This magazine has some very incredible images and impacting stories. It is a refreshing look at some well done documentary photojournalism of today.
I knew traveling roughly 1600 miles to a different state would set forth new challenges for me as a photojournalist. I’m in a different place- different climate, different weather, different terrain, different people and strangely, different animals.
A few weeks ago I traveled southwest Oklahoma with reporter Bryan Painter in search of wheat harvesters. I’m lucky I enjoy the open road and cruising down highways because we decided to look for the harvesters the day after Oklahoma had some heavy rainfall. Wheat harvesting is a very particular craft- the wheat needs to be dry and crackling like that popping noise one hears after pouring milk on their Rice Crispy cereal according to Brian. The day we decided to go out, none of the farmers were risking harvesting their already lower than average wheat supply. So we kept driving south.
As the day rolled along and the driving became more routine, we were almost to the border of Texas near the Red River in Olustee, Oklahoma before we found our farmers. A father and his son were confident enough to begin harvesting around 5 p.m. when the wheat already had enough time to dry out during the long, hot day after the rain from the day before.
In Montana, where I am from, I have witnessed farming practices several times before, from small family garlic farms to large grass-fed cattle ranches, but I have never been in the heart of true agriculture country so I was excited to see such heavy, colossal columbine tractors rip through the fields. After introducing ourselves to the farmers I decided to take my cameras to the end of the gated field and get a wide picture of the situation. I had seen the shot coming in and wanted to get it before the sun sunk deeper into the horizon.
While setting up my video camera and taking a few shots I had in mind I saw Brian making his way toward me. Thinking he was coming to tell me to move so the tractors could start doing their job I quickly tried to shoot some video of the wheat slowly moving with the wind before the tractors took it all away. Brian had a different report to give me. At first he asked me what kind of shoes I was wearing, which I found odd, but I just told him I was wearing my hiking boots because my editor warned me the landscape was going to be a wee bit different than city streets and carpeted floors. Brian looked relieved and preceded to tell me I was in a Rattlesnake-infested wheat field. There are rattlesnakes in Montana, but it has never been anything to worry about when perusing in nature. Brian looked a little concerned, but I told him I would be just a few more minutes. As adamant as I was about shooting wheat blowing in the wind, my mind started to vear to serpentine reptilesr popping their chilling heads out of unseen holes in the ground and biting me with their venomous-filled fangs. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get out of there.
I try not to let things like that ever get to me, but the more somethings wraps its eerie-self around my brain, the harder it is for me to concentrate on why I am there in the first place. The last thing I want is to have to be sent to an Oklahoma City emergency room for a totally new set of adventures, and bills…
The Red Earth Festival is full of culture, art, food, and dancing. On Saturday and Sunday the arena at the Cox Center was full of competitive dancers from all over the country. Here is a glimpse at the action and non-action at the event.
During my five or so days actually on the job here at The Oklahoman I have covered such a wide array of events and news ranging from a pharmacist who killed a man, a reopening of a historic cafe on Route 66, swim parks, and farmers markets. Today I am shooting my first Minor League baseball game. On Thursday I travel to southwest Oklahoma to search and shoot wheat harvesters and over the weekend I get to shoot the three-day Red Earth Festival in downtown Oklahoma City.
Something that interested me in The Oklahoman from the get-go was its ability to cover hard news and national news, but also keep the small town paper vibe alive by covering events that make Oklahoma, well, Oklahoma- the day to day people that keep the state alive and full of culture. And in my week as a photographer here I have been able to do just that. The photo department, my editor, my mentors, and my fellow photographers, as well as many other writers and staff members I have met, have all been so willing to help me out, give me advice, tell me some “hip” spots to see in OKC, and just chat with me during downtime. I feel very welcome here. I can’t wait to share more of my on-the- field stories as this internship starts swinging into full gear.