September 2016

Sophie Kluesner of Ferdinand, 9, did a handstand while playing with friends at Septemberfest at Dubois Community Park on Friday. 

Sophie Kluesner of Ferdinand, 9, did a handstand while playing with friends at Septemberfest at Dubois Community Park on Friday. 

Piper Nichter of Huntingburg, 4, right, rolled her tongue while waiting in line with Madison Richardson of Holland, 5, for the Little Miss and Mister contest to begin during the Holland Community Fest in Holland on Friday. Several parent volunteers asked the girls to make funny faces to help calm their nerves. Piper then showed that she could roll her tongue. 

Piper Nichter of Huntingburg, 4, right, rolled her tongue while waiting in line with Madison Richardson of Holland, 5, for the Little Miss and Mister contest to begin during the Holland Community Fest in Holland on Friday. Several parent volunteers asked the girls to make funny faces to help calm their nerves. Piper then showed that she could roll her tongue. 

Mike Mulligan of Waxhaw, N.C., thumbed through his bible before preaching at the Cowboys for Christ event at Christ Community Fellowship Church in Huntingburg on Saturday. Mulligan and Calvin Barfield of Conway, S.C., travelled to Huntingburg with their horses, Honey and Sassy, to give rides to kids and preach about Jesus. 

Mike Mulligan of Waxhaw, N.C., thumbed through his bible before preaching at the Cowboys for Christ event at Christ Community Fellowship Church in Huntingburg on Saturday. Mulligan and Calvin Barfield of Conway, S.C., travelled to Huntingburg with their horses, Honey and Sassy, to give rides to kids and preach about Jesus. 

Gabriela Gomez, 6, from left, Jazmin Uresti, 11, and Jaslyn Soto, 8, all of Huntingburg, joked around while waiting to perform a traditional El Salvadoran dance during Latino Fest at Huntingburg City Park in Huntingburg on Saturday.

Gabriela Gomez, 6, from left, Jazmin Uresti, 11, and Jaslyn Soto, 8, all of Huntingburg, joked around while waiting to perform a traditional El Salvadoran dance during Latino Fest at Huntingburg City Park in Huntingburg on Saturday.

Southridge's Nolan O'Brien sprinted past North Posey's defense during the Interstate 69 Bowl game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday. The Raiders beat the Vikings 48-25. 

Southridge's Nolan O'Brien sprinted past North Posey's defense during the Interstate 69 Bowl game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday. The Raiders beat the Vikings 48-25. 

Southridge assistant coach Brad Ohanian encouraged the players to "soak it all in" after beating North Posey at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday. The Raiders won 48-25. 

Southridge assistant coach Brad Ohanian encouraged the players to "soak it all in" after beating North Posey at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday. The Raiders won 48-25. 

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Brandon Schaefer of Ferdinand, left, and Craig Atkins of St. Anthony led more than 30 members of Team Red, White, and Blue on an 11-mile march from Ferdinand to Jasper along State Road 162 on Sunday. Atkins served 12 years as a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps. After each mile, the group stopped to perform nine repetitions of squats. Team Red, White, and Blue is an organization that unites veterans and civilians interested in athletic training. 

To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Brandon Schaefer of Ferdinand, left, and Craig Atkins of St. Anthony led more than 30 members of Team Red, White, and Blue on an 11-mile march from Ferdinand to Jasper along State Road 162 on Sunday. Atkins served 12 years as a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps. After each mile, the group stopped to perform nine repetitions of squats. Team Red, White, and Blue is an organization that unites veterans and civilians interested in athletic training. 

Jasper's Meredith Hilgefort, Mariah Seifert, Anna Moeller, Maddie Edwards, Rylee Hedinger, Taylor Wildman, and Breann Dorsam celebrated after winning a point during the match against Northeast Dubois in Jasper on Thursday. Jasper won in three sets. 

Jasper's Meredith Hilgefort, Mariah Seifert, Anna Moeller, Maddie Edwards, Rylee Hedinger, Taylor Wildman, and Breann Dorsam celebrated after winning a point during the match against Northeast Dubois in Jasper on Thursday. Jasper won in three sets. 

Montana Jones of Huntingburg, 16, collected her thoughts while waiting her turn on stage during the pageant at Southridge High School in Huntingburg on Sunday. 

Montana Jones of Huntingburg, 16, collected her thoughts while waiting her turn on stage during the pageant at Southridge High School in Huntingburg on Sunday. 

Little Mister contestant William Flamion of Holland, 3, sat under a cow-milking display before the start of the Little Miss and Mister contest during the Holland Community Fest in Holland on Friday. 

Little Mister contestant William Flamion of Holland, 3, sat under a cow-milking display before the start of the Little Miss and Mister contest during the Holland Community Fest in Holland on Friday. 

Terri Damron of Ashville, Ky., danced with her husband, Walter, during the Ferdinand Folk Festival in Ferdinand on Saturday. "He's my husband of 40 years," Terri said. "God bless him!" 

Terri Damron of Ashville, Ky., danced with her husband, Walter, during the Ferdinand Folk Festival in Ferdinand on Saturday. "He's my husband of 40 years," Terri said. "God bless him!" 

Jasper's Anna Charron, center, led the cheer in the halftime huddle during the game against Gibson Southern in Jasper on Saturday. Jasper lost 4-2. 

Jasper's Anna Charron, center, led the cheer in the halftime huddle during the game against Gibson Southern in Jasper on Saturday. Jasper lost 4-2. 

July 2016 // Welcome to Dubois County, IN

For me, moving to Dubois County, Indiana, was a bit like moving back in time. 

Located in southern Indiana, Dubois County (pronounced DO-boyz, NOT dOOb-waa) is quintessential rural/small-town America. Jasper is the county seat and the "big city" of the county because there is a Walmart and a few fast food options.

Tradition is important here. Every small town in the county from Ireland and Holland to Zoar and Birdseye has its own festival where the entire town gathers to celebrate. People still read the newspaper and scan the pages to spot photos of themselves or their neighbors. Find a picture of Katie Sue in The Herald? Cut it out and send it to her mother just in case she didn't see it! 

Even The Herald feels a bit like frozen in the glory days of community journalism. It's still an afternoon paper which only publishes Monday thru Saturday. Most people get the paper delivered as they are arriving home from work in the evenings. Print first is the mentality, especially since The Herald only got a website in 2010! What?!

Maybe it is stuck in time, but at The Herald, I have time to truly delve into the community. I have time to spend making intimate storytelling images without overbearing deadline pressure. I have the time to spend waiting to capture the moment. Now it's just up to me to make those images! 

I'm so excited to spend the next five months challenging myself to make storytelling images that matter - because that's what The Herald is known for. 

From the 4-H Fair to pageants galore, here are some of my favorites from my first month in Dubois County. 

Kensley Gogel of St. Henry, 6, fed hay to one of dairy cows that Zach Cline of Kyana, 18, showed this year at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Wednesday. 

Kensley Gogel of St. Henry, 6, fed hay to one of dairy cows that Zach Cline of Kyana, 18, showed this year at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Wednesday. 

Alex Hopf of Huntingburg, 16, prayed with fellow contestant Katelyn Tretter of Ferdinand, 16, before walking down the runway at the 2016 Dubois County 4-H Fair Queen Contest at Jasper High School in Jasper on Sunday. Tretter was named Teen Miss first runner up. 

Alex Hopf of Huntingburg, 16, prayed with fellow contestant Katelyn Tretter of Ferdinand, 16, before walking down the runway at the 2016 Dubois County 4-H Fair Queen Contest at Jasper High School in Jasper on Sunday. Tretter was named Teen Miss first runner up. 

Abigail Conrad of French Lick, 6, reacted after being hit by Ryland Gerber of Winslow, 4, left, and Adam Onyette of Petersburg, 6, during the Power Wheels class of the demolition derby at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Saturday.

Abigail Conrad of French Lick, 6, reacted after being hit by Ryland Gerber of Winslow, 4, left, and Adam Onyette of Petersburg, 6, during the Power Wheels class of the demolition derby at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Saturday.

Abe Eckman of Jasper, 12, swam across the pool during the 4th annual Dubois County Youth Triathlon and Duathlon on Saturday at Huntingburg City park. 

Abe Eckman of Jasper, 12, swam across the pool during the 4th annual Dubois County Youth Triathlon and Duathlon on Saturday at Huntingburg City park. 

Derek Bolling reacted after his putt sent the ball just wide of the hole during the final round of the Dubois County Amateur at Sultan's Run Golf Club in Jasper on Sunday. Jacob Bartley won the tournament after defeating Anthony Seng on the second sudden-death playoff hole.

Derek Bolling reacted after his putt sent the ball just wide of the hole during the final round of the Dubois County Amateur at Sultan's Run Golf Club in Jasper on Sunday. Jacob Bartley won the tournament after defeating Anthony Seng on the second sudden-death playoff hole.

Prestyn Balsmeyer of Huntingburg, 17, grimaced while pulling the rope during the tug-of-war competition at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Thursday evening. 

Prestyn Balsmeyer of Huntingburg, 17, grimaced while pulling the rope during the tug-of-war competition at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Thursday evening. 

Allyson Werner of Ferdinand, 14, guided her steer from the outdoor pen at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Wednesday morning. 

Allyson Werner of Ferdinand, 14, guided her steer from the outdoor pen at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Wednesday morning. 

2015 first runner-up Kelsey Graman, 19, comforted contestant Haley Sample of Jasper, 18, while waiting backstage for the formal round of the Miss Strassenfest pageant at Redemption Christian Church in Jasper on Saturday. 

2015 first runner-up Kelsey Graman, 19, comforted contestant Haley Sample of Jasper, 18, while waiting backstage for the formal round of the Miss Strassenfest pageant at Redemption Christian Church in Jasper on Saturday. 

Lily Harpe of Alexandria, 9, climbed the tower at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Thursday evening. 

Lily Harpe of Alexandria, 9, climbed the tower at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on Thursday evening. 

Reagan Hopf, 7, and Ava Claire Werne, 8, both of Jasper, played backstage while waiting for the Little Miss and Mister Strassenfest pageant at Redemption Christian Church in Jasper on Saturday. Ava Claire won second runner-up. 

Reagan Hopf, 7, and Ava Claire Werne, 8, both of Jasper, played backstage while waiting for the Little Miss and Mister Strassenfest pageant at Redemption Christian Church in Jasper on Saturday. Ava Claire won second runner-up. 

July 2015

Goodbyes are never easy.

When I attended summer camp as a child, I always dreaded Saturday morning when my parents would drive through the camp entrance to pick me up. I always cried because I knew as soon as I passed camp's rusted gates I was leaving my special place; I was leaving a community of people that encouraged me to grow, learn, and be the best version of myself.

My time in the Upper Valley was a lot like my time at summer camp. I grew exponentially. I learned how to live alone, how to meet people and find stories, how to make better photographs. But most importantly I learned how to be the best version of myself.

That doesn't mean it wasn't hard. January, February, and March (and maybe even a bit of April) were bitterly cold, a cold that my Southern blood could barely handle. I was painfully lonely. Some days I felt like all I did was work, eat and sleep. But through these challenges I grew. I grew and grew.

The Upper Valley is a special place. It's now my special place.

So saying goodbye isn't easy. It never is.

Here are some of my favorite images from my final few weeks at the Valley News.


May 2015

Warmer days.
Greener grass.
Happier Sarah.

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)

April 2015

April was a month of transitions.
The air transitioned from crisp and bitter to languid and humid.
The snow melted, and new grass began to grow.
After experiencing my first New England winter, April felt like a breath of fresh air.
 

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)

Sometimes

Sometimes your favorite images just aren't quite right for publication.
These are some unpublished gems from the beginning of April.

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)

Learning Experiences

At the end of March, I covered my first fire and wrote about my experience on the Valley News' Valley Visual blog. Here is what I wrote.

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)

I had just settled in to watch one more episode of Gilmore Girls before going to bed Saturday night when I got the call from the editor of our Sunday paper.

There is a fire at a lumberyard in Fairlee. It’s big. We need you to cover it.

I flew into action, changing out of my sweatpants, throwing on warm layers, all with adrenaline pumping in my veins. Just a few hours earlier, one of my coworkers listened as I complained about not getting the opportunity to cover any of the fires that have swept through the Upper Valley this winter.

Now it was my turn, and I was practically giddy with excitement.

Hopping into my car, I sped north from Hartford on Interstate 91 to Britton Lumber Company, not quite sure what to expect.

More than 20 fire trucks zipped along Route 5 to bring water to the scene. The fire was huge, consuming the entire length of the 250-foot-long sawmill. It was an inherently visual situation, with firefighters climbing the ladder trucks with hoses to try to control the flames. After taking hundreds of photos, I emailed my favorites to the newsroom from the parking lot of the Fairlee Public Library, which luckily had a wifi connection, and headed home.

Mission complete… or so I thought.

Fires are flashy. They are one of the “sexy” assignments that young photojournalists pine for on slow news days. It’s pretty easy to make interesting photos when a building is engulfed in flames.

But what I learned this past weekend is the fire itself isn’t the entire story.

The real story is the people harmed by the fire.

I got the opportunity to go back to the sawmill on Sunday and cover the aftermath. A steady stream of employees and community members visited the site to see the rubble for themselves.

I met Tom Fulton, the sawmill dry kiln manager, who wandered the wreckage with tears in his eyes. The Fairlee native has worked in the sawmill for 16 years. “I was planning to retire in December,” he said. “But the 20 guys that work here, they’re the real casualty. This is just steel and wood.”

It’s still unknown what the future holds for the sawmill employees.

I’m glad I got to go back to the sawmill. Because the raging flames don’t tell the whole story; people do.

March 2015

Town meetings dominated my daily assignments in March. Meetings were fun, but some of my favorite images came from other assignments and standalones found in between the slew of local government proceedings.

It's also crazy to think I'm halfway done with this Northern adventure. I've been in the Upper Valley for 3 months, and spring is slowly but surely arriving. I can't wait to see what the next 3 months bring.

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)



Town Meetings 2015

In Vermont and New Hampshire, local government is a big deal. Each year in March, the towns gather in historic buildings, town halls, school gyms to discuss pressing issues facing the town. Then they vote. In person. By raising their hands. Or if the issue is particularly controversial by paper ballot. Walking one by one to the front of the room to place their paper ballots in an old, wooden ballot box. 

Local government is a big deal. Tradition is important.  

Town Meetings are a time for people to speak their minds about the direction of their town. But it's also a time for people to catch up with their neighbors and friends. It's also often a time for knitting. 

Growing up in the South, the idea of gathering as a town to talk and vote for hours and hours was a foreign concept to me. But after covering 10 Town Meetings in towns across the Upper Valley, I decided I like the tradition. This is a place rooted in tradition and local governance. 

Here are some of my favorite moments. 

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)


Dog Sledding Preview

One of my favorite things about interning at the Valley News is that I get to experience a completely new part of the country. I get to experience a true New England winter. (And apparently I chose a "good one," i.e. snow, ice and bitter cold). But despite the cold, I get to see and experience how people live in this climate. I get to see how people live, work, and play

For my February photo project with the Valley News, I profiled a local dog sledder named Fran Plaisted. She lives with her 13 sled dogs in Orford, N.H. You can read more about Fran and her pups here.

There aren't dog sledding races in Tennessee or North Carolina. I couldn't have done this story anywhere else.

I'm still editing a finalized version of the story but here is a preview of some of my favorite photos.

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)



February 2015

Snow.
Cold.
Ice.
Cold.
Basketball.
Cold.
Hockey.

Some favorites from my February spent in the Upper Valley. 

(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)

January 2015

This January was a month of change.
Big changes. 

On January 2, 2015, I packed up my car as usual. But instead of heading east back to Chapel Hill, I headed north to begin a two-day drive to Vermont.

This semester, I am no longer a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Instead, I'm a working girl, an intern at the Valley News in Lebanon, N.H. I get to spend six months only focusing on photojournalism. I don't have to worry about classes or homework. I just have to worry about making storytelling images. I get to focus on what I love to do.

The Valley News is a daily, community paper that covers 46 towns in a region known as the Upper Valley on the Vermont/New Hampshire border. It's a special paper that values the power of photojournalism. The paper features weekly picture pages that consist of stories found and told by our staff photographers. I feel incredibly honored to work at such a place.

This January, I got my first taste of winter in New England. I decided to document my transition to this winter wonderland in my first picture page. It can be found online here.

Here are some of my favorite images from January 2015.
(All photos are Copyright 2015 - Valley News)

Week 8: Farewell

These are my photos from my final week as an intern at The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C. This summer has flown by, and I am amazed at how much I have learned in such a short amount of time. The N&O was the perfect place for my first internship. The photographers at the N&O are dedicated, encouraging and passionate. I loved going to work every day. I loved getting to learn from the best photographers in the area. I loved discovering that this is truly what I want to do with the rest of my life. In two short weeks, I'll be headed back to UNC for my junior year. I'm excited to see what this chapter in my life holds.

Wednesday: McKenzie Patterson, 8, rests on her mother Monica Alexander's lap while watching her older brothers play video games in Zebulon, N.C., on Wednesday,  July 23, 2014. Alexander works part time as a certified nursing assistant but wishes to work full time to support her three children still living at home.

Wednesday: McKenzie Patterson, 8, rests on her mother Monica Alexander's lap while watching her older brothers play video games in Zebulon, N.C., on Wednesday,  July 23, 2014. Alexander works part time as a certified nursing assistant but wishes to work full time to support her three children still living at home.

Monica Alexander helps her son, McKinley Patterson, 14, make his birthday cake at their home in Zebulon, N.C., on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Monica Alexander helps her son, McKinley Patterson, 14, make his birthday cake at their home in Zebulon, N.C., on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Monica Alexander reviews her son McKinley Patterson's end-of-grade test results in her home in Zebulon, N.C., on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Monica Alexander reviews her son McKinley Patterson's end-of-grade test results in her home in Zebulon, N.C., on Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

Wednesday: Dawn Dudley kisses her daughter Trinity Dudley, 5, during a swim lesson at the YMCA at Meadowmont in Chapel Hill on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. At age 2 and a half, Trinity was diagnosed with autism which led Dudley to found My Circle of Girls, a social & service group for girls ages 2 to 6 living with autism in the Triangle area. The group offers monthly programming that allows the girls and parents to learn and interact. In July, My Circle of Girls partnered with the YMCA at Meadowmont and their "We Build People" campaign to offer discounted swim lessons for young girls with autism. According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for 91 percent of deaths of children with autism spectrum disorders in 2011. "We may have future Olympic swimmers in the group," Dudley said. "But our main goal is teach our girls how to be safe around water."

Wednesday: Dawn Dudley kisses her daughter Trinity Dudley, 5, during a swim lesson at the YMCA at Meadowmont in Chapel Hill on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. At age 2 and a half, Trinity was diagnosed with autism which led Dudley to found My Circle of Girls, a social & service group for girls ages 2 to 6 living with autism in the Triangle area. The group offers monthly programming that allows the girls and parents to learn and interact. In July, My Circle of Girls partnered with the YMCA at Meadowmont and their "We Build People" campaign to offer discounted swim lessons for young girls with autism. According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for 91 percent of deaths of children with autism spectrum disorders in 2011. "We may have future Olympic swimmers in the group," Dudley said. "But our main goal is teach our girls how to be safe around water."

Before this summer, Trinity had very little experience in the pool.

Before this summer, Trinity had very little experience in the pool.

During the lessons, Trinity loves to float on her back and feel the water around her.

During the lessons, Trinity loves to float on her back and feel the water around her.

On Thursday, I traveled to Stoneville, N.C. with columnist Josh Shaffer to explore the Mayo River and the new nearby state park. It was an adventure involving canoeing and cliff jumping!

Update: The photos were published front page on August 10, 2014. This was my fourth and final front page spread this summer.

NAO20140810.jpg

Week 7: Nearing the End

Only one week left.

Monday: The Raleigh skyline seen from the Dorothea Dix campus. In an interview Monday, July 14, 2014, Mayor Nancy McFarlane voiced her frustrations about the slow negotiations over the Dorothea Dix property, the former psychiatric hospital campus that the city wishes to purchase from the state to use as a public park.

Monday: The Raleigh skyline seen from the Dorothea Dix campus. In an interview Monday, July 14, 2014, Mayor Nancy McFarlane voiced her frustrations about the slow negotiations over the Dorothea Dix property, the former psychiatric hospital campus that the city wishes to purchase from the state to use as a public park.

Tuesday: Jennifer Hall makes a drink at Sola Coffee Cafe in Raleigh on Tuesday, June 15, 2014. Sola Coffee Cafe is a member of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Alliance and its Shop Local Raleigh campaign, which promotes and supports locally-owned, independent businesses.

Tuesday: Jennifer Hall makes a drink at Sola Coffee Cafe in Raleigh on Tuesday, June 15, 2014. Sola Coffee Cafe is a member of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Alliance and its Shop Local Raleigh campaign, which promotes and supports locally-owned, independent businesses.

Wednesday: Steven Dembinski uses a machine at the AFEX warehouse in Raleigh to make nuts for a fire-suppressant system Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Using credit insurance through the Export-Import Bank, the Raleigh-based company makes fire-suppressant systems for off-road equipment.

Wednesday: Steven Dembinski uses a machine at the AFEX warehouse in Raleigh to make nuts for a fire-suppressant system Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Using credit insurance through the Export-Import Bank, the Raleigh-based company makes fire-suppressant systems for off-road equipment.

Thursday: A Silvery Checkerspot butterfly lands on a black-eyed Susan at the North Carolina Botanical Garden on Thursday, July 17, 2014.

Thursday: A Silvery Checkerspot butterfly lands on a black-eyed Susan at the North Carolina Botanical Garden on Thursday, July 17, 2014.

Fable Barker, 2, explores the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill with her mother, Megan Barker, on Thursday, July 17, 2014. The family roamed the garden while visiting Chapel Hill from Asheville.

Fable Barker, 2, explores the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill with her mother, Megan Barker, on Thursday, July 17, 2014. The family roamed the garden while visiting Chapel Hill from Asheville.

On Friday, I was sent to cover the Lovette trial in Durham. Laurence Lovette is accused of murdering Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato in January of 2008. Lovette and Demario Atwater are serving life sentences for killing UNC-Chapel Hill Student Body President Eve Carson on March 5, 2008. This was a completely new experience for me. I've never witnessed a jury trial apart from watching "How to Kill a Mockingbird" and various crime shows. It was a weird feeling to be in that courtroom and watch Lovette interact with his attorneys. This wasn't a movie or a TV show; this was real life.

Friday: Defense attorney Kevin Bradley, left, and defendant Laurence Lovette listen to the opening statements in Durham Superior Court on Friday, July 18, 2014 in Durham. Lovette is accused of murdering Abhijit Mahato, a Duke grad student in 2008.

Friday: Defense attorney Kevin Bradley, left, and defendant Laurence Lovette listen to the opening statements in Durham Superior Court on Friday, July 18, 2014 in Durham. Lovette is accused of murdering Abhijit Mahato, a Duke grad student in 2008.

Lovette listens to testimony.

Lovette listens to testimony.

Judge Jim Hardin instructs the jury.

Judge Jim Hardin instructs the jury.

Week 6: Child's Eyes

Maybe I take too many photos of kids, but I am drawn to how expressive they are and how they see the world through their curious eyes.

When I look for features, I try to see the world through a child's eyes. Things that might be overlooked by an adult can be intriguing to a child. Children are observant. Children are curious. Children are fearless. Children are enthusiastic. I've been known to over-think and over-analyze. Most children don't do that because they lack adult worries. They just live in the moment, exploring the world around them. I think my photos can benefit from a child's mindset. It's something I'm still working on, but I'm improving. I'm trying each day to see the world through a child's eyes, being observant, creative, enthusiastic and fearless.

Wednesday: Jason McIntyre writes a note of thanks in the unfinished attic of the future home of Corporal Nathan Jakubisin in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Nearly a hundred people wrote messages of gratitude, pride or encouragement on the wooden frames in the unfinished attic. The construction is a collaboration of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake and Operation: Coming Home, an organization that provides new, mortgage-free homes for wounded veterans. Jakubisin suffered severe leg and hand injuries from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2012.

Wednesday: Jason McIntyre writes a note of thanks in the unfinished attic of the future home of Corporal Nathan Jakubisin in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Nearly a hundred people wrote messages of gratitude, pride or encouragement on the wooden frames in the unfinished attic. The construction is a collaboration of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake and Operation: Coming Home, an organization that provides new, mortgage-free homes for wounded veterans. Jakubisin suffered severe leg and hand injuries from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2012.

Thursday: I went feature hunting and found this family playing on the playground just before it started to storm.

Thursday: I went feature hunting and found this family playing on the playground just before it started to storm.

I love the graphics of the playground against the stormy sky.

I love the graphics of the playground against the stormy sky.

After feature hunting I was sent to a gym in Cary to watch futsal, a type of indoor soccer. I can't express how much I hate bad gym lighting. Coach Andreu Plaza coaches campers at the Futsal Academy at SportHQ in Cary, N.C., Thursday July 10, 2014. Plaza travelled from Barcelona, where he is coach of the Barcelona "B" Team and heads the FC Barcelona Youth Academy, one of the best youth futsal programs in the world. Futsal is like indoor soccer but allows players to play on gym floors rather than only on specially designed fields.

After feature hunting I was sent to a gym in Cary to watch futsal, a type of indoor soccer. I can't express how much I hate bad gym lighting.

Coach Andreu Plaza coaches campers at the Futsal Academy at SportHQ in Cary, N.C., Thursday July 10, 2014. Plaza travelled from Barcelona, where he is coach of the Barcelona "B" Team and heads the FC Barcelona Youth Academy, one of the best youth futsal programs in the world. Futsal is like indoor soccer but allows players to play on gym floors rather than only on specially designed fields.

Friday: More feature hunting! This time I went to a local pool. I may have gotten soaked but I also had a lot of fun.  Sam Askew, 4, sprays his older brother Charlie Askew, 8, with a Hydro Blaster water toy at Ridge Road Pool in Raleigh Friday, July 11, 2014. The brothers regularly come to the pool to cool off and play with their friends.

Friday: More feature hunting! This time I went to a local pool. I may have gotten soaked but I also had a lot of fun. 

Sam Askew, 4, sprays his older brother Charlie Askew, 8, with a Hydro Blaster water toy at Ridge Road Pool in Raleigh Friday, July 11, 2014. The brothers regularly come to the pool to cool off and play with their friends.

Eloise Sayre, 5, dives into Ridge Road Pool in Raleigh Friday, July 11, 2014. Sayre loves coming to the pool to cool off and play with her friends.

Eloise Sayre, 5, dives into Ridge Road Pool in Raleigh Friday, July 11, 2014. Sayre loves coming to the pool to cool off and play with her friends.

Mountain Adventures

The N&O is doing a summer series called Best-Kept Secrets that features out-of-the-way and lesser-known spots in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

I was sent to take photos of the "secrets" in five different mountain counties. Because my family lives in Chattanooga, TN, my editors thought sending me would be a good way to avoid paying for a hotel room since I could stay with my parents. Free trip home? I'm not complaining!!

Saturday: I left Chapel Hill at the crack of dawn to begin my adventure. Around midday I made it to Richland Balsam Overlook, which is the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Saturday: I left Chapel Hill at the crack of dawn to begin my adventure. Around midday I made it to Richland Balsam Overlook, which is the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

There was a fun mix of people at the overlook, bikers taking a smoke break and tourists stopping to admire the view. I loved this interaction.

There was a fun mix of people at the overlook, bikers taking a smoke break and tourists stopping to admire the view. I loved this interaction.

On Sunday, Mom and I packed a cooler of snacks and hit the road. After getting a little lost, we finally made it to Deals Gap, N.C., home to the infamous Tail of the Dragon. The Tail of the Dragon is a stretch of U.S. 129 that has 318 turns in 11 miles. It is considered by many as one of the world's foremost roads for motorcycling and sports cars. Mom and I pulled into the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort in my 2004 Honda Pilot SUV and let's just say we stuck out like a sore thumb. I drove the Tail of the Dragon twice, while we searched for the perfect pull-off to set up our picnic. I wanted to take photos of the bikers who zipped along the curves. We finally found the perfect spot and set up our camp chairs and opened the cooler. I was so thankful my mom was able to experience this adventure with me.

Sunday: A biker speeds along a curve in the Tail of the Dragon, a stretch of U.S. 129 that has 318 turns in 11 miles on Sunday, July 6, 2014. Bikers and motorists come from around the world to drive tight, steep curves.

Sunday: A biker speeds along a curve in the Tail of the Dragon, a stretch of U.S. 129 that has 318 turns in 11 miles on Sunday, July 6, 2014. Bikers and motorists come from around the world to drive tight, steep curves.

After leaving Deals Gap, we headed home along U.S. 64 West. We stopped for dinner at the Ocoee Dam Deli, one of my favorite places near the Ocoee River. I grew up going to camp at YMCA Camp Ocoee every summer. The Dam Deli is the restaurant right next to Cookson Creek Rd which leads to camp. It made my heart so happy to stop for dinner there.

After we finished eating, the sun was just starting to set. There were several chickens in the parking lot by the deli. The light and the setting were perfect so I had to take photos.

After we finished eating, the sun was just starting to set. There were several chickens in the parking lot by the deli. The light and the setting were perfect so I had to take photos.

The golden hour in the mountains is truly magical.

The golden hour in the mountains is truly magical.

Monday: I traveled to Murphy, N.C. to see the world's largest Ten Commandments at the Fields of the Wood Bible park. Evelyne Williams, 9, climbs down the steps running alongside the world's largest depiction of the Ten Commandments at Fields of the Wood Bible Park in Murphy, N.C., Monday, July 7, 2014.

Monday: I traveled to Murphy, N.C. to see the world's largest Ten Commandments at the Fields of the Wood Bible park.

Evelyne Williams, 9, climbs down the steps running alongside the world's largest depiction of the Ten Commandments at Fields of the Wood Bible Park in Murphy, N.C., Monday, July 7, 2014.

After visiting the bible park, I headed to camp. In 2003, I first set foot on the trails of YMCA Camp Ocoee. I was 9 years old, timid, shy, and nervous. But I quickly fell in the love with the place. It was at camp where I learned how to be the best version of my self. It was at camp where I conquered fears. It was at camp where I loved and was loved. It was at camp where I made some of my closest and dearest friends. There is something pretty special about a place where you spend weeks in the great outdoors surrounded by people that love the experience just as much as you do. There is an energy in the air that is indescribable.

Last summer was my first summer to work somewhere other than camp. But because I stayed in Chattanooga, I was able to visit often. This summer, I was worried that I wouldn't get a chance to visit my favorite place on earth. But because I passed camp four times on my way to and from my assignments, I knew I was going to be able to make it happen. I didn't tell any of my friends at camp that I was coming. I just arrived and surprised them. It made my heart happy to spend the afternoon and evening in a place that means the world to me with people that mean the world to me.

I went out on the boat after dinner and took photos while girls on their campout rode the banana boat. The banana boat is a Camp Ocoee tradition and something that all campers look forward to.

I went out on the boat after dinner and took photos while girls on their campout rode the banana boat. The banana boat is a Camp Ocoee tradition and something that all campers look forward to.

Tuesday: On my way back to Chapel Hill, I stopped in Brasstown to take photos at Clay's Corner. Clay Logan has owned Clay's Corner in Brasstown, N.C., for 27 years. The small, family-owned gas station and convenience store is home to the annual 'Possum Drop on New Year's Eve, during which locals celebrate the new year with the lowering of a live opossum.

Tuesday: On my way back to Chapel Hill, I stopped in Brasstown to take photos at Clay's Corner. Clay Logan has owned Clay's Corner in Brasstown, N.C., for 27 years. The small, family-owned gas station and convenience store is home to the annual 'Possum Drop on New Year's Eve, during which locals celebrate the new year with the lowering of a live opossum.

When I got to Clay's Corner, Clay was hanging a sign from the gas station awning advertising his new edition of ethanol free gas.

When I got to Clay's Corner, Clay was hanging a sign from the gas station awning advertising his new edition of ethanol free gas.

Week 5: Waves

This week started off a little slower than usual. Because I worked last weekend, I had Monday and Tuesday off. The end of this week was pretty slow on the news front, so I didn't have very many assignments. Maybe I'm just starting to dream about the beach, but I like to think that daily news assignments are a lot like ocean waves. Some weeks I am scrambling just to keep my head above water, flying from one assignment to the next. I feel important and needed. Then the next week, I struggle to find my own news because the newsroom is pretty quiet. In those quieter moments, I question my own abilities; I question my importance. Yet like ocean waves, the assignments will build up again and eventually come crashing down over the newsroom. This week might have been a lull in the waves, but who knows what next week will bring? I'm here to experience all facets of newspaper photojournalism, waves and all.

Wednesday: Rep. Mickey Michaux, a member of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus, speaks at a press conference, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the N.C. Legislature Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

Wednesday: Rep. Mickey Michaux, a member of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus, speaks at a press conference, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act at the N.C. Legislature Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

Wednesday: After the press conference I drove to Fuquay-Varina to take photos of this young baseball star.  Jake Pereira, 8, from Fuquay-Varina, is one of 24 finalists in the 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run program and will compete at the National Finals July 14, 2014, during MLB All-Star Week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pereira practices at Falcon Park in Fuquay-Varina Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

Wednesday: After the press conference I drove to Fuquay-Varina to take photos of this young baseball star. 

Jake Pereira, 8, from Fuquay-Varina, is one of 24 finalists in the 2014 Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit & Run program and will compete at the National Finals July 14, 2014, during MLB All-Star Week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pereira practices at Falcon Park in Fuquay-Varina Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

Here I think Jake looks like a professional player giving the batter the stink eye.

Here I think Jake looks like a professional player giving the batter the stink eye.

Thursday: I went back to Fuquay-Varina to take photos of a golf course that is closing. The manager gave me a golf cart and told me to do what I needed. Unfortunately it wasn't a very popular day to golf.

Thursday: I went back to Fuquay-Varina to take photos of a golf course that is closing. The manager gave me a golf cart and told me to do what I needed. Unfortunately it wasn't a very popular day to golf.

Friday: Fourth of July! I was assigned to cover the Eno Festival in Durham. It was not your typical Fourth of July celebration. Alden Phelps, 6, tries to catch tadpoles in the Eno River during the 35th annual Festival for the Eno in Durham, N.C., Friday, July 4, 2014. Festival goers had the opportunity to play in the Eno River as well as listen to musical groups and browse crafts created by local artists. The event is presented by the Eno River Association, which is committed to the preservation of the nature, culture, and history of the Eno River basin.

Friday: Fourth of July! I was assigned to cover the Eno Festival in Durham. It was not your typical Fourth of July celebration.

Alden Phelps, 6, tries to catch tadpoles in the Eno River during the 35th annual Festival for the Eno in Durham, N.C., Friday, July 4, 2014. Festival goers had the opportunity to play in the Eno River as well as listen to musical groups and browse crafts created by local artists. The event is presented by the Eno River Association, which is committed to the preservation of the nature, culture, and history of the Eno River basin.

Zane Cornwright, 7, of Durham, jumps into the Eno River in Durham during the Festival for the Eno on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Zane Cornwright, 7, of Durham, jumps into the Eno River in Durham during the Festival for the Eno on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Festival goers add artwork to the giant "O" near the Meadow stage at the Festival for the Eno in Durham on Friday, July 4, 2014. There was also a "E" and "N" near the stage.

Festival goers add artwork to the giant "O" near the Meadow stage at the Festival for the Eno in Durham on Friday, July 4, 2014. There was also a "E" and "N" near the stage.

Paleface and Mo Samalot perform on the River Stage at the Festival for the Eno in Durham, N.C., on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Paleface and Mo Samalot perform on the River Stage at the Festival for the Eno in Durham, N.C., on Friday, July 4, 2014.

Week 4: Halfway

Halfway. 4 weeks done; 4 weeks to go.

Monday: I was sent to Rex Hospital to cover their roll out of a new online medical records system. With such a large hospital they have trained hundreds of medical personnel how to use the new system so that they can train their coworkers. Each of the trainers receive a phone at the beginning of their shift.

Monday: I was sent to Rex Hospital to cover their roll out of a new online medical records system. With such a large hospital they have trained hundreds of medical personnel how to use the new system so that they can train their coworkers. Each of the trainers receive a phone at the beginning of their shift.

Monday: The trained users wore colored vests and helped doctors to use the new system.

Monday: The trained users wore colored vests and helped doctors to use the new system.

Tuesday: The N.C. Legislature is currently proposing a budget that would cut funding for driver education. I had the joy of riding along with a new driver and his instructor. I now fully understand how my parents felt when I started driving. It was scary.

Tuesday: The N.C. Legislature is currently proposing a budget that would cut funding for driver education. I had the joy of riding along with a new driver and his instructor. I now fully understand how my parents felt when I started driving. It was scary.

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Tuesday: The Carolina Railhawks played the LA Galaxy in Cary, Tuesday night. It was fun to cover a professional soccer game during the World Cup because energy was high. There were a lot of fans and occasionally a U-S-A chant broke out.

Thursday: Fans gather at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary to watch the United States compete against Germany in the 2014 World Cup. I snapped this photo near the end of the second half when it was clear Germany was going to win. Two days later I received an email from an angry subscriber asking why the N&O would publish a photo that exemplifies such disrespect to the flag. Even as an avid Girls Stater, I respectfully disagree. I'm proud of this photo and think it demonstrates this woman's pride in her country that she was willing to sit in 90-degree heat to watch her team. Food for thought.

Thursday: Fans gather at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary to watch the United States compete against Germany in the 2014 World Cup. I snapped this photo near the end of the second half when it was clear Germany was going to win. Two days later I received an email from an angry subscriber asking why the N&O would publish a photo that exemplifies such disrespect to the flag. Even as an avid Girls Stater, I respectfully disagree. I'm proud of this photo and think it demonstrates this woman's pride in her country that she was willing to sit in 90-degree heat to watch her team. Food for thought.

Thursday: Later in the day, I went to Marbles Kids Museum to cover the Kick-off to Kindergarten event. Rising kindergarteners had the opportunity to go through the lunch line and ride the school bus for the first time.

Thursday: Later in the day, I went to Marbles Kids Museum to cover the Kick-off to Kindergarten event. Rising kindergarteners had the opportunity to go through the lunch line and ride the school bus for the first time.

Friday: Dance & Math & Music campers perform for their parents at the Raleigh School of Ballet. I used to take dance lessons at the Raleigh School of Ballet so it was fun to visit the place.

Friday: Dance & Math & Music campers perform for their parents at the Raleigh School of Ballet. I used to take dance lessons at the Raleigh School of Ballet so it was fun to visit the place.

Saturday: I traveled to Bentonville where archaeologists and volunteers are excavating the grounds around Harper House. To get this low angle, I had to literally lay flat on my stomach in the dirt. And who says being a photojournalist isn't glamorous??

Saturday: I traveled to Bentonville where archaeologists and volunteers are excavating the grounds around Harper House. To get this low angle, I had to literally lay flat on my stomach in the dirt. And who says being a photojournalist isn't glamorous??

Sunday: Chelsea Hemsworth, 7, examines salt and sugar under a microscope at Marbles Kids Museum on Sunday, June, 29, 2014. The museum hosted N.C. BioNetwork scientist Summer Cortinas, who showed young visitors different elements of kitchen chemistry, including crystals, candy dyes, and polymers. Chelsea was celebrating her birthday at the museum and wore a princess dress and crown. As a product of an all-girls high school education, I love seeing young girls engaged in science and math. So often, the stereotype is that girls that are interested in math and science can't be girly. That's just not true.

Sunday: Chelsea Hemsworth, 7, examines salt and sugar under a microscope at Marbles Kids Museum on Sunday, June, 29, 2014. The museum hosted N.C. BioNetwork scientist Summer Cortinas, who showed young visitors different elements of kitchen chemistry, including crystals, candy dyes, and polymers.

Chelsea was celebrating her birthday at the museum and wore a princess dress and crown. As a product of an all-girls high school education, I love seeing young girls engaged in science and math. So often, the stereotype is that girls that are interested in math and science can't be girly. That's just not true.

Chloe Wolf, 7, plays with polymers at Marbles Kids Museum Sunday .

Chloe Wolf, 7, plays with polymers at Marbles Kids Museum Sunday .