Dallas Morning News

I got a December Dallas Morning News cover!

As a young budding photographer in San Antonio/Austin, there could be no better newspaper gig other than working at the Dallas Morning News. Dallas, with its pro sports teams, urban crime, big city lights, and its money, afforded a big world of photo opportunities. Dallas was up there with LA, Chicago, New York and Boston. At the time, I felt these were the papers that made all the difference. Before the crunch of the digital world and shrinking budgets, staff photographers at the big newspapers would jet around the world to big sporting events, shoot Presidents and Prime Ministers, and cover conflicts at home and abroad. I saw these photographers, many who won major prizes, as the ambassadors to the visual world. Nothing could top being staff at a major newspaper and the Dallas Morning News was it for me.

Life changes and I followed different paths and hoped around the world only to end up in Hawaii–a far cry from Dallas.

So…a few weeks ago, I get booked to shoot a gig for Dallas. Sallie Stratton’s husband, Chuck, was shot down over Laos in 1971 and the POW/MIA group based in Hickham AFB found his crash site and remains. Sallie, who lives in Dallas, spent a good portion of her life wishing and hoping one day that phone would ring and her husband would return. After photographing her in the short time that I had with her here, you can just never understand what loss that woman had in her heart. Its unbelievable to think she held on that long but what else would you do?

S0…the MIA team found the crash site, dug through the wreckage and found the tiniest of bones.

Mrs. Stratton flew to Hawaii for the repatriation ceremony in which her husband finally came home.

It would not have been human for me not to shake as I shot some of those images. But as hard as it was for Mrs. Stratton, she survived as did all the memories of her lost hero killed in action.

Hard work and being in the zone helped me capture some of these unique images. I assume the eds in Dallas liked what I did as they gave me the cover on the first of three special issues of the paper. It was even the Sunday issue which most likely is the biggest issue of the week, not to mention the lead of the story.

My other issues ran on the third day of the series on the inside. I felt my photos and the David Tarrant’s story did a great deal of justice shining a light on an individual who lost the most important person in her life.

Recent publishing.

Today’s post concerns publishing! I sometimes forget to see where my photos end up. It can be a mystery at times as images are sent to editors on the mainland never to be seen again. The wireless age creates apathy as images are ftped to a far away place never to be seen again. I had two sports images end up in Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News this week. My hard won photos although not peak telling of the story action are stock images and clients and magazines do care for what I describe as “stock” images.

Peak sports images are most essential to any sporting event but since I live in a different market, Hawaii sporting events are usually off the radar of most people. Mainland writers will focus on stock images of sport stars and athletes and to me, many could clearly care less of any important impact plays. Clean sharp images are what counts.

I’ve showcased this images in a past blog but this image was used to illustrate UH’s 12-0 season for SI. It ran on a page with two other images at about 2×3, hardly worth me paying for the mag at Borders.

The University of Hawaii football team performs a Maori “haka” or war dance before their football games at home and away. The controversial performance does make some upset (namely Maoris as Hawaiians are a different “tribe”—and a good portion of the players are not even Polynesians) but the dance does make for interesting photos. My image showcased on the back page of The Sporting News.

I borrowed Jamm Aquino’s Canon 15mm lens for the shot and lined up the image just right. The 15mm is a tricky not an every day use lens which gives a fisheye effect. On a cropped Canon Mark II body, the fisheye is limited but there is very high distortion. The lens is a bit too distorted but it worked well for the shot.

The layouts below come from Modern Luxury’s summer issue. I did a story on hip Chinatown spots in HNL. Margie the ed assigned me the job just days before I was to leave the country. I was my first story for the magazine and I had to work to impress. I worked tirelessly for two days straight going to different spots around Chinatown/downtown to get the right images. It was tough but I managed to pull it off. Margie liked the images and called me for more work.

It was tough but I made it happen. Its always fun to challenge myself visually…meaning when you see something day in and day out (I live just outside of Chinatown) you forget to “see.” You get so used to looking at everyday life that it just becomes routine. Photographers get so excited thinking of making images far away from home but always forget their backyard has some of the best places to make pictures. We just have to open our eyes a bit wider!

Life is never routine.


The 40-Year-Old Recruit

In late August 07, the Washington Post Magazine commissioned me to shoot a documentary on Clayton Beaver, a 40-year-old Waianae resident who was joining the Army. Last year, the army raised its age limit for new recruits allowing Beaver to join. Hardship and a sense of patriotism drove Beaver to follow this path the military attractively sold. Large bonuses and increased benefits also enticed Beaver, along with many others to consider the path of the military.

I covered the Hawaii side of the story examining Beaver, his background, and his family. Another photographer met Beaver at boot camp and covered his initial training. My documentation found what I describe as “Island hardships.” Whether this term makes sense, I find it descriptive of how live in Hawaii can be so far away from the advertisements in the travel magazines and tourism boards present.

With a very high cost of living including sky rocketing real estate prices, below national average salaries don’t allow for a comfortable living. Affordable housing costs can be found in Hawaii but sadly many of these neighborhoods are plagued with socials ills and bad schools. Hawaii is a trap for many…anchoring many locals here with family, friends, and as Michael Leahy described, aloha.

So many here are trapped by large families, low pay, and sadly, drugs. What most tourist encounter on the beaches of Waikiki and Maui are fantasies that a majority of local people will never afford.

Here is the link to the Honolulu Advertiser from November 23, 2007. The story was syndicated locally and is easily accessed.


The Advertiser published the powerful story along with my photos. The other photographer could not be reached by publication.

The Washington Post Magazine link:


You have to register to see the original story and images from both myself and photographer Brett Flashnick.

Headline News

I made CNN on 22 September with my well worn Superferry image. I recall the Superferry sailing into port and feeling there was a huge hesitation as local shipping monopoly scheduled a ship to sail at roughly the same time. The superferry had to sit out in the channel for some time…almost foreboding as the Superferry has received so much gruff from the locals not only on Kauai but Maui, and the rest of the state. Seems locals just don’t want change and that suits those in power.

We do seem like a backwater…

as far as the photo goes, it was big surf on the south side of Oahu so all the surfers were out. Kakaako was full of people and this guy just so happen to jump out into the picture.

I must say that I envisioned this photo. There is much to say on thinking forward and projecting the image you are looking to capture. I am learning that a pre focused idea will and does work in most cases. I did see this surfer and boat but just couldn’t get the stars to line up. I was caught off guard as the Superferry sailed quickly into port. I was on the other side of the park and had to book to the other side. Autofocus and foresight got the image in line. A burst on the trusty ol 1D MII and voila!