September 24, 2014

left brain meet right brain


David Delgado is an artist and designer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He stood inside an artist model of a comet made from metal that emits steam to mimic the comet’s tail. The project relates to a NASA mission that will attach spacecraft to a comet. The spacecraft will drill into the comet to collect soil samples, which are from the beginning of the universe. Delgado’s team at JPL creates interpretations of space science to engage people with art, which leads to learning.

September 11, 2014

unexpected surprise

Mariana Willafuerte, 16, performs a traditional dance from Sinaloa, Mexico, in the courtyard of an apartment complex on North Anna Drive in Anaheim. The performance was the culmination of a walk around the neighborhood by community members promoting solidarity in the face of crime and violence.

One reason to keep shooting is you never know what it going to happen as a story unfolds. A few weeks ago we covered a walk through a violence-ridden community in Anaheim. What I could not have known until the walk was over was that a young troupe of latin dancers would perform inside one of the apartment complexes in the neighborhood. The moment and light couldn’t have been better. My face was fatigued from smiling by the time the sun set.

July 30, 2014

johnny on the spot news


My favorite thing to break is the news. Spot news is raw storytelling, unfolding right in front of your eyes. It’s unpredictable and ephemeral. You have to be there at the right time or the moment is gone forever.

When I heard the news on my car radio that a water main broke on Sunset Boulevard and began flooding the UCLA campus I immediately headed to Westwood. It’s the kind of situation that takes precedence over any other plans. Evening workout? Not happening. Dinner with my family? Save me a plate, please. Thank you.

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July 25, 2014

no end in sight


The Israeli-Palestinian war is nearing three weeks now and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. The conflict is deep and certainly won’t be resolved any other way than between the two cultures organically. But the constant and indiscriminate killing of innocent people in Gaza by the Israeli government — many of which women and children — must stop. It’s inhumane and sickening. On Sunday I covered a pro-Palestine rally outside of the Federal Building in Westwood, Calif., protesting the carnage unfolding in Gaza. The group eventually took over Wilshire Boulevard and marched to the Israeli consulate. More than a thousand people stopping traffic in Los Angeles carrying mock dead bodies certainly made their voices heard, but that won’t be enough to end the tragedy in Gaza.

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July 13, 2014


William Bello of Upland is draped in an American flag during a pro-immigration vigil in Murrieta. His family is originally from Mexico City and said that he supports the families coming to the states that are “escaping bad things in South America.”

The immigration debate was moved north from the U.S.-Mexico border to Murrieta, Calif., a town of 100,000. Protests began after the Border Patrol sent busloads of immigrant women and children to Murrieta for processing. The facilities in Texas are overwhelmed by the recent influx of children trying to cross the border, typically because their home country is too violent. When the busses arrived, the protestors (many not from Murrieta) blocked the road, which caused the buses to turn around and head to another processing facility.

Since that moment on July 2 Murrieta has become the face of the immigration issue. These images are from a pro-immigration vigil near city hall and the last two from outside the Border Patrol facility in Murrieta.

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July 8, 2014

century man


Harry Hall plays the violin at The Whale & Ale in San Pedro, Calif., on his 101st birthdays. He has been playing at the English pub every Friday since 1995. He began playing violin as a 9-year-old, when a door-to-door salesman offered his family a deal.

A gentleman came by and said that he was selling lessons. They would loan you the violin, it was a dollar a week – this was in 1925 – and if I took lessons for a year, the violin and the bow would be mine.

July 7, 2014



No need to pinch yourself. This is not a dream.

But if you drive along Figueroa Street in downtown L.A. this weekend, you still may feel like a character in a comic book.

Anime and manga characters are roaming around downtown Los Angeles for the annual Anime Expo at the Convention Center.

Cosplay opens an entire new world for anime fans to become the characters they love. Many act out scenes from the stories.

Most of the costumes are handmade.

And some people feel more like themselves while in cosplay than out in the “real” world.

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July 5, 2014

growers market


Los Angeles’ first cannabis farmers market took refuge in a warehouse space in an industrial part of Boyle Heights. The easiest way to find the place was following the line of about 1,000 people waiting hours to meet the producers of their pot. Handicapped patients got ushered to the front.

One of the most touching stories I heard was Barbara’s, a vendor selling mini cookies infused with cannabis. Barbara got H. pylori, a bacterium that causes chronic inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach, after eating a tainted marijuana edible, she said. She now has pre-cancer cells in her stomach and uses edible cannabis to help her sleep without the use of prescribed Trazodone. Her experience inspired her to create clean and safe edibles for medical marijuana patients, she said.

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June 28, 2014

a light reward

Roberta Hauptmann of Los Alamitos, at left, and Robert Harris of Placentia react after the United States shoots on Germany’s goal during their World Cup game. Germany beat the US 1-0 but both teams will advance in the World Cup. The soccer fans went to the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, Calif., to watch the game.

After transmitting photos I was getting ready to leave this assignment when I noticed these two watching the game in soft window light. The rest of the assignment was in a dark assembly hall, so I was happy to find story context bathed in nice light. Roberta and Robert are related and enjoyed teasing each other about the plays unfolding a world away in Brazil.

June 22, 2014

super fans

Jose Salcedo of the San Fernando Valley is rooting for Mexico in the World Cup.

With the World Cup upon us, we’re taking a look at fans in Los Angeles to explore how the city represents the diversity of the biggest soccer football tournament on the planet. Check out more images at AudioVision, the photo blog for Southern California Public Radio.

June 20, 2014

profitable procedures


Surgery is scary enough.

But when your surgeon has a financial interest in the parts he or she will implant into your body, it’s not the anesthesia that makes the procedure start to look fuzzy.

This is the story of Physician Owned Distributorships, or PODs for short. KPCC reporter Karen Foshay investigated the practice of surgeons potentially using more implants than necessary in patients just to reap an extra buck.

Imagine: you need back surgery and your surgeon recommends using various rods, screws and other implants. If the surgeon has a financial stake in the products they use, how can you know that they aren’t implanting more devices than what is needed?

Possibly the scariest aspect of this story is the mystery surrounding PODs. It is difficult if not impossible to find information on what doctors are members of a POD. Often the only disclosure is a line or two among the stacks of paperwork patients sign before surgery.

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June 19, 2014

peafowl of palos verdes

While someone is killing the wild peafowl of Rollings Hills Estates we set out to capture the controversy over the birds that were brought to the Palos Verdes Peninsula more than 100 years ago. Would you want peacocks roosting in your trees, hanging out on your roof and slowing down traffic in your neighborhood? They are gorgeous…

June 13, 2014

cali chrome


California Chrome tried to bring the Triple Crown back to the Golden State. Last weekend he raced in the Belmont Stakes. If he had won, Chrome would have been the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown. And the timing couldn’t have been better. Local horse racing took a hit when Hollywood Park closed. But now California Chrome is bringing the spark back into horse racing. We took a trip to Santa Anita Park and Los Alamitos Race Course to check out the scene ahead of California Chrome’s big moment. Unfortunately, Chrome didn’t make it across the finish line first. But the racing spirit, and big betting, is still alive in SoCal.

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April 14, 2014


040614-spt-rushfanbook 2.jpg

I was looking for feature pictures at a recent Rapid City Rush hockey game, something that said “fan pride.” Just before I was leaving I noticed this man out of the corner of my eye. I waited for him to yell, scream or do something. But ultimately it was just the eyes that pulled the image together.

February 10, 2014

stock show


The Black Hills Stock Show & Rodeo is big business for this area. People travel from around the country and Canada to get in on the action. For 10 days we covered rodeos, vendors and the people in between.

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February 5, 2014

pretty bird


An albino peacock shows his feathers on a recent morning at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary south of Hot Springs, S.D. The peacock was shuttering his feathers in a dominant gesture, trying to dissuade the other male peacocks from approaching the few females in the group.

February 3, 2014

freedom to roam


Imagine a place where animals own the land and humans can only visit.

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs is a range sculpted by the Cheyenne River that runs north, south, east and west and hasn’t changed much in the past 10,000 years.

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January 15, 2014

bagging a big cat


Each morning during the Black Hills mountain lion hunting season, Tim Goodwin awakes before dawn. He steps into fleece camouflage coveralls and grabs an Army National Guard backpack. Chuck, a chocolate labrador, wants to join, but he must stay behind to roam the property where Goodwin’s log cabin sits on a creek near Sheridan Lake west of Rapid City.

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January 10, 2014

a generation skipped


The alarm sounds at 5 a.m on a weekday. No one awakes.

Except Renee West.

She shuffles Antwan Kampeska, 6, into the shower from the bed they share. West knocks on two of the four bedroom doors, making sure her three other grandchildren are waking up for school.

West’s husband and Vietnam veteran, Larry Hand Boy, starts the coffee machine but forgets to put the pot under the dripping black liquid.

Who can blame him, it’s early.

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January 3, 2014

Welcome home


There is a strong military presence in South Dakota, which means many soldiers get deployed and hopefully return home safely. I recently covered the return of the South Dakota National Guard 235th Military Police Company to Rapid City. These events are typically emotionally charged, but it can be difficult to find a new way to photograph hugging, kissing and crying. As the soldiers sat in a theatre awaiting their demobilization ceremony, I stood on the mezzanine to watch for something interesting to happen. It was a fleeting moment between Spc. Dan Mertz and his daughter, Gabby, 6, but when preparedness and luck intersect a good picture is made.

January 2, 2014

Beauty and the beasts


On a freezing day in Oelrichs, a town of 127, I photographed Lisa Lockhart, a barrel racing star who placed third in a national competition. Her indoor arena sheltered us from the brutal cold but also acted as a huge softbox, spilling soft light over Lisa and her horses, Louie, left, and Chisum.

December 31, 2013



I had no idea what a doula was until recently. For those that don’t know, a doula is a person (usually a woman) who helps a woman with her pregnancy before, during and after giving birth. When a doula is involved the rate of a successful birth increases by nearly 80 percent. A doula teaches techniques to calm the expectant mother, usually with help from her partner, to “protect” the first stage of labor. If the first stage is low-stress then once the baby decides it’s time to come out, the baby is coming out despite most efforts to wait until the time is right. I spent a few hours with two couples working with a doula, learning different ways to take pressure off of the mother from her particularly round belly. Much of the time was spent with practical instruction, but I cherished this quiet moment between Bryan and Ashley Strand.

December 30, 2013

Yup, still cold


Why…why wold you want to run a 5K in negative degree cold? Just photographing Angela Arness and her frozen eyebrows sent shivers down my back. But if the run is for charity I suppose that warms your heart along the snowy trail.

December 29, 2013

The slopes


You know those days when you stop and reflect on really how awesome your job is? Today was that day. Getting paid to go snowboarding to capture the opening day of the season. Not too shabby.

December 28, 2013

Changing seasons


It happens quickly here. Temperatures rise and then plummet overnight but we figure out how to survive. It makes sense why Native tribes gave much respect to animals, as they are born with every resource they need to survive. Naked humans need an animal’s fur to keep warm.

December 25, 2013

The Claus


Hanging out with Santa is pretty rad. I had no idea that he keeps his apartment Christmas-themed year-round. The music to “Jingle Bells” rests on his keyboard. Cliché? Not if you’re Santa. Patrick Napoli is possibly the most legit Santa around. Not only does he bleach his hair and beard multiple times during the season, but he spends his own money (social security) on presents that he delivers himself to disabled and disadvantaged children. He also makes public appearances so children can sit on his lap and either recite a laundry list of “wants” or cry their eyes out. Either way, he does it all gratis and for the love of the true meaning of Christmas.

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November 12, 2013

Max effort


There’s an ongoing debate in the exercise community (and those peering in) about exercise to failure vs. the minimum effective dose. There’s merits to both perspectives and perhaps the ideal program is a mixture of both. But as an avid CrossFitter I can always appreciate athletes that push themselves to the limits. Not all the time, but when it counts. I could relate while watching these high school girls collapse after competing in the state cross country meet, unable to stand after giving max effort to their team and sport. A wise monk once said that it isn’t until you reach the breaking point and pass through that you realize your potential.

November 9, 2013

American light


Parades can be so hit or miss. Typically the most exciting things happening are on the sidelines. But with a Veteran’s Day parade two days before Veteran’s Day, there weren’t many people lining the street. I noticed strong winter sunlight beaming down the parade route. I took a 90 degree angle and worked to capture Sierra Austro in her best light.

October 27, 2013

Slice of history


While walking down the streets of Deadwood, S.D., I noticed Randy Christensen, left, and Mark Anderson hollering at pedestrians that walked by. Dressed in historical garb, they’re what you’d expect to see when rolling into the midwest gold rush town in the 1800s.

October 8, 2013

winter storm atlas


The worst storm since the 1940s swept through the Black Hills in early October. Four feet of snow-covered the region overnight shutting down Rapid City for two days. Everyone left the office by noon on Friday when the storm hit so that we could get home safe. Thousands of trees broke and many thousands more homes were out of power for a week. Walking in the middle of major roads that were shutdown was as trip. Navigating the mounds of snow was no easy feat. I even caught a ride home after a long day on a snowmobile. But the effects of the storm would be felt for months and possibly years to come. One of the most affected people are ranchers who lost thousands of cattle to the storm.

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September 20, 2013

round up


Each year Custer State Park rounds up their buffalo herd to check the health of the 1,000 or more thunder beasts and set aside some for auction. The event draws nearly 14,000 people to the area from across America and the world.

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August 28, 2013

man vs beast


The county fair wrapped up this weekend with the Range Days Rodeo. Steer wrestling is a classic rodeo event where a man on a horse chases a steer until the time is right to jump from the galloping horse to the steer and wrestle it to the ground. This is one of my favorite images from the couple of days spent with the cowboys.

August 26, 2013

good country


On a recent trip to the county of Southeastern, Mont., reporting on the recent U.S. Air Force B1-B Lancer crash in the Powder River Training Complex, I met a hand full of ranchers who love the sprawling prairie they live and work on. It’s not an easy life, but most ranchers I talked to wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m drawn to the raw, hardworking lifestyle that these people lead, which shows in their posture and demeanor. It’s the wild west and a treat to experience.

August 12, 2013


Brenton Coleburn burns out his Yamaha decked in elk antlers during the burnouts in Sundance, Wyo., as part of the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

If you thought bikers loved their motorcycles, just see what happens when they spin their tires until smoke clouds the air and the rubber pops. A voluminous roar reverberates off of the mountains surrounding Sundance, Wyo. I got some sage advice to wear clothes I don’t care about because hot rubber dissipates indiscriminately. I bought an outfit from a thrift store that I tossed in the trash immediately after the event. Shreds of rubber an inch thick stuck to my thrifty leather loafers by the finish. I’m still working the blackness out from under my finer nails.

August 5, 2013

ink addict


Anthony “Crazy Face” Sines of Long Island, N.Y., shows off his entire face tattoo on Main Street during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. He also has the whites of his eyes tattooed red. He couldn’t see for a week afterward, he said.

July 29, 2013

color fun


Who would’ve thought to combine a 5K run with tons of colored corn starch. Genius.

July 23, 2013

the youth

Belle youth

Antione Ellis, 13, left, and Morgen Garrett, 13, on their way home after swimming in the Belle Fourche river. The seventh graders enjoy living in Belle Fourche because they can skateboard and play school sports, keeping them busy most days.

While driving around Belle Fourche, a small town known for its Americana, I spotted these two. They had just finished swimming in the river and were wandering without a destination. Their appearance and style reminds me of my youth. I drove past them, pulled a u-turn and asked if they’d sit for a portrait. I also made a frame with my iPhone and texted it to them so they could walk away feeling rewarded as well.

June 24, 2013

anime fan


Bethany Bockwoldt of Box Elder is dressed as the anime character Sailor Moon during the 5th annual South Dakota Anime Convention at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. She’s attended the convention for the past four years.

I spent a little time at a local anime conference over the weekend. Besides the intricate costumes, the most interesting vibe is one of individuality. Many of these folks feel most comfortable when dressed as an animated character. Perhaps we all could benefit from not taking ourselves so seriously most of the time.

June 22, 2013

i heart rodeo


Just a few scenes from the South Dakota State High School rodeo competition in Belle Fourche. I like to find the moments away from the ring, little scenes unfolding behind the main event.

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June 19, 2013

keystone’s duality

“Big Dave” Murra reloads his pistol with blanks in between shows at the Red Gator Saloon in Keystone, SD. His group performs there multiple times each day, drawing in tourists from along the main drag. Murra lives in the old part of town, which many locals agree benefit from the commercialized area of Keystone .

The Rapid City Journal is starting a series on small towns in our area. The idea is to parachute into a town without a plan and find an interesting story. This week we featured Keystone, the gateway to Mount Rushmore. At first glance, Main Street seems highly commercialized. But there’s another side to Keystone, the historic district where many locals live and work. But what we found there is an appreciation for the tourist attractions. After all, they attract tourists, who eventually wandering into old town and spend money. One business owner described Keystone as serving two purposes, both viable and legitimate.

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June 17, 2013

too young to die


Strength and overcoming adversity seems to be a recurring theme lately. Reporter Joe O’Sullivan and I reported this story of Shawn and Natasha Hantke living through the nightmare of caring for their 3-year-old daughter, Polina, who had neuroblastoma in her spine. Polina is now cancer-free, but she has a long journey ahead filled with physical therapy and unknown results. Despite all of the hardships the Hantkes have endured — numerous trips to Denver hospitals, conflicting medical prognoses, $12 million in medical bills — their attitudes are impossibly positive, humble and loving. I tried to capture these adjectives while spending time with the Hantkes. Because Polina’s immune system is still weak, I could only hang out with them at home a couple of times. Stories like this remind me to push through hardships and remember the strength of a 3-year-old that knows nothing more than the will to live.

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June 13, 2013

life, take two

Rob is always challenging Tayla to push through physical obstacles. Tayla is working on her balance, so her father likes to lightly wrestler her to the ground so that she become confident getting up if she happens to fall.

Reporter Andrea Cook and I reported this story over a couple of weeks. Watching the bond between father and daughter proved the profound power of hope. The story is long and details many, but please read Andrea’s telling of how Tayla brooks defied doctors and is now taking advantage of a second chance at life.

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May 31, 2013

neighborhood staple

Marie Roubideaux carries her daughter, Christina, 1, to her vehicle after shopping at Sioux Nation. The tribal council decided to revoke the store’s lease after conducting a health inspection. Roubideaux signed a petition to keep the market open. It’s vital to locals who need a grocery store close to people’s homes, she said. Other stores in Pine Ridge, “don’t have the things we need,” she said.

Reporter Dan Simmons-Ritchie and I traveled recently to cover the potential closure of Pine Ridge’s sole grocery store. Many people use the store daily, walking or catching a ride (most people don’t have cars). But after an impromptu inspection by the tribal economic development office, the store’s future is in jeopardy. The only alternative is 50 miles away in Chadron, Neb.

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May 29, 2013

fish eye


During a feature assignment at the D.C. Booth Historical Fish Hatchery in Spearfish, I spent a few moments observing trout through a below-ground viewing area. The hatchery used to ship fish all over the United States via railcar. Imagine if one of those derailed. Now that would be a picture.

May 10, 2013

wide sport


The classic sports image is usually tight and packed with emotion, bringing the viewer into the personal space and experience of the athlete. It’s a view spectators can’t see. But sometimes I like to mix it up and pull out a wide angle lens during sporting events. In this case, that choice was also driven in part by the position of the sun and the direction that the athletes were traveling. If I stuck with the usual long jump perspective of standing at the end of the sand pit and shooting straight on, the background would be blown out and contrast lost. I decided to use the light I had and bring the athlete into a larger context, relying on body language to create a graphic image.

April 15, 2013

the line


This is not at track & field picture. Not one, at least, that would ever become ink on newsprint. But it’s a picture that most accurately depicts the event of that day. It was brutal to watch. The poor girls could barely make it up to the line, let alone clear it. But I also like the moment, the seemingly gentle balance of walking a thin line. Which is often the margin for a successful track athlete.

April 11, 2013



South Dakota needs moisture, badly. So nature blessed us with more than 20 inches of flaky white this week. Here’s how some people dealt with the blizzard. Above, Ruben Clifford braves the wind and snow while walking to a Loaf ‘N Jug gas station on Haines avenue in Rapid City after finishing some plow work.

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March 23, 2013

fallen warrior

Margaret Eagle Tail, left, mourns the death of her son, Lyle Eagle Tail, with her daughter, Alexa Eagle Tail Thunder Hawk, during his wake at the Mother Butler Center in Rapid City.

Lyle Eagle Tail, 28, tried to save 6-year-old Garrett Wallace, as he was drowning in the Big Sioux River, when he was swept under and drowned. The boy’s sister, Madison, 16, also jumped into the water but fell victim to the currents. Garrett, a stranger to Lyle, later resurfaced and survived. The Eagle Tail family held a 24-hour wake before his burial. Lyle had a 7-year-old daughter and a baby on the way. He may have acted instinctively, a family member said. Helping was part of his nature. “He was a native warrior,” his cousin, Francis Eagle Tail-Dupris said.

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March 11, 2013

mixed martial arts


We had a cage fight in a movie theatre on Friday. Boxing and mixed martial arts are not sanctioned sports in South Dakota. But the legislature is working to change that. Gov. Dennis Daugaard doesn’t like the blood sport, but the legislation is supposed to create standards and regulations to increase safety. The newspaper was also interested in this particular fight because it was an effort by the independent movie theatre to draw more people through its door.

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March 7, 2013

tough time to be homeless

It’s not easy being homeless. I learned this first-hand while reporting a story on local homeless people and a controversy surrounded the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. To gain the trust of my subjects, I slept outside, in the dirt, next to trash and a stones-throw away from railroad tracks. It was 12 degrees. Which really isn’t that bad considering they sleep outside when temperatures dive below zero. I woke up with them at 4:30 a.m. We walked in a snow storm to a fast food restaurant to find warmth and shelter. I followed these guys throughout their daily routines more than once. Most days are the same. People often thought I was homeless as well, offering me free coffee and food. There’s a different look people give you when they think you sleep on the streets.

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