It’s hard to believe that my internship is already over. Eight weeks may seem like a long time, but a few bug bites and a speeding ticket later, here I am saying my goodbyes.
This summer, I traveled to just about every corner of the state – Quartz Mountain, Seminole, Okemah, Miami. I am affectionately known as the “roadtrip guy” in the photo department.
I am grateful that I had this summer as an opportunity to tell the story of summer in Oklahoma.
I picked out my 10 favorite images that I think captured what summer was in Oklahoma this year.
Hopefully this will not be my last blog post for The Oklahoman and NewsOK, but it is for now.
Good luck to my fellow interns in their pursuits of journalism and life.
Those who wish to follow my blog posts can do so here.
Earlier this month, fellow intern Bryce Arens and I took a trip to a town in Southeastern Oklahoma called Indianola.
Bryce was writing a story about a new law that would change the rules of hog hunting, so we wanted to get a closer look at the people who participate.
We met Johnny Heskett and his “hunting buddy” Josh Kinsey at a McDonald’s in McAlister and followed them to their hunting spot on the South Canadian River near Indianola.
Bryce and I sat in the back of Johnny’s ATV and we toured the river bed looking for spots to set up traps.
Johnny’s recipe for hog bait was a mixture of corn, maple syrup and diesel fuel. He insisted that the diesel fuel was sweet, and that he had, in fact, tried it.
Once the sun went down, we headed back to Johnny’s truck, where he then informed us that he and Josh were going to sleep in the back of his truck.
“Y’all can sleep in your car, find motel, whatever you want to do.”
With the nearest motel 30 miles away, Bryce and I decided that sleeping in the OPUBCO company car was our only option.
The temperature was staggering.
For hours we tossed and turned in our tight sleeping quarters, covered in blankets, desperately trying to avoid the mosquitos that we could hear buzzing around our heads.
After 3-4 hours went by, we turned on the car, rolled up the windows, turned on the air-conditioning, and we were asleep within minutes.
We woke up early to go check the traps, all the way looking for tracks near the river.
Johnny took us on a crazy ride through the heavily wooded area on the upper bank of the river, driving a full speed, with nothing to protect Bryce and me from the endless branches and countless bugs that I had never seen before.
All in all, no hogs were to be found at the traps.
Bryce and I struggled to make it back to Oklahoma City without falling asleep on the road.
When we got back and both had a chance to bathe, we both found out that our bodies were covered with chiggers.
Everyone that I have ever talked to about chiggers has told me that they burrow into your skin and don’t leave.
Someone suggested that Bryce and I put clear nail polish on the chigger bites, to suffocate them.
I was later informed that using nail polish to cure chigger bites is an old wives’ tale, and that chiggers do not burrow. The affected areas take roughly two weeks to heal.
Bryce and I experienced what I imagine is what Hell is like… and we didn’t even see any hogs!
In the end, we did have a great time with these guys, and we definitely got to see what it’s like to be a hog hunter.
Even without the hogs, I think we told a good story.
I have always been a bit partial to folk music, even as far back as my days as a child listening to Neil Young with my dad.
I find comfort in the power of simplicity that goes along with talking about such important issues. Folk music is undoubtably what got me into punk rock, since is fits the same idea of playing three chords and performing your music in the most passionate way you know how.
When I got assigned to cover the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, I had no idea how lucky I would be. Billy Bragg was Thursday night’s headlining performer. I have been listening to Billy Bragg for years. His music deals with political issues, including the rights of workers and the general well-being of all people. His music, as well as Woody Guthrie’s, has been a huge influence to me.
I was fortunate enough to have the best spot in the whole place.
Woody Guthrie would have turned 100-years-old this year, and his influence is still killing fascists.
What’s the best way to shoot photos of people swimming in 100 degree heat? Getting in with them, obviously.
When you are a photojournalist, sometimes swimming equals working, and that’s pretty cool.
I want a dog so bad.
The problem is, I live in an apartment that charges a $500 deposit for pets. I also don’t have the time to have one.
I feel like I’m cursed though, because I see dogs on assignments ALL THE TIME.
Why won’t the cuteness stop?
Foul balls usually make for pretty interesting photos.
A hard cork ball, wrapped in yarn and covered in leather headed toward a crowd of people will make even the strongest man weak in the knees.
Guitar virtuoso and MLB superstar, Samuel Regan, and I took a closer look at the crowd and noticed some interesting expressions.
Let’s take a closer look at the people affected.
I had never missed an assignment before today.
My whole morning, I was trying to play catchup. I was 45 minutes late to my 10 a.m. assignment, but still managed to get there in time to make a few decent photos. I was not so lucky with my 12 p.m. assignment.
I was supposed to be at the Edmond Senior Center to take photos of a senior tap dancing performance. I was running behind because I decided to go back the office after my last assignment to work photos. To top it all off, the directions I printed off led me down a dead-end dirt road.
When I arrived at the senior center, I found out that I was about 20 minutes too late.
I kind of panicked.
Immediately, I started asking what other activities would be going on throughout the day, and for a minute my Plan B was going to be a senior aerobics class. What a nightmare….
Luckily, a short walk through the building brought me to a game room where a few guys were playing pool. They were very welcoming and seemed like they enjoyed having me there, so I stayed and took a few photos.
After I had been there for about 30 minutes, I realized that there was enough joking and laughing to do a quick story about these two buddies.
I went out to my car and grabbed my audio recorder and started collecting audio clips. I ended up hanging out with them for about 5 games of pool and had a great time.
The moral of the story is to never come back empty-handed.
I knew that someone was going to be mad about me missing my assignment, so I went the extra mile with what I had and came out with something worth while.
[Click HERE to view the audio slideshow.]
Danger in photojournalism is a reality.
Today while on assignment, the little girl pictured above punched me in the stomach 3 or 4 times while I was trying to take pictures.
I was also asked by a 9-year-old why I was being a “stalker.”
I replied, “It’s my job.” To which a little girl responded, “I want to be a stalker when I grow up!”
I’m not a stalker, I just want to make good pictures of softball camps.
While at Quartz Mountain with fellow intern, Ben Luschen, I got a little free time to shoot some southwestern Oklahoma nature photography.
I decided to sit by the lake with my 400mm 2.8 and shoot some photos of birds and other wildlife.
A family of deer came walking by shortly after. They got surprisingly close. They didn’t seem threatened by me, but I’m sure they’ve been shot at by much worse.
The Red Earth Festival is one of largest annual Native American events in the country.
This was my second year shooting it. It’s a great opportunity to get photos with a lot of color and faces with a lot of character.