Monday, November 29, 2010

November in Review

Rachel Nathan-Funk, 12, her sister Leah, 5, Teagan Talbot, 7, and Kylie Shields, 7, lower left to right, watch Grupofolkloriko Nuevo Amancer folk dancers during a multicultural event at Dan O. Root Elementary School Tuesday evening.

Armijo High School freshman point guard Azhiana Musolf passes to a teammate after diving for a loose ball during her team's Monday night game against Hogan High School in Fairfield.

Mass casualty volunteers from the Solano Community College nursing program and EMT students watch as paramedic Perry Hookey, far right, applies fake blood on the forehead of volunteer Russ Koch, left, prior to the start of the simulated disaster drill at the college Thursday morning.

Vacaville Ballet Academy dancers Madelline Layeghi, Laura Rutter, Sonya Thrasher, Daisy Montero and Rachel Goldberg, left to right, prepare for their upcoming performance at the Wednesday CLub in Suisun City during their practice Tuesday evening.

Local fisherman Greg Moe casts his line out into the Suisun Marsh during a recent morning fishing session for sturgeon and stripper bass. Moe has been fishing the area for over 35 years.

Passengers on Amtrak's westbound train from Sacramento get off at the Suisun-Fairfield train station Monday evening.

Student members of the Fairfield High School Scarlett Brigade Marching Band rehearse their routine in the student parking lot Monday afternoon. The school will be hosting the Tournament of Champions band competition this weekend.

Mary Palmer, of Fairfield, along with her son Robert, 9, recently received quilts from her church made from favorite T-shirts of her deceased husband.

Members of the 60th Expeditionary Medical Support unit secure their chemical warfare outfits during a mock missle strike at Travis Air Force Base Thursday afternoon. The event was part of a three day excercise on the base meant to simulate situations at a deployed location for the troops.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Year in the Marsh - Preparing for the Hunt

A Year in the Marsh - Preparing for the Hunt at the California Farms Duck Club from Mike Greener on Vimeo.

A look into the preparation of of the California Farms Duck Club and their efforts to create habitat to sustain their life-long love of duck hunting in the Suisun Marsh.

For the past couple of months, a reporter from my newspaper and I have started working on a year long documentary project focusing on the Suisun Marsh and the Delta. With water usage being such a hot topic in California, we wanted to explore all of the groups and organizations that are staking their claim for water rights. Our first subjects were members of a local duck club and their year-round dedication and passion for creating habitat for waterfowl. I had a great time hanging out with these guys. Stay tuned over the next year for other installments to this series. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. -M

Friday, November 19, 2010

Steelhead fishing on the Klamath River

After a grueling summer long hiatus from fly fishing, I finally remedied the situation. Last weekend I met up with my good buddy Ryan Peterson of The Fly Shop and The Big Pull for a weekend fishing for steelhead along the banks of the Klamath River in Northern California. I spent most of my time with a spey rod in hand but I did manage to pick up my camera for a little bit. Here are a couple shots that caught my eye. Tight lines.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Multimedia - Waller's Rally

Waller's Rally - Catching a New Wave from Mike Greener on Vimeo.

Here is a multimedia video I just completed about a finish carpenter that defied the failing economy by turning his childhood fun into a modern-day longboard skateboard venture.

I'm pretty excited about this post. For the past month I have been working night and day on this multimedia project. I found Bob Waller, of Waller's Woodys, by chance while working on another story for my newspaper. Bob is a high end finish carpenter here in Fairfield who for the last 25 years has been doing high end custom woodworking and carpentry throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. As he puts it, "I was a cake decorator for a house. Doing beauty for the sake of beauty." When the economy began taking a nose dive two years ago, Bob watched as his business dwindled from being booked six months out to a near trickle. It was that point that he realized he needed to go another direction. A phoenix rising out of the ashes. Through the encouragement of his sons, he decided to harness the life-long love of skateboarding and started a longboard skateboard company based off of the old 1960's Woody panel wagons.

This story meant a lot to me in that it was a very personel project. For the past couple of months I had been frustrated with the stories that I was producing mostly due to the fact that my newspaper always gave me very limited time to development and work on one. I wanted a project that I could do on my time at the pace I wanted to develop it at. A pace that favored quality over quick deadlines. Waller's Woodys was my answer. Bob and his family were gracious enough to open their door and let me into their lives. Through their patience and trust, I was given full reign to experiment and try new approaches to telling a story. Most notably my use of video. I've done little video work as a photojournalist throughout my career and I saw this project as a great opportunity to give it a shot. I had a great time with it. I am grateful to them for allowing me play and to step out of my comfort zone as a journalist. Check out the video, let me know what you think and spread the word. Best, -M

I'd like to dedicate this story to a friend and insanely talented photographer Monica Lopossay who recently helped me to refocus my approach to my photography. I am forever grateful.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Darker Side of the Job - Making Graphic Photos

Friends of an unidentified shooting victim react as Fairfield police officers perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him Monday night in the parking lot of Armijo High School.

Friends of an unidentified shooting victim escort each other away as Fairfield police officers perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him Monday night in the parking lot of Armijo High School.
Fairfield police search individuals who were in a home where a shooting took place Tuesday night on the 200 block of Hamilton Drive. No arrests were made and police continued their investigation into the night.

I'll say it right off the bat. I hate these types of assignments. There are times in my journalism profession when I am forced to confront difficult situations and circumstances. Every day in our photo department we listen to the police scanner traffic. Most of the time it is fire engine crews headed out to a medical emergency. Other times it's another call about a car accident on I-80 Interstate. But every once in a while, it is a call about shots fired. I've come to learn that violent crime is a very real problem in the community my newspaper serves. My job as a photojournalist is to tell a story through my images that can help our readers stay informed and also to keep them aware of events happening throughout their community. Thankfully these situations don't come around often. But when they do I am forced to make a big decision...Do I make that photograph?

Earlier in the month of October, I was working the night shift at the newspaper when the call came across the scanner that their were a group of people fighting on the parking lot of a nearby high school just down the street. Immediately after that, I heard the dispatcher say "shots fired." Boom! I was out the door with my camera in hand. My reporter and I arrived at the scene not four minutes after the call. Most of the police were coming in behind us. I arrived at the scene (shown in the first two photographs. The third is a separate incident) of people screaming and upon further examination a lone police officer giving CPR to a young man on the ground. It was a horrible sight. It is rare to respond to a scene and be one of the first people there. Most of the time the incident has already ended. This time was very different. I knew a wave of police would be arriving soon and would very quickly put me and my camera as far away from the scene as possible. I knew I had to work fast to make a picture. Times like this your training and instincts just kick in. Your own emotions are shielded by the camera in front of your face. A young man is fighting for his life. You just react.

In journalism school my instructors described it as "Passing the Cheerio Test" as in if the controversial photo doesn't make the reader spit out his morning breakfast while also telling the story, the photo was considered "safe" to publish. It is this balance newspapers constantly battle with and the topic has been addressed and discussed relentlessly by my colleagues in the profession. Where is the line drawn? What is our duty to our readers? Really tough call. It was times like this when we had such a powerful photograph, a decision was made and my editors knew that the line must be approached.

My editors decided to run the two top photos on the front page. Their basis was that the victim could not be identified in the photo and the images told the story that no words could quite describe. It got a lot of reaction. I returned to work the next morning expecting to hear of all the subscriptions that were canceled because of the photos. I was surprised to find a very different response. There were tons of comments on the story online and as expected, the photos drew some criticism. But for every negative comment there were two or three comments from readers that expressed how important thought it was to show these photos. These events were happening in their community and they didn't want to ignore it anymore. The decision to run the images had started an important conversation throughout the community. I consider that a success and those comments tell me that I am doing my job well. Regardless, it doesn't make it any easier to make the photographs but I feel it is very important that I do. What do you think? -M

The Fall of October - Part One

Shaina McCormick, 18, of Fairfield, kisses her new fiancee Marine Lance Cpl. Aaron Waller, 19, of Fairfield, after he proposed to her in the Sacramento airport on Oct. 9. Below, McCormick embraces Waller after he popped the question.

Solano Winds conductor Bill Doherty directs his pupils during their Tuesday evening rehearsal at Solano Community College.

Dr. Seth Kaufman, left, of North Bay Medical Center waits for a medical robot controled by Dr. Alan Shatzel, on computer monitor, of the Mercy Neurological Entity of Greater Sacramento Area during a demonstration of the new machine Thursday morning in Fairfield. Dr. Shatzel can remotely control control the robot from his Sacramento location with a laptop and a joystick.

Fairfield High School player Nicholas Wullenwaber makes a shot on goal during his team's Tuesday evening game against Armijo High School.

Larry Nelson, former Vacaville High School head wrestling coach, center, is being inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame. Nelson highly successful career spanned over 43 years at the school.

The Fall of October - Part Two

Travis Air Force Base KUDOS participant Justice Wong, 4, tries on a chemical warfare gas mask during a mock deployment simulation for children of deployed troops. The event aimed to show the children the process of what their parents do to prepare for deployment.

Spouses and children of deployed military troops walk the Travis Air Force Base tarmac to tour a C-17 Globemaster cargo jet during a mock deployment demonstration to give the children a better idea of what their parents deployment is like.

Solano Community College professor Danielle Widemann gives her Physical Geography science class a visual lesson explaining how the earth's axis and orbit around the sun creates the seasons here on earth during a recent class. Widemann, along with her entire family, went to SCC for their education and she has been teaching at the school for over seven years now.

Shawn Beckett, 2, far right, along with Kalie Beckett, 3, Calece Beckett, 5, and Reese Moten, 4, left to right, wait outside their home after emergency crews evacuated them after a semi truck drove into a low hanging power line near the corner of Rocky Hill Rd and Novato Drive in Vacaville Tuesday evening. The accident left thousands of PG&E customers without power.

Friday, October 8, 2010

September in Review