Iwamoto's Photos

Painting with light.

Brandon Iwamoto is a freelance photographer based in Aurora, Colorado, USA

Interesting (and slightly humorous) look at something we all, as photographers, have witnessed sometime along the way. It’s definitely something I’ve noticed and that bothers me a great deal, when my presence influences events. It’s just something you have to learn to deal with and hope doesn’t change the essence of a story (like it obviously is at some points in that video.)

Thoughts?

Ethical Dilemmas

One of my assignments this afternoon, a charity softball match between the local police and fire departments, is a bit of an unusual case of feeling ethically dirty… not because of anything I did, not that I didn’t think the event was fun to cover, but it felt tainted by almost blatant conflict of interest, in my opinion, of coverage.

I’d prefer not to openly air all of my grievances here on this blog, however if you want to speak to me personally, I’d love to know if I’m riding a high horse here, or if it really is something to be concerned about in some way.

The event itself was fairly interesting to cover. Along with the fire and police departments, they had Special Olympic athletes play a couple of innings as well. Needless to say, good times to be had.

In case you’re wondering why the police (who won 22-3) in the first picture are holding a Dunkin’ Donuts box, and why this fella here is rounding third base with a chocolate donut in hand….

It was the result of a rather hilarious prank played by the fire fighters (sadly, their only “victory” of the day) where they ran a box of donuts to each of the bases and home plate in an attempt to bait them. All it did was make the police want to be on base more, hence the 22-3 score.

Quick shot from the bike race this morning. Had my secondary camera (this one) on the ground with a rock taped to the bottom and a cable release in my left hand while I shot basic, safe stuff with a telephoto on my other camera.

And a random picture of a horse from after the bike race assignment. Some dude on a horse came up and started talking with myself and Jenny, a reporter who happened to be at the race watching, and her boyfriend. I wasn’t about to complain.

/Brandon

The Bang Bang Club

"I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners…I have gone to join Ken, if I am that lucky"

-Kevin Carter

The Bang Bang Club is a group of four photographers that, if you’ve studied the history of photojournalism or delved into the ethics of photojournalism, is a familiar story for us.

Kevin Carter. Joao Silva. Greg Marinovich. Ken Oosterbroek.

Two of the photographers own Pulitzer Prizes. There are (as the sick joke goes) only one and a half of them left (for those of you who don’t remember, Joao Silva was severely wounded by a landmine in November and has lost both legs).

Tonight, I got to watch the movie adaption of what they went through and it was… unnerving, to say the least.

I wrote 20-page essay once on ethics and photojournalism, their relationship and the toll it takes the human being behind the lens that goes untold, ignored in favor of the suffering of those in front of the camera. I also talked about the audience’s criticism of such photos, and their view of what a photojournalist’s ethics ought to be. I talked in-depth about Kevin Carter and his famous image of the vulture and the child, how it was received and how it affected him.

The lead-off quote is taken from his suicide note. It was written 3 months after he was awarded the Pulitzer.

Later that year, I purchased a copy of the documentary “War Photographer" about James Nachtwey. In the documentary is raw footage of the gun battle that claimed Ken Oosterbroek’s life. The images of Nachtwey and Silva running behind an armored truck as it carried Oosterbroek and the wounded Marinovich away stuck with me.

And so I knew what I should expect during those scenes. Even so, there was a sickening revelation that, “I know what is about to happen,” followed by the production adaptation of the scene that I remember still. It was powerfully familiar. It was like finally putting two and two together and seeing (a movie adaptation of) what happened in the moments before and after that moment in time.

The movie was, as far as movies go, more than decent. However, it’s how close to home it hits for a student of journalism that makes the movie far more enjoyable and powerful, in my mind.

If anybody is interested in the essay I can see if I still have the digital copy of it saved somewhere on my old computer (I have a hard copy of it as well). Let me know.

In the meantime, I highly recommend watching “The Bang Bang Club.” It may not hold the same significance for you that it did me, but the movie is worth watching regardless. Kinda like “Only The Brave" was for me.

That’s all for tonight. Cheers.

/Brandon

P.S. NPR posted this interview a few days ago from both Silva and Marinovich as it relates to photographers being wounded and ethics in photojournalism, in light of the deaths of Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington.

You would know Hondros for this picture:

A Horse is a Horse

Of course, of course. Hahaha sorry, I couldn’t resist. That’s what was in my head the entire time I spent shooting this assignment, where horses in the Ft. Carson Mounted Color Guard were promoted, everything from PFC to Master Sergeant. Still cracks me up that some of the horses out-rank their riders.

As you can tell, they were certainly getting a bit spoiled, rewarded for their diligence leading up to the promotions. Apples, cookies, etc, it’s only natural they think everyone has something to offer them.

Of course, my camera’s not really what I had in mind. Probably doesn’t taste too good, either. Yes, that’s actually steam from the horse’s breath on the lens. Don’t you love that wide-angle distortion, too? Very curious, some of these horses were. Definitely made for an entertaining morning at Turkey Creek Ranch.

Shook my head at a little incident that took place at the Ranch tho this morning. As the ceremony was finishing up, a cameraman from a local TV station showed up… way late. He asked the folks running the ceremony to hold on for a few min, basically stand around and do nothing, while he got his shots. I just couldn’t believe it. Any real photojournalist knows that recording what’s taking place, being that fly on the wall, is important to keeping the integrity of what’s going on in place. Who is this guy to come in, late, out of nowhere, and have everybody wait for him to get what he needs, because he operates on his own schedule?

Granted, I guess this whole ceremony was just one big show for the media anyways, not to mention it’s not of much consequence news-wise. It just makes you wonder though, if he’ll go to those lengths for something as trivial as this if he even has boundaries for something more important? Or, from the perspective of someone who witnessed it, it calls into question the integrity or reality of what they see on the news every night. I guess it goes to show you that TV news isn’t real journalism. Or that they have no ethics. Or both. Who knows? He was the station’s Chief Photographer, btw.

Ahh well, what can you do?

Thanks for reading tonight! A couple of days off (my first in two weeks) to rest up and come back to hopefully finish the last couple weeks of my internship strong!

/Brandon

(Don’t forget, comments are now located above the Tags when not viewed in Tumblr)

Crazy Mondays

Ok yes I know today is Tuesday, but I decided I didn’t feel much like writing about this last night. Yesterday was, as Jerilee put it, “Crazy Monday.” Apparently this isnt an unusual thing around here, between bodies found in the creek (my assignment) and a triple homicide (her’s) and who knows what else, it was definitely a strange day.

While technically yesterday was not the first dead body I’ve ever had to be in proximity of (the first being train man), it was the first time I ran into the dilemma of when you have pictures of the body, does it run? In the end, we decided not to, that we would go with the safe picture, here:

While I didn’t get photos of the dead body in its entirety (in fact I never even saw it in its entirety), I did get shots of it partially visible, which while the TV guys I’m sure had no problems with, its a little more sensitive with the still photo, as it stares you down and isn’t just a fleeting image. My argument for why still photos are still more powerful and are more relevant than video.

There it is, hidden behind a little drop off in the creek’s stream. Glorious isn’t it? Of course, in the end neither photo ran in favor of a less interesting photo by Jerilee (she even said so herself) of the triple homicide house, simply because a triple homicide of a white, middle class family means more than a possible homeless guy.

Just going to leave you with a random photo from last night’s Air Force Hockey game. Enjoy:

~~EDIT~~

Oh man, finally got the email I’ve been waiting for from Canon to estimate the repair costs for my camera…. $480 >.< Oh man, it’s a good thing the newspaper is going to pay for the repair, that’s more than my rent… More than I make in a week, even! On a shutter repair! Jeez, that really hurts, I’m kinda embarrassed and unhappy that that’s the number I have to report, but even still… Guess I need to hurry up and re-qualify for CPS and then apply for it, that’s just unacceptable…

/Brandon

Leave a Comment/Ask a Question

Today started off well enough, with another early morning golf assignment (go ahead and say it&#8230; &#8220;again?&#8221;), which, not gonna lie, I&#8217;m actually starting to enjoy&#8230; not for the actual shooting of golf, because honestly it&#8217;s kinda boring, but for the scenery and the fact I get to drive a golf cart.
But then, as Jerilee so aptly put it, &#8220;things got weird.&#8221;
Came back to the Gazette office to edit my photos and ran into Carol, also returning from an assignment&#8230; photographing a dive rescue in Prospect Lake of two local high school soccer players who ended up drowning. Ironic, since Danielle and I had been talking last night about how drowning would probably be one of the worst ways to die.
Well, after finishing editing, Stuart, my editor, sent me out to the school to see if the soccer team was practicing and maybe get some shots of them reacting to the news&#8230; But when I showed up the soccer field was empty.
Save one person. Sitting on this little cement block in between a pair of taller&#8230; well, i don&#8217;t know what they were. But with this beautiful mountain backdrop and nice afternoon light, and the body language he was exuding, it was perfect.
And then I caught myself thinking too dispassionately about it&#8230;. and felt terrible. I know how it feels to lose a friend, my senior year in high school, and realized that, despite all my thinking of what I was going to say and how I was going to approach, it had slipped back into the &#8220;protected by my lens&#8221; mode that Carol and I had talked about when she came back from photographing the bodies being pulled from the lake.
By the time I had pulled over and gotten my camera ready, he had already left his spot and gone to his truck. Ugh, I was kicking myself for missing the shot in my hesitation. I came back later in the night with Jerilee&#8217;s D3, but nobody was left. Sigh.
Moral of the story is&#8230; well, I don&#8217;t know what it is. I just know that in situations like this, its tough to choose between your job and your conscience&#8230; And in the end, I don&#8217;t know if they&#8217;re even mutually exclusive, or if so which is more important.
Makes the situation I discussed last night even more important for me to mull over&#8230;
Now for a couple of well-deserved days off&#8230; I&#8217;ve put in two 10 hour days, a 9 hour day and 11 hours today. Yet oddly, I don&#8217;t feel like I need the rest. Yet.
/Brandon

Today started off well enough, with another early morning golf assignment (go ahead and say it… “again?”), which, not gonna lie, I’m actually starting to enjoy… not for the actual shooting of golf, because honestly it’s kinda boring, but for the scenery and the fact I get to drive a golf cart.

But then, as Jerilee so aptly put it, “things got weird.”

Came back to the Gazette office to edit my photos and ran into Carol, also returning from an assignment… photographing a dive rescue in Prospect Lake of two local high school soccer players who ended up drowning. Ironic, since Danielle and I had been talking last night about how drowning would probably be one of the worst ways to die.

Well, after finishing editing, Stuart, my editor, sent me out to the school to see if the soccer team was practicing and maybe get some shots of them reacting to the news… But when I showed up the soccer field was empty.

Save one person. Sitting on this little cement block in between a pair of taller… well, i don’t know what they were. But with this beautiful mountain backdrop and nice afternoon light, and the body language he was exuding, it was perfect.

And then I caught myself thinking too dispassionately about it…. and felt terrible. I know how it feels to lose a friend, my senior year in high school, and realized that, despite all my thinking of what I was going to say and how I was going to approach, it had slipped back into the “protected by my lens” mode that Carol and I had talked about when she came back from photographing the bodies being pulled from the lake.

By the time I had pulled over and gotten my camera ready, he had already left his spot and gone to his truck. Ugh, I was kicking myself for missing the shot in my hesitation. I came back later in the night with Jerilee’s D3, but nobody was left. Sigh.

Moral of the story is… well, I don’t know what it is. I just know that in situations like this, its tough to choose between your job and your conscience… And in the end, I don’t know if they’re even mutually exclusive, or if so which is more important.

Makes the situation I discussed last night even more important for me to mull over…

Now for a couple of well-deserved days off… I’ve put in two 10 hour days, a 9 hour day and 11 hours today. Yet oddly, I don’t feel like I need the rest. Yet.

/Brandon