A month in pictures: May

American Leadership Academy's Jorge Gonzalez (16) reacts as time runs out giving South Summit the 3-1 victory in the 2A State Boys Soccer Semifinals game between the American Leadership Academy Eagles and the South Summit Wildcats on Friday, May 12, 2017 at Juan Diego Catholic High School in Draper.


Not every month is a standout, crazy month.

May was good, though. There was a crazy busy week (filled with graduations and several high school state sporting events), and other weeks ebbed and flowed. 

Graduations always make me nostalgic, and the few I covered were no exception. It's crazy to think that just one year ago I myself was graduating from a college in Ohio, and now I'm covering graduations in Utah - life's unpredictable like that I suppose. On the other hand, it was personally fulfilling to see names I recognized from sporting events, high-school functions, and general community events in a few graduations. One of my favorite things about working at a newspaper is getting to understand communities. Graduations are culminating opportunities to see people from different walks of life hit a common milestone, and being able to point out a few different threads from people's lives that come together during such events was wonderful. It put a smile on my face being greeted by the ROTC instructor I met at a story back in September, listening to the crowd cheer as star athletes I photographed in games receive their diplomas, and running into school faculty members I had met while on assignment at schools. I'm so thankful to have a full-time job that allows me to see communities develop, and I'm glad I have the opportunity to continue watching Utah County grow.

Aside from that personal little tangent, I feel decently happy with how this month's pictures turned out. I shot more portraits than usual, which is something I enjoy. I feel like I have "my setup" totally down, but I'd like to make my portraits more distinguishable as "my own". I'll give a heads up once I figure that one out. Aside from portraits, I shot a few sporting events, graduations, and then just a mix of daily assignments. As always, the variety of assignments has been pretty nice, and I look forward to pushing myself creatively as the summer rolls around (though, when does one not want to "push themselves creatively"? haha).

For my Monday Close-Up this month, I photographed a story about Amanda Barton, a Lone Peak High School senior who has stage four kidney failure and undergoes dialysis three times a week before her classes. Photos from that story make up the last six pictures of this blog post. You can see a wider edit and the written story (which was a collaboration with one of our writers this month) here: provodh.com/b0ak1.

Besides work stuff, I'm excited to experience a summer in Utah. I've been working on my mountain-biking skills, and I recently bought myself a hammock system, so I'm doing my best to break out of my shell and get outside into the beautiful outdoors that Utah has in abundance.

Diane Thompson poses for a portrait during the last day of business at Diane's Wig Shop on Thursday, May 11, 2017 in Orem.

Lincoln Beck, 8, of Spanish Fork, climbs up a parking post as his father Will, left, listens to Festive People perform during the first show of the season for the Rooftop Concert Series on Friday, May 5, 2017 in downtown Provo.

McKenna Petty, bass guitarist for The Aces, performs with the band during the first show of the season for the Rooftop Concert Series on Friday, May 5, 2017 in downtown Provo.

Dogs explore the area along with visitors at the grand opening of the Orem Bark Park on Saturday, May 20, 2017 next to Mount Timpanogos Park in Provo Canyon.

Ava Del Francia, 2, of Midway, grimaces as Dawna Whitehead, of Fantastic Face Painting, finishes up Francia's tiger face paint during the baby animal birthday party Friday, May 19, 2017 at Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi.

Megan Hunter, right, laughs along with her classmates after a rocket was launched during Mike Jones' class Monday, May 8, 2017 at Timberline Middle School in Alpine.

A student chases after her rocket as it drifts away from the open field where it was launched during Mike Jones' class Monday, May 8, 2017 at Timberline Middle School in Alpine. 

Lili Westover, 4, of Lehi, bounces about as Perry Renner checks the time during the Utah Pasifika Festival on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in downtown Provo.

Kiara Maryott jumps rope with her high-honors cord as she waits with other graduates in line for their diplomas during Provo High School's Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at the UCCU Center in Orem.

Lone Peak students cheer and joke around as fellow students file toward their seats during Lone Peak High School's Commencement Exercises on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at the Marriott Center in Provo.

Ivana Johnson cheers as her name is announced to receive her diploma during Provo High School's Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at the UCCU Center in Orem.

Utah Valley Wolverines pitcher Logan Hold (29) pitches the ball during a game between the Utah Valley University Wolverines and the Brigham Young University Cougars on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem.

Timpanogos first baseman Spencer Olsen (25) fumbles with and drops the ball, but still throws to first base in time for an out in the second inning during a game between the Timpanogos Timberwolves and the Springville Red Devils on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at Timpanogos High School in Orem.

Skyridge's Hunter Bringhurst (2) scores as she safely slides into home plate off a wild pitch during a game between the Orem Tigers and the Skyridge Falcons on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at Skyridge High School in Lehi.

Spanish Fork outfielder McKell Stone poses for a portrait Monday, May 8, 2017 at the Spanish Fork Sports Park. Now in her senior year, McKell has torn her ACL twice.

American Fork junior Nathan Mumford poses for a portrait Saturday, May 27, 2017 at American Fork High School. Mumford was selected as the Daily Herald's Boys Soccer Player of the Year.

Timpanogos' Tyler Cornish poses for a portrait Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem. A senior, Cornish is a pitcher and shortstop for the baseball team. Cornish was selected as the Daily Herald's Baseball Player of the Year.


Amanda Barton walks from one FrontRunner train to another at the Murray Central Station on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 on her way to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City. To get to her three dialysis treatments a week, Barton boards the 5:16 a.m. FrontRunner train from the Lehi Station to arrive at the hospital for her treatments at 6:30 a.m.

Amanda Barton checks the stop schedule as she rides the FrontRunner train Wednesday, May 24, 2017 on her way to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City.

Amanda Barton looks towards registered nurse Brooke Walker as she and University of Utah student Stephanie Matalone ready Barton for dialysis Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at Primary Children's Hospital Outpatient Services in Salt Lake City. Barton has stage four kidney failure, and undergoes dialysis three times a week to keep her body functioning. 

Blood pumps in and out of Amanda Barton as she undergoes dialysis Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at Primary Children's Hospital Outpatient Services in Salt Lake City. Her dialysis treatments typically last about three hours, during which she can't leave her seat.

Amanda Barton looks around for friends as she and fellow soon-to-be graduates line up in sections to form lines before Lone Peak High School's commencement exercises on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at the Marriott Center in Provo.

Amanda Barton hugs a friend as they and fellow soon-to-be graduates gather in sections to form lines before Lone Peak High School's commencement exercises on Thursday, May 25, 2017 at the Marriott Center in Provo. Barton will attend Utah State University in Logan in the fall.

A month in pictures: April

Dustin Johansen, 7, center in black and red stripes, reaches out to touch bubbles along with other children at the end of Diana Vergaray's storytelling show during a Dia de los Ninos (Children's Day) event Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at the Pleasant Grove Public Library.


April was relatively calm, and brought a bit of rain (as April tends to do).

Assignments still came consistently throughout the month, but things weren't as busy as it's been the past few months. Photographing a lot of rainy sporting events has made me a pro of taping a trash bag to a 400mm lens, but otherwise the month has mainly consisted of general daily newspaper assignments. For some reason I felt myself standing back and using my 70-200mm to clean up scenes more than usual, and I'll be working to get back to being closer to subjects on assignments (which is where I feel I work best). 

My Monday Close-Up this past month was on the Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic, which cares for large-farm animals. Pictures from that story are the last six images of this blog post, and the written story and photo gallery can be seen here:http://www.provodh.com/ojocq. A quick funny story on how I found the clinic: Back in December, I was driving around the rural area around Payson (which is south of Provo, and much of what's south of Provo is more farm-oriented and rural) in search of some sort of a farm feature. There was a good amount of snow on the ground, and I happened upon a road that came to an end next to the highway. As I came to the end, I turned my car around and my front tires ended up sliding into a snowy ditch. I then walked to the nearest building (which happened to be the clinic) and the doctor there at the time was kind enough to tow me out with his truck. I then kept that clinic as a story idea in the back of my head and put it to use in the spring when they're the most busy. In short, sometimes getting your car stuck can lead to a fun story. 

In other news, I turned 24 on the 11th of this month (hurray, haha). I also started to take up mountain biking with Dominic. Ski season is now over, and Dom and I decided we needed a warm-weather hobby. I'm starting to really warm up to outdoorsy stuff (since Utah is loaded with things to do outdoors). I hope that I don't break too many bones trying to "channel the send" (as overly-zealous outdoors people call speeding down a hill in these parts).

Danny, last name withheld, explains his living situation as he prepares to visit a friend in the apartment complex Friday, April 21, 2017 at Brigham Apartments in Provo. On April 10, residents at Brigham Apartments, which is a low-income apartment complex, were given 30 days notice that they must move out indefinitely to make way for renovations in the complex. Danny has been living at Brigham Apartments for four years.

Kaleb Bohn, 12, watches a video on his tablet as his mother Geri comforts him at the Bohn's home Thursday, April 27, 2017 in Eagle Mountain. Kaleb has low-functioning autism, and his mother feels that the 12-year old operates on level of a two-year old.

Spencer Tatton, right, smiles as he prays during the closing prayer beside Casey Swenson at the end of graduation Thursday, April 13, 2017 at ScenicView Academy in Provo. The academy provides career-building skills, education and other advancement opportunities for adults with high-functioning autism.

Nataanr Denny, 12, of Orem, dances along with other dancers in the Grand Entry during the Dancing Strong Youth Powwow on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at Provo High School.

Shauna Taggart hula dances during a book-signing event for author Ken Young on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at the Pleasant Grove Public Library.

Brigham Young University pitcher Arissa Paulson (10) walks towards the dugout after giving up three runs in the top of the first inning during a game between the Brigham Young University Cougars and the Utah Valley University Wolverines on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at Miller Park in Provo.

Maple Mountain coaches tend to outfielder Peyton Pond (10) after he was hit in the head by a pitch as he attempted to bunt the ball during a game between the Maple Mountain Golden Eagles and the Salem Hills Skyhawks on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork.

Brigham Young University outfielder Brooke Vander Heide (1) grimaces after missing a catch deep in the outfield during a game between the Brigham Young University Cougars and the Utah Valley University Wolverines on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at Miller Park in Provo.

Wasatch players celebrate around midfielder Dax Holmes (19) after he scored a goal during a game between the Wasatch Wasps and the Springville Red Devils on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at Springville High School. The goal put the Wasps ahead of the Red Devils 4-0.

Alta catcher Colton Clark, center, acts as if he's a machine gunner as second baseman Jeff Packard, bottom right, and other players play along while the two teams joke around with each other during a rain delay in a game between the Orem Tigers and the Alta Hawks on Thursday, March 30, 2017 at Orem High School.

Dr. Mike Walburger grinds down uneven teeth in a horse's mouth Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Payson. A horse's teeth often can grow unevenly and can cause sores in their mouths if they grow too large.

From right, Emmy Richardson holds down a calf as Ted Ahlin, of Spanish Fork, holds another one of his calves and Mike Walburger rotates the calf's leg to feel out any issues with it Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Payson.

Nan Johnson works on her computer Monday, March 13, 2017 at Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Payson. The building the clinic occupies belongs to the family of the late Lewis Feild, a five-time rodeo world title holder.

Jessica Leany, of Salem, holds the head of Stormy, her quarter horse who is approximately 17-years old, as Mike Walburger tries to diagnosis Stormy's medical issues Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Payson. Leany and Stormy competed in several 4-H events through the years. Initially due to medical issues, it seemed that Stormy would need to be put down, but Stormy started to improve the next day after some care.

Mike Walburger checks out the teeth of Aero as his owner, Katie Packer, of Provo, watches on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Payson.

Mike Walburger gathers up chairs as he finishes cleaning up a station he used to test bulls on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic in Payson.

A month in pictures: March

Gail Halvorsen, also know as the "Candy Bomber", poses for a portrait in the cockpit of a Cessna 182 Turbo Skylane belonging to the Civil Air Patrol on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Spanish Fork-Springville Airport. Halvorsen earned his nickname by air-dropping candy to kids during the Berlin Airlift after World War II from 1948 to 1949.


I'm surprised I haven't run into camera malfunctions (knock on wood) with how much I shot during March.


The weather has gotten beautiful around Utah County (highs from the high 50's to low 70's, but with snow still capping the mountains), and it seems everyone in the valley decided to get out and be active. Spring sports such as soccer, softball, baseball, and even college football have begun ramping up, while men's college volleyball is about to enter tournament season - and sporting events haven't even been the majority that've kept myself and the rest of the photo staff busy. There's just been loads of general assignments, which truly run the gambit in terms of what they entail.

In the latter portion of the month, I was assigned to photograph the Daily Herald's picks for player of the year in high school basketball (both boys and girls) and wrestling. The newspaper decided on motion to be the theme tying together the pictures. So, I took inspiration from my friend Logan Riley who used rear-curtain sync on a player-of-the-year series this past winter, and tinkered with it a bit. The photos were a several-second exposure with a small bit of constant light throughout to make the blur of the players' motion visible with a pop of the studio lights at the end to freeze the player. After some experimenting with my friend an co-worker Dominic Valente (who did a wonderful job assisting me, and our sports editor Jared Llyod who assisted when Dominic was busy), we shined two cell-phone flashlights through colored gels to make the blur different colors - which we coordinated with each player's school colors. It was a fun shoot, and I look forward to trying something different for the next round of player of the year sports portraits. 

For my Monday Close-Up this month, I decided to learn more about motocross: specifically in its most entry-level and smallest form, pit bike racing. I went to a pit bike race held at a local Honda motosports dealership and met the Millers. Randy Miller, the patriarch of the Miller crew, is an active dirt-bike racer, and he's in the process of introducing his children to the sport. The story ended up only being a two-day shoot due to other story ideas and contacts not panning out, but it was neat to learn a little about pit bikes (and I even got to ride one thanks to the Millers, which was obviously pretty sweet). The story I wrote can be read here: provodh.com/60kie.

With winter coming to an end, I'm hitting a transitional period personally and at work. Assignments are taking place outside more often (oh how I've missed some nice natural light), and I'm personally getting ready to trade in my skis (at least for the season) for whatever other summertime activity I get myself into. I've finally put my voice back into commission by joining a small choir here in Provo (for those of you that don't know, singing is a love of mine that is only narrowly bested by photojournalism for me). I also went back home to Ohio for a few short days to visit my alma mater of Ohio University and sing with the men's choir I sang with in college, the Singing Men of Ohio.

With another busy month behind me, I'm getting closer and closer to seeing what it is like to spend a full year in a community working for a newspaper.

Riggen Gibbens, 4, of Highland, tosses a toy football in the air as his mother Lacey watches among various taxidermy mounts at The Hunt Broker's booth during The Big Outdoors Expo on Saturday, March 11, 2017 at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem.

The grilled pineapple is pictured Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at Braza Grill in Lehi.

Diane Garcia poses for a portrait at Garcia's family farm along South River Bottom Road on Wednesday, March 1, 2017 in Spanish Fork. The property has been in Garcia's family since her great-great grandfather settled the land in 1852.

Samatha Buck, center, and Amaya Simp, right, both of Provo High School, shoot smoke rings to try and knock a cup off the head of Scot Gilbert, not pictured, at the IM Flash booth during SheTech Explorer Day on Friday, March 3, 2017 in the Grande Ballroom on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem.

Whitney Hjorth, 3, of Orem, spins about as she plays with her wand during a Fairy Tea session Saturday, March 4, 2017 at the Provo City Library.

Anistyn Barber, 9, center, of Provo, plays with her wand along with other kids during a Fairy Tea session Saturday, March 4, 2017 at the Provo City Library.

From right, Andrew Sanchez, Cory Burtcher and Janelle Sanchez, all of Orem, enter Cinemark Movies 8 during its last day of operations Thursday, March 16, 2017 in Provo.

Hailie Johnson, 13, of Herriman, tries to counterbalance several younger children Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at Neptune Park in Saratoga Springs. Though there's still snow atop the mountains, the 20th marked the official start of Spring.

Colton Estey, a student from Illinois Central College, begins climbing up a tree along with other students from colleges around the country during a practice for an arboricultural event Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at Wymount Field on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo. The practice was a part of the National Collegiate Landscape Competition, and an arboriculture competition was held on Friday.

Cows stand in a field along Lakeview Parkway in Provo as a controlled burn takes place in a rural area of Springville on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

Rachael Hall hitches her bike up after the Ladies Fancy Ride as part of International Women's Day activities Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at the Provo Bicycle Collective. Hall helped organize the bicycle ride, which was one of several events held in Provo in celebration of International Women's Day.

From left, the Boldt family including Aaron, Sadie, Nancy, Lance and also David Hair pose for a portrait Thursday, March 9, 2017 in front of Joshy's House of Hope, located at 43 North 100 East in American Fork. Nancy is holding a photo of her sons Benjamin and Joshua, both of whom died of cancer. The Boldts bought the home to host meetings for Canary Garden, a center for grieving families, which is in its 14th year.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon briefs the media as the Utah County Sheriff's Office investigates the scene of two fatalities Friday, March 24, 2017 at a home at the end of S. 1800 W. in Benjamin.

Gail Halvorsen, also know as the "Candy Bomber", poses for a portrait Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Spanish Fork-Springville Airport.

Brigham Young Cougars outfielder Keaton Kringlen (17) jumps, but can't catch the ball as it sails out of the park for a home run to put UCSB ahead 1-0 in the first inning of the second game of a double-header between Brigham Young University and the University of California Santa Barbara on Friday, March 10, 2017 at Miller Park in Provo.

Lehi right fielder Alli Butterfield (3) listens to head coach Tim Kennedy speak after the Pioneers were swept by the Red Devils 13-0 in a game between the Springville Red Devils and the Lehi Pioneers on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at Springville High School.

Timpview midfielder Cesar Alvarez (14) heads the ball while guarded by Skyridge forward Jaxon Sorensen (2) during a game between the Skyridge Falcons and the Timpview Thunderbirds on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at Skyridge High School in Lehi.

Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Tanner Mangum (12) fumbles the ball during the spring scrimmage Saturday, March 25, 2017 at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

Brigham Young Cougars opposite hitter Ben Patch (13) celebrates his scoring hit along with middle blocker Miki Jauhiainen (19) during a game between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Long Beach State 49ers on Saturday, March 25, 2017 at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo. Patch celebrated his 1,000th kill during the game.

Springville senior Andrew Slack poses for a portrait Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at the Daily Herald in Provo. Slack plays as a center and was selected by the Daily Herald as the Utah Valley Boys Basketball Player of the Year.

American Fork senior Taylor Moeaki poses for a portrait Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at the Daily Herald in Provo. Moeaki plays as a guard and was selected by the Daily Herald as the Utah Valley Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Payson senior Chayce Loveless poses for a portrait Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at the Daily Herald in Provo. Loveless wrestles in the 190-pound weight class and was selected by the Daily Herald as the Utah Valley Wrestler of the Year.

Randy Miller talks to his son Bode, 1, after taking a ride around the Miller's neighborhood on a pit bike Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 in Lehi. Bode has a few years to go before he rides himself, but Randy's motto is that if you can ride a bicycle without training wheels, you can begin to learn how to ride a dirt bike.

Devin Miller watches as riders blur past him in a race during the first round of the Pit Bike Race Series on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 at Monarch Honda in Orem. Though just 8-years old, Devin has been riding pit bikes for 3 years.

Randy Miller gives his son Devin, 8, a thumbs-up before a kid's race during the first round of the Pit Bike Race Series on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 at Monarch Honda in Orem. Being their first official races for both Randy and his son, Devin was a bit cautious after a less-than-perfect practice run, but eagerly took the starting line after some encouragement from his father.

The Millers, including Diann, left, Breann, 5, bottom center, Randy, center left, Bode, 1, in arms, and Devin, 8, bottom right, watch a race during the first round of the Pit Bike Race Series on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 at Monarch Honda in Orem. “We play together, and it helps the family grow closer together,” explained Diann.

Randy Miller talks with his daughter Breann, 5, during the first round of the Pit Bike Race Series on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017 at Monarch Honda in Orem.

Bode Miller checks out a pit bike as his brother Devin takes off his gear in the garage Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 at the Miller's home in Lehi. “A lot of the guys that stay in the industry start when they are young,” said Jeff Panelley, Digital Marketing and Events Coordinator at Monarch Honda in Orem.