View from the passenger window from my ongoing, tentatively titled ‘Greetings from Virginia’ series
Donuts from my ongoing, tentatively titled ‘Greetings from Virginia’ series
We added to the family over the holidays early this year, adopting a pair of kitten brothers. I shot little snippets of their first time exploring their new home, because, y’know, you can’t resist the siren call to put cats online.
Happy to announce that this image, from my personal work ‘Gather’, has been recognized by AP30! It’s wonderful to be included in the collection of photographers this year, some of whom I’m honored to consider friends.
Can I get a hand here?
This is a fresh start.
Like a relationship that had long since stop being functional or even fun, I decided to end it with my old blog. I wanted to write my old blog a letter explaining my intent and emphasizing that, no really it’s me. But that just felt a little too extravagant. A few clicks and *poof*. It’s over.
So, this is a fresh start.
Well, mostly fresh. The posts I’ve added to start out this blog were transferred here to help provide a little context. They span the last couple years, covering my transition from newspaper staff to freelance. It’s been a bigger transition than the short amount of time would suggest. And reading back through my old blog shed light on just how far removed I am from my first steps in to this new world.
Authorship is now the watchword. Ideas are the currency. And I make every effort to eschew comparison to other photographers. My own feelings of jealousy and (professional) inadequacy were my only barriers to growth. Since this fresh start is all about growth, there’s no longer room for that shit.
Dive in with me. I want to share ideas and start conversations, support those who are making something awesome, and think a little deeper about my motivations and goals. And I’d love to hear from you along the way.
In 2012 the Young clan interred its patriarch, my grandpa Jay A. Young. The ceremony, officiated by one of my uncles, was attended by his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. If I recall correctly, the most recent count on the number of his grandkids and great grandkids was in the 50s or 60s. It’s a big, wonderful and diverse family.
My grandpa passed away October 2011, after a struggle recovering from a stroke. His final months were a challenge, for both him and the family members who live nearby or who flew in to help care for him. Most of his final days were spent at home, first with the help of occasional caretakers, then with 24-hour care in addition to any family members (such as my mom) who were visiting. After an overnight stay at the hospital, he was discharged when the nurses found him walking through the halls on his way out the door. God only knows how he got himself out bed. He clearly wanted to die at home.
My mom made a couple of trips in those final months to stay with my grandma and grandpa at their house outside of D.C. She was present for the night he passed away. As she describes it, a burst of thunder and lightning signaled his last breath, but the storm that was expected to hit the area that night never came.
Since my earliest memory of my grandpa, I’ve felt like he held expectations for me to fulfill. He gave me a standard by which to live, and offered guidance, whether or not it was sought, on finding and keeping the right path. From what I understand, he mellowed out a bit in the years since my mom and her siblings were children. But that didn’t dull his wit or his desire to offer advice when he felt it necessary. Watching him play with his great grandchildren revealed the child still inside of him, and showed how much he loved his family. I had the impression that even after a lifetime of professional achievement, his pride and joy was the family that surrounded him.
I spent some time photographing my grandpa on what turned out to be his last day before he passed in 2011. I also shot some of the memorial gatherings immediately following his death, and the burial of his ashes in 2012. (See the following post for more photos)
I now carry a camera to family gatherings to act as a window on my heritage and my ties to a larger family than I had known when I was growing up.
I had an assignment in 2012 to photograph Steve Badt, director of operations at Miriam’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization that provides meals and social services to the homeless. The shoot was held during preparations for the kitchen’s morning meal, which meant arriving around 6 a.m. Steve had already been planning the meal and directing volunteers for some thirty minutes by then, and I hopped right in to the bustle of the cramped kitchen when I arrived. As someone who is not generally described as a ‘morning person’, I was impressed with the speed and cheerfulness of the volunteers. There was a great community in the kitchen, and it was a blast to be working in such a happy and welcoming environment. The story was a profile of Steve, which you can see here: Sixth former student claims he was sexually abused by a Delbarton monk. It’s not a happy story, unfortunately, but Steve was open and generous and it was a pleasure to work with him.
For reference, ‘cause it’s a good reminder.
Also for reference: Alec Soth in this Little Brown Mushroom post. The question was ‘what’s next in photography’ and Mr. Soth’s answer is “In the end, what’s next is what always was: the story.” Read the whole thing, it’s definitely worth a minute, but that simple answer resonates with me to the core. Without a story, the images we create lose some of their luster or at the extreme are entirely useless to an audience. Perhaps my background and journalism degree color my opinion here, but the future of photography will always rely on the context of the images—both the story tying these individual moments together and the authorship of the photographer. As I watch the value of good photography splosh about in a trough, I can’t help but think the way forward is relating strong imagery to a strong story and clear context. The market will probably not lead the way on this, photographers will be carrying the banners here and I’m happy to lift one up.
From an assignment in 2012 for The Washington Times:
In preparation for the coming cherry blossom madness season in D.C., The Washington Times asked me to head down to the hot zone Tidal Basin to make some features. Since the basin was pretty quiet and I wasn’t going to get many ‘pedestrian under a bare tree’ type of shots, I had a thought to shoot this more like postcards or still-lifes illustrating a haiku. It was a refreshing way to shoot an editorial assignment and a fun exercise, despite picking up some serious seasonal allergies after hanging out around the budding blossoms. The paper hadn’t asked for anything specific, and they chose a different selection of photos (including the above, from a press conference I had covered earlier in the day) to run with the story. But I wanted to share the pairings on here, in the posts following.