As we start a new year, I’m taking a look back at 2018 and sharing my favorite images. It was an amazing year, and I’m continually reminded of how lucky I am to make a living taking pictures. I’ve gone through everything I shot over the past 12 months, and narrowed it down to 25 photographs. They are presented here in chronological order, and include sports, political assignments and personal stories, as well as a few previously unpublished images from my personal and commercial work. Where possible, links are provided.
Spent some time recently with Atlanta Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley, Jr., for The Players’ Tribune. Beasley was being interviewed for a series, “Take Action,” sponsored by American Family Insurance. I was given a few minutes for portraits with the 25-year-old, in between filming, and I also documented his day as he made rounds in his hometown of Adairsville, Ga. Above: Beasley poses for a portrait in the same locker he used in high school, at Adairsville High.
The video is about Beasley’s commitment to his hometown, helping out those in need, and just trying to be a good dude. And I have to say, he may be the most down-to-earth professional athlete I’ve ever worked with. He was genuine, and talked with me well past we were finished with the portrait session. That may sound like a small thing, but most athletes are ready to jet as soon as soon as the shoot is finished. It’s easy to see why it’s so easy for Beasley to come back to his hometown and blend in with the regulars. Well, as much as a 6-foot-3, 246-pound guy can blend in :-)
I am so honored to have a photograph (above) in the gallery, “YEAR ONE: A Visual Reflection of the First Year of the Trump Presidency,” which opened on Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 9. It is a collaboration between Redux Pictures and SVA BFA Photography, and features the work of Redux Pictures, VII, Noor and The New York Times photographers. You can check it out at SVA’s 2nd Floor Gallery at 214 East 21st Street.
Today, on the eve of celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I worked as part of a team of New York Times journalists covering services at African-American churches around the country. We talked to churchgoers and pastors, and photographed services to get a sense of how the black community is reacting to President Trump’s recent comments about Haiti, El Salvador, and certain African nations.
As someone who grew up 20 miles from Athens, Ga., and in a household where Bear Bryant’s stature rivaled that of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, I fully understood how epic Monday’s game was. I know how bad Georgia fans craved another national championship — their last taste of one was way back in 1981, when Herschel Walker and Co. handled Notre Dame 17-10 in the Sugar Bowl. And I know how hard it is stop the seemingly undefeatable Nick Saban once his Tide gets rolling.
This year, my sixth as a full-time independent photographer, was another full one. I am so eternally grateful the work that comes my way … the things I am privileged to witness, the people who allow me into their lives and trust me to tell their stories. In 2017, that work included photographing a former U.S. President, the last Falcons game at the Georgia Dome, lots and lots of politics, telling the stories of residents on Atlanta’s historic Westside, a wedding that ended with a Waffle House kiss, running around in the woods with a militia, and an amazing Iron Bowl. These are my favorite images from the past year. Thank you for taking the time to look, and here’s to a stellar 2018!
The city of Glencoe, Ala., has been in a struggle — a spiritual one — many of its residents believe. The constant decline of Christianity from public life, they say, has been deteriorating this country’s morals and values. The latest example of this, according to Glencoe residents, is the fact that the city was all but forced to take down the Christian flag that had been flying at City Hal since the 1990s. The mayor, Charlie Gilchrist (above), reluctantly agreed to do so after receiving a complaint from a Wisconsin-based non-profit, Freedom From Religion Foundation. “It is unconstitutional for a government entity to fly a flag with a patently religious symbol and meaning on its grounds . . .” the complaint letter stated.
Shaq Jones’ heart stayed at UAB, even when football left. The football program there was shut down at the end of the 2014 season, after his freshman year — school officials cited finances as the reason. “I guess it’s hard to acknowledge that the thing that makes you who you are can be taken away in an instant if the bottom line falls short,” he said.
Now a (redshirt) senior, the 250-pound linebacker will play his final collegiate season under the same head coach where he started. These photos are from my time with Shaq a few weeks ago. Such a pleasure to photograph him and be a part of this story. A big thanks to Guillermo Hernandez for the wonderful edit.
You can read his full piece here: https://www.theplayerstribune.com/shaq-jones-uab-homecoming/.
Though many people are familiar with Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the National Anthem, many may not know about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a rising star in the NBA who did the same thing 20 years earlier. Abdul-Rauf (whose name was Chris Jackson before converting to Islam), missed his prime playing years in the NBA (after being drafted third pick in the 1990 draft). After refusing to stand, citing the flag as a symbol of oppression and racism, he was suspended by the NBA. A compromise was reached, but he quickly faded into the stats book after his playing time dropped and he was let go after one more season. He was 29, and his professional career moved overseas.
On Tuesday, I covered the special election to fill Georgia’s 6th congressional district for The New York Times. It was the most expensive House race in history, with political newcomer Jon Ossoff (who raised more than $21 million) challenging veteran Republican candidate Karen Handel. It was an extremely tight race, with Handel coming out on top in the end. Anyways, here are few of my favorite frames from all the excitement. Above, Will McCall, an Ossoff supporter, reacts as results from the race come in during a watch party.