Week 3: Diving In

I vividly remember beach trips with my family as a little girl. We went every summer, and I would count the days until we would pack the car and head east. By the time we unloaded the car and put on bathing suits and sunscreen, I was giddy with excitement. Once my mom said my sunscreen was dry, I would run across the hot sand, my ponytail flying behind me, and my tongue out tasting the salty air. I was in heaven. I would run straight for the giant ocean; the waves calling me home. But then I would stop an inch from the water, suddenly terrified. What if the water was cold? What if a crab pinched my toes? What if a jellyfish stung me? It would take a few minutes as I ran along the crashing waves, never letting the chilly water touch me, but then I'd dive in. My fears and worries would fade away, and I'd laugh gleefully as the waters cradled me.

So often I feel this same way about photojournalism. When I decide to start a story or receive an assignment, I am giddy with excitement. But then as I drive to meet my subject, I become suddenly terrified. What if I can't do this? What if they reject me and my camera? Photojournalism goes against so many social norms. As students, we are taught to get close to strangers; to approach people; to capture intimate moments like a fly on the wall. We are taught that strangers often aren’t that strange and that we often have a lot in common. We are taught to dive in. But sometimes approaching assignments, I feel like I'm at the beach again. I'm afraid. I'm afraid of the metaphorical crabs and jellyfish. But then I take the plunge, and I talk with my subject, listen to their story, share part of my own, and build a relationship with them. I become comfortable.

 This week was a week of diving in. The sooner I dive in, the sooner I become comfortable and start taking better photos. It's still a process. My fears haven't disappeared, but I'm starting to dive in sooner.

 Monday: Moral Monday protests at the NC Legislature. Nearly 20 people were arrested. This was my first experience shooting a very "newsy" event. I was really nervous but loved gaining that experience. See more photos at  http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/16/3942102/first-look-moral-monday-at-the.html.

Monday: Moral Monday protests at the NC Legislature. Nearly 20 people were arrested. This was my first experience shooting a very "newsy" event. I was really nervous but loved gaining that experience. See more photos at http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/16/3942102/first-look-moral-monday-at-the.html.

 Tuesday: Runners from the Big Boss Run Club gather outside of Big Boss Brewery enjoying food from Deli-icious, a local food truck. It was a tough week for food truck employees who work inside the small trucks without air conditioning.

Tuesday: Runners from the Big Boss Run Club gather outside of Big Boss Brewery enjoying food from Deli-icious, a local food truck. It was a tough week for food truck employees who work inside the small trucks without air conditioning.

 Wednesday: Spent the day chasing after other food truck employees to see how they were dealing with the heat.

Wednesday: Spent the day chasing after other food truck employees to see how they were dealing with the heat.

My new 5D Mark III was delivered Wednesday!! It felt like Christmas! I was so excited and was ready to try it out. It works wonderfully, and I absolutely love it!

 Thursday: I was sent to find a feature photo that emphasized the heat wave this week. Let me just tell you, feature hunting is hard!! Jill Knight and I drove around Raleigh, up and down neighborhood streets trying to find people forced to work out in the heat. Finally we stumbled upon subcontractors finishing a driveway on Grant Ave. Gregory Hairston sweats while cleaning the edges of a freshly paved driveway. Hairston worked through the heat of the day to help finish the driveway for Teague’s Concrete.

Thursday: I was sent to find a feature photo that emphasized the heat wave this week. Let me just tell you, feature hunting is hard!! Jill Knight and I drove around Raleigh, up and down neighborhood streets trying to find people forced to work out in the heat. Finally we stumbled upon subcontractors finishing a driveway on Grant Ave. Gregory Hairston sweats while cleaning the edges of a freshly paved driveway. Hairston worked through the heat of the day to help finish the driveway for Teague’s Concrete.

 Friday: I got up at 5:30am to drive to Wilson, N.C. where I met Jack Saylor, a 93-year-old fitness instructor.

Friday: I got up at 5:30am to drive to Wilson, N.C. where I met Jack Saylor, a 93-year-old fitness instructor.

 Friday: Later in the day, I covered the World Refugee Day Festival in downtown Raleigh. Attiya Tul Hayee came to the United States from Pakistan a year ago.

Friday: Later in the day, I covered the World Refugee Day Festival in downtown Raleigh. Attiya Tul Hayee came to the United States from Pakistan a year ago.

  Jasmin Horton, 10, dances at the World Refugee Day Festival in downtown Raleigh on Friday. At the event, people could sample food, music and dancing from nations such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea and Congo.

Jasmin Horton, 10, dances at the World Refugee Day Festival in downtown Raleigh on Friday. At the event, people could sample food, music and dancing from nations such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Eritrea and Congo.

I wanted to practice with my new 50mm f/1.8, so I took portraits of several of the women at the festival.

 Attiya Tul Hayee; Pakistan
 Saleema Mohammad; Afghanistan

On Saturday, I went to Tour de Fat, a bike and beer festival in Durham. There were hundreds of people dressed in crazy costumes and a parking lot full of bikes.

 Fiona Dawson, 5, laughs as her father, Tom Dawson throws her into the air at Tour de Fat in Durham.

Fiona Dawson, 5, laughs as her father, Tom Dawson throws her into the air at Tour de Fat in Durham.

Jill Knight, a staff photojournalist at the N&O, and I decided that we should do a portrait series featuring people with their bikes at the festival. Here are two of my favorites. If you want to check out the portraits we featured online, visit http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/21/3954932/first-look-portraits-from-tour.html.