I spent today at a air show at the local Air Force Base. This is a popular event that doesn’t happen every year here in Solano County so my paper was planning full coverage of the Labor Day weekend event. My job was to go out and come back with enough photos and audio to create a audio slideshow for our website. I did this kinda McGuiver style with minimum equipment especially in the audio department. But for a shoot from the hip approach I think I pulled off something decent. Check it out at the web address link below. You may have to copy and paste it into your web browser. -M


When you start work at a new newspaper or any job for that matter, you always have that period of adjustment. In my case as a photojournalist, the learning curve can seem a bit accerated at times. This is mostly due to the fact that you start your first day “hitting the ground running” going out into the community covering stories in a place you don’t really know anything about. You are forced to learn to navigate the unfamiliar roadways very quickly. In addition, each day tends to offer up something new and different assignment wise. And its almost always something completely random from the previous day’s assignments. Needless to say my first week on staff here at the Daily Republic photo department had been keeping me on my toes. It was during this time when unexpected opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream came around the corner.

Paul Farmer from our sports department strolled over to Brad to discuss the upcoming pre season pro football game coverage of the 49ers vs the Green Bay Packers. When I heard the words “pro football” I immediately stopped what I was doing and tuned in to their conversation. It turned out that they needed a photographer to shoot some players on the opposing team that used to play in Solano County. Whispering thanks to the sport gods that I was in the room at the time, I piped in that I would be happy to shoot the game. Brad shrugged at the thought for a moment and then said, “Yeah I think we could make that work. Put Mike’s name in for the press pass.” Score one point for the new guy.

These opportunities to shoot a pro game don’t come often for a paper our size and in my young career it was a first. As a life long sports fan, I felt a wave of excitement pass over me.

As a kid growing up in Chicago, I (and everyone else in the suburbs) were forced over the years to develop a unique concept of unwavering fandom. Success measured in wins or championships have never been kind to any of our professional sport teams. It’s no secret. Losing season after losing season, it became clear to the fans in Chicago that the enjoyment of winning wasn’t that crucial to being a fan as much as being in the presence of pros. Win or lose, we were out enjoying the day at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field or tailgating at a Chicago Bears game.

Despite it all every kid on my block still looked up to these guys as gods photographed and displayed upon posters in our rooms while each day held daily personal sermons of support and/or damnation during our baseball card trades or during our pick up ball games in the park. Overall, it didn’t even matter what team you were on. We knew the names of all the legendary playing fields and knew the big hitters on each team throughout the leagues.

Now I was going to be the photographer guy in position to freeze those iconic sport images. I was going to be on the grass of the legendary Candlestick Park in the presence of pros.

After a long crawl Candlestick Park through traffic and wrong turns, I arrived at the field with about an hour and a half to spare. Circling around the long way (accidently) finally found the media gate and I got my press pass. After two or three pass checks finally made it down on to the field that I have held in high ranks since I was a kid. It is quite the view to look up and see the view from the players perspective and to sit in the converted Giants dugouts that now are assigned to press photographers. It was a cool feeling to be standing where so many previous sport idols had done battle. Once near the photo pit, I was quickly issued the required-to-photograph bright red vest complements of the NFL so that they could keep tabs on all of the visiting photographers. I had some time to kill before kick off so decided to explored my surroundings and scout the Green Bay player who I was assigned to photograph. As the clocked counted down closer to game time and the cheerleaders and drum players continued to pump up the crowds, I still couldn’t see the guy. I asked one of the coaches about his wear abouts. It turned out that he was out with a ankle injury and would not be playing in the game. This meant after all the work we had to put into getting access to the game wilted on the reality that I now had no story to come back with. This was a problem. But as the saying goes make due or do without. In the end I got the go ahead from Brad to enjoy myself and shoot the game for fun. With no deadline I was left to shoot whatever I felt like shooting. The paper had no need to run my photos from the game due to Olympic coverage of Michael Phelps numerous gold medals so I figured I would share them with you guys here. Ah…The cool places a camera can take you and how lucky one can be if their in the right place at the right time. It was an awesome experience. I’m looking forward to many more.

As I notched the solid two week mark at my paper, I am slowly getting the feel for the people and lifestyles that encompass Solano County. I must say it has been slow going thus far. But it has been entertaining. I suppose that is one of the perks of working at a daily newspaper. Every day you are out within the community. Here are some photos from the last couple of assignments that have stumbled my way. Cycling clubs taking advantage of the surrounding rolling hills, artists uniting under a common passion and the annual Fairfield pride and celebration of their local produce, the Tomato Festival.

This week I have been shooting a lot of high school related subjects for the paper. The first two are from this story of a 16 year old girl who won a $3000 scholarship to get her pilots license and the third is of a softball shortstop who just recently won a national championship with her traveling softball team. As I was shooting this one, it was brought to my attention that she is dating the same catcher I took a picture of diving at homeplate last week. Funny how things work out.

Well this picture is worlds away from the usual fish porn that has graced the pages of this blog over the year. But I am all about giving credit to fellow artists. This photo is from an assignment that I shot today about this local girl who was contracted out by the City of Fairfield to produce this sculpture. Cherise Petker spent over 600 hours combining concrete, rebar, wire mess and close to 70,000 pieces of Italian glass into her recently unveiled California Golden Poppies Mosaic Sculpture that is on permanent display in downtown Fairfield. It’s a large plethora of color that will be a nice addition to the downtown strip.

Remember Go-Karts!? I was feature hunting around town today and I came across a childhood favorite past time. I remember how fast they seemed to fly around the track and the feeling and freedom of knowing and the age of seven, I could handle myself behind the wheel.

I have been shooting more sports related photos this week. Only the sports that I am shooting are high school and out of season. The picture of the volleyball player is for her annoucement that she is going to the University of Nevada to play Division I volleyball.

The second photo was for a story that is looking at local schools that use the traditional buses for transporting students and how the high cost of gas are effecting those programs. Concerns of funding the common practice is in question for the coming year due to ever increasing fuel costs.

It has been a while since I last posted and so much has changed for me in the last month. I now find myself as the new staff photographer at the Daily Republic in Fairfield, California. I am excited to be back in the newspaper business, to be so close to the Bay Area and I am looking forward to the problem solving challenges of a daily photojournalist. I have been here for about a week now. In that time amongst the chaos of moving my stuff down from Redding, I have had to adjust, rather quickly, to the fast paced job. Nothing, especially the transition into a new environment is ever smooth sailing. But I find myself eager to rise to the occasion. Through the guidance, opinions and suggestions of the already stellar photo staff, I feel it is going to be a perfect environment to further my skills as a photographer and journalist. Here are some photos that I have taken during my first week of work here.