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in chronological order, and include sports, political assignments and personal stories, as well as a few previously unpublished images from my personal and commercial work.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 :-)
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/.
I absolutely love it when a project I pitch to an editor ends up on the pages of a magazine. Such was the case with this project I recently pitched and shot for Atlanta Magazine. The idea was simple: show up at a local courthouse, photograph couples getting hitched and ask them a few questions. Myself, an assistant, and reporter Camille Pendley (also an Atlanta freelancer) did exactly that on Dec. 14 at the Dekalb County (Ga.) Courthouse. It was so much fun!!!
I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to photograph a few Falcons players in the new throwback uniforms, which will be worn this Sunday (Oct. 23) against the Chargers, and again on Dec. 18 against the 49ers. I had about 4-5 minutes with each player, and the goal was to capture the uniform from several different angles, so the Falcons could use the images in composite (below) to announce on their website and social media. A big thanks to Michael Benford for making it all happen, and for donning Devonta’s helmet for light tests :-)
It sounded like something from the 1960: About 180 minorities were purged from the voter rolls just before a major election where a white candidate won by a narrow margin (African-Americans make up about 85% of the population). But it wasn’t, it’s a situation that many in Sparta, Ga., have dealt with recently. The Times sent me there to take portraits of some of the main players in the story, and to document a bit of what life is like there.
I shot this feature back in April for the Post, but considering the RNC is underway this week, I believe it’s still as timely as it was then. I photographed two people of color here in Atlanta, one who heads up the National Diversity Coalition for Trump and the other, a Tea Party activist who thinks Trump is alienating people of color.
For a Southern boy like myself, who grew up thinking every man aspired to be Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit, getting an assignment to head down to Tallahassee to photograph TransAms being made ranks pretty high. It was for The Drive, a new online publication from Time Inc. that covers anything with a motor (but mostly fast cars!).
Last year was unbelievable. It was my fourth year as a full-time independent photographer, and definitely my most exciting and rewarding. I worked for clients that I used to dream of shooting for, and I got to cover some of the biggest stories of the year and meet some incredible people along the way. I am forever grateful to the folks who hire and trust me to tell stories with my camera, whether it be The New York Times covering the Charleston shootings or the Atlanta Falcons to show a behind the scenes of what it’s like to be a professional football player. I also got featured (twice!) by Instagram and blogged by them, helping me gain over 90k followers! It has been a great year for sure, but I definitely have a long way to go.