehive state. Enjoy a quiet moment of Rehan enjoying a post-meal hookah session, a culturally commonplace occurrence.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Preparing for El Capitan | on the Feature Hunt

News hole.
Nice day.
Everything falling through for everyone on staff.
Classic situation.
We must be doomed.
Oh, but wait!
Look at that guy with a compelling life story rock climbing in beautiful light.
This man saved the day.  Enjoy!

Louis Eubank spent the early hours of the evening on a celebratory climb after being accepted into Tufts University for medical school Tuesday, March 6, 2012, at Rock Canyon in Provo, Utah. Eubank, an avid outdoorsman, was aid climbing his way to the top of the rock face while toting over 60 pounds of gear. He was training for a longtime - and upcoming - climbing dream at El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tom Hawkins | Portrait at Utah Valley University

Let's face it: Utah isn't the most liberal place in the world. Born and raised a Seattle boy, I think it is fair to say I am a tolerant, easy-going individual. Take that how you will... and imagine how it burns me when an assignment of this nature pops up in the budget.
One day, Tom Hawkins - a Utah Valley University student running for student government  - received a slew hateful email when the fact that he is gay became became public knowledge. The Daily Herald heard about the debacle and we arranged a portrait with Tom as a sort of rebuttal. Needless to say, Hawkins was a shy yet engaging young man to photograph in the UVU library for part of the afternoon. I wish him the best in the wake of the news and in the elections. Enjoy the result of a fun portrait with an underlying message.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Peruvian Fire Engine

Let there be light! A normal day turned great when I was sent to photograph a group of volunteers cleaning out an old firetruck destined for use in Peru. Not only did the weather clear up, but the calm of the cleaning was sporadically broken by impromptu water fights. Naturally, I became a target. Go figure.  This post - as many others are on this blog - reflect the beauty of working a "found" experience while out on assignment. As every photojournalist knows, not everything is perfect - but that sure doesn't mean you can't go out and have a good time.  Enjoy!