A daily collection of staff photographs, videos, photo essays, as well as sharing our experiences, technical information, links and other information concerning news photography and the best of photojournalism. You can see more of our photography at columbian.com.
Being assigned to shoot a movie production is always a challenging assignment. Movie producers and their staff, I have discovered over the years, just don’t like newspaper photographers. Tonight’s assignment to photograph Oscar winning actress Reese Witherspoon shooting a scene for the movie “Wild” in downtown Vancouver, Washington was the second worst experience I have had covering a movie production during my 25 years as a professional newspaper photographer (there was a really bad experience I had with Jim Belushi in the late 1980’s, but that’s another story). I was told everything from I was distracting Reese with my “big lens” to I “might” be in the production shot underway (even though there was a small crowd of onlookers next to me shooting pictures with iPad’s and iPhones). The publicist, who I was told I needed to get “permission” from in order to shoot photos from a public sidewalk, said I could shoot pictures much to the displeasure of the first two handlers. ”Thank you,” I said. So I began shooting pictures as extras were rehearsing their parts for the scene. Now the real goal for me, as I explained to several of the production handlers I encountered, was to get a photo of Reese working on the movie set. Once I have that shot, I told them, I’m out of your hair. The second Reese comes on to the scene during the actual production I’m suddenly told by the publicist, who just gave me permission a minute ago, I can’t shoot anymore pictures. “We sent your paper some publicity stills,” she said, “don’t you have enough pictures?” At this point I had had enough of the contradictions, rude and arrogant behavior and disrespect for the work I was trying to accomplish (I had identified myself to every production person as being with the local newspaper and what I was trying to do). I just started shooting. Suddenly a flashlight beams from across the street into my lens as Reese came into clear sight while talking with the production crew. At first I thought the light was a temporary light source as part of the work crew. I soon realized it was purposefully being directed at me. Because of the flashlight handler I missed a decent photograph I had hoped for, which would have sent me happily on my way. This flashlight handler was more arrogant and brazen than all of the previous handlers. He was abrasive as they came and wouldn’t even identify himself when I asked for his name. “Stop shooting pictures,” he demanded. ”You are distracting Reese with your big lens.” What is he talking about I thought. “I doubt my big lens is distracting Reese,” I said. “She a professional.” I started shooting pictures and he would flash his flashlight at me. I would move and he and other handlers would move to block my camera. I would move again. They would move. I told them I can play this cat and mouse game all night if they like. I will make photos. I moved again. Finally, the flashlight handler came over with a less aggressive voice and said to me “I have a compromise for you.” Will you stand across the street. I looked over to where he was pointing and said “let me consider your compromise and take a look.” As I walked across the street, as bystanders continued to shoot video and photos with their portable devices, another bystander with a cellphone looked at me and said “I wouldn’t want your job.” After tonight’s experience I think she might have a point. At least when it comes to shooting movie productions. I finally made the photo I had wanted to make of Reese working on the movie set. It doesn’t make sense to me why production crews, especially this one, go to so much effort to stop a local news photographer from documenting the making of a movie. I mean, don’t they want the publicity for the movie that will soon be in theaters? I don’t get it. It was not a lot of fun but a least I was successful.
On a “slow news day” us photogs are sometimes asked to find “wild art,” an industry term for a stand-alone feature photo. The subject matter is usually light, highlighting the natural beauty of our surroundings, finding a humorous situation or just some eye candy from around the county. Often, over the course of a day, plans change or news happens and our photos go unpublished. Here are a handful of unpublished wild art pictures that I’ve made over the past few months. -ZK
The USGS hosts a group of international scientists to study Mount St. Helens both in the field and the classroom. They spent six weeks on the Big Island in Hawaii studying Mount Kilauea before arriving in Washington State. Many of the geologists, the majority being from Central and South America, have volcanoes similar to Mount St. Helens in their home countries. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)
I’m always so grateful when I get the opportunity to take part in a story like this. Myself and two colleagues spent 24 hours with this group of geologists from around the world. Thank you to the visiting scientists for putting up with me and my camera all day, to the USGS for the invitation and my editors for giving us the time and resources. A memorable experience indeed. -ZK
Inmates at larch Corrections Center, from left, Jeramie Hardi, Zackary Driver, Patrick Cecil, Scott Ferworn, Dakota Laughren, Robert Baker, Zachary Search and Manu Peneueta line up during a rehearsal for an Asian Pacific Islander event on Wednesday May 15, 2013. Four days later the men performed for friends, family and a handful of other inmates. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)
This is something I’ve been meaning to post for a little while now. The pride, respect and courage shown by these men was inspiring. -ZK
Eric Ahlvin,”the boat papa,” works on unfurling the sails on the Hawaiian Chieftain’s bow while approaching the Railroad Bridge during a cruise on the Columbia River on Saturday May 25, 2013. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)
I’ve shot this assignment several times before, but always from the shore. When we were given the opportunity to go along on the cruise we jumped at the chance. It was a four hour commitment, but I couldn’t have made this image from dock. -ZK
Peace Health Coordinator of Volunteers Carol Thompson, second from left, volunteer and licensed massage practitioner Debbie Switzer, left, and patient care volunteer Beth Kellett, background right, visit with patient Phyllis White, 86, at the Ray Hickey Hospice House on Thursday April 18, 2013. White entertained the group with stories about her careers as a nurse and school bus driver. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)
My friend and Columbian alumni reporter Kathie Durbin passed away today. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit her yesterday and drop off this photo of her while we were working together on a story in the Columbia River Gorge in June 2011. She loved the Gorge. Kathie was one of the most formidable, fierce and talented reporters I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Peace be with you Kathie. You will be missed. -ZK
A walk through Crestline Elementary School, which burned to the ground in the early morning hours of February 3, 2013. The fire displaced nearly 500 students. -ZK
John Reagle was the drummer for ‘Trip,’ a local band touring with ‘Great White’ in February 2003, when a fire killed 100 people at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island. Reagle says that the sights and sounds of that night will always stay with him. (Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)
Listening to Reagle’s first-hand account of the tragic events at The Station was incredible. Locking eyes with people who were burning alive, and not being able to help them, has haunted him for the past 10 years. When Reagle spoke to us about the tragedy, it was as if he was transported back to that night, with the scene replaying over and over somewhere just behind his eyes. I’m grateful he shared his story and hope he can find peace someday.