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 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.
Every time I pass through an airport, I find myself wanting to stop and take photos. The people, emotion, light, colors, it all comes together at airports like nowhere else. But it’s always so difficult to find time to take photos in an airport … there’s always the next plane or taxi to catch, or I’m just too focused on making it to my hotel and crashing that taking photographs is the last thing on my mind. But last week, I got a call from The New York Times to do what I’ve always wanted to — wonder around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with a couple cameras and take photos of pretty things. So here’s what I saw there last Friday. (Caption for above photo: a plane is seen taking off from atop the hourly parking lot at Terminal South)
Three-dimensional printing has always fascinated me. The fact that a device can “print” an object out of thin air is something I still have a hard time comprehending sometimes. So I was naturally thrilled when The New York Times called to ask if I would like to illustrate a story about how this technology is helping young children by giving them new hands. The Times sent me to Opelika, Alabama, to photograph 8-year-old Ethan Brown, who was born with three missing fingers on his left hand and uses a prosthetic hand made from a 3D printer.
Back in August, I had the chance to photograph inside the CDC in Atlanta. The assignment, for Newsweek Europe, was to help illustrate a story about the efforts to completely eradicate polio. I was to take a portrait of Dr. Greg Armstrong (above), CDC incident manager, and photograph the Polio and Picornavirus Laboratory and the Emergency Operations Center. The whole thing was a bit stressful. It’s not everyday that I get to work in one of the most secure places on Earth, not to mention that I was only going to have a few minutes with Dr. Armstrong.
I spent 24 hours in Albertville, Ala., this week to document the reaction of President Obama’s sweeping changes to immigration policy for The New York Times. For this story, I worked with reporter Richard Fausset, a staffer with the Times. We believed there was a possibility of lots of celebration on the part of immigrants, especially those here illegally, considering Obama’s directive would shield many of them from the threat of deportation. But that wasn’t the case.
Watching a building that has housed the history of a people come down is never easy. Yes, Friendship Baptist was compensated well ($19 million) for its land, but it’s still painful to watch the walls, foundation, and history crumble into the Georgia clay. Perhaps that’s why there were only a couple church members present for the demolition of Friendship. The land the church has sat on since 1871 was purchased by the City of Atlanta last year so that a new stadium could be constructed for the Atlanta Falcons (as well as a new Major League Soccer team). Folks at Friendship had been preparing for months for the demolition, painstakingly and lovingly removing, packing, and storing for the next chapter. Above, The Rev. Charles Washington, associate minister for church administration for Friendship, watches the demolition.
It’s always wonderful when an editor gives you the green light to photograph a project you’ve pitched; When they take a chance on your vision and trust that you will tell the complete story (or at least they hope you will). Such was the case recently when I photographed the last days of Friendship Baptist Church at its historic location at the corner of Atlanta’s Mitchell Street and Northside Drive. Above: Sula Burr, a Friendship Baptist visitor, arrived a couple hours early to ensure she had a seat for the final service on May 25, 2014.
I came across this truck fire today (about 6 p.m.) on the way home from Atlanta, southbound in Interstate 75, near exit 228 in Stockbridge. There appeared to be no injuries. But what’s crazy is that while firefighters were extinguishing the blaze, something inside the truck exploded like fireworks (see below). The truck was pulling a trailer owned by Ira Higdon grocery stores, based in Cairo, Ga.