Friday, February 27, 2009


Today the Rocky Mountain News is producing their final edition. This amazing, multiple Pulitizer Prize-winning newspaper is shutting its doors. This paper is among the best of the best. And it's over. It's just.... unfathomable.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

This video about the staff producing their last edition. It's thorough and powerful and incredibly well-done. It is a swan song of swan songs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sneak Peek: Teran and James

Last Sunday I had the tremendous privilege of photographing Teran and James for the first of two shoots.

This soccer-loving couple is expecting a little one quite soon, and we plan to do another shoot once the baby is here.

I swear the soccer ball under the t-shirt was all their idea.

We had so much fun, and they were absolutely up for anything, including letting me throw rose petals at them, which... when you're laying on the floor with a crazy camera lady standing over you, it really just feels like you're getting plant matter chucked at your head.

They were such good sports, and I know they're going to be awesome parents.

These last two are among my personal favorites from the shoot....

Good luck, you guys! Good luck, baby! :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Things That Are Going Right, Right Now

1. I have a very happy marriage.

2. I am healthy, and the vast majority of my loved ones are healthy. My parents are good. Nanny is good. The ones who aren't... Well, they ARE doing okay as they hold their own against terminal illness. I think. Most likely. No kina hurra. Turn around three times and spit.

3. My pets- recent $400 feline dental bill aside- are healthy and adorable and cuddly and funny and great. And Fred's breath smells much, much better without the peridontal "issues." Then again, for $400, his breath *should* smell like rainbows dipped in money.

4. I don't know what the future holds, but I have a plan. Sort of. The plan kind of involves panicking and running around with my hands on top of my head, but I spent the second half of last week constructing the home office of my dreams. It took trips to six different Pottery Barns in three states for post-inventory floor sample sales, plus a visit to the the PB Outlet, AND a major craiglist purchase AND an eBay coup AND an Ikea lookalike substitute, but I paid about 1/4 of what it would have cost if I had just walked into a store and threw down a credit card. Joel and I spent Valentine's Day organizing our spare room into a serious home office/studio.

I feel ready, and scared, and hopeful. I think. Most likely. No kina hurra. Turn around three times and spit.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Here's What I Did Today, the Furlough edition

1. Donated old dresser to Salvation Army
2. Drove back home for second load of donations to Salvation Army
3. Went to the optician, picked up glasses
3. Went to the dentist- no cavities, lots of shame and blame re: tartar
4. Drove to Pottery Barn in Manhattan to pick up desk
5. Circled city blocks to avoid ticket while waiting for desk
6. Got nutrition assessment, pulmonary test and chest x-ray
7. Went to Apple Store, bought new laptop
8. Panicked, prepared, panicked some more
9. Went to Bed Bath and Beyond for canvas storage thingies
10. Went to Barnes and Noble for bookends
11. Came home, worked on Great Office Overhaul Process
12. Made out with Joel
13. Worked on building Share site for wedding photos

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Doing Good...

I've spent the last three days setting the alarm on my cell phone for 7:30 a.m. and hitting snooze every ten minutes until I heard the pitter-patter of little feet overhead. Yes, folks, I got my Morning-Hating, "Five more Minutes! Just five more!" Ass CHEERFULLY out of bed for three days in a row by 8 a.m. Applause, please. Also, I went a record amount of time without using the word "fuck" in front of tiny, impressionable people. I used it three times, all on purpose, always whispered to adults.

I like to call this next photo... "She burps; he laughs."

Oh, these two.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Packing List: Clothes To Get Barfed On

I've decided to use my furlough week, which starts right now, to go stay with my friend who just had a baby. I've offered to cook, clean, pick up dog poop, do diaper duty, chauffeur the 2-year-old to the playground/library/playgroup, etc., and every other non-fun thing. (Actually, chauffering Aiden to the playground/library/playgroup sounds very fun to me.)

For the next few days, Kristen will have her choice of going to Target with the non-mobile, non-verbal easily slung-child while I make up multiple voices for Play-Doh dinosaurs back at the house, getting tucked into bed with BOTH her little ones while I give Gizmo much needed exercise and tummy rubs, or being allowed to SLEEP like it's her job. I have no delusions that taking care of both kids at the same time will be easy for me, but if we can swing it, I'd love to send her out the door with her husband to go get a cup of coffee at some point before I leave.

I plan to follow all the rules, enforce bedtimes and naptimes, not argue about watering down juice or any other Very Important Parent Policies That Exist for a REASON, wash my hands more often than Howard Hughes, and retreat to the finished basement to give them privacy as a new family from time to time.

If my mama-readers have any suggestions about things you wish your post-partum baby-helpers would done, aside from tucking you into bed to get to know your new kid and letting you sleep like its your job, speak up now in the comments while I'm packing. I've never been more excited to get barfed on! And yes, there will be pictures.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Yes, I know. Turning my back on it for even a second was stupid. Kindly refrain from pointing out how fucking stupid I was. I get that. I really do.

Sigh. Tonight I was covering a high school basketball game. I have all kinds of gear now- video camera on a tripod while standing beside it shooting stills, wearing my regular camera bag, etc etc. There is a lot of Et Cetera.

I was transferring all the stills from the first part of the game onto my work laptop. It was still transferring files at the end of a very close, tensely rivalled game, and I knew the celebration shots would be great. I covered the laptop with my coat, which was tucked in a corner behind four security guards and moved back to the edge of the court to shoot the final buzzer. I turned my back on it for just a few moments, but the crowd swept through between me and my gear and I couldn't get to it.

When I got back to the corner, the laptop and my coat were gone. My wallet, my keys, and my work and personal cell phones were in the pockets of my coat. Imagine this: no way to get home, no way to drive my car, no way to call my husband, the keys to my house and my home address (printed on my drivers' license) in the hands of thieves. Also, they could have walked through the parking lot making the lights of my car blink with the keychain thingy and then helped themself to my car. Now, this is the high school inmy town, so I could have walked home, but you know, no coat. Also, no way to open the door to my apartment, which I am now imagining being ransacked by whomever has my keys.

Although, truth be told, Bella is a total moosh with us, WOE BETIDE anyone who threatens us. She's an AlphaGrrl, anyway, and grew pretty protective of me when we lived in Miami. WOE BETIDE THEM is all I'm saying.

Oh yes, all the photos from the game, except for the very end of it, which were supposed to be tomorrow's Sports section front, are gone. Awesome!

To say that "I freaked out" would be an understatement. There were cops already there, since fights tend to break out at rivalled games, so they went and stood by my car. The athletic director made an announcement offering a cash reward for its return as students flooded out of the gym. Someone loaned me a cell phone so I could call the night desk at the paper. My editors were so incredibly kind and supportive throughout all of this. Wow. Just... wow.

Meanwhile, I tried to call Joel. His phone was off, but I knew he was having dinner with his parents and then going to our friends' house for guys game night. Of course everyone's phone numbers are stored in my phone, which was gone. I called information, who connected me to the home of Osc@r R!os, but apparently not you know, not OUR Osc@r Rios.

Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Hello?
Me: Hi, Mitzi. Is Joel there yet?
Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Who is this?
Me: It's Angie.
Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Who is this?

(Not sure how to clarify beyond "It's Angie.")

Me: It's Angie; hi, sorry, I'm crying and it's really loud here.
Lady: Who do you want to speak to?
Me: Um... Is Oscar there? I'm sorry. I had to call 411 to get connected. Is this the Rioses?
Lady: This is Oscar's wife.
Me: See, but... I'm friends with her, and I think she would get who this is by now.
Lady Who Is Not Mitzi: Bye.

411 connects me to my in-laws' house. My mother-in-law puts Joel on the phone right away and I choke out the story. I tell Joel he has to come home now. Oh, and he also has to come pick my sorry ass up.

Weepy weeping ensues. The cops have been scouring the school, and they have located my wallet in a trash can. Everything is in it except for the cash, which was only $20, so that's fine. Not great, but fine. I start to breathe again and stop imagining Bella, Fred and Ollie going all "Home Alone" on people trying to break into the apartment. Once of the officers finds my coat, which has my keys in it. I realize with pants-pissing relief that my car isn't going anywhere AND now I won't have to tell my deaf-and-in-denial landlord he will have to change the locks. Can you imagine?

Me: I'm so sorry, but you'll have to change the locks.
Deaf and In Denial Landlord: Socks? No laundry after 10!
Me: No, Mr. M. The LOCKS. Someone stole my keys.
DIDL: Freeze! the thermostat goes on at 70, every time 70.
Me: This is why I don't have a working doorbell, isn't it?

BETTER YET.... They only took my work phone. They didn't check the other pocket, because who carries two cell phones? I mean, besides me. So I have my own phone back!

Of course I can't call Joel to tell him the good news that I have my keys and no one is breaking into our house, because his cell phone is still off. I'm making a note to have a Very Important Discussion About! Turning! On! Our Cell Phones! as it pertains to the Gaul-Jackel Marriage when another officer finds the oh-so-pricey Internet Connecty card that gets my laptop onto the web on in the parking lot.

The only things missing now are my work cell phone and my work laptop.

I filed a police report and let the office know I have my own phone back. Again with the kind and supportive. My editors were just awesome. I would just drive home, but Joel is on his way to pick my sorry ass up. And I can't tell him not to, because again with his phone and the turned offy-ness.

I pass the time until he shows up to start texting my work cell phone, offering reward money for the laptop and asking the thief to please, please give me my laptop back. I tell them the phone will be disconnected soon, and it will be useless to them. I keep texting, begging, offering cash, and then, THE THIEF TEXTS ME BACK.

He or she would give me my phone back, but they're already in Yonkers. Oh. Ho hum. Too lazy to drive five miles. Also, they didn't steal my phone, so "don't call the cops on [them]." I tell them that it's all good, no questions asked, we can make it right, just bring it all back for reward money. The thief suggests we meet tomorrow, and I explain about my deadlines and the laptop. But then... they don't have the laptop, and they swear they don't know who does. I ask them if the person who gave them my phone knows, and the texter swears they don't. I offer cash for the info, and in ALL CAPS the new owner of my work phone tells me "REALLY DONT KNOW."

Alrighty. I don't know why they want my phone as the screen was shattered and the battery flap back thingy was missing. I tell them the number will stop working in a few minutes since the office reported it stolen and texted them a good night. Oh, yes, I did. Because good manners are free! And so are laptops! Because I suck!

Joel shows up during the texting. He went home and got my spare car key so I can drive myself home. He also armed himself with a baseball bat and collected our fireproof valuables. I pull up in front of the house and find my mother-in-law walking Bella. Joel's parents, bless them, hopped in their car and drove here from Queens right after Joel left their house. They figured they could at least keep an eye on the apartment. His mom says she didn't think there was anything she could do but call 911 if someone had come here, equipped with my address and keys, but I don't know about that.

If there's anything stupider than threatening me in front of my dog; it's threatening Joel in front of his mom. WOE BETIDE THEM is all I'm saying. WOE BETIDE THEM.

And there you have it: stupidity on my part, weird bad luck, theft, recovery, benevolent bosses, loyal and loving in-laws and text-messaging a total stranger in possession of my professional belongings. Just a Friday night in my life.

The End.

Monday, February 02, 2009

In the Beginning

And now, without further ado, another entry republished from the now defunct Untangling Photography.

This is a family snapshot of me when I was 2, intently examining a real camera while my older sister plays with a Preskool Fisher Price toy version. I actually remember doing this.

I was pretending my hand was the popping of the flash. I also used to like those detachable flash cubes that would go all foggy after it fired. (By the way, my only excuse for the outfit I'm wearing is that my grandmother made it.)

When I was 10 or 11, my elementary school principal started a little photo club and taught half a dozen of us to develop black and white film and photographs in the nurse's office. (It was the only room in the school with running water and no windows.) There's something really amazing about tray processing, which is always what you see photographers doing in movies with the red lights. The photographs kind of appear under the developing fluid as you swish it back back and forth with a pair of tongs. It's magical, actually. (It's also very smelly. But in a good way!) I liked riding my bike, a hand-me-down 10-speed, around the neighborhood and taking pictures with a little point-and-shoot film camera.

This was the local park where my mom arranged playdates, where school carnivals were held, where my dad ran the rec league's summer playground. The splotches in the middle of the photo happened when I touched a piece of photo paper with fixer on my fingers before I put it under the enlarger. This was an 8 x 10 print, so you can kind of imagine how small my hands were. Huh.

I took a photo class in high school, which I loved, but mostly I just dabbled. When I was 15, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to New Zealand and Australia with a school trip. I was doing all of these things instinctively, like holding my polarizing sunglasses (shut up, it was 1994) in front of my little point-and-shoot camera's lens. In three weeks, I shot 25 rolls of 36-exposure film, a single-use underwater camera, and two disposable panoramic cameras. I carefully labeled each roll and kept a little log in my journal. I didn't quite realize it at the time, but these were all signs that this would be my career someday.

I would go on to major in photography in college. In 1997, when I was a freshman, they started us all out Old School Style: learning to process black and white film with tray processing. Even though it was dawning of the age of digital photography, and I would eventually learn that too, the core principles of understanding of light and time is the same.

This picture was my pride and joy in my first college photo class.

The first picture I shot for the student newspaper at Syracuse would make it to the front page. Kurt Vonnegut came to Syracuse to speak. He talked about finding your path. His advice boiled down to this: "If you can't figure out what you want to do with your life, do the things you liked best when you were ten."

And the truth is, that's more or less exactly what I do now for my "grown-up job." I don't ride my bike around the neighborhood like I did when I was 10, but I do drive around the communities in my coverage area and take pictures all day. Oh, and I now have a $56 polarizing filter that actually does what I was trying to do by holding my sunglasses in front of the camera.

Also? I just got married. My husband Joel- still not used to calling him "my husband," let's just call him Joel- and I are an eHarmony match. Before we even met in person, before we had even exchanged phone numbers, we talked about our mutual desire to go to Australia. For Joel, Australia is a geologist-turned-nature-photographer's playground. As for me, I wanted to go back to the place that first really help shape my vision.

This time I had the skills and the gear to actually make the picture I had in my head a reailty. It was a homecoming, of sorts, to a city that shaped me, 10,000 miles, 14 years and half a world away from from the place I actually call home.