Sunday, August 29, 2010

Through The Lens

Being a photographer in the news business you will see images that can cause any sane person to lose touch with reality. Most times we are called upon to shot people, places, and things during the worst possible moment in time. Think that’s bad, how about capturing events that directly affect you. That’s what my friends & peers had to deal with during Hurricane Katrina five years ago. As the winds and eventual flood waters ravaged the region, they had to go and keep the viewers informed while that sense of uneasiness crept in the back of their minds wondering if their loved one were safe from an unwanted weather witch knocking down the walls and flooding the streets of the Big Easy. So when Brian Lukas, longtime photographer at WWL-TV, put together a moving photo essay on this infamous anniversary using images from his collection I had to sit in awe of how powerful the images still are five years later. While every journalist wishes they get to cover a monumental event, I sure hope none of us have to go through this again.


There are moments in time that will forever be etched in one’s memory. Events that will that will stay fresh in a person’s psyche. Days that where everyone remembers where they when it happened. Days that are historical yet they share a tragic bond.

August 29th is the day. 2005 was the year.

The day the Gulf Coast was changed by one word…Katrina.

I was heading to New Orleans to but a last second change of plan put us in Laplace, Louisiana, 20 miles outside of the city. We figured that we would ride out the storm there. The Sat dish was beaming the signal through some fierce winds. I had to really watch myself out there. Trying to keep upright while making sure nothing was going to fly out of nowhere and knock upside my noggin. Once the shots were done it was time to carefully navigate area to see who else riding out the storm. A local hotel provided the backdrop. Some residents were scared but they were ready as they could be. Pretty much another day in Louisiana’s Fifth Season, or we thought. After the winds died down we headed into the city, I noticed the water from Lake Ponchatrain was higher than normal. I paid it no mind, just had a storm roll through the area. As we drove down the interstate that’s when it hit me. The interstate was turned into a boat launch. The water was everywhere as far as my eyes and lens could see. Word was coming in that some of the levee systems were failing. Hell’s floodgates had opened and the water emendated the city.

We saw the models. We saw the intensity this monster was bringing. We knew this was going to be the “perfect storm.” What we didn’t know was the lasting impact it would bring. We’ve seen the aftermath. The levees breeched by water, people trapped in their attics and on their rooftops, the Superdome becoming a shelter and prison for those who couldn’t escape, and the convention center turning into a morgue before everyone’s eyes.

Five years later, most of NOLA has returned but there is still ways to go before the Big Easy is back to its true luster. As the region continues on, you can’t help but remember what happened only five years ago.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


In our business our objective to capture the attention of the viewer at home. We look to draw out some reaction to the events that influence our day to day lives. Some stories tell themselves. Others require a little digging through pages and pages of files then asking those involved how did this happen. Then there are some of the off the wall stories that leave you scratching your head. The ones where you ask yourself, “Did that just happen”? That is when we look to the services of the one only Rick Portier. Part time writer, full time journalist, and leader of the Tactical Urban Response Division, or as we like to call T.U.R.D. Never one to shy away from getting his hands, and lens, dirty to venture in the depths of the unknown to bring back the who, where, why, and what in the world are you doing of a story. His humble beginnings are what legends in journalism are made of and his stories are ones that will certainly be the topic of conversation at water coolers across the area.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

5000 Miles & Riding

In this world that I love dearly, there are people who live among us that give the place certain characteristics. There are those who don’t know what is happening. There are those who wonder what is happening. And there are those who make things happen. I would like to add another category, people who really want to make things happen. History is littered with those who have made a difference in the lives of others and new chapters will be written about those who are still doing notable deeds today.
That brings me to a group of cyclists I stumbled upon on Sunday in The Feliciana’s. Braving some near extreme conditions I end up working on a story with some peeps known as Cycling for Change. A team of diverse individuals willing to go and a 5,000 mile cross country trek to for what you ask? Try poverty. That’s right poverty. An issue that is rarely mentioned that affects 13% of the country’s population, and this was before the turbulent economy. So now while braving the elements their goal is to bring awareness to the situation, galvanize American ingenuity, and slap poverty right in the face. It’s a daunting task but one that can be accomplished with time, faith, and due diligence.

After meeting and interviewing them, it is refreshing to know that there is still some good in the world. There are people who will come together for the greater cause and try to make a difference in the world. So if you see a large group rolling on to Key West, Florida. Stop and get to know them. Their story is good and their cause is a great one to follow.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Next Dare

Sometimes you have to make the unknown leap of faith in order to advance in life. Either you will land on your feet or you will have to pick yourself up from trying. However you won’t know the outcome until you make the jump. That is where we find young Erin Cofiell.

Four years ago she left the friendly confines of the northeast to pursue a career of Television Broadcasting at the local NBC affiliate. I first ran into her at the steps of the Capitol, that’s right it all comes back to the House That Huey Built. We were picking up a B-Block story about a local marching band getting ready to make the trip the Rose Bowl parade. I saw her with the fancy cam climbing up the stairs looking for the next shot of a sequence needed for the story. Eventually we exchanged pleasantries then wishing each other well in the business of gathering images for the glowing box.

Some time had passed then and we were at Police HQ waiting for the guest of honor to be taken away wearing some shinny bracelets. While we waited she had hinted that she always had an urge to sports reporting. Thinking in the back of my head that there was an opening at our shop, I simply said, “Come on over.” We had a position and she wanted change in her career. A couple of weeks pass, I had just come from getting some crime tape lining the streets when I walk into the edit and see that right you guessed it. Knowing that I had been looking into some flashing blue lights I had to make sure that my glasses weren’t playing tricks. She simply stood up, smiled, and gave me hug. That’s when it all began. Making her second leap of faith, she covered all that she could. From high school to National Championships she made her presence known to the peeps in South Louisiana. However her lasting mark didn’t happen until the morphed into the weekly TV phenom know as Darin Erin. Always willing to challenge local athletes, large or small, to any and all challenges known to the sports world. Never afraid to stack the odds in her favor but don’t ask her about the win – loss record.
Now faced with another leap, she jumped and landed into another opportunity closer to home. Willing to trade gumbo for chowder, she now leaves the halls of the asylum for a new sports job over at WJAR. Erin we had a lot fun and you were a blessing to work with. My dare for you is to continue what will be an excellent career in broadcasting, did you know?