Snapping pictures and taking names since '03

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Sheriff Deputy Micah Flick Funeral

El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick was fatally shot last week in a gun battle during an attempted auto-theft arrest in the parking lot of an east Colorado Springs apartment complex. Two sheriff’s deputies, a police detective and a passer-by were also injured. Flick is the third officer killed within five weeks.

A public funeral procession showed an outpouring of support to honor his life. The Denver Post was not assigned as the pool publication for the ceremony so I was not allowed in the church, but I attempted to capture images that conveyed what Flick’s life meant to the force and the community.

Photos for the Denver Post

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International Church of Cannabis

Daniel Brenner Photo

Raised in a Jewish family, I grew up with scripture relating to burning bushes and oil lasting eight magical nights. Those miracles would be more believable at the International Church of Cannabis. The group of elevationists don’t practice an authoritarian style of leadership and consider cannabis a sacrament to reach an elevated spiritual level

4/20 is a major holiday in Colorado. Political rallies, a 2 Chainz concert, and other festivities were planned across the state, including the church hosting an opening day celebration. Social consumptions has been a touchy subject. Current regulation dictates smoking only allowed on private property or with permissions from an owner and out of public sight. But a bill passed last November implements a pilot programs for businesses and organizations to set up designated smoking areas with consent from the neighborhood. The founders of the congregation insist they are not impersonating a church to maneuver the laws and believe the religion is sacred.

The vintage 113-year-old church got a huge splash of color from a couple artists, corky ninja turtle figures, decorations, and games.

Read the Leafly story here.

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Protect Our Muslim Neighbors Rally

Protect Our Muslim Neighbors Rally

A three hour peaceful protest, the Protect Our Muslim Neighbors Rally, occureed in Denver over the weekend. The gathering included speakers, poets, interfaith leaders, and an Asr prayer. Queen Pheonix, above, was an organizer of the event and is also pregnant. The diversity of the crowd ranged from race, religion, age, and gender but they supported acceptance and inclusion.

See full coverage at the Denver Post


Winter Park Express Returns

Luke Smith Rides Train And Skis Same DayIn August 2016, I couldn’t sleep. I had just quit my job in Missouri and moved to Denver to freelance. Assignments were few and far between, but I was comfortable in my home state. I was nervous about an upcoming interview for a staff job in Tennessee. This was my second time applying to the paper and I really wanted the job. The night before the meeting, I hatched a story idea, in Colorado.

There was a lot of news coverage being given to the return of the Winter Park Express. The original train service traveled from downtown Denver to Winter Park Resort from 1940 to 2009. Now resurrected, passengers can pay to skip highway traffic and arrive a 100 feet away from a ski lift.

Winter Park is unique because it has an impressive adaptive skiing program called National Sports Center for the Disabled. My aunt is visually impaired and raves about the organization. They provide therapeutic, adaptive sports and recreational programs to 3,000 people of all ages and ability. A lot of the athletes have tremendously inspiring stories of overcoming a tragic accident or condition and also strive to make the Paralympic team.

My plan was to investigate if the new transportation service would benefit some participants in traveling to the mountains. I learned NSCD provides its own shuttle service, so the train wouldn’t drastically change anyone’s commute. I called the office anyway and discovered a couple NSCD participants were riding the inaugural train, and that’s where the story developed.

I pitched the idea to the Denver Post and they were interested. I documented the first train ride, transmitted a gallery, shot video, and wrote an article.

I ended up getting the Tennessee job, but decided to stay in my home state.


Preserving Baseball Latino Heritage For The New York Times

Latinos and Baseball

Baseball is represented by much more than a box score. The sport is rich in diversity and cultural heritage. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has started an initiative to collect Latino artifacts and memorabilia to preserve the past.

New York Times sent me to cover a collection event at the Kansas City Museum in Missouri where Smithsonian Latino Center director Eduardo Díaz urged locals to consider donating.

“We are story tellers at the Smithsonian,” Díaz said. “But for us to tell stories, we need things, we need baseball gloves, we need jerseys, we need baseball mitts”.

The museum also hosted an exhibition and displayed oral history interviews that will be available to the Smithsonian.

You can read the New York Times story here.


Gallery

Images of 2015


The Best/Worst of True/False

Festival goers enjoy the True/False @ction Party Friday night at Tonic.The True False Film Festival came and went like a small bag of popcorn. Patrons waited in Q lines and on every last line of a director’s Q&A. There were before parties, after parties, and parties after the after parties. Every corner was decorated with a bar serving stiff drinks being handed out by someone wearing a mask and a smile. As a first-time shooter of the event, it seemed like I was always out of time and out of coffee. The documentary film festival has gained fierce popularity in recent years and attracted a lot of media attention. Cameras galore. On occasion, I will look at previous year’s coverage to get a gist of the scenes. But, this can be distracting. I needed to shut it off and go out to explore, without a camera. Experience life to understand the atmosphere and quirkiness. This should be done with any assignment. The images will come later. See the full coverage at the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Thanks for looking.

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V.B.A.C.s in Casper

When the New York Times contacted me during Superbowl weekend for a story regarding Casper women pursuing natural births post cesarean births, the first thing I did was sober up and accept the job. The second thing was look up the definition of “cesarean”.

The background is that hospitals are afraid of complications when doing vaginal births after a C-section, or V.B.A.C. Although the procedure has been deemed safe, there is a slightly higher risk of rupturing the uterus.  Short of being in the delivery room during a birth, it was going to be tough to visually tell this story. So I decided to go the route of moments. I spent a day with one mother and kids on a Sunday. Followed them to church, made some nachos, read a story, and left around nap time.

The other family had complications. The day before shooting, the 8-month pregnant mother had kidney stones removed. Being a trooper, she still allowed me to take pictures during a check-up and ultrasound. Except things went wrong again when I arrived at the doctor’s office and she came out saying “this isn’t going to work”. Mandie was having contractions and going into labor. They rushed over to the Wyoming Medical Center and I tagged along to see what access I could get. This is the hospital that was being shined in a “not-so-bright light” in the story. I pulled magic out of my pocket and talked my way into the room. She ended up having the baby via C-section days later.

The story was published Tuesday. Here are some photos. Thanks for looking!

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Under the Sea on the Stage

♫♪♫
Just look at the moments ’round you,
Right here on life’s big floor,
A photog’s got a better view
What more is you looking for?
 
Under the sea,
Under the sea,
Angles are better
Up where it’s brighter
Shoot it for me.
Open aperture all day
Fillin’ up memory away.
While we devotin’
full time to shootin’
Under the Sea
 
Right here all the peeps is happy,
as if the film on a roll,
A cam not on hand ain’t happy
They sad ’cause their cards are full
missing a call ain’t lucky
And if the timing is late
Well then the boss get angry,
Guess who’s future be delayed?
 
Under the sea,
Under the sea,
nobody beat us,
try us and join us
then you’ll see
All of the ledes start with a hook
under the sea we love the look.
We got no troubles,
life is the bubbles
Under the Sea
♫♪♫

I’m a big fan of backstage shooting. This particular rehearsal was for a Little Mermaid show that double-casted almost every role.

Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid Preview Little Mermaid PreviewLove the duck face. Thanks for taking a peak under the sea.


Life in Jail, Not Behind Bars.

There’s another way of breathing free air while serving a jail sentence, but it might involve shoveling livestock feces. So long as an inmate is eligible, meets specific requirements and is accepted to the program, he or she can make the time spent in jail feel quicker, and be shorter.

Instead of paying a debt to society by sitting in a room with four white walls, a select few are helping out at Cam-plex, maintaining the grounds at the jail, washing government vehicles, or completing custodial or cooking work inside the prison. Locals recognize them by their horizontal black and white stripes removing snow in front the entrance of the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office on a cold day. But they never cease to offer a warm welcome to anyone who passes by. The 12 men of cell block P and three women in cell block J feel fortunate to be part of the program, it certainly has its advantages, but not everyone can participate.

The inmate work program allows inmates to pay off a portion of court cost, fines and fees, or even shorten their jail sentence.  At 40 hours a week and five work days, that can drastically shorten life behind bars.

A typical walk through the prison halls warrants inquiries from a number of inmates. “If I plead guilty can I?” A female inmate pending trial asks for clarification on the program as she exits her block. “I only have one felony,” she implores.

“Just because we wear stripes doesn’t mean we are violent or angry or trying to get away with something,” inmate Herald Rank said.

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