Harmony Motter Photography
Richard Sayer Photography
An audio slideshow for a story appearing in today's Meadville Tribune on one of my favorite topics....beer...good beer. The audio quality isn't very good...poor planning on my part, had to rely on reporters interview with a recorder not geared for reproducing good sound. I'm wanting to do more with multimedia reporting, but it is a commitment of time that we just don't have much of these days. Its my goal to try to do about a dozen of these this year...I'm pretty far behind schedule on it though as this is only my second one. Maybe when classes are over I'll have more time to put into planning and developing more. Meadville Tribune photos and production by Richard Sayer--thanks to Mary Spicer for the audio.
People who know me know that I really really like what I do. I often tell people I live a charmed life. I think part of why I like what I do so much is that I'm always hungry to learn more, try different things and never settle for a routine. This past basketball season for instance I decided to try to really push myself to make pictures in a different way. I used a lens that is a little too long generally for basketball, and I used it about 85% of the time. I wanted to create a different look than what I've had for years covering high school ball, and even though it was a challenge--and sometimes dicey as to whether or not I got a good shot, I think it was important for me to do this. I even often try to change the way I make pictures. Lately I'm trying to take a more middle range view of my subjects and compose harsh to the edges. I'm trying to learn how to not be too close all the time because that can influence what is going on a little too much. Yet I still want to use a wide angle lens so I have to be somewhat close. When I purposely try to change my style it often leads to a lot of failures or near failures before it becomes something helpful. I was thinking about portraits too, most people who know me wouldn't call me a traditional photographer, yet I have a great admiration for solid traditional photography. So I try to learn what I can. I study photographs and really like to look back at the masters for guidance. I never think of it so much as copying, but learning and allowing positive influences to enter into my work. When I think of my painting I cannot help but think of how much Enrico Pinardi continues to influence my work. In photojournalism Craig Walker, Jim Stefanucci and Dan DeLong really make me focus on the story and try to understand how to still do this with an eye that is my own. My portrait influences aren't as strong, Rudy Grazziani and Arthur Rainville taught me how to really pay attention to quality, and though I think I lack a great deal of their sensibility, I do remember their lesson well and think I apply much of what they taught, but is a slightly askew manner. And thats what I'm thinking about now as I'm gearing up to make a big Senior portrait summer offer. I want to redefine what a senior portrait is around here this summer and I'm coming up with a lot of ideas. This is a more traditional portrait of Angela that I took recently--somewhere in between traditional and whacky portraits is something entirely different and I hope to find it. SayerMotter Photograph by Richard Sayer.
The play is Frost/Nixon. The story we're doing is a father and son playing opposite one another in the title roles. Ted Watts Sr. and Ted Watts Jr. will transform themselves into Frost and Nixon in front of an audience tonight at the Academy Theatre in Meadville. The poster for the show was this split face of Frost and Nixon. Normally I'm not overly keen on making a page one feature story into an illustration, but this one intrigued me a little because it was a father and son(and maybe because it was my idea and not someone else's who was then asking me to make an illustration--funny how that works.) The images I would've been able to get were the dress rehearsal run through--so it would be a news feature story using acting photos--I had hoped to get the actors working with the director or some such thing, but they were way past that. It was the final run through dress rehearsal ---last chance to fine tune. I like to split faces like this--i often do it in camera, but this was different and I was suprised to see the resemblance that came through by putting the dad and son together. I might try this with my own dad now to see if I do in fact look anything like him---I know I got his sense of humor and ability to laugh even when the jokes aren't really funny--but is there any resemblance. My guess is I look more like mom--only hairier ha ha! Meadville Tribune illustration by Richard Sayer.
Minnie Wilson is comforted by a friend near her home Tuesday afternoon. Two of Wilson's children, a 3 year old boy and a 2 year old girl had wandered off somewhere around 11 in the morning. They were nowhere to be found and they were responding to calls. neighbors thought they had seen the children and through a series of sightings it was believed the children had ventured into the woods across a busy street. Emergency personnel responded--the call over the scanner was 'send everybody!' At 1:30 the children had still not been found. I took this picture above around 1:45. The little girl had just been found, but still no sign of the little boy. The little girl, dressed in diaper, barefoot, was being treated in a nearby ambulance, but she was fine. A few moments later a Meadville police officer walked into a crowd of about 30 neighbors standing along the edge of the road watching and asked for volunteers to help search. "We'll all do it!' more than one person said. As the officer was explaining how they were to conduct the search--a line search with volunteers spread evenly across an area and moving in a line through the woods to search virtually every foot of ground they could--a detective drove up to the crowd and said--'We found the boy!' The crowd cheered and applauded and several went over to the car to thank the officer. About five minutes later a car pulled up with the little boy who was then reunited with his father. The children were missing for nearly three hours, but they were safe. Meadville Tribune photographs by Richard Sayer.
I was reading recently about how many photographers covering world events such as wars are taking a step back. The recent deaths of a couple well known(at least in our field) photojournalists on combat has started up a debate as to how important are these images that most people do not see and the risk photographers take in making them. The fact that these images are not widely known is troubling. Many newspapers choose not to publish them because they feel their readers don't want to see them. They are probably right. But should we see them anyway? I am asked to lecture every once in awhile about community journalism and I use this picture I took several years ago of an accident scene where a child riding his bicycle was struck and killed by a car. Was this picture important enough to show our readers? We put it on the front page. What is the impact to society showing a tragedy like this--one that is really a tragedy on the family and friends of the victim--and the driver. I find it important to to show these images. Personally, I don't like dealing with these photos. I'd like these events to never happen. But they do. Wars are sort of easy to defend why we photograph them....but still few people look at them with the understanding that only action against war will ever stop it. Most see it and complain that it goes on, but few ever do anything about it. The photographers and writers out in the midst of it all to document for history are doing it because they believe if they don't---who will? And if no one does--what will ever be done about it? Locally when an accident occurs and someone dies....the same principles apply. If we don't document it, who will learn? I know a picture like Stanley Foreman's photo of a mother and children plummeting from a collapsing fire escape led to laws that made fire escapes safer. This picture I took I had hoped that maybe, just maybe parents talked about road and bike safety after this appeared in the paper and that drivers might take a little more care when they see children playing on or near the road. We never really know the impact our pictures have, but we hope they do--not because we took them, but because they were there for us to take. Meadville Tribune file photo by Richard Sayer.
I've always sort felt funny saying Happy Easter...oh not when I'm around kids and Easter eggs and somebody dressed up like some big white rabbit...but when thinking about Christ...it seems odd to say Happy Easter. I know Easter represents his resurrection and not his death. I guess I can't over the way he was tortured and killed only a couple days earlier. Today, I wasn't feeling well and the only assignment I had was a baseball game. For some reason I felt compelled to make a picture for Easter. I thought about this crucifix in St. Agatha's Cemetery, a couple of my students photographed it and I thought maybe I'd go there to see what I could do with it. I'd photographed it a couple years ago in the rain and one other time years ago for a story I think about Easter. I recently made a few pictures by holding up a polarizing filter in front of my lens so I grabbed the filter and headed out there. I remember too that there was a pieta tombstone in the cemetery as well. That was my first stop. I don't believe I've actually photographed this before. I made some frames with the filter in different locations and some even without the filter. This was my favorite image of the bunch. I toned it in black and white and added a warming filter to it. I'm not sure why I wanted to make this picture today, many Easters have come and gone and I haven't felt as compelled as I did today to make a picture. I learned just a few hours ago that soldier from Northwest Pa. was killed in Afghanistan.... I remembered my aunt 'Toots' - who was tuned into things psychically - who would probably say I felt the energy of this before I knew what it was. Maybe? In any event I thought I'd share my Easter photo with everyone and wish you all a good day... I can't help feeling a little sad for this soldier and his family though. Meadville Tribune photograph by Richard Sayer.
As a photographer I am often looking for some sort of visual 'thing' that makes a picture stand out from another or that can aid in drawing people to look closer at the image or the page in which the photo appears. As I was photographing Abby last week she had animated expressions, so I keyed in on her for awhile hoping to get a picture that showed her curiosity and intelligence. As she worked with a student from Allegheny College who began using her hands to demonstrated visually Newtons 3rd(?) law of motion I tried to get those hands in play somehow within my frame and this was the result--well one of the results. I would choose this picture over others where the hand is not over Abby's face simply because it makes you stop and look closer to see what is happening, and even if you determine it to be distracting you probably took the time to read the caption to find out what is going on--if I get you to do that--I've given you information on the story--I've done my job. Now if the hand obliterated Abby's eyes and I didn't capture the expression, it wouldn't have been as affective. This story was about an after school program geared to help young people who perhaps struggle in the system of a classroom education. It is obvious to me that Abby and several of the others in this program are bright kids, they just need to find the right combination of stimulation and desire to learn and the type of approach and environment that fits them. For me, when I was young, it turned out to be in the art room and strangely enough, even that wasn't perfect for me as I learned I was a purely independent learner that learned based on a need, not on a structure that bopped me from one subject to the next without firmly grasping any of it. Art and learning to make a body of work -- a goal to reach for beyond a grade on a test. And most of all--seeking answers so that I have further questions. And thats something that images like this one have the potential to do--draw you in with a question, perhaps give you an answer and maybe help you think of further questions to ask. Meadville Tribune photograph by Richard Sayer.
The mantra of many journalists who want to gain insight into, not just cover a story is 'Go early, stay late.' Its not something we always get to do. I often am hitting an event briefly before a sporting event or on my way back to the office before deadline, but when there is time it usually lends to either a better picture or at least an unexpected one--it always leads to a better understanding of your subject. This picture was taken before a forum style question and answer period with the democrat candidates for commissioner of Crawford County this evening. They were drawing numbers for the rotation of answering the questions posed by the panel in front of a small crowd. The actual forum was visually unimpressive and the ability to get behind the candidates was nearly impossible in order to show the whole story in a good way--if I did I would've been very disruptive to the event. So having this photograph made me feel better than just having the stage with three candidates behind a white clothed table against a blank wall with plastic plants and a window with some gawdy wooden shutter on the inside(describing it makes it sound more interesting than I thought--maybe I missed a picture actually??). I even tried to stay late because I caught wind of a person wanting to get all three candidates together for one informal question afterwards, but it never did happen--i needed a shot that showed all three and I know I missed several good picture possibilities trying to wait for this to happen. Had I not gone early the only pictures I would've gotten would have come from the forum and done little to gain more insight into the character of the subjects. Meadville Tribune photograph by Richard Sayer.