Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Horse of a Different Color

Earlier this week I traded in my usual trap clap beat of dead bodies, flashing blue lights, police reports, and body bags for something... a little different.

After being hurried out the door of the ready room at 9:27 for an event that started at 9:30 that was 20 minutes away, I paused for a moment to collect my faculties before merging onto I-77 and decided to welcome this assignment as a breath of fresh air.

You see, there's a little organization here in the metro area called Kids Rein.  Typically these folks employ therapy horses for kids with autism.  While it is a most respectable gig, what they've been doing lately has gone above and beyond the call of duty for a few guys who were injured in the line of duty.  They're providing their services for 2 Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Officers who suffered traumatic injuries while serving our community. 

I won't waste your time with the technical details of how this little gem came to fruition, but let's just suffice it to say that I needed a story like this one last week.  The grind had been wearing on me since I got back from my recent trip to Guatemala, and I needed a little victory to remind me why it is exactly, that I do what I do.

Take a look and see for yourself.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Rest of the Story...

Do me a favor.... before you even read this, watch the story I shot today with Alan Cavanna.

Now that we have that out the way, let me tell you the rest of this story.

We were reporting on an intersection that had seen 13 wrecks in 3 years.  The latest victims from last night, included an elderly couple probably pushing 80 years or more.  After gathering all the elements we needed for this story, we figured we would give the old college try at getting said couple to talk on camera about their experience.

What happened roughly 30 seconds after Alan knocked on their door is something neither of us expected.  As Cavanna descended their front stoop and I waited in the wings with my fancy cam shouldered, an old man in a tattered red sweater came to the front door with a fresh head wound and declared "Help me! I NEED HELP! My wife is on the floor and I can't get her up."

I quickly holstered my camera and Alan and I entered their residence to find this man's wife lying face up on the hardwood floor of their humble home.  She was complaining of back pains and wanted us to help her up. She couldn't remember if she fell or what happened.  We declined, insisting that they call an ambulance. Not knowing our next step, and with their great protest, we decided to find someone more familiar to them to encourage them along. I alerted the neighbors we'd just interviewed, who knew them well and they quickly called 911.

We waited for the Medic to arrive and then departed.

I came away from this situation with a couple of takeaways.  First, I appreciated the fact that Alan and I were on the same page.  As this situation unfolded Alan and I practically finished each other sentences in agreeing that none of this would make air or even be mentioned in our story.  This might seem odd to the unabashed, but when I put my camera away and Alan and I transitioned into our human forms, as opposed to blood thirsty exploiters of the human race, we were able to, albeit in a small form, HELP someone.

I kept asking myself all day: "What if we hadn't bothered to knock on their door?"

It's small and meaningless in most people's eyes but there are news crews out there who shale remain nameless, that would have pimped this situation for all it's worth; making a spectacle of the situation and finding some perverse way to incorporate it into the story.

We didn't do that.  Please excuse this little pat on the back but I'm pretty proud of how the situation turned out.  Neighbors thanked us.  The old man in the tattered sweater thanked us.  Gratitude and thank you's are few and far between in our business.  We were reminded of a mantra I've been preaching the entire time I've been pushing a camera lens, people matter more than anything.

Hat's off to Mr. Cavanna for his professionalism.  He's moving onto his dream job with NASCAR next month, and if he and I don't do another story together, I hope this is the memory he'll carry with him about this tattooed photog.

And if it isn't, I'm sure he'll tell you about the time I held his water bottle hostage for over a month.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Change of Scenery

If you regularly check this blog, or follow me on twitter or facebook, you might have noticed my absence from the world of social media.

All though it was quite welcomed, I'm somewhat happy to be back to the world of technology.

Recently I swapped my usual 50 pound shoulder mount camera for a new toy.

Mrs. Yo! Camerman! and I took a mission trip to Chichicastenango, Guatemala with our old church, Port City Community Church, from Wilmington.  To attempt to sum it all up in a simple blog post would be futile, so just suffice it to say that this entire experience was life changing.  Trust me, you'll learn alot more about yourself by serving others. I highly recommend it.

What I will leave you with are my top 5 favorite photos I captured while down there.  I intend to print a series of these photos entitled "Faces of ChiChi."  Each photograph contains a brief caption & explanation.

"The Orphan"

This little guy wasn't the least bit shy when he saw me draw my new weapon and begin shooting photos of the widows behind him.

Too shy to smile with teeth, this handsome fella stole a piece of my heart on my 3rd day in ChiChi.
"The Jokers"

The two kids fell in love with the lens just as quickly as I did with their humor.

Just prior to this impromptu photo shoot, the guys and I played soccer and they coined my new moniker, "Yo! Gringo!!"
"The Widow"

This vessel of knowledge & humility had been waiting for 8 months for her home to be built.

8 months... It really puts things into perspective.

Long story short: meeting her changed my life and my focus... I am forever grateful. 
"The Sisters"

If these little girls don't melt your heart, you need to check your pulse.

The senorita on the right has a sticker on her nose, and my viewfinder had to dodge a matching one as I photographed these beauties.

"The Teacher & The Student"

I would be remiss if I didn't include at least one picture of the smokin' hot wife from our trip, but this is genuinely, one of my absolute favorites.

The sincerity shown on both their faces is almost overwhelming. 

So that's that... Nothing of the usual... No biting sarcasm.  No brutal words.  I just simply have a heart that is overflowing with gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to serve the widows and orphans of ChiChi and the hope of opportunity to do it again some day.  Please email me if you'd like the full breakdown of our trip, I'd love to share it with you.

I wrote it once and I will write it again: you'll learn alot more about yourself by serving others.