01 January 2011

"Happy New Year & (finally) my POY..."

Glenda Hyde of Modesto, CA holds a graduation photograph of her son, then a 2nd. Lt. Daniel Hyde after his graduation from West Point in 2007. The Hyde family of Modesto, CA were at West Point on Sunday, August 8, 2010 for the Hyde Challenge presentations to the Class of 2014, which was renamed in honor of their son, 1st. Lt. Daniel Hyde, a 2007 West Point graduate who was killed in Iraq in March of 2009. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

The POY. (Pictures of the Year.) One of those abbreviations that a lot of photographers in the business truly dread. The mere mention of organizing one's images from the year just ended for the major contest entries in the business conjures up memories of sleepless nights, headaches, teeth gnashing, bloodshot eyes, rewriting of captions, major caffeine fixes, and way too much time at the computer. (Not to mention what it was like back when entering the year-end contests required either copy slides, prints and sometimes even the actual newspaper clippings of your best work during the previous year...) As I prepare my year-end retrospectives once again for publication, contest entries, other blogs & websites in the trade, as well as a new slide show folder as my screen saver here on the Mac, I began to realize that 2010 was a good year for making pictures.
Actually, it was all a VERY good year: Two presidents. A return trip to Haiti with less than 24 hour's notice from a longtime NGO client, to document the work of their volunteer trauma surgeons treating victims of the January earthquake. Graduations - both big and small; including my fourth ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point with President Obama delivering the commencement address. Another weekend trip upstate to Glens Falls, NY following HS State Champion NFA (Newburgh Free Academy) on their quest to repeat as the top HS basketball team in the state in their division. A return personal holiday to Bermuda. A two-page piece in Popular Photography magazine. Extensive coverage again of Army Football, including the first college game played at the New Meadowlands Stadium against Rutgers in East Rutherford, NJ and my fourth Army - Navy game down in Philadelphia. The continued use of multiple & remote cameras, as well as strobing arenas and gyms for sports - and working hard to continually refine those techniques - including the installation of remote cameras firing in sync with the arena strobes for basketball, wrestling and swimming. There were some difficult moments to document as well: The ongoing coverage and funeral of little Marc Bookal; the four-year old Newburgh boy who'd been missing since December 2009 - whose death was finally ruled a homicide. Coverage of more shootings, crime scenes, a major gang raid by the FBI at sunrise, more arrests, perp walks and homicides right here in my small city than I care to think about...

*But most of all and without question, the strongest photograph for me during 2010 came in meeting the parents of U.S. Army Lt. Daniel Hyde of Modesto, CA last summer (top image). I'd photographed then 2nd. Lt. Hyde at his graduation back in 2007 (at right), and had a nice frame of him in prayer immediately after the traditional "hat toss." It wasn't even an image I'd thought about, as the "hat toss" is the real money shot that sort of seals the day's graduation coverage for those of us covering the day. Any additional images are considered "B-roll" or in my own terms, "gravy." Well, long story short; Lt. Hyde's family had seen the image of their son on our website back then, contacted me, and we corresponded a few times via email. It wasn't until I learned that he'd been killed in Iraq two years later, that I felt an attachment to this Army family on the West Coast. Fast forward to summer training this past year for cadets at West Point where I learned that Lt. Hyde's parents, Glenda and Brian and sister Andrea would be at West Point in early August for the Hyde Challenge presentations to the Class of 2014. The Hyde Challenge ends summer training for the cadets and was renamed in honor of their son. Needless to say I'd made arrangements to work that Sunday, and to personally offer my condolences to them.

This is the a prime example of what it means to me to be a photojournalist - connecting briefly with people you don't know, and know nothing about, but by being courteous, respectful, professional and above all, a gentleman - you sometimes get to make a difference in someone's life with your work. You can view an earlier post on that day's coverage at West Point by clicking HERE. I will never forget the Hyde family of Modesto, California. Semper fi. ~cg.

My 2010 POY:

*(Use the arrow at the bottom left of the player or click the image to start the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. This is best for viewing the images with captions. Pause the portfolio slideshow in the right column by clicking the "II" pause button.)

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