The Bang Bang Club (movie)

I have been aware of the Pulitzer Prize winning image by Kevin Carter for several years now, and also I knew of his subsequent suicide.  Last night I sat down and watched the movie The Bang Bang Club and was surprised to see that his life and demise were part of the story line.

It seems that there is a scarcity of movies about photojournalism, especially those that take a look at the inner turmoil that photographers face when covering hard assignments. Hollywood can get overly simplistic in their efforts to tell a story and romanticize the photographers as glory hound or adrenaline junkies.  Stereotypes that have some truth to them, but there is more to it that that, just as with any human being.

A few scenes in the movie brought back memories of my early career as a photojournalist, and there are some things that I found I really missed.  I saw the characters in the movie inside the newspaper offices, waiting to see each others' film and discussing the assignments, the connection of the photographers with each other, understanding how hard it was to get some images and those were things I missed.  It reminded my of my days working as a lab technician and then photo editor at The Minnesota Daily.  It reminded me of times when people actually cared about the work we were doing and we pushed each other to get better.

Then the movie showed the scenes of strong emotion, the bodies on the ground and the conflict between getting an image and being a human being, and those things were a big part of the reason I left the newspaper.  No, I was never a conflict photographer, but I have seen and photographed a number of corpses.  Some horrifically mangled by trains or motor vehicles.  I have spent hours crouched behind a car while a man with a gun holds police at bay.  I have been to funerals and photographed the grief of the people who have lost their loved ones, and the face of a woman watching her house burn down a few days before Christmas.  I have had a teenage girl push and punch at me because I was there as her trailer house burned.

Being a photojournalist is more than being able to show up and push a button - it is being able to push the button when nobody thinks you should, and making it matter.

The list of photographers who have died getting their images is very long.  The question is, do these images really make a difference in the world?


Basketball - Many Farms vs. Winslow

Of all the images from Saturday's games, this is my favorite.  I think that finally being able to shoot across the court and not being limited by the reach of my speedlites/strobes gave me a chance to get a different angle than I got for all those years shooting basketball when on staff at the newspaper.

Many Farms Lady Lobos Rhonda Lee (23) and Briana Clah (10) and Winslow Lady Bulldog Kiersten Nezzie (52) chase the ball as Tatum Charley (20) falls to the floor and loses control Saturday during the division III match-up in the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.  Winslow defeated Many Farms 45-41.

Winslow Lady Bulldog Halle Hayes (30) battles to get the ball away from Many Farms Lady Lobos Briana Clah (10) and Alicia Begay (5)
Winslow Lady Bulldog Kiersten Nezzia reaches to block a shot on the basket by Many Farms Lady Lobo Charmaine Begay (21)


Basketball - Tuba City vs. Sanders Valley

Tuba City Lady Warrior Shiniya Henry (22) looks for an opening to score while Valley Lady Pirate Kayla Katone (23) tries to block her shot Saturday at the NUA Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.  Tuba City won 69-53.

Tuba City Lady Warriors Kristin Becenti (12), Shiniya Henry  (22) and Jamie Roe (5) try to stop Valley Lady Pirate Bettina Swatts (20) as she tries to score Saturday at the NUA Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.  Tuba City won 69-53.

Tuba City Lady Warrior Tristan Tsosie (11) reaches for the ball while Valley Lady Pirate Adrianna Nez (10) dribbles  around her.

Tuba City Lady Warrior Shiniya Henry (22) grabs a rebound

Tuba City Lady Warrior Vernene Sheppard (3) drives the baseline past Valley Lady Pirate Heather Mitchell (50) during the division III Arizona state basketball tournament

Girls Basketball - Window Rock vs. Holbrook

More tournament photos from the Arizona play-offs in Flagstaff.

Window Rock Fighting Scout Skye Daye (13) pulls down a rebound in front of Holbrook Lady Roadrunner Kaynasa Curley (22) during the division III state basketball playoffs at the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz. Window Rock won 64-50.

Window Rock Fighting Scout Naomi Klah (32) drives up the court Saturday at the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Window Rock Fighting Scout Autumn Tsosie-Hood (23) and Holbrook Roadrunners Tamisha Yazzie (3) and Eriene Haskie (20) grab for a rebound

Window Rock Fighting Scout Naomi Klah (32) squeezes her way between Holbrook Roadrunners Shantina Kinlicheenie (24) and Aaron LaRose (11).

Window Rock Fighting Scout Francine Clark (21) shoots for two points over Holbrook Roadrunner Kellin Bakurza (22)


Girls basketball - Chinle vs. Thatcher

Chinle Lady Wildcat Rachel Martin pulls the ball away from Thatcher Lady Eagle Shiann White during Saturday's Arizona high school division III basketball tournament at the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.  Chinle defeated Thatcher 50-41.


Four basketball games in a single day can make for a long day, but I had a lot of fun being back in the mix.  I also simply loved shooting with the Nikon D7000 and having the option to shoot at 500/sec without flash.  Being able to push the camera to ISO 2500 and still have publishable images is a new thing for me.  

During the tournament I also used my old Nikon D200, and though I was able to get a few images from it, they took a lot more work in Photoshop and still are not quite as nice.

In all I submitted 17 images to The Gallup Independent from this assignment, and they published two.  Here are the images that I shot. 

Chinle Lady Wildcat Macy Clauschee (3) passes the ball to a teammate Saturday while Thatcher Lady Eagle Britny Beals (10) tries to stop her Saturday at the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Chinle Lady Wildcat Rachel Martin (24) shoots a basket Saturday while Thatcher Lady Eagle Shiann White (24) tries to block her Saturday at the NAU Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Chinle Lady Wildcat Rachel Martin (24) dribbles past Thatcher Lady Eagle Shiann White (24) and Kelsey Smith (22)