This past weekend I had the opportunity to travel back to California to do another story on the recent fires. Once again we visited the destroyed Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa, then drove a couple hours north to the small community of Loma Rica, where homes had also burned. We were in California to accompany Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Sister Joy D. Jones, both from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was inspiring to watch these two individuals minister to those effected by the recent fires. They have very caring hearts as you will see in this video. You can read the print story at mormonnewsroom.org.
Last weekend I was able to travel with Mormon Newsroom to cover stories in Santa Rosa and Napa, California. These two areas have recently been hit by devastating fires that destroyed thousands of homes and structures. We visited two local Mormon congregations, one of which had opened their church up to locals who had last or been evacuated from their homes. I was inspired to see church members there form their own ministry and open up their hearts and church to people they didn't know. Throughout the day I watched volunteers bring in bedding, toiletries and home cooked meals for people staying at the church. Here are two stories we produced on the trip and a few photos.
Most of the areas destroyed by the fires were still closed to the public and home owners. One afternoon we were given media access to visit a Santa Rosa neighborhood. It was unbelievable to walk through an area where hundreds of homes had been completely destroyed. All that remained were burnt out vehicles, large metal appliances and fireplace shafts that resembled cemetery headstones.
Last Thursday I had a last minute shoot come up that took me to Puerto Rico and Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was asked by Mormon Newsroom to gather footage and produce a short news story on a visit President Henry B. Eyring, of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was making to members of church affected by Hurricane Irma.
Flights to and from the Caribbean are super scarce so after a red-eye flight with two connections I finally made it to San Juan at 11:30 on Friday morning, then flew on a chartered Cessna flight with President Eyring and others to Saint Thomas.
The island was hammered from the hurricane. Trees and power lines were down, buildings destroyed and debris were everywhere. President Eyring was taken to a local church where he gave a short devotional. It was inspiring to watch his care for the people there. As I was getting ready to begin filming he commented to me, "Now remember, we are not here for the news, we are here to help the people here." I appreciated that, because it made me feel like a part of the relief team.
After only a couple hours in St. Thomas we got back on our plane and returned to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where President Eyring gave another devotional that evening.
Here is a short video that was created for the press release put out by Mormon Newsroom. You can read the entire press release at mormonnewsroom.org.
Since 2004, I've had the opportunity each Fall to produce a short documentary for the Cathedral of the Madeleine's Bishop's Dinner. The films have been used at the annual event to raise funds for the Cathedral's upkeep and maintenance.
This year the Diocese celebrated the arrival of a new Bishop, The Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis. As a subject for this year's video, I focused on the Cathedral's role as the "Mother Church" for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and the greater Utah community. During production, I had the opportunity to travel with Bishop Solis to two Catholic Parishes, one in Salt Lake City and another in St. George, Utah.
It was a joy to watch the Bishop interact with parishioners! Before celebrating a confirmation mass for teenagers at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Bishop asked if the youth knew the rules during the Mass. Several teens shouted "Don't be on your cell phone!" The Bishop replied, "Yes, that would be nice, but the most important rule is don't fall asleep! And if you do fall asleep, don't snore." He has a fun sense of humor that the Parishioners enjoy.
Here is a clip from this year's Bishop's Dinner video that shows the Bishop's travels along with a few images of the Bishop's visit to Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
I spent the last two weeks in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Accra, Ghana capturing stories for Mormon Newsroom. The first story covered the community open house for the new Ghana Missionary Training Center. The new building can accommodate up to 320 missionaries who will be serving in west Africa.
The second story covered a "Face to Face" broadcast in which teenage youth were given the opportunity to ask questions to an Apostle from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Elder and Sister Renlund answered questions on two broadcasts, one in English and a second in French.
Next week I have several documentary shorts that will be featured in an art exhibit held at the Union Station Museum in Ogden, Utah. The exhibit, called "Eyes Toward the Past," features twenty paintings that were commissioned forty years ago for the United States bi-centennial celebration. The paintings showcase imagery of events in the history of Northern Utah. The exhibit runs from July 24th to the 28th.
Here are a two of the paintings that will be featured along with their accompanying short documentaries.
Last week I returned from a trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I spent a week researching, gathering interviews, and filming b-roll concerning a piece of environmental legislation that was passed in Ecuador several years ago. "The Right of Nature" is a legal concept similar to the Endangered Species Act, but focuses more broadly on entire ecosystems. Since its adoption in Ecuador, the concept has spread to Europe, North America and the South Pacific. I'll be working with Hal Crimmel (Chair of the English Department at Weber State University) and Dr. Valeria Berros (A professor of law at the Universidad de Palermo) to create a documentary on the "The Right of Nature" this coming year. Here are a few of the people we were able to meet and interview on our trip to Ecuador.
In February I was asked by the Telitha E. Lindquist College to produce a documentary style video for their Spring Graduation. The College selected seven students, one from each of their departments, to be included in the video. We interviewed the students and captured b-roll of each in their field of study. I particularly enjoyed recording Aman, a photography major from India who is experimenting using screen printing to reproduce his photographs. Here is a link to the video and few stills from the video.
This past week Don Busath, a master photographer and someone who I consider one of my mentors passed away. I met Don in 2010 when Becca and I moved to Salt Lake City. Our first Sunday there, I sat down in a pew at church felt a soft tap on my shoulder. When I turned around to see who it was, Don introduced himself and his wife Donna.
During the next few years Don was very gracious to assist me with photographs and interviews for three documentaries (Salt Lake City: A Downtown Story, Brigham Street: Salt Lake City's Grand Boulevard and Temple Square). I enjoyed getting to know Don during this time and was inspired by his images and personal history.
Don grew up in Salt Lake City and was introduced to photography as a teenager by his uncle. At age 18 he purchased his first camera and was hooked. After getting married and starting a family, Don worked as a ventilation mechanic in a downtown Salt Lake City office building and played trombone in the evening to support his family.
With what spare time he had, Don did freelance portraits for friends and neighbors. From his first roll of film, Don always saw himself as a professional and worked like one. Eventually Don was able to get a job working for Hal Rumel at his photo studio. This relationship lasted fifteen years and gave Don experience doing a variety of work including portraiture, aerials and commercial photography.
Eventually Rumel retired and Don and his wife Donna opened their own studio on State Street in Salt Lake City. Later the studio moved east a few blocks to a historic home on South Temple.
Don was well known for his ability to tell a story in a single portrait image. When I interviewed Don in 2012 for my documentary "Brigham Street," I asked if he'd stay an extra hour and let me ask him questions about his photographs. Since that time, I have approached each documentary interview I do like one of Don Busath's portrait sessions. I ask myself where I can I place my interview subject so that the viewer is not only able to hear their comments, but get a glimpse into their personality and life.
Here are several of Don's photographs and a short video I created from Don's comments about his portraiture style and passion for photography.
The last few months I have been producing a series of videos about an artwork collection that was created during the 1976 United States Bicentennial. The pieces illustrate significant events in Utah history and were commissioned by Bill Critchlow. This month 20 of the paintings are being displayed at 2017 Weber State University Story Telling Festival.
I was asked to interview Bill Critchlow and create a short documentary on the history of the collection. Eric Swedin, Gene Sessions, John Sillito, Kathryn MacKay, Richard Sadler and Sara Dant did historical research and wrote scripts for an additional 20 short videos that would play as part of the Story Telling Festival's exhibit. Union Station Archives, Weber State University Special Collections and Weber State University Archives were a huge help getting us historical images.
Here is Bill Crichlow's story on how the bicentennial art centennial art collection came together and one of my favorite short videos that shares the history of Lagoon.
Last year, I had the opportunity to produce a documentary on the history of Weber State University. One of the people I enjoyed getting to meet and interview was Rodney Brady, who passed away this week. Brady served as President of Weber State from 1978 to 1985. He is remembered by many alumni and faculty because of his goal to form Weber State into a superior undergraduate institution. Brady worked hard to inspire faculty and give them tools and resources to excel.
After leaving Weber State, Brady served as President of Bonneville International and later as President and CEO of Deseret Management Corporation from 1996 to his retirement in 2009.
When I interviewed Brady in his home he was quite ill from alzheimer's disease. His family had even prepared a short written statement for him to read because of his lack of stamina. However, when we started recording, it was apparent that his love for Weber State was still very strong. When the time came, Brady steered away from the prepared script, and with what seemed to be all the energy he had, delivered a sincere, unrehearsed message of appreciation for his time as President of Weber State.
Here are a few photographs of Rodney Brady during his tenure at Weber State. Above you can watch a short clip about Brady taken from the documentary I produced last year.
Today I began editing a story for the Weber State University Story Telling Festival that shares the history of the Bamberger Rail Line's passenger service to the Lagoon Resort. In 1891 the railroad company was built by Simon Bamberger and grew to offer passenger and freight service from Salt Lake City to Ogden, Utah. It was considered one of the most efficient inter-urban lines operating during the early 20th century. To give passengers an additional incentive to use the line, Bamberger made a stop in Farmington, Utah and invested in a nine acre resort named Lagoon, which still exists to this day. Here are a few photographs I was able to find at the Utah State Historical Society of the Bamberger and the Lagoon resort during that era.