Archive for the ‘On Assignment’ Category

My work as freelance photojournalist for Minnesota Public Radio News expanded in 2011. I completed 30-some assignments for the organization last year and was pleased to learn that nine of my photographs have been included in MPR News’ Pictures of the Year. Online photo galleries featuring photographs by both staff and freelance contributors are available here, here, here and here.

My selected images are presented in order of oldest to most recent below. Not surprising, two of the biggest news stories from the region [spring flooding and the American Crystal Sugar lock-out] are well represented. In this era of newsroom layoffs and shrinking freelance budgets, I remain grateful to the editors and reporters at MPR News for their respective roles in helping me document the people and places in the Red River Valley. Few things give me more pleasure or satisfaction.

Happy New Year. – Ann

Stepping Stones

Bear Cub

Flood from Above

Sandbag Line

Golden-Winged Warbler

Beekeeper

Lockout

A&R Bar in Hillsboro, N.D.

Homer's One-Stop Mini-Mart

Santa Claus

I recently spent a couple of hours [three to be exact] in the company of a Santa Claus. Fortunately, he was a kind man and quite genuine in his Santa duties. My official task was to photograph said Santa with anyone who wanted to have his or her picture taken with Jolly Old St. Nicholas. Fortunately, most of said people were over the age of 18. While editing a couple thousand images [2,030 to be exact], I considered the Santa experience and jotted down a couple of lessons [eight to be exact].

1] You are never too old to ask for a pony, puppy or peace on Earth.
2] Cover your knees. The importance of a good-fitting suit [or other attire] cannot be overstated.
3] Don’t be afraid to ask a friend [or friends] to come along. Life isn’t as scary with your BFF along for the ride.
4] Make wishes big and small.
5] If someone doesn’t want to talk to you, sit next to you or have a photograph taken with you, don’t take it personally.
6] Embrace new friends, but also remember to hug the old ones.
7] Be patient. Not everything can happen all at once.
8] Be goofy. If Santa can walk around in a funny red suit with fluffy white trim, well, you get the idea… .

I’m certain many more lessons could be added to this list, but Christmas is fast approaching and there is still work to be done.

Happy holidays to you and those you love. – Ann

Turtle

You just never know who [or what!] you are going to meet in rural Minnesota.

I was on my way back to Fargo from an assignment with Minnesota Public Radio News yesterday afternoon. Highway 10 was nearly in reach when I came upon a turtle in the middle of the road. He [or she] was squarely in the center of my path. I swerved a bit, thinking I bet that turtle is going to get hit if he [or she] isn’t careful. I’m was trying to decide where to pull over to photograph said turtle when I came across another turtle. Seriously.

The road isn’t a busy one; however, I had no desire to get hit by a truck just because I want to make a picture of a turtle. That said, I made a picture of the turtle. Isn’t he [or she] nice?

Have a fabulous Labor Day weekend. – Ann

Turtle

Rep. Rick Berg's Town Hall Meeting In Fargo, North Dakota

North Dakota Republican Rep. Rick Berg held his sixth town hall meeting in recent weeks. Last night’s gathering, which attracted more than 100 folk, was at Longfellow Elementary School in north Fargo.

I stopped in for a bit. The meeting was – sort of – on the way to my office from another self assignment. I was curious to see how many people turned out and what they had to say [which was a lot and with strong opinion]. And, if I’m going to be honest with myself and you, I absolutely love photographing people in this community. It’s something I wish I could do more often.

The lack of a market, media outlet and what feels to me to be a general lack of interest in photographs of everyday people from this part of the world bothers me. Yes, we can count on national coverage for each and every flood event, but the aftermath draws little attention. [Really, what is going on in Minot?!] Oh, and yes we can bank on a few articles about western North Dakota’s oil boom and how we’re all so much better off economically than the rest of the country. I’d ask forgiveness for my frustration, but I continue to miss some pieces of my former life as a newspaper photographer/reporter.

Anyway, my commitment to myself – and to you since you are still reading – is to pursue more self assignments on a consistent basis. I’m open to ideas and requests.

Now, back to the photographs from last night. Enjoy! – Ann

Rep. Rick Berg's Town Hall Meeting In Fargo, North Dakota

Rep. Rick Berg's Town Hall Meeting In Fargo, North Dakota

Rep. Rick Berg's Town Hall Meeting In Fargo, North Dakota

Rep. Rick Berg's Town Hall Meeting In Fargo, North Dakota

Rep. Rick Berg's Town Hall Meeting In Fargo, North Dakota

Rep. Rick Berg's Town Hall Meeting In Fargo, North Dakota

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

Roughly 1,300 union workers at American Crystal Sugar Co. continue to be locked out of company facilities in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. During the past 10 days I photographed American Crystal workers in Moorhead, Minn., home to the company’s headquarters, twice for Minnesota Public Radio News.

The first assignment was to document a demonstration on the Veterans Memorial Bridge, which connects Moorhead and Fargo, N.D. Union employees and supporters gathered for an hour or two for several consecutive days during on-going negotiations with American Crystal. The company and the union were working to come to terms on a new contract for workers.

A few days later, union workers overwhelmingly rejected what the company called its final contract offer. American Crystal, in turn, said those workers would be locked out of their jobs the morning of Monday, Aug. 1.

Enter my second assignment. Union workers planned to begin informational picketing outside the sugar beet processing plant in north Moorhead on Monday. I arrived at 6:30 a.m. It was raining and overcast. Dozens of workers were in place for the first couple of hours and as the first batch of replacement workers arrived in vans. Numbers thinned as each hour passed. Regardless, union members remain stationed at the plant’s six gates 24 hours a day. To the best of my knowledge, no new contract negotiations are planned.

I thought it would be interesting to share a selection of photographs from Thursday’s demonstration [featuring handmade signs under sunny skies] and images from the scene Monday outside the plant [featuring printed uniform signage and rain].

MPR News – and other regional media organizations – are continuing to cover this story. It will be interesting to see what comes next. – Ann

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out

American Crystal Sugar workers locked out