TikTok influencer London Lazerson, of Orem, poses for a portrait with his Tesla, which is featured in several of his videos, outside of Kiln in Lehi on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Lazerson has cultivated a base of 1,300,000 followers in a matter of months with the help of his know-how in the advertising industry. TikTok could have been banned on Sept. 15 according to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Aug. 6, but it wasn’t after a deal with Oracle was initiated in September. Read more from this Monday Close-Up here: provodh.com/wxp0t
September was one of the most surreal months in recent memory for me.
Back in February, COVID-19 was a virus largely contained to China and felt far away being on the other side of the planet from me. However in early September, I got a call from the local health department that my COVID-19 test had come back positive. It blows my mind – that a virus that felt so far away earlier in the year spread all the way across the world and eventually right to me (somebody who seldom gets sick).
Fortunately, my bout with the coronavirus was pretty mild – I never had a fever or cough. I felt a good deal of muscle aches and fatigue, but frankly, my body is a bit weary and creaky in general (mainly from frequent long days and carrying camera gear – The newspaper life). Obviously I instantly quarantined myself, and hunkered down in my apartment for two weeks. I spent the first few days in quarantine working with reporters remotely to cultivate stories for the week, and then hiring freelancers for every photoshoot I could solidify. After a few days, the fatigue had gotten the best of me, and I took some sick leave to focus solely on my health. The sick days were the first I had ever used at this job in four years, and the time off taught me that I need to be more proactive with things like sick days so that I can more genuinely keep up with my self-care.
Due to that, I spent significantly less time behind the camera in September. I spent most of the start of the month in quarantine, and once I resumed photographing assignments in person, being able to actually photograph something tangible for stories continued to prove difficult, as photo opportunities were pretty meager. However, at least photographing vacant scenes and inanimate objects make for low-risk assignments in these days of COVID. Though I've always played it safe with PPE measures and such, being back in action after having COVID-19 has made me evaluate even further how I can be safe while still doing my job.
Caysen Nichols, 10, of Provo, uses his foot to press the final buzzer after completing a NinjaCross aquatic obstacle course at the Provo Recreation Center on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. The Best In State Committee recently named the center Best in the State.
Caution tape restricts access to playground equipment at Palisade Park in Orem on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. Provo and Orem had less than two days to roll things back as COVID-19 cases have spiked significantly in the two cities, prompting the rise back to the orange restriction phase of Gov. Gary Herbert’s We Lead Together 4.1 plan. Face coverings must be worn at public places both indoor and outdoor when consistent 6-feet social distancing is not possible.
Lehi wide receiver Grady Gonzalez (7) falls to the ground after making a catch and driving the ball upfield during a game between the Lehi Pioneers and the Timpview Thunderbirds held at Lehi High School on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.
Dave Decker, Provo City’s public works director, stretches beside Brigham Young University senior Sarra Smith before a game between the Mighty Gooses and team Shinners as part of the adult hockey league held at Peaks Ice Arena in Provo on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. Several Provo City administrators have been playing together on a community hockey squad for the past two years.
Timpview free safety Etano Foster (12) listens to coaches speak as he and his teammates sport jerseys custom-made by PROLOOK Sports during a game between the Timpview Thunderbirds and the Cyprus Pirates held at Timpview High School in Provo on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. PROLOOK Sports, a company based in Orem, donated custom uniforms, as well as a custom flag, face masks and other items to the team in honor of Timpview head coach Andy Stokes’ wife, Tia, who is battling cancer. All the jerseys are to be auctioned off, and proceeds from the auction, as well as sales from the face masks went to Tia’s GoFundMe fundraiser.
Tyce Nelson and Jasper Walker, both 10-years old and from Spanish Fork, try to high-five midair as they and other children play around water features at Spanish Fork’s Adventure Heights all-abilities park on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The park opened on Sept. 12.
Larry Lawrence poses for a portrait at his home in Orem with jackets he’s gotten from the Boston Marathon as well as medals from the marathon and other races on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. Though he will be running the Boston Marathon virtually this year because the race itself was cancelled due to COVID-19, this will be his 25th consecutive time running the marathon.
Lehi running back Takeshi Faupula (25) runs into the end zone for a touchdown during a game between the Lehi Pioneers and the Timpview Thunderbirds held at Lehi High School on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.
Salem Hills right-side hitter Sydney Hansen (13) jumps in the air as she and her teammates celebrate defeating the Maple Mountain Golden Eagles in five sets at Salem Hills High School in Salem on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.
Cynthia Shumway, of Orem, returns a hit as she plays pickleball with her husband Ken at Bonneville Park in Orem on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020.
Monica McDonald poses for a portrait with her book-sharing library outside of her home in Pleasant Grove on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. McDonald’s library and others like it can be located on LittleFreeLibrary.org.
Wayne Parker, Provo City’s chief administrative officer, poses for a portrait in his office within the Provo City Center on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Parker recently earned the 2020 Award for Career Excellence in Memory of Mark E. Keane from the International City/County Management Association.
Timpview wide receiver Daniel Kaio (11) crosses into the end zone for a touchdown after completing a catch during a game between the Timpview Thunderbirds and the Cyprus Pirates held at Timpview High School in Provo on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.
Lehi linebacker William McCleary (52) gets pumped up with his teammates before a game between the Lehi Pioneers and the Timpview Thunderbirds held at Lehi High School on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020.
Victor Rubalcava, of Provo, passes a face mask notice as he exits the Provo City Center on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Utah County Commissioners Tanner Ainge and Nathan Ivie, along with Utah County Health Department Executive Director Ralph Clegg, announced at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday that they had signed a public health order implementing a countywide mask mandate.
Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi poses for a portrait with Brigham Young University seniors, from left, Riley Gilliland, Aubree Smith, Darnel Apelu and Madison Mingus in Orem on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. The “Join the Maskerade” is a new incentivized initiative organized by college students for college students concerning wearing face masks.
Jonny Peay poses for a portrait outside of his family’s home in Orem on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. Peay was born with Down syndrome, and recently graduated from the two-year Aggies Elevated program at Utah State University and additionally took some part-time classes at Utah Valley University. While in college Peay formed the Jonny and Friends Foundation, which raises money for scholarships to help those with intellectual disabilities who can’t afford school programs or to attend universities.
School's back in session, but obviously, it just doesn't feel the same.
I would typically characterize August as an exciting month, where anticipation for the first day of classes seems to forebode another academic year of meaningful trials and tribulations leading to personal growth and fulfillment. However this year, I felt a tone of anxiety everywhere. So many questions filled the air: Will students be safe participating in in-person classes? How will digital and remote learning play into the mix, especially at the collegiate level, and just as pressingly, how will it affect the quality of students' education? Should there be mask mandates, and if so, in what circumstances? For every question, there were many more answers, and even more varying opinions. I felt myself caught up in the anxiety of it all as I tried to keep myself feeling consistent in yet another month that was anything but consistent.
High school sports are back! It feels surreal to be photographing such a staple of my job while it feels like we're living in a very different world, but sports have a very everlasting quality to them that gives me solace and a decent dose of normalcy. This time of year through the fall is often my favorite time (in terms of assignments) working for the newspaper, and it does feel heartwarming to see students back in school as well as Friday night lights once again shinning bright. However, it all just still feels so off, and it seems certain that that feeling won't be going anywhere for a good chunk of time.
Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend camping with close friends from college in Moab during August to break up the month. The heat and hiking proved to be unbelievably draining, but in an invigorating and cleansing way, and the company of my good friends made for several memories I hope to hold onto for some time.
Kassidy Pettingill dances with her grandfather Merrill Wells as The National Parks perform during Utah Valley University’s 2020 drive-in commencement ceremony held on the university’s campus in Orem on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Pettingill graduated with a B.S. in exercise science and outdoor recreation management. Commencement ceremonies, typically held in May, were postponed until August due to COVID-19.
Stephanie Grant, left, and Tiffany Barker, both of Lehi, talk with each other before the Rally for Liberty held at Orem City Center Park on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. The event was held to protest against government mask mandates.
Ammon Bundy, who led the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, talks with attendees after the Rally for Liberty held at Orem City Center Park on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. “We are entering the greatest battle to defend individual rights that has ever been waged before,” said Bundy, when he spoke during the event held against government mask mandates. “If we lose this battle, then we and our children will be plunged into the depths of darkness for many generations. This darkness will be more severe than ever before.”
Ron Holgreen, of Highland, prepares to put his kayak away while a water quality advisory is posted at Highland Glen Park in Highland on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. The Utah County Health Department issued a temporary water quality advisory for the park’s pond after state water quality experts found high levels of waterborne pathogens in the pond.
Rozelle Hastwell, of the children’s “edutainment” project Mimi’s Playtime, poses for a portrait with Gabi-Roo, played by her daughter, Lorelei Hansen, at her family’s home in Springville on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. The project, an album featuring 10 original songs, is meant to inspire children and parents to learn about the world around them together.
A third-grade student watches and listens to a digital assembly in Madie Treanor’s class at East Meadows Elementary School in Spanish Fork during the first day of school for the Nebo School District on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.
A student exits the lobby at Mountain View High School in Orem while a statue of a bear sports a face mask after the first day of school for the Alpine School District on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.
Health care worker Shelby Smith stores a used swab in a bin after administering a coronavirus test at a COVID-19 testing site outside of Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.
Piano teacher LuAnn Loughton poses for a portrait at her home in Pleasant Grove on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020. Loughton explained she has been giving piano lessons for 45 years, and also has a degree in music education with a focus on piano from Brigham Young University.
Kayakers paddle southbound on the Jordan River in Lehi on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall organizes canned food as she and other officials from Salt Lake County and Utah County governments work at Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. Leaders of Salt Lake City, West Valley City and Salt Lake County volunteered at the food bank after losing to Provo, Orem and Utah County in a 2020 Census competition that pitted the two counties against each other to see who could get the largest increase in percentage of turnout from the last census.
Graduate Shayla Northcott is helped out of a truck by fellow graduate and her husband Matt Northcott during the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ drive-thru convocation before Utah Valley University’s 2020 drive-in commencement ceremony held on the university’s campus in Orem on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Shayla graduated with a B.S. in family science with a minor in autism studies and Matt graduated with a B.S. in technology management. The two met at UVU in 2016, and currently have a child on the way.
Utah Valley University president Astrid Tuminez cheers for graduates as vehicles process during the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ drive-thru convocation before UVU’s 2020 drive-in commencement ceremony held on the university’s campus in Orem on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020.
Timpview wide receiver and safety Raider Damuni poses for a portrait at Timpview High School in Provo on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. A senior, Damuni plans to attend Brigham Young University and play football for the Cougars after graduating from high school and serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Timpview defensive back Vave Adolpho (7) breaks up a pass intended for Lone Peak tight end Luke Tucker (20) during the season opener between the Timpview Thunderbirds and the Lone Peak Knights held at Timpview High School in Provo on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.
Lone Peak running back Siale Tahi (6) celebrates his touchdown during the season opener between the Timpview Thunderbirds and the Lone Peak Knights held at Timpview High School in Provo on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.
Maple Mountain running back Quinlin Jackson (22) runs the ball upfield during a game between the Maple Mountain Golden Eagles and the Timpanogos Timberwolves held at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.
Mountain View senior Lucas Schmidt cheers with other students as the Bruins serve the ball during the season opener between the Mountain View Bruins and the American Fork Cavemen held at Mountain View High School in Orem on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
Mountain View middle blocker Julia Cavalcanti (7) celebrates a point with her teammates during the season opener between the Mountain View Bruins and the American Fork Cavemen held at Mountain View High School in Orem on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020.
Maple Mountain wide receiver Kyson Hall (1) falls to the ground with the ball in his hands, but can’t keep control of it as he lands for an incomplete pass during a game between the Maple Mountain Golden Eagles and the Timpanogos Timberwolves held at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.
Margot Christensen, 1, checks out a cherry given to her by her father, Michael, both of Riverton, during a harvest tour at Cherry Hill Farms in Santaquin on Thursday, July 23, 2020. Despite the agricultural sector being among the industries hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cherry Hill Farms is still pumping out fruit and allowing visitors to get a glimpse of the process for the first time with harvest tours. Visitors could pick and eat cherries during the tour.
Had there not been fireworks on the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day (a state holiday in Utah held on July 24th), I likely wouldn't have been able to tell the last 31 days were July.
It's extremely hot here in Utah, but otherwise July just didn't feel like itself. July is usually a pretty packed summer month here in Utah County, since as Utahns we generally love all things Americana. There's the Independence Day Parade in Provo, Stadium of Fire, several city celebrations and Pioneer Day celebrations to list a few hallmarks of July, but COVID-19 cancelled or drastically altered all of those things. None of these coronavirus cancellations have come as a surprise, but as has been the case each month since March, things just continue to feel very "off".
In terms of work, there was a several week period where all Daily Herald newsroom employees were asked to work from home, then we returned to the newsroom for several weeks, and in July we were all asked again to go back to working from home. Cultivating photo opportunities for stories with reporters has been my greatest and most time-consuming challenge as of late, and not being able to touch base with them in the office has made communication more complicated. The coronavirus has made it infinitely more difficult to nail down a time when story subjects are "actually doing" what it is that reporters are writing their stories about. This has made it a bit of a battle trying to make photo opportunities things other than portraits or provided images. Though it's nice not having to drive to the office to talk with employees, communicating via Slack can be hit or miss, especially when everyone's so busy and I'm often driving to and from photo assignments. Working from home has made work hours much more nebulous and creating a work-life balance much more difficult, but this is the new reality we must all face. Here's to hoping things normalize sometime soon.
Fireworks burst above LaVell Edwards Stadium as people watch from Eastlawn Memorial Cemetery in Provo as part of the Freedom Festival’s Fireworks Show to celebrate Independence Day on Saturday, July 4, 2020.
Lex Scott, of Salt Lake City, leads a chant as she and protesters march along Center Street toward the Historic Utah County Courthouse during the Marching For Racial Equality rally which began outside the Provo Police Department on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
Les Harward, of Delta, carries a pistol and rifle as he stands with other counter protesters across the street from Black Lives Matter protesters during the Marching For Racial Equality rally held outside the Provo Police Department on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
A plane finishes dropping retardant on hot spots as the Pole Canyon Fire burns southwest of Cedar Fort on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. On July 21 state fire officials reported the wildfire was 100% contained.
Flanked by people expressing varying views, Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee speaks during a gathering held outside the Utah County Historic Courthouse in Provo on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Lee called the gathering just before a Utah County Commission meeting to give and listen to comments concerning his request to Gov. Gary Herbert to grant Utah County a compassionate exemption to the statewide mask-wearing mandate for all K-12 schools.
A face-mask notice is displayed while a customer enters Rancho Markets in Provo on Tuesday, July 21, 2020.
Connie Gonzalez and her husband, Joaquin, both of Provo, shop for produce at Rancho Markets in Provo on Tuesday, July 21, 2020. A study recently conducted by a group of BYU researchers found that wearing a cloth mask can stop up to 90 percent of respiratory droplets carrying COVID-19.
Lucas Ramirez, the Democratic candidate for the Utah House of Representatives District 48 seat, poses for a portrait outside of his Orem home Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Professionally, Ramirez is a family nurse practitioner.
Colter Castle, center of first row in dark blue, poses for a portrait with family and friends outside the Castle family’s home in Pleasant Grove on Thursday, July 9, 2020. Colter went to the hospital with what ended up being a brain bleed on July 2, and ended up having emergency surgery which included getting his head shaved. Family and friends also shaved their heads to show their support for Colter.
Burgess Owens, the Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District seat, sports a Super Bowl 15 ring as he speaks during a campaign event featuring Donald Trump Jr. held at Colonial Flag in Sandy on Thursday, July 23, 2020. Owens played defensive back for the Oakland Raiders, and was a part of the team that won Super Bowl 15 in 1981.
Attendees take a selfie with Donald Trump Jr. during a campaign event held for Burgess Owens, the Republican candidate for Utah’s 4th Congressional District seat, at Colonial Flag in Sandy on Thursday, July 23, 2020.
Lightning streaks across the sky as volunteers load family cars with food at the Utah State Fairpark as part of the Farmers Feeding Utah project on Monday, July 27, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Volunteer Paige Smith, 16, of Taylorsville, hands out bags of various food items to a family as part of the Farmers Feeding Utah project on Monday, July 27, 2020, in Salt Lake City.
Kim Linette Sorensen, author of “EQ Explorers: Little Adventures for a Big, Happy Life” series as well as co-founder and COO of BlenderBottle, poses for a portrait at BlenderBottle Company’s offices in Lehi on Wednesday, July 1, 2020.
Tychus Christensen receives presents from Pleasant Grove police officers with the help of his mother, Amanda, after being surprised by the officers during a socially-distant birthday party for Tychus on his third birthday at the Christensen family’s home in Pleasant Grove on Thursday, July 16, 2020. Tychus has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and was also surprised by the Pleasant Grove Fire Department at his birthday party.
Fireworks burst across the skies above Orem as seen from Eastlawn Memorial Cemetery in Provo to celebrate Independence Day on Saturday, July 4, 2020.
Stan Lockhart, interim president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce, poses for a portrait at the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce in Provo on Tuesday, July 14, 2020.
Kitchen manager Alan Anderson points out details of an order as he prepares food with his son, owner Christopher Anderson, at Steak Express in Provo on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
D. Clark Turner, CEO of Turner Innovations, poses for a portrait with the company’s Smart-C X-ray machine at Turner Innovations’ offices in Orem on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Turner developed the Smart-C Mini-C Arm Portable Fluoroscopy and X-Ray Imaging Device and it was showcased at the world’s largest medical exhibition in Germany and at a Radiological Society of North America meeting in Chicago.
Tanner Renshaw, of Heber City, fly fishes while other people float down the Provo River in rafts and inner tubes in Provo Canyon on Thursday, July 9, 2020. A handful of wildlife and conservation organizations and other groups recently announced a partnership to increase water flow in the lower Provo River after Utah experienced its third driest spring on record.
Glenn Hart, of Provo, whose alias is “Lonesome Hart,” poses for a portrait after a shooting match held by the Hobble Creek Wranglers at the Garth Killpack Shooting Range in Springville on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Hart chose the alias “Lonesome Hart” because he says, “the anchor chain on the Queen Mary isn't strong enough to drag my wife to a shoot.” Hart got into the group while working at an Orem pawn shop that was nationally popular with gun owners when a member of the Hobble Creek Wranglers invited him to a shoot. “One day I went out to one of the shoots with my wife here, and they saw me standing in the background, and they very quickly grabbed me and made me come up and shoot a stage,” said Hart. “They're always happy to do that. I eventually wound up getting a collection of the type of guns we use.” This photo and the following three are from my Monday Close-Up on the Hobble Creek Wranglers which ran in early July. To see more portraits and the written story, look here: provodh.com/2yqoo
Ron Doty, 82, of Hemet, California, whose alias is “Colt Colton,” poses for a portrait after a shooting match held by the Hobble Creek Wranglers at the Garth Killpack Shooting Range in Springville on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Ron, who is a BYU graduate and was visiting the area with his wife for a family member’s baby blessing, chose the alias “Colt Colton” because his family came to Colton, California, in 1894. He explained the story of the coins in his hat to the Hobble Creek Wranglers after the shoot. “I was in Price with nine grandkids and I loaded almost 4,000 rounds of ammo so we’d have enough, he said. “They made me posse marshal. Every clean stage you shot, you got one of these coins.” He explained further that during a two-day shoot, a total of 10-12 stages is typical.
Tracie Rock, of Herriman, whose alias is “Ginger Big Guns,” poses for a portrait after a shooting match held by the Hobble Creek Wranglers at the Garth Killpack Shooting Range in Springville on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Rock chose the alias “Ginger Big Guns” because she said, “Well, I have red hair, so hence ginger, and big guns, I like to work out, so not necessarily these big guns, but I feel like I have some big guns, you know?” Rock got into the group when, “Once COVID happened and we couldn't do anything, I got really bored. So I thought, what the heck, I'll try shooting.”
Bob Marshall, of Springville, who acts as the group’s president and whose alias is “Hobble Creek Marshal” poses together with his grandson Easton Marshall, 9, of Pleasant Grove, whose alias is “Lead Burner,” for a portrait after a shooting match held by the Hobble Creek Wranglers at the Garth Killpack Shooting Range in Springville on Saturday, June 13, 2020. Although “Hobble Creek Marshal” was Bob’s ninth choice as an alias, he said he chose it simply because, “I live in the mouth of Hobble Creek Canyon, and my last name is Marshall.” Bob is a state champion in Cowboy Action Shooting. The Hobble Creek Wranglers came up with “Lead Burner” as an alias for Easton simply because it sounded cool. Easton got into Cowboy Action Shooting by attending shoots with his father and grandfather. Easton has cystic fibrosis, and the Hobble Creek Wranglers used to do a cops vs cowboys annual fundraiser with local police officers to raise money for research of the disease.