I have been wanting to photograph Donald Trump rally for a while now. So when I found out that he was coming to Macon, about an hour and a half south of Atlanta, I pitched it to The New York Times. They said they wanted coverage, and I was one happy photographer. Sure, I wanted to photograph Trump himself … but like many things, the real story lies on the periphery. And that’s what I really wanted — the people, the colors, the personalities that come to life for an event like this.
I traveled down to Moultrie and Thomasville, Ga., a few weeks back to help illustrate an investigative story for BuzzFeed News about the H-2 guest worker program. My assignment was to photograph a few people who had agricultural jobs and were fired for cheaper, immigrant labor. Agriculture is a huge economic engine for this part of the state, and BuzzFeed claims that the government and businesses here, and elsewhere around the country, have purposefully sought immigrants over Americans in order to save money.
Hillary stopped in Atlanta last Friday, for the launch of the African Americans for Hillary at Clark Atlanta University. I have covered other political events, but this was my first time photographing the former First Lady. Political events are always insanely interesting to me … I get to see the candidate and their political machine up close. From Secret Service to how the crowds are managed, it’s all part of the show.
A 93-year-old woman fought the City of Atlanta and won. Mattie Jackson, pictured above in her home, refused to sell her house to the City after it deemed that the block she lived on in the Peoplestown neighborhood of Atlanta was unsafe. City officials contend that part of the neighborhood, which sits in a low-lying area near Turner Field, is susceptible to flooding of sewage.
I traveled to New Orleans a couple weeks ago to cover the 2015 Tau Kappa Epsilon 2015 Conclave. In a nutshell, it’s the fraternity’s biannual national convention, where “Tekes,” as their called, handle business matters, fraternize, do community service, and yes, party. It was a glimpse behind the curtain of what fraternities are all about and how they operate, something I knew very little about.
Driving my favorite part of Ga. Highway 83, it’s easy to lose track of time. With only an occasional house or rusted fence to break up the miles of pine trees, irrigated cornfields and rolling pastures dotted with anthills, driving easily takes a back seat to my thoughts.
I couldn’t believe it. Not again. Not another rampage shooting where more innocent people lost their lives. The weight of it was slowly starting to sink in as I was making the drive a couple hours north to Chattanooga to cover this terrible story for The New York Times. The nation was still grieving those lost 28 days earlier, in another senseless killing, at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. But this was the reality — a 24-year-old Chattanooga man drove to two different military facilities on July 16, killing four Marines and a Sailor. The suspect, Mohammod Abdulazeez, was killed by police in the gun battle. It still doesn’t make sense — it never will.
Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to document a day in the life of a man making a huge difference in his community. The assignment, for NPR, was on Omar Shekhey, an immigrant from Somali, who moved to Atlanta in the early 1980s to pursue an engineering degree at Georgia Tech. But Shekhey abandoned that dream and now devotes his entire life to helping Somali refugees in Clarkston, a suburb of Atlanta. Most of his day is spent at the Somali American Community Center, which he founded to help refugees with a variety of tasks, such as navigating governmental bureaucracies or how to find jobs. In the afternoon, he runs an after school program at a nearby church that helps Somali children with schoolwork and gives them a sense of community. He finishes the day driving a taxi, the same taxi he often uses to pick up children for the after school program. He hasn’t had a day off in years.
I cannot believe that 2012 is over! It was wonderful to be a part of, witness, and capture so many cool things. I still have a long way to go in this profession for sure, but I believe I was able to make a couple of decent frames in the past 12 months. My goals for 2013 include trying to learn more from seasoned pros — you know, those folks who seem to produce stellar work on almost a daily basis.
Anyways, below is a selection of what I consider to be my best photos of 2012.