A 2017 that was, and a 2018 that will be

A new year is upon us and it brings great excitement for many reasons.

First, it’s a chance to start anew in the coming year. A fresh start. An “I’ll stick with my resolutions this time,” feeling.

It also allows us to reflect on what’s happened in the previous 365 (or 366) days. We can reminisce fondly of the good times and learn from the bad.

The past year was — and we seem to throw this adjective around haphazardly — one of the best for me, both personally and professionally.

I made big life changes. I experienced new things. I photographed rare events, started hobbies and continued others.

And it’s the things I didn’t do that will help better me for 2018.

Here’s a look back at my favorite moments from 2017.

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Repeat finalist

Two days later and I’m still struggling to find the right words.

During the  2017 Hoosier State Press Newsroom Seminar & Better Newspaper Contest Awards Luncheon on Saturday in Indianapolis, I repeated as having the best sports action photo in Division 3 (dailies with circulation less than 6,000).

The photo, which is below, was selected as the photo of the year finalist for its division.

(I also won first place in sports commentary for my weekly column, “Line Drives.” It was my first HSPA award for column writing.)

In 2016, I was awarded first place by the Hoosier State Press Association for three photos. One of those — best feature photo — was selected as a photo of the year finalist.

I was also runner up for spot news photo.

Those honors came as a surprise to me considering I think of myself a writer first, a photographer second.

Not the other way around.

In 2011 I graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelors degree in journalism with a concentration on news writing. I also minored in sports management, knowing very well I wanted to be a sports writer.

I was required to take a photography class as part of my major, and had dabbled in the hobby post graduation. It was never really a passion of mine, because I didn’t think I’d use the skill at a professional level. But when I began my career at The Commercial Review in July 2013, I was required to take pictures to accompany my stories.

And recent events have forced me to reconsider my evaluation of myself, and my feeling toward photography.

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My first-place photos

It’s quite the challenge coming up with the right words.

Honored. Excited. Relieved.

Those are just a few.

But the most important feeling — humbled.

At the Hoosier State Press Association Newsroom Seminar and Better Newspaper Contest awards luncheon today in Indianapolis, I had four photographs receive awards; three earned first place and one was second place. One of my first-place photos was selected as the Division 3 (Dailies with circulation less than 6,000) representative for photo of the year. While I did not receive that honor, it is still pretty darn cool to come away with three first-place awards and even be considered a finalist.

After winning best feature story last year, I was shut out this year as a writer. Honestly, though, that doesn’t matter.

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But first, let me take a selfie…

Prior to the start of the 2016 Jay County Fair (which ran from July 9 through July 16), I announced that I wanted to do something a little different than I had in the past.

This was my fourth time covering the far for The Commercial Review, and each year I have enjoyed it more and more; the 4-H shows, capturing photos of people enjoying the Midway rides, eating fair food and of course, the nightly entertainment at the grandstand.

In 2013, my first time at the fair, I hardly knew a soul. I was brand new to Jay County — I had only been around a couple weeks — so my time there was difficult. I didn’t know what the hell was going on with the 4-H shows and I didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t a fun experience.

But with each passing year, the number of people I knew — and saw — at the fair increased, as well as my knowledge of the wonder that is 4-H.

So before this year’s edition of The Great Jay County Fair, I had an idea.

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Adventures in Photography: Part I

As a youngster, I didn’t care much about photography, and never took the time to learn about the art of photography and developing photos.

My extent as a photographer included buying disposable cameras and then taking them into a one-hour photo joint to get them developed.

I made the “jump” to digital photography early on in high school with a point-and-shoot camera, but didn’t necessarily put much emphasis on actually composing shots and making an art out of it.

But when I got my first DSLR — a Canon Rebel XS — in college, I began to learn the art of digital photography by focusing on lighting, shutter speed and aperture. The latter of which, however, was the most difficult for me to learn.

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Photos: My date with ‘Indiana’s Basketball Cathedral’

Dec. 31, 2013

To some, that’s New Year’s Eve.

To me, it was the night I got my feet wet with professional sports photography.

You can read my column on the subject here.

But with this post, I will delve more into the details surrounding the historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University, and my day in Indianapolis.

On Dec. 26, with no plans for New Year’s Eve, I submitted a request for media credentials to the Butler-Villanova men’s basketball game on the last day of 2013. After some persistence (read: borderline annoyance) I was granted credentials to shoot photos of my first college sporting event.

Now, the photos I got from shooting the game would not be published in The CR, because by the time we went to press again the game would be old news.

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Photos: Jay County Winter, 2013-14 — Part One

[This is the first in a (hopeful) series of posts of photos I’ve taken of interesting locations and/or happenings throughout the winter months in my new home, Jay County, Ind.]

Since I am experiencing Jay County and winter in Indiana for the first time, I will be shooting photos (as time/weather permits) throughout the course of the 2013-14 winter season.

I’ve always enjoyed the winter months, and as photography becomes more and more of a hobby — as well as part of my career — I thought no better way than to try and combine the two in hopes of getting some interesting shots.

The first series of photos, aptly entitled “Part One,” centers around the first real winter storm we’ve experienced so far in Jay County. The storm took place the night of Thursday, Dec. 4 and overnight into Friday morning.

I live on the other side of Court Street from the courthouse, and since I moved to Portland this building has always intrigued me. It is nearing it’s 100th birthday (it was built in 1916), and it is just a spectacular structure.

I actually read the other day that there are some pretty neat architecture on the inside of the building which is something I’ll have to check out some time.

Nevertheless, I have been patiently waiting for the first good snowfall to happen so I could photograph the building, donned completely with holiday lights, during my favorite type of snow, the big, thick, heavy snowflakes, with little to no wind so they fell ever so gracefully.

Unfortunately, about halfway during my shoot the wind picked up, which made for some interesting looking, nearly horizontal white lasers peppering the photos, but it also allowed the flags flanking the building to come to life and wave in the wind.


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