Four days into Irene coverage, Gov. John Lynch stopped by. It was the same day a presidential candidate stopped in, and the same day I decided to tour the area hit hardest by the storm, and a day after someone got killed by their own tractor.

Some days come faster than others.

A guy this morning was driving through Transville Acres, where numerous houses got flooded, dropping leaflets on cars destroyed in the flood saying he buys junk cars. He wasn’t trying to profit off other people’s loss, he said, but these people could probably use a couple hundred bucks.

One guy lost something like eight guitars. Another guy lost thousands of dollars in power tools. And Buddy Roemer couldn’t stop calling me “Virginia,” after he asked if I was from Texas and I said no, I was born in Charlottesville.

Days like this are few and far between, but it had me shooting photos, pushing a Harvard educated economist, former congressman and governor on trade policy, asking the governor what the state would do for these people and talking with a guy whose trailer got tossed like a horseshoe.

I love this job. Every day should be as good.

Weddings and Hurricanes

My sister got married on Saturday, and on Sunday my wife and I got stranded in Portland trying to make our way back home to New Hampshire during the tail end of Irene. Several rivers near our house flooded, knocking out all roads. We got the call and detoured to a friend’s house in Portland.

So I’ve been trying to shoot more photos lately, and I was excited for this weekend to be able to shoot my sister’s wedding. Little did I know how many photos I’d be able to take once I got home. The only problem has been all the reporting I need to do. Between major roads being closed and individuals losing everything they own I haven’t had much free time. I stayed out extra-late trying to talk to people whose homes got wrecked, but that turned out to be a bit of a bust. I did get to go into this woman’s house, but the man who let me didn’t let me take any pictures. He said it was his father-in-law’s girlfriend’s house. The water was up over her kitchen counter and already the place smelled like rot. I didn’t get to take any photos with me, but the smell was something I’ll hold onto.

So all I’ve got right now are wedding photos, so they are what I’m posting. Soon enough, however, I should be able to land some flood pictures, just as soon as I take a break from writing about it.

Full wedding photos here.


Luckily I was the one driving at 45 m.p.h. when I saw a tractor in a field and the voice in my head screamed PULL OVER! I had a bag full of camera gear slated for my sister’s wedding, and there was on way I was going to miss the chance to capture a fantastic representation of a late summer day.

This was the first photo of the weekend, one thus far dominated by trying to capture the atmosphere at the festivities. I’m not the photographer for the ceremony, but I wanted to be able to give my sister a bunch of shots to remember her day. I’ve still got a few hours before the wedding itself starts, but here are a few from the rehearsal.

Sometimes You Don’t Know What You Have

I shot this photo today of Steve, a 21-year-old man just back from Afghanistan. He won several medals while he was there, and his grandmother is from Fryeburg. I’m writing something up for our 9/11 10 year anniversary edition. Steve is going to send me some photos of him from while he was in Afghanistan, so the photo was an afterthought. I was flipping through the images on my computer tonight, however, and I came upon this one. Now, granted, I know he was part of team that was attacked after an IED attack, and he was one of those who counterattacked and maybe saved someone’s life. I also know he was at his base when IDF—indirect fire—started raining down, and he and the rest of his platoon left the protection of the bunker to respond with M240 Bravos. And I know when I was his age I just as easily could have joined the army because my hometown seemed boring. But the fact is I look at this photo, his anchored gaze, and it catches me. I feel like he can see me now, hours after I thanked him for his service. It is an incredibly powerful image, because it shows just who is risking and sacrificing for the United States: kids. Well-intentioned, friendly kids. Kids who loved the Red Sox in 2001, when the war he just returned from started.

That’s why I love photojournalism—one photo can change your entire day, your entire experience, your entire life. One shot can tell a story. This one does for me.

(Unfortunately the colors don’t reproduce well here. I’ve got to figure that out.)

NOT an Embedded Reporter

This would be terrifying. It’s a news report from Tripoli, written by a BBC reporter holed up in a hotel as the rebels come storming in. While he wrote this piece, and indeed while I write this post, it was not assured that he would make it home safe.

I embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq. While there was some danger, it was not extreme. Reporting in this situation, however, is far more tenuous but also crucial. “Boots on the ground” isn’t just about the military. How are the rest of us supposed to know what is happening? How do we get passed the propaganda? It’s these reporters, the ones willing to plop themselves down in Tripoli when rebels are looking to overrun the cities, that tell those stories. And bless them, because not everyone wants to be hanging around at ground zero.

The Libya story, after months of slow burn, has erupted tonight. We’ll see where it is by the morning, and beyond.

Write What You Know

Every once in a while you get to write about something you know a lot about and about someone you know. Sometimes that can be great. Other times that can suck.

I didn’t put anything up about this story, I don’t think, but last week a man fell roughly 100 feet while rock climbing on Cathedral Ledge. I know about climbing, and I knew the man. Thankfully he lived, but he had to spend two nights in the hospital and was very shaken afterward.

The other day he came by the office and dropped off a card. That’s where I snapped the photo. He gave me and another reporter two scratch tickets each, a play on how lucky he was to survive the fall. His streak ended, however, before he bought the tickets, because neither Tom nor I won anything.

Somedays the news is impersonal, something abstract and in no way connected to you. Some days, however, it is the exact opposite. At least this time the news wasn’t all bad.

Kickin’ It With Ed

Ed is not like Newt, or Rudy, or RP or Gary Johnson. Ed is waaayyy more mellow, although he too has political aspirations. He’s a local guy who believes he’s been screwed by the town of Bartlett. I’ve talked to him a bunch, and he is convinced his rights are being trampled on despite a number of court judgements arguing otherwise.

Now he’s running for Bartlett selectman in 2012, despite that race being more than six months away. I got a chance to talk to him today and shoot a portrait, but I was distracted by something in the background: his campaign sign. Seven months early, but he’s hard at it.

And did you notice how he refers to himself? “Hobo Ed.” Imagine if “Hobo Mitt” were to storm the campaign trail!

A Day of Clean Up

Today was all about picking up after myself, journalistically speaking. I came into the office just in time to get an email about an error in a story. There was a high school party over the weekend where police had to get a search warrant to bust eight teens for underage drinking. I wrote it up, including the fact that many of them were athletes and the arrests may affect their eligibility. For one of the young women I listed the wrong sports, implicating another young woman who’s name is very similar. The mother of the second young woman, understandably, was very upset. I did what I could, putting together a correction and an apology for her daughter, but it still sucks.

A story can be 99 percent right, but that’s not good enough. In a story about eight teens getting arrested, with ages, addresses, and facts about the arrest, the thing I got wrong was basketball and volleyball instead of cross country and track. Still, that’s enough. It’s enough that one young woman in no way connected to the incident felt implicated.

I did what I could with an honest mistake. It happens, and it’s bound to happen again. Hopefully the next time it occurs the person it happens to is as willing as this girl was to accept our apology. My apology.