Alumni of scouting are often asked two questions. 1) Did you make Eagle? 2) Did you go to Philmont.
This is the latter.
Philmont Scout Ranch is the most extreme adventure the Boy Scouts of America have to offer. Troop 14′s itinerary spanned 100 miles and 5 peaks totaling well over 10,000 feet of total climbing. For 12 days, the boys traversed sometimes treacherous terrain, compounded by sore and blister-riddled feet. Going into the trip, a few parents had their doubts concerning their son’s (or their own) abilities.
Everyone was tested. And everyone made it.
Serendipity School is an amazing place where students tinker with wires and batteries, get their hands messy with paint, and don’t spend all day sitting in a desk. I recently had the fantastic opportunity to immerse myself at Serendipity for several days of a marketing shoot for the school. The administrators and I felt it was important not to stage anything so not to disrupt their students’ education. But also, unscripted is how I prefer roll.
“Respect,” was Senior Patrol Leader Spencer’s theme for the week. It is very impressive for a 17 year old boy to choose “respect,” let alone have any theme at all.
300 or so men, women and some children were recently pushed out of a San Jose homeless encampment aptly named “The Jungle.”
I was sent on assignment by Reuters, but by then time I got down to the site’s location near the heart of Silicon Valley, everyone had been kicked out and the clean up crew had already begun their task. I was able to find a way back into the jungle and came across a handful of homeless people who had snuck back in to reclaim some of their belongings, but also search for treasures left behind by others.
Below, Anna Haynes bathes herself in some of her drinking water before taking her cart out of the Jungle.
Don’t call me a scientist, but day games have more light than night games. However the light at 1 PM isn’t that terrific (especially with ball caps casting a stark shadow on a player’s face)
At AT&T Park, when a game starts at 6:05 PM, I get about an inning or two of this loveliness:
It might sound a tad contradictory to have a planned, photographed elopement. My inexperience in the subject forces me to assume the classical sense of the term. But as with all things in life, context is everything.
Part 2: Argus C3
Sarah making something delicious in our kitchen, photographed on my grandfather’s Argus C3 from the 1950′s. Although designed in the 1930′s, this particular model is about 15 years younger.
This is part 2 of an on-going series titled "My Grandfather's Cameras." I never met my paternal grandfather, Bob Diefenbach. He passed away in 1969. His small collection of cameras sat in a basement for 45 years until they were handed down to me in the spring of 2014, still loaded with film. Read more in Part 1: Argus C4
The state in which my grandfather’s cameras were handed down to me is impressive. Granted, none of the cameras had been touched since 1969, but even then, it is clear that Bob Diefenbach took great care of his photography equipment. My grandfather treated these cameras like new, even though the Argus C3 was particularly obsolete even at the time he was using it.
The Argus C3 was made for nearly 20 years, which is incredible. It is hard to imagine any of today’s technology being relevant or sold for two decades.
Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Argus’ C3 was the most produced camera ever in its day with 2 million units sold.
When I list the victories by Troop 14 at Camp Royaneh, you would think it was our best year ever. “The Boys in Red” won the the Gladiators competition both weeks. They even beat the camp staff in tug-of-war. Myself and the other assistant scoutmaster, Cameron, took awards in every single scoutmaster competition. And every single scout in the troop earned some type of special camp award (in addition to his merit badges).
But what’s missing from that description is that in the land of redwoods and campfires, the scouts of Troop 14 had possibly the biggest test of its resolve.
Working as a team is rare for a photojournalist. The occasional major sporting event might require it, and of course you always want to work closely with your writer. But “team” in the classic sense is rare for still shooters. Normally we work alone, representing a publication (or just ourselves). Or sometimes in my case, I am solely responsible for photographing an entire wedding.
This is why I find second shooting a wedding so exciting. Recently, I had the pleasure to work as a “second shooter” for Brad Zweerink at Bryce and Sarah’s wedding in Hollister, California. We had moments where teamwork was imperative (ceremony and reception), but the real payoff of a second shooter is not having to reduce your work to “safe shots.”
People may think taking risks is in the job description of a photojournalist. But for me, it is more important to eliminate the risk. I always attempt to implement proper preparation and foresight to reduce the chance of failure. Sometimes this means playing it safe. If I am the sole photographer, maybe I’ll just shoot on-camera flash on a long lens to guarantee that I capture the newlywed couple’s entrance. Better that, than miss the image entirely trying to do something different.
With (or as) a second photographer, I can take the risks I normally wouldn’t be able. Almost all of the photos you see below I wouldn’t have been able to make unless I was working with another photographer as a team. By being able to divide the duties, I could spend more time focusing on the groomsmen as Brad followed the women. When I saw the driver standing idle by the Lincoln Continental, I could run over without giving the bridal party a second though. And while Brad shoots portraits, I can set up a remote camera to photograph the ceremony site from a remote hillside. All impossible if I or Brad had been working alone.
Sometimes photographers think “second shooting” is beneath them. Almost akin to “assisting.” A step back.
I see second shooting as an opportunity to step my work forward.
Part 1: Argus C4
Ocean Beach, San Francisco, shot on my grandfather’s Argus C4 rangefinder from the 1950′s.
You know that question people ask: “If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?”
My answer would be my grandfather (on my father’s side). I never met my dad’s dad. He passed away when my father was only 19 years old, 16 years before I came along.
I don’t know a lot about Robert Diefenbach. I do know he was a navigator for a B24 Liberator during World War 2, after which he worked for the telephone industry in the Midwest. I know he married my grandmother Jean, had my aunt Pat and then my dad, Bill. That, and a few other details, pretty much summed up my knowledge of my mysterious patriarch.
This past Fall, grandma Jean moved out of her home and into assisted living. In the process, her house in Michigan was cleaned out and many family treasures were handed down to various family members. Being the resident family photographer, I was asked if I’d like to have grandpa Bob’s cameras.
This is when I learned, Grandpa was a camera nerd.
From left to right: Argus C3, Argus C4 (on top of bag), Kodak Retina (from 1935), Polaroid Land Camera 150, and my great-grandfather’s Cine-Kodak 16mm movie camera.