Days Gone By

Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind? So asked Scottish poet Robert Burns in the first line of his composition, Auld Lang Syne.

This year my reaction to that question follows in a collection of photos I used in 2012 with a back-story to each photo.

First up – The Agony. December 2012

I remember listening to Jim McKay’s opening of the weekly TV broadcast of ABC’s Wide World of Sports – with its “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” tagline. The agony of defeat always featured the famous video shot of Vinko Bogataj’s failed ski jump. Each week you’d have to close your eyes for it was Ground Hog Day – over an over again as Bogataj ingloriously cartwheeled off the high jump.

I am a good sports portrait photographer. Humble – most times, but this portrait photo ranks up there with all the best photos that I have taken.

The storyline is for the last 15 years I have memorialized high school senior football players final year at Quince Orchard – on a volunteer basis – and created poster-sized prints for each senior to be given at the season end banquet. A committee of football Mom’s and me does final photo choices before the team banquet. It’s a challenge to get all players in singular suspended action in their respective field position(s) – I am not always successful. My rule is to never memorialize an individual in a losing game effort – until now.

Marcus Newby, who is a Nebraska commit, First Team 2012 All-Met, All County – a prolific tackler and feared linebacker is one of the best to play in Montgomery County. He had 132 tackles this past season – and I may have only caught him once (it was a darkened fuzzy shot). I tried my best to single him out through 12 games – and I couldn’t. He was so quick and always among teammates at the bottom of the pile. Going into the 4A State Championship at Raven Stadium he was still my last target out of 30 seniors. The committee had made their choices just the week before.

The Photo – time expired and QO had just lost that championship game – and I still didn’t have a good shot of Marcus.

While all the other media photographers swarmed the Wise (PG County) championship sideline to get the thrill of victory photos, I covered QO for the agony shots. All of a sudden before me was Marcus kneeling – head bowed in a prayerful position. That composition told the whole story – the end of a season, end of 30 senior’s high school football time, teammates stripped of their uniforms, the QO faithful standing in the stadium – sullen, the 2012 catch phrase inspiration banner of “Let’s Finish Business” in the background and there was Marcus. His peaceful posture evoked the Agony of defeat.

We, at the Town Courier ran this, as it’s front-page photo.

Days later when Coach Dave Mencarini saw the fuzzy Marcus action photo that we chose – he told me/us to find a different one – I listed out many – deferring reluctantly to the Raven Stadium photo. In an email – Coach Dave – gave me a sentence of direction – and like the team player that I am – within 5 minutes two orders of the Raven Stadium photo were off to the printer – one for Marcus to be handed out at the football banquet on December 16th and the other for Coach Dave.

Twenty-one years after Bogataj’s fateful ski jump mishap McKay interviewed Vinko and asked him what he thought of how his image was used. Bogataj at the time of the interview was an artist. Bogataj responded to McKay, and I paraphrase it as– “(athletes’) know that the difference between the two (victory and defeat) are very slight”. Marcus knows.

Now, only time will tell if what Coach Dave wrote me was right.

Marcus Newby at Raven Stadium

Second – 32 Families – Scene and Heard. December 2012

I learned on Tuesday (12/18) that US Congressman David Cicilline – RI (D) would hold a media conference at the House Triangle near the steps on the US Capitol about gun violence following the shootings in Newtown, CT. I hold media access at the US Capitol.

Rep Cicilline together with the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence would bring together members of 32 families who have lost loved ones in many of the most infamous and deadly mass shootings our nation has ever seen.

Unlike the many pool photographers who use low angles to frame photos of speakers on the House Triangle against the US Capitol as the background – I chose to frame my photos with the US Supreme Court in the background.

The Photo – after introductions family members stood behind the podium some were holding photos of loved ones lost.

The storyline is that each family had signed the Brady Campaign letter. I tried to frame them against the highest court in the land – that upheld a famous recent challenge to gun ownership and ultimately the 2nd Amendment. In the background the Supreme Court has the American flag flying at half-staff to honor the victims at Newtown. Rep Cicillini [who lost his brother to gun violence] was at the podium (unseen) had just mentioned to those in the media pool how ironic it was that they had gathered in this location just as the “Ave Maria” from a nearby Christmas Nativity (scene) at the foot of the Capitol steps was playing.

Posting this during the holiday season is a way of remembrance of the past.

A few of the representatives of 32 families

Third – Allyn Rose – GAME ON. December 2012

Wow. This assignment came up all of a sudden. As usual at first I was clueless about the client, but I did my research.

I learned that Allyn Rose, now Miss District of Columbia and former Miss Maryland was a former national roller skating champion. I was now tasked to get a cover shot of her.

Twenty-Four years old and she is more recognizable as a spokesperson for breast cancer and her brave decision to have a double mastectomy following the Miss America Pageant (a timeline yet to be determined) than she is for her beauty and competitiveness.

I can tell you this much – I am more impressed with the person and her mindset than her beauty.

The Photo – is an outtake from our session at the Laurel MD Roller Skating Center. Look for the complete story in the upcoming January/February issue of Montgomery Magazine.

Allyn has a great combination of beauty and brains – a strong woman – and a potential Miss America. Stay tuned – it all unfolds on January 12th 2013.

Allyn Rose, skating champion, Miss District of Columbia

Fourth – Question 6 & the CMPA. March 2012

On March 1, 2012 Governor Martin O’Malley together with House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller, Jr. signed into law Maryland H.B. 438 the Civil Marriage Protection Act (CMPA). In 2012 the CMPA would be contested in a prolonged campaign leading up to a vote at the November 2012 general election where it was on a the statewide ballot known as Question 6.

In the general election Question 6 passed. So on January 1, 2013 the CMPA will become law throughout the State of Maryland.

The Photo – the bill’s signing in March 2011. I hold media access to the Maryland state capital.

Maryland Governor O’Malley signing HB 438

Fifth – District 6. May 2012

The storyline – Maryland politicos in Annapolis gerrymandered the states congressional voting districts to in effect change District 6 to include parts of Montgomery County. District 6 was at the time of this photograph about to be represented by a Republican stalwart Congressman Roscoe Bartlett who previously represented counties that spanned from Frederick to Cumberland, MD.

Those in Annapolis wanted to see a member of their choosing run against Bartlett but a then unknown Potomac businessman, John Delaney challenged the state Democratic machine in the primaries and produced an upset win there for the right to represent the parties’ choice for the new District in the November election.

The Photo – John Delaney strolling down Main Street in the Kentlands, looking confident and on a roll.

He will be sworn in to the U. S. Congress on January 3rd 2013.

Congressman elect John Delaney campaigning on Main Street

Sixth – Jenny. October 2012

I watched Jenny grow up. She became a good friend of my daughter, Meredith. She lived down the street. The two of them conspired to have me shoot Jenny’s wedding.

Her beau was her high school sweetheart and this past October they were married.

She planned the whole event, organized it, hired everyone, and had mom Tammy and dad Frank ‘s love and support throughout.

I work hard when I photograph weddings – I am very, very, good at it – done it for years but this one was extra special. It was Jenny’s day and I was to have fun too! So ordered Jenny.

I did. I even got to dance with my daughter and wife.

The Photo – taken at Stone Manor Country Club, Middletown, MD on a picture perfect day for a picture perfect bride and groom.

Thanks Frank – the Sun Seeker mobile app was right on tracking the sunlight. So was I.

Dave and Jenny at the Stone Manor Country Club, Middletown MD

Seventh – Breakfast of Champions – Katie Ledecky. August 2012

My Destination – was the Montgomery County Executive Office Building. The County Exec was going to honor all 2012 Montgomery County Olympic participants.

When I arrived Linda Davidson, photographer with the Washington Post was clicking off photos of teenage swimmer Katie Ledecky. Mary, Katie’s mom, was nearby and out of camera range. I introduced myself to Mary and we struck up a conversation that somehow led to summer swim leagues, MCSL to be exact. Both being swim team parents it was an easy icebreaker conversation.

It seems Katie was a bit distracted this past summer – she missed the MCSL competition to swim in London. She won Olympic Gold there instead of blue ribbons at the Palisades pool.

I, and Linda Davidson were the only media photographers there that day. I had a leg up on Linda though – I had been in the County Exec’s office for a magazine cover photo shoot earlier in August. We were all headed upstairs there to meet briefly with County Exec Ike Leggett.

We both took turns shooting with Katie and Ike in the anteroom where Ike keeps all his memorabilia.

The Photo – as we finished up with the shoot, I had Ike point out to Katie a picture on the wall where he was in a photo with President Obama and on a shelf below was a Wheaties cereal box with Ike’s image on it. Linda and I reacted simultaneously, and had both subjects grab the box of Wheaties and turn to strike a pose.

Good news for the Palisades – Katie will be back in MCSL next summer and for those in Division J – watch out for it will be Saturday morning A Meets and breakfast with a champion.

Ike and Katie

Eight – Ride Allegheny. October 2012

I cycle.

I also belong to a loosely formed group of riders known as Ride Allegheny. This ride group has been in existence for over 12 years but in the past few years they have dedicated themselves to raising funds for a wounded warrior program attached to Bethesda’s Walter Reed Medical Center, known as Operation Second Chance. Our annual “ride” starts out in Pittsburgh PA and ends in Darnestown, MD at Smokey Glen Farm.

The storyline is this year’s annual ride participants raised over $220,000 in contributions to Operation Second Chance.

The Photo – at the trail terminus, in Seneca Creek on the C&O Canal all riders gathered for the last photo op session before pedaling off under Montgomery County Police escort to Smokey Glen Farm in Darnestown, MD

This part of the blog is in remembrance to Rich Unger, a fellow rider who died during the ride.

RideAllegheny riders at Seneca MD

Ninth – Under The Shell. February 2012

The storyline – last year an associate of mine arranged for me to shoot courtside at a Maryland Women’s Basketball game. That one session led to many others and eventually an appearance on Comcast’s SportsNet weekly broadcast of Under The Shell. Under The Shell covers various athletic and social activities of the Lady Terps. In my 5-minute cameo appearance I discussed numerous photos that I took throughout the Lady Terps basketball season.

The Photo – I love to mix processed photographic media. In this instance I took a color photo reverted it to black and white, strengthened the contrast of the subject and then selectively colorized only a certain parts of the photo to bring out a contrasted striking visual.

Love those Terps.

Reflections of a Lady Terp

Last – Postcards from Seaside Heights, NJ – November 2012

Who knew? Old acquaintances? How about new acquaintances?

This past November, Superstorm Sandy devastated a large swath of oceanfront along the Jersey Shore northwards up through Long Island, NY.

My sister Marilyn and brother-in-law Paul live in Toms River NJ, not far from Seaside Heights/Seaside Park, NJ.

Toms River and Seaside has been a favored destination over the years whenever I visit my sister’s family. I bring along my cameras. I did so in August of 2011. I love spending a morning photographing along the boards in Seaside Heights.

Fast-forward to November 2012 and Sandy’s pummeling of Seaside Heights commercial area, which was left unprotected by lack of sand dunes. Only the long beach and the boardwalk had protected business and amusement areas over the years. Not so this time because of Sandy, much of what was once Seaside Heights is now gone.

The storyline – one evening as I was preparing for a December art show at the Kentlands Art Barn I watched the NBC Nightly News reporting on Sandy’s aftermath. Anchorman Brian Williams mentioned that things he recalls from summer strolls along various boardwalks no longer exists and points out the Midway Steak House in Seaside Heights as an example. Well, I had a photo collage of Seaside’s boardwalk sights that included the Midway Steak House. I immediately created a postcard-like image of the Midway and made it into a reception invitation to the gallery opening.

I sent an invitation to Marilyn and Paul after Thanksgiving. He fell in love with the postcard and pondered how he could use it over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Paul, who owns a printing business, called the following week – made a few suggestions – ultimately putting me in motion to donate to his company Urner Barry 25 “postcard-like ” images that I took that past August. He then created a fundraising campaign. Within 48 hours he had found a beneficial partner in the Barnegat Bay Partnership (BBP), utilized the RESTORE THE SHORE theme line, charged up his graphics and print shop to print a selection of Happy Holidays from the Jersey Shore Christmas cards that would be sold online in association with the BBP – with all donations going to the BPP.

Going into the last weekend before Christmas, BBP has sold (Paul has printed) over 400 boxes of Christmas cards and raised over $8,000 to rebuild sand dunes along the Jersey Shore.

Now nearly 10,000 Christmas cards with images from that August 2011 morning have found their way around the countryside to greet old and new acquaintances.

The Photo – One of the eight photos used in this years RESTORE THE SHORE campaign.

The photo/greeting card speaks of renewal as in “The Holiday Spirit is alive and well at the Jersey Shore where it is truly a season for new beginnings.” {Greeting as written inside the card}.

Walking the boards at Seaside Heights, NJ

For an answer to poet Robert Burns’ question, it is no, never forgotten, as so revealed in the above photos.