For the last few years we've gone to the annual Seattle Times Pictures of the Year presentation at the downtown Seattle Public Library building. Each year the work of a couple staff photographers are highlighted, and they get to tell the story behind some of their favorite shots. This year's event was a couple nights ago, so of course we went.
The first year we attended the event, we ended up arriving early, and it was a good thing; we were among the first couple dozen people in, and got a good seat. Having seen how quickly the auditorium filled up, we arrived quite early last year, and were able to sit in the same area as the year before. This year, you had to reserve a spot, which we did early on. Ends up the tickets got all taken, as some people ended up on the waiting list. Even so, we still arrived early, and were glad we did; once again, we sat in the same area, only a few rows back.
Every year the Times gives away gifts, and this year they were photo holders shaped like huge clothespins. They were also giving away postcard-sized prints of a few different photos.
The program started with opening remarks from Marcellus Turner, the City Librarian. Soon after, it was turned over to the Times staff. Danny Gawlowski, Photo Editor at the paper, who gave a quick presentation on what happens to photos taken during a Seahawks game. From the card runner waving through the CenturyLink corridors to the various editors (photo, layout, social media, etc.), there are many people involved in getting the photos in the paper and online. Danny then presented a slide show with the 2014 Pictures of the Year. After that, he turned the program over to John Lok.
John Lok has been at the Times since 2003, and is the lead photographer covering the Seahawks. He also covered the 2010 Winter Olympics, which he considers one of the highlights of his career. Another highlight, of course, was last year's Super Bowl.
Because the city's Seahawks fever is strong, it being little more than a week before their next Super Bowl appearance, John concentrated on his work with the team.
As one would expect, John spent time talking about covering the games, and spent a good amount of time describing his Super Bowl experience. Once the game was under way, it felt like a normal game to him, but when it was over, he fought to get onto the field and just went with the flow of the crowd, letting it dictate where he would end up next.
While shooting live sports is glamorous, John spent just as much time talking about his portrait work. He kept to the Seahawks theme and described several of his shoots, including the Hands of the Seahawks series and his Russell Wilson portraits, one where he “got to teach Russell Wilson how to throw a football" to prevent Wilson's left hand from casting a shadow from one of the strobes.
John turned the program over to Mike Siegel, who also works games with John (as well as Dean Rutz and Bettina Hansen). However, Mike concentrated on areas other than sports.
Since Mike covers Boeing, the first set of photos followed the building of the Boeing 787. They documented assembly, parts delivery, tests flights, presidential visits, and other memorable occasions.
Other beats Mike covers are crime, accidents, and natural disasters, and he had a series of photos representing each of those. He also went to Haiti to help document how the country is doing five years after being devastated by an earthquake.
After the presentations, the floor was opened to questions from the audience. Having gone several years, you do hear similar questions (over half the questions were about equipment), but the most interesting one this year was about the “shot that got away". John described how he was covering a women's speed skating event at the 2010 Olympics, and for some reason he wasn't looking at the right place when the winner had the flag wrapped around her shoulders and started skating around. His editor asked about that particular shot because he saw the moment on TV, but John had to admit he didn't have it; “That's never happened since."
At the end, large, framed prints signed by John and Mike were given away in a drawing. Melody and I were trying to figure out how we would get such an item home on the bus, but since we didn't win, we could postpone that decision for another year.