Jags, NAACP, CoRK Arts District & Courthouse Weddings

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[It's another photo published in the Times-Union!]

On Tuesday, I shadowed another Florida Times-Union photographer, Will Dickey. We went to an event at an elementary school which three Jacksonville Jaguars and two ROAR cheerleaders attended. The Jaguars donated over $1 million to help the kids.

There were billiards, ping pong, jumping gyms, face painting and more in a loud afternoon of children running everywhere and eating pizza. The tough part of this assignment came with the concern that one of the kids would run away before I could get their name. I had to be aware of the shots I got — anything good enough and I would need to act quickly to record it. The lighting inside was fluorescent or sunlight from the sides — always bring a flash.

Later we went to a NAACP meeting over at the Legends Center. The talk was of getting rid of the ‘school to prison’ track so many students seemed to be on. I held the flash from the back of the audience while Will got some shots of the newly-elected superintendent. None of the shots ended up running in the next day’s paper.

On Wednesday, I was supposed to meet up with Bob Mack in Ponte Vedra to shoot golf. But I awoke to rain, and the golf was canceled. So I went in and hung out with Bob Self instead.

We drove around 5 points looking for a  girl who dances there. It was a bit damp and gray out, so we didn’t see her. We drove around looking for features. We drove by CoRK, a complex on King Street where artists have their studios. There were two people painting on the outside. We parked and walked across the street.

One was Jon Graham, from Asheville, and the other was Danielle Brutto, from Atlanta.  They were adding to the artwork on the outer walls of the building. Both were on their way back from Art Basel Miami Beach, and stopped in CoRK to stay and paint before traveling onward northerly.

Brutto stood on a ladder painting a sleeping girl. When asked why, she said she slept a lot because she had narcolepsy, so it had to happen at some point.

Graham thought of a few different titles for his piece, but said he didn’t want to influence the onlookers’ perception by naming it, so he just let it be. It was a photo of him painting that was published in Friday’s paper.

We drove on to the new courthouse, the most intimidating building I’ve seen in Jacksonville. The story was a local take on the national story of lots of people getting married since the date was 12/12/12. Once we got smoothly through security, we escalated up to the room of the weddings. A party stood in the hallway changing a baby’s diaper, they’d just finished. We walked in and sat waiting for couples to come in deciding to take the plunge. The chapel was nice, lots of red and white flowers, clean-looking, courthouse-efficient-looking. An aisle, rows of chairs, a podium for a judge to stand behind. Or the clerk.

We caught one wedding that ended up being the front page story. First the parents entered wearing Santa Claus hats, they’d come from South Carolina to surprise their daughter for her wedding – it was also her birthday. By the time we’d watched a whole other wedding in the chapel, in which the bride and groom were each from different countries in South America, the rest of the group had arrived in the waiting area, including the bride and groom. Bob asked the bride if it would be alright to attend and take pictures and she said it was.

And yet again, I am reminded of the importance of carrying a flash. I don’t know what to compare the lighting in that chapel to. This was the first time I ever photographed a wedding, and I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, it was tough. For one, the bride and groom are facing upstage toward the judge during the good parts. The bride smiled, the groom looked serious. Their daughter was running around and then everybody’s taking pictures. There isn’t really room in the aisle for more than one photographer.

Thursday Will and I went to the Bolles School to shoot a Sportrait of a swimmer – Kasey Schmidt, I believe. He set up a blue-gelled flash across the pool and an-umbrella diffused flash in front of her on the ladder out of the pool. I held it so it wouldn’t fall in the water (first thing to do if a strobe gets wet – turn it off, he said. Then take out the batteries and take it all apart and blow it dry. It’s worked.). We went back to the newsroom and that was it. I saw the changes in his photos as he adjusted the flash.

The week went by so quickly. It was such a insightful experience to work closely with the photographers of the Florida Times-Union, people who take photos every day as a way of life.


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