I am lucky enough to get to combine my two great loves in photography — photojournalism and wedding photography. During the week I crisscross Merced County, covering news, events and high school and college sports for our local paper, the Merced Sun-Star. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously — we are the eyes (and ears!) of the local community, documenting the everyday life — some of the most joyful, funny, serious, and also tragic events that is life for all of us.
Nothing reminded me more of the brevity of life when long-time staff photographer Marci Stenberg suddenly passed away right before Christmas. She was a Merced icon and had been documenting life in our town for the past 24 years. You can see the paper’s tribute to her here. Marci loved photography and greeted every day with an enthusiasm for capturing the life of Merced through her lens. She is greatly missed in the newsroom.
Below are some of my favorite images of the year — the first few what we in newspaper lingo call ‘wild art’, ‘enterprise’, ‘b-lines’ or ‘feature hunt’ — when we go out and try to find something interesting, making images telling of everyday life. Some are the result of good planning and relationship building, some are the result of driving around, checking spots where people tend to congregate and waiting for the moment to happen. Each are a small slice of life, capturing emotions, light and action to hopefully create a visually interesting image for our newspaper readers. All images copyright the Merced Sun-Star.
BEA AHBECK CASSONfirstname.lastname@example.org Audrie Sterling, 7, of Atwater, gets covered in leaves while playing with her sister Maddy and friends at Castle Park Tuesday. (11-20-12)
BEA AHBECKemail@example.com Travis Mask, with Last Hope Cat Kingdom, gives Rigby the potbellied piglet a bath in her Atwater, Calif. home Monday, Jan. 30, 2012. She and her fiance Danny Fuentz are raising three surviving triplets in their home after the mama failed to take care of them after birth at the Last Hope Cat Kingdom all species animal sanctuary. Two sets of piglets have been born to two of the remaining rescued potbellied pigs.
BEA AHBECKfirstname.lastname@example.org Kitkat the cat looks on as Kara Ford, 5, jumps on the family trampoline in their Merced, Calif. backyard Mon. Feb. 6, 2012. Ford was out enjoying a nice afternoon with her siblings.
BEA AHBECK CASSONemail@example.com Aaliyah Hensley - Amey, 7, hugs the Christmas tree just given to them by David (last name withheld), a volunteer at the Cavalry Temple, in Merced Wednesday. (12-19-12)
BEA AHBECK firstname.lastname@example.org Merced High student Julie Andrews, 16, practices her catwalk before the fashion show at Merced High Thurs. May 17, 2012. It's the third year the event is held at Merced High, and the show is the event planning final for a class in Virtual Enterprise, an ROP class which teaches students in a simulated business environment.
Every year we put together a football preview for the upcoming season, as well as Players of the Year. Here are a few favs!
BEA AHBECKemail@example.com Le Grand's Daniel Guizar is the Sun-Star's Football Offensive Player of the Year. Photographed in Le Grand, Calif. Thurs. Jan. 5, 2012
BEA AHBECK - CASSONfirstname.lastname@example.org Merced's 'The Fast and the Furious' Eli Gutierrez, David Keys and Bradley Adamson.
BEA AHBECK - CASSONemail@example.com Chowchilla quarterback DeVaughn Gaines (He Got Game).
Then there is spot news, where we drop everything to go cover breaking news. This man ran from police after a pursuit where shots were fired, and was found injured by a homeowner in his hallway a few blocks away. He was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital.
BEA AHBECK firstname.lastname@example.org A police officer adjusts the suspect's handcuffs before he is wheeled into a waiting ambulance after being apprehended outside a residence on San Rafael Court in Merced, Calif. May 1, 2012.
After the Occupy protests, police took it very seriously when this mannequin head showed up with a note on it at a local elementary school. After sending in the bomb squad, it was found to be harmless. An Atwater police officer surveys the results.
BEA AHBECK email@example.com Atwater Police Cpl. John Smothers looks at the mannequin head after it had been deemed not dangerous by the Merced County bomb squad at the Bellevue Elementary School campus in Atwater , Calif. May 3, 2012.
I spend a lot of time on the sidelines of high school games — football, soccer, volleyball, basketball and waterpolo. It’s all about capturing that peak-action, and the emotion of the game.
BEA AHBECK CASSONfirstname.lastname@example.org Atwater goalkeeper # Efrain Ulloa goes airborne as he tries to make a save during their game against Turlock in Atwater Wednesday. (09-12-12). The goal was negated because of an offside call.
Nothing keeps you more on your toes than football, where I have side-stepped 200-pound football players coming at me with intense speed at more than one occasion! It’s challenging and fun to shoot, often under less-than-optimal lighting conditions. Anticipation is everything, as you only have a second or two to predict where the pass will be thrown.
BEA AHBECK CASSONemail@example.com Incomplete pass to Buhach's #9 Felix Borruel as Merced's #20 Errol Dennis defends during their game in Merced Friday. (10-12-12)
Then there’s general news — planned events we cover that are of importance to the community. Some are fun celebrations of holidays, some serious — like the memorial for the Sandy Hook massacre organized by the Sikh community in Livingston.
BEA AHBECK CASSONfirstname.lastname@example.org Faythe Perez, 8, (CQ), of Merced, dressed as a zombie bride during the Harvest Party at Yosemite Church in Merced Wednesday. (10-31-12). The party included booths with games for the children, a Trunk or Treat walk, a petting zoo, inflatable slides, food and more.
BEA AHBECK CASSONemail@example.com Yosemite Church worship pastor Matt Shumaker dressed up at as photo booth picture during the Harvest Party at Yosemite Church in Merced Wednesday. (10-31-12). The party included booths with games for the children, a Trunk or Treat walk, a petting zoo, inflatable slides, food and more.
BEA AHBECK CASSONfirstname.lastname@example.org Gurpreet Pannu, 19, of Livingston, attends the Livingston candlelight vigil for the Newtown, Conn. victims in Livingston Friday. (12-28-12). The event was organized by the two Sikh temples in Livingston.
My very first show as a photographer was a series of black-and-white images captured backstage at the Boston Ballet while I was a student at New England School of Photography. Every year I try to photograph the local dress rehearsal of my most favorite ballet, the Nutcracker.
BEA AHBECK CASSONemail@example.com Gianna Guillen, 15, puts on her ballet shoes during the Merced Academy of Dance's Nutcracker dress rehearsal, presented by the Merced Civic Ballet, in Atwater Thursday. (11-29-12)
BEA AHBECK CASSONfirstname.lastname@example.org An angel enters backstage during the Merced Academy of Dance's Nutcracker dress rehearsal, presented by the Merced Civic Ballet, in Atwater Thursday. (11-29-12)
BEA AHBECK CASSONemail@example.com Natalie van Pelt, 10, of Merced, and Josie Downs, 9, of Merced, engage in some feather-fighting during the Merced Academy of Dance's Nutcracker dress rehearsal, presented by the Merced Civic Ballet, in Atwater Thursday. (11-29-12)