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  • Quenettes for The New York Times

    Last week I went to Lawrence for a NYT assignment and photographed a couple that has been through the ringer lately. Andrea, a communications professor at the University of Kansas, has been in a legal battle since November after she used the n-word in a lecture. During that time Scott lost his job, but the couple held it all together for their two young (and adorable) children.

    You can read their story here.

  • K-State for the New York Times

    Some assignments are really hard. Last week I drove to Manhattan, Kan. (about three hours west of Kansas City) for one of those assignments. The two women I photographed were rape victims that had been failed by their university. Talking with them about their stories was hard and special. This job may be hard some times, but I will forever be greatful for the people it leads me to.

    You can read their story here.

  • Friday Night Lights for 810 Varsity: Weeks 1 & 2

    Two weeks ago I hopped on board doing multimedia coverage at 810 Varsity, a website that publishes game stories, photo galleries and live streams for Kansas City metro-area high school sports. I've only worked two games so far (shooting photos the first half, writing a game story the second half and then doing post-game video interviews), but I'm excited to be part of a great team keeping local high school sports fans in the loop.

    Here are a few photos from my first two games.

  • North Kansas City Foodtrucks for The New York Times

    Last Monday I drove a whopping fives miles north of my house to Macken Park in North Kansas City to check out a story for the New York Times. Food trucks gather in a lot at the park during the lunch hours and serve fresh food to local business people and North Kansas City High School students. Unfortunately, and despite their popularity, the North Kansas City city council is trying to get the foodtrucks' permits revoked, stating they are an unfair competitor to local brick-and-mortar restaurants.

    Read the accompanying story by John Eligon HERE.

  • Baylor Tennis for the Wall Street Journal

    Despite being in Dallas for all of my medical treatments, I got a call from the Wall Street Journal last Friday to cover a Baylor Men's Tennis match against the University of Oklahoma in Waco, Texas. Waco is only about an hour and a half south of where my parents live and where I am currently setting up shop, so I gladly took the assignment. I had been itching to work, having been sidelined for a few weeks while doing testing.

    A new Big XII Conference tennis decorum policy was instated that allows fans to cheer during points, to make the atmosphere "similar to basketball and football." Cheering is now allowed while players are serving, tossing the ball, and about to make contact as long as the yelling is not profane, vulgar or abusive to the opponent. Having never been to a college tennis match (Mizzou doesn't currently have a men's tennis team) I had no idea what to expect. I was in for a treat. The stadium was full of students and Bears sports fans. The BU athletic marketing department did a fantastic job of getting fans there with free t-shirts, pizza, face painting and other activites. There was a LOT of cheering, yelling and heckling, making it a really fun assignment to cover.

    You can read the great article by Tom Perrotta and watch the video put together from my footage by the WSJ production team, HERE.

  • WARNING: Earnest blog post

    I was going to do a "Year In Review" post like everyone else at the start of 2015, but it didn't feel right. Last year, my year didn't feel like it started on January 1st. The date that sticks in my mind from the entirety of 2014 is March 10th. That being said, you've been warned that the following blog post will be full of earnest feelings, lots of personal details and some instagram favorites.

    --

    A year ago today, I was sitting in a rental property in Panama City, Florida typing up and sending the most difficult email of my life to date.

    Three months previous, I had graduated from the University of Missouri and had since been applying to dozens of internships and jobs across the country. For those of you who haven't experienced it yet, job searching — to put it simply — sucks. It's like walking into a bar, approaching the best looking guy/girl in the room and putting your heart in their hands, hoping they give you a chance. There are few feelings worse than rejection, and job hunting is months on end of what feels like sending carefully crafted cover letters into a black hole. During those three months I had only gotten one interview, BUT it was with the organization I wanted to join the most. A couple of weeks after the interview, I got the call: I was offered the internship. Major League Baseball wanted me to be their photo intern in New York City as soon as I could possibly be there. HOLY COW. I was in shock. I accepted. I told my parents and they were thrilled for me. But then, it slowly sunk in that I had no money. No money to move to New York. No where to stay (besides friends' couches until I hopefully found a place to call my own). The monthly stipend they were offering just wasn't enough for me. My parents — who God bless them, had put me through five and a half years of college, some of which was out-of-state tuition — had finally cut the cord. I could take out a "loan" from my grandmother, but once I finished the internship and was on the hunt for another position, did I really want that looming over my head?

    I have a lot of feeling about how companies "pay" their interns (most of the time... maybe you have had different experiences than I). If you're lucky enough to find one that isn't only "for credit," you're most likely not going to make enough to support yourself on your own. And for those of us without the finiancial backing of a family member or enough savings to move across the country temporarily, you have to turn down once-in-a-lifetime opportunities because of it. I could rant about this for a while, but instead I'll link to a New York Times article about "Intern Nation."

    So on that day, in Panama City, I wrote an email to the senior recruiting manager with my deepest regrets and said "no" to my dream. I wish I could say I handled it like a champ and used it as fuel to move on, but I didn't. I cried every day for the rest of my week-long vacation. I cried all spring while trying to launch a freelance career in a city where I knew no one in the industry (or at all, really). I constantly wondered if I had made a huge, life-altering mistake, if there were some way I could have swung it and I just hadn't tried hard enough. I blamed myself daily. I was depressed the majority of that summer. Some days I struggled to get out of bed. I picked fights and shied away from the people I loved most in my life. I was genuinely unhappy. While my client list grew painfully slowly, I thought of the life I could have been living in New York with all of my friends there. I thought about the job I could have had and loved going to every day. Instead, I was in Kansas City, Missouri, struggling to find a foothold.

    But I did find that foothold. I did make friends — in the journalism industry and in my personal life. I got into a daily routine. I dug myself out of my depression.

    September 29th my cell phone rang. A 212 area-code flashed across the screen. It was Major League Baseball. The editor I had interviewed with and had offered me the internship was calling to see if I could shoot the American League Wildcard Game... Which turned into photographing the Royals' entire, unpredicatbly long post-season run. I worked a World Series not even having been a full year out of college. Despite the detour, I was finally where I wanted to be. After months of looking back to that day in Florida, I could look forward thanks to a renewed sense of confidence.

    "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."

    My first year of freelancing was not an easy one. I had hurdles — both physical and emotional — to jump, but I did it. There was a time that I thought I honestly wouldn't recover from the decision I made a year ago today, but I have. I may not be raking in the cash or changing the world (yet), but I'm proud of what I have accomplished. I've had five-column photos published in the Saturday print edition of the New York Times Sports Section. I've toured candy facories for the Wall Street Journal. I've been flown across the Midwest and experienced new cities with USA Volleyball. I've stood in the Kansas City Royals clubhouse, drenched in champagne as they celebrated winning the American League for MLB. Sure, some weeks still involve pajama pants and Netflix binges (and a little self-doubt), but I finally have the perspective to see the open door(s).

    That day last March broke me, but it made me better. It made me hungry. A year later, I am so happy to be where I am with the community I have built in Kansas City. It's been a rough first year, but I am overjoyed to see where the next few years here lead me.

    A big, BIG "thank you" to all of the people in my life that helped me through the dark days and stood by me, encouraging me all the way. To quote Kevin Durant, you da real MVPs 

  • Bol Bol for the New York Times

    The world is a small place, and on Tuesday I felt that first-hand. I was asked by picture editor Becky Lebowitz at the New York Times to photograph a story at Bishop Miege High School - the same high school my boyfriend, Evan, graduated from in 2005. It felt strange knowing I was walking through the halls he grew up in, but I was doing it while working for a national news outlet. Funny how life is sometimes.

    Anyways, the story was on Bol Bol - an 6'10" high school freshman, and the son of the late, great Manute Bol. He plays for the junior varsity basketball team at Miege. Not only is he tall (a head and shoulders above most all of the other players on the court, and me) but shy, smart and talented. It was cool to witness a young talent, knowing someday I could have the privilege of seeing him on an NBA starting roster.

    You can read the great feature on the Times website by Corban Goble HERE.

  • 2014 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament: 1st & 2nd Round

    University of Arkansas - Little Rock traveled to Topeka, Ks. to take on No. 16 seeded Kansas. They upset the Jayhawks in five sets and moved on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. The next night, they fought hard against Oregon State, but ultimately fell to the Beavers after five long sets.

  • Learning Tree for the Wall Street Journal

    Before I post photos from this assignment, I want to take a second to talk about how cool my network of friends is. People talk about the "Mizzou Mafia" all of the time, and I have to admit that as a student, I was skeptical of what the benefits of being an MU Journalism grad would be (besides my top-notch education, obviously). Let me tell ya – they have far exceeded what I imagined (granted, I would like to think that my friends are more talented and benevolent than your average grad). One of my good friends and mentors while I was in school, Timmy Huynh, is now a photo editor at the Wall Street Journal. Because he is a talented and benevolent dude, he called me up Tuesday and set me up with this assignment. Thanks Tech King Tim. You're a gem (;

    Wednesday, I crossed the Missouri-Kansas border (a whopping 1.1 miles from my house) and drove down to Prairie Village, Kan. to check out The Learning Tree, an independently owned toy store. The owner, Jonny Girson, is the definition of cool. What started out as an educational toy store, now specializes in what Girson calls "good toys." They don't carry "hot items" or what's necessarily trendy, but rather toys that are meant to enhance, teach and be of substance. The customers I spoke with were all long-time patrons (10-12 years) and had nothing but praises to sing of how the store was run. Girson and his staff greet each person that walks through the door, ask about the child being shopped for and know the perfect toy(s) to suggest. I watched Girson spend almost an hour helping a customer find something for her husband with Parkinson's disease to play with to help with his coordination, which included a sponataneous game of cards. It's a cool place. Anyways, I'll stop rambling and let you see for yourself:

    You can read the accompanying piece by Adam Janofsky here.
    And here's a look at what ran on B5 yesterday (Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014):