IN 2012…

The Space Shuttle Enterprise “flew” over New York City…

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Penn State players celebrate after their 24-21 overtime win in their season finale against Wisconsin at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., on Saturday, November 24, 2012. In their first season since the child sex abuse scandal and the death of longtime coach Joe Paterno, the Nittany Lions rallied behind their senior class and new coach Bill O’Brien to finish the year 9-4. FOR THE DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS — JEFF LAUTENBERGER


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Texas Rangers designated hitter Josh Hamilton walks to the dugout after his second strikeout against the Detroit Tigers on June 27, 2012 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

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This story ran well after I left Dallas. It was a pleasure to hang out with Clyde for several hours, watching the master go through all the motions of preparing true, traditional barbecue. Every barbecue man I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a lot) has been a character, and Clyde was no exception. He told a ton of stories and anecdotes and he’s had a colorful past. Hopefully his comeback is successful. And yes, after getting my sample the next day made sure to drop a Hamilton into the tip jar.

Pitmaster Clyde Biggins walks around stacks of oak wood in his front yard after preparing his smoker to barbecue on July 26, 2012. Biggins, who once ran a barbecue shack in Dallas, is attempting a professional comeback after being sentenced in 1993 to 20 years in prison for his role in a drug ring. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Pitmaster Clyde Biggins grabs several racks of pork ribs out of a cooler before preparing them to smoke on July 26, 2012. Biggins went on to seasoned the meat with only a blend of salt, pepper and chili powder, denouncing many of the more complex rubs and marinades commonly used today. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Pitmaster Clyde Biggins enlists the help of his daughter to rinse of pork ribs with a hose before smoking them on July 26, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

A shaft of afternoon light is visible through the smoke as Clyde Biggins places beef briskets on his smoker on July 26, 2012. In preparing his traditional Texas-style brisket, Biggins simply broke open the cryovac packer briskets and set them on his hot smoker. No salt or pepper to be found, just smoke. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Pitmaster Clyde Biggins serves barbecue to a crowd of friends from his trailer hitch on July 27, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Pitmaster Clyde Biggins serves barbecue on July 27, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

A jar full of tips sits on a table as Clyde Biggins serves barbecue from his front yard on July 27, 2012. Earlier this year, he set up his pit on an East Oak Cliff corner and sold barbecue off the street. Police shut down his business because he didn’t have the required food service permit or enclosed kitchen area to cook the food. He’s been looking into how to make his barbecue business legal. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

I don’t often get the opportunity to cover spot news, and after photographing a shooting that nearly sparked a riot in south Dallas, I’m kind of okay with that. This was one of the only times I have ever felt physically unsafe and in danger on assignment. Staffer Tom Fox and I arrived at the scene pretty early on, when neighbors were just starting to disperse from a semi-violent standoff with police. It was an angry crowd, made up of a majority of people who did not want police there, and a fair share of others who were anti-media as well. Others were somewhat more cooperative and generously helpful with helping to identify grieving family members. Another photographer back at the office texted me saying he saw me from an overhead TV helicopter shot looking “pretty scared and confused.” I don’t doubt that. It was a challenge to keep my composure, an eye out for my own safety, and still come away with meaningful and storytelling images. After I left the scene after several hours, I saw another text on my phone that I hadn’t seen before — It was a warning from an editor that guns had been reported in the crowd and protest, and to proceed with extreme caution.

Fox previously authored a DMN photo blog post recounting covering the scene, which includes some of my photos.

Check out this portal for an archive of stories, blogs and editorials on the contentious incident that remained in the news for weeks.

Tony Harper, brother of James Harper, embraces his crying sister Ashley Harper, in the aftermath of an officer involved shooting near Dixon Avenue and Bourquin Street in southeast Dallas on July 24, 2012. According to police, James Harper was shot and killed when an officer feared for his life after a chase from a drug house in the neighborhood, as a result of a fraudulent 911 call. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas police officers walk back a perimeter line around the scene of an officer involved shooting at Dixon Avenue and Bourquin Street in southeast Dallas on July 24, 2012. In the chaotic minutes after the shooting, hundreds of residents and onlookers gathered in the area prompting a large police response to keep the situation under control. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Raymon Bradford, left, consoles Lashaun Bradford, after an officer involved shooting at Dixon Avenue and Bourquin in southeast Dallas on July 24, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

A bystander waves at police trying to get their attention to cross a perimeter line at the scene of an officer involved shooting at Dixon Avenue and Bourquin Street in southeast Dallas on July 24, 2012. Residents and onlookers were frustrated with shifting barricades and police in riot gear. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Police carrying assault rifles and pellet guns patrol on Dixon Avenue after an officer involved shooting in southeast Dallas on July 24, 2012. Officials later praised officers for exercising restraint with a crowd that verged on a riot, enraged by rumors of police allegedly shooting a defenseless unarmed suspect James Harper in the back. An investigation and coroner’s report later dispelled those rumors. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Police walk through a field near the scene of an officer involved shooting at Dixon Avenue and Bourquin Street in southeast Dallas on July 24, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

On the day after the shooting, Michael Baker points to the location in a horse corral on Mural Lane where he says Dallas police shot suspect James Harper after a chase from a drug house at 5316 Bourquin Street, just behind Baker’s home. Baker’s account of the shooting differs from an official police statement and coroner’s report. According to Baker, Harper was shot in the back and remained alive, sitting face down in a pile of manure as officers let him bleed to death without giving aid. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

New Black Panther party member Malik Shukur carries a Pan-African flag during a protest and march through the Dixon Circle neighborhood more than a week after the shooting on August 4, 2012. A few dozen demonstrators rallied against alleged police brutality against people of color, citing a high number of officer involved shootings this year. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Protestors of various affiliations march in front of a makeshift memorial in front of the drug house on Bourquin Street in the Dixon Circle neighborhood where the incident that led to the July 24 shooting of suspect James Harper began. On August 4, 2012, demonstrators of various organizations carried signs through the neighborhood, chanted slogans and obscenities toward police and alleged brutality against people of color. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

An out of service phone booth at the intersection of Dixon Avenue and Barber Avenue has been made into a memorial to victims of violence in the same neighborhood where suspect James Harper was shot by Dallas Police responding to a 911 call on Tuesday. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Jeremy Turner, owner of the Vintage Mobile, sits in the driver’s seat of the converted school bus that houses his moving clothing and accessory store. Turner’s bus was parked next to another mobile clothing shop, the Dowdy Studio Wagon, at the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market on July 21, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Racks of clothes on hangers are seen through the propped open windows on the Vintage Mobile, a converted school bus turned into a mobile clothing store by owner Jeremy Turner. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dylan Dowdy, left, sells a T-shirt to customer Christian Diez inside the Dowdy Studio Wagon parked at the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market on July 21, 2012. Diez owns SocialIce, another vendor at the market, selling frozen winesicles. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Reflected in a mirror, Daisy Martinez flips through prints as Dustin Maxwell looks on inside the Dowdy Studio Wagon at the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market on July 21, 2012. Dylan and Pamela Dowdy run the mobile clothing store. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Customers walks past bins of discounted screen printed T-shirts outside the Dowdy Studio Wagon at the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market on July 21, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Will Ferrell, left, peers into the camera as Zach Galifianakis can’t bare to watch during a photo shoot in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton on July 18, 2012. The pair are promoting their new movie, The Campaign. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

This post was originally written for the Dallas Morning News Photography Blog.

Yesterday evening, I found out I’d be photographing actors Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis together, in a hotel room, for a feature story the News is writing about the comedic duo’s upcoming movie, The Campaign. It’s customary for actors or musicians, when rolling through multiples cities on a publicity tour, to schedule these shoots in hotels. A shoot like this is everyday business for the stars. But it was my first, so I naturally felt a little apprehensive and nervous – meeting celebrities isn’t something I do everyday.

My directions were simple. Go to the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Dallas, ask for a special elevator key to a hospitality suite, and wait for Will and Zach to show up. Once they arrived, I was told I’d have exactly three to maybe four minutes of shooting time before they had to move on.

There was not much to work with. It was a typical hotel bedroom, which still had luggage and bags leftover from assistants and staff on the Campaign press tour. Thankfully, the bed was made. Even more important were the two windows that had soft white curtains acting as a natural softbox; I knew I’d have no time to set up artificial lighting in the short time I was given.

The bedroom in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

I scanned the room, visualized the natural light and thought where to pose them once they arrived. There was a bed, and a bench at the foot of the bed.

I noticed a decorative mirror and had fellow staffer Michael Ainsworth (who was shooting a behind the scenes video) stand in for a test shot to make sure I knew exactly what angle I’d have to shoot from and what exposure I’d need so as to not waste any time once the talent arrived.  With essentially three options brainstormed, I felt okay.

They walk in, and their eyes turn to the freshly made untouched bed…

Will: “It’s the perfect setting.”

Zach: “We always end up doing these photo shoots in bed.”

Me: “Do you want to get in bed?”

*laughter*

Zach: “Does this have anything to do with the photo shoot or are you just asking in general?”

*laughter*

Somewhat proud of myself for making two incredibly talented comedic actors laugh, we got down to business and proceed with the shoot.

Within a few seconds, Ferrell noticed my backup camera body (a Nikon D300 with 20-35mm lens attached) sitting on the dresser in front of the bed. Without asking, he reached over and picked it up, then sat back down next to Galifianakis on the bench. This made several interesting frames, and great audio as Will gave a pretty harsh photo critique of the test photos I had just shot and were still on the memory card in the D300.

Will Ferrell takes a photo of me during our photo shoot at the Ritz-Carlton. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Morning News photo intern Jeff Lautenberger photographs Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis on July 18, 2012. (Photo by Will Ferrell)

Ferrell even took a few photos of me taking photos of him. I never got the chance to give him a critique in return.

While Ferrell was still holding the camera (which I didn’t mind at all and thought made for an interesting prop) I circled around them shooting from different angles. This was one of my favorites because of the near-white background and symmetrical curtains.

Actors Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are photographed in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton on July 18, 2012. The pair are promoting their new movie, The Campaign. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

With our time rapidly winding down, I asked Ferrell and Galifianakis if they’d mind stepping just outside the bedroom to the mirror in the hallway.

“Man! I look awful in this,” Ferrell said right before I quickly snapped off three frames. This was my favorite of the three.

Actors Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are reflected in a decorative mirror while in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton on July 18, 2012. The pair are promoting their new movie, The Campaign. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

While our time was short, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to photograph Ferrell and Galifianakis. Several commenters (on other blogs that picked this story up) have noted that they thought I should have done more to direct, pose, and come up with a more creative theme for the shoot. These are fair criticisms and I take them seriously. If I were to do another of these celebrity shoots again, perhaps I’d try and personally interact with them more. However, in this case, it really was a preconceived, intentional strategy to just let the funny guys be themselves, without me getting in their way.

Going to a waterpark on a hot day is always a great idea. Except when you’re there taking pictures and trying to stay dry. I went to Hurricane Harbor in Arlington to get a cover shot and other images for a Guide story on waterparks in the Dallas area. The park had misters EVERYWHERE, which I’m sure every other guest appreciated, but made walking with gear (and regular street clothes) between attractions a little dodgy. Maybe next time I’ll just bring a bathing suit and flip flops and embrace the water.

Claire Dial, Jacob Roberts, Blake Dial and Sarah Good ride a tube down the Tornado at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Riders carry their tubes up the spiral staircase on The Black Hole at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

A young girl covers her face as a wall of water streams down in the Suntan Lagoon activity pool at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Riders splash into the water after sliding down Shotgun Falls at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Arlington on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas Morning New Guide Cover – July 13, 2012

Coolest intern assignment of the summer? Probably.

I arrived in Kansas City for the MLB All-Star Game on Monday, the day before the Midsummer Classic. I spent most of the day at Kauffman Stadium, where I’ve only shot once before, a college baseball game between Missouri and Kansas. I also checked out the All-Star FanFest happening at the convention center downtown. The city did their absolute best to completely overdo it with the fountain thing. Fountains have always been the rage in KC…but taking the step to dye a bunch of them an unnatural shade of blue? Really guys?

While eight Rangers made the American League roster, no Rangers were competing in the Home Run Derby. Because of that, there wasn’t much pressure on me to get every (or really any) swing and home run. I wandered around, shooting pretty much whatever I wanted from different positions. Beyond what I’ve included here, we ran a full-length photo gallery online.

All-Star FanFest

Maurice Gilchrist of Kansas City walks with son Roman Gilchrist, 5, in front of a blue colored fountain at Barney Allis Plaza in downtown Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012. All-Star festivities are spread out throughout downtown as well as the sports complex surrounding Kauffman Stadium. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Rangers fan Tyler Oldem of Tulsa, Okla., has a caricature drawn of himself and Kelsey Oyler of Lawrence, Kan., at the All-Star FanFest in the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

All-Star Fan Fest

Jackson Heer, 3, tries to get a better look at collectible pins and autographed balls for sale at the All-Star FanFest while holding on to mother Angie Heer’s hand in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Ian Kinsler

Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler signs autographs for fans prior to the Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Ron Washington

American League manager Ron Washington, right, of the Texas Rangers, talks with coach Ned Yost of the Kansas City Royals during batting practice prior to the Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Jose Bautista

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista stretches between swings in the Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012. A variable-plane lens was used to create this photograph. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Adrian Beltre

Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre sits outside the American League dugout with his kids during the Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Prince Fielder

Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder was the champion of the 2012 Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on July 9, 2012 (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Randy Hare, aka “Reddirt Randy,” dances to music by Corey Smith on the outdoor stage at Billy Bob’s during Willie’s Fourth of July Picnic in Fort Worth, Texas. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Willie Nelson sings and plays guitar during his headlining performance at Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Fans in the VIP area watch Whiskey Myers perform on the Honky Tonk Stage during Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

“Wild” Bill Belzons dances with Cindy Wilson at the Honky Tonk Stage as Whiskey Myers plays during Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. Belzons traveled from San Antonio for the show. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Wearing a Willie Nelson bandana, Christy Wilson sings along to Billy Joe Shaver’s set during Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Cousins Jocelyn Riddles, 8, left, and Hallie Riddles, 11, right wave American flags while boosted up by their fathers Wesley Riddles and Jeremy Riddles during Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas County Constable Derick Evans, center, hugs longtime friend Ruth Wyrick as his wife Latrina Evans, left, watches after leaving the courtroom and being sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine at the 363rd District Court on July 2, 2012. The charges were related to Evans’ alleged involvement in an illegally held raffle. Evans is appealing his sentence. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

If there’s one rule to know about photographing in or around courts, it is to forget everything you think you know about shooting in or around courts and find out exactly what the rules are for the location you are in at that particular time. Every. Court. Is. Different.

The terms of covering the sentencing hearing for the trial of Derick Evans were that photographers were allowed into the courts building itself (more than some jurisdictions) and allowed to stand outside the closed doors of the actual courtroom. The two doors each had a single narrow, tall window, double-paned and nicely smudged. Photographers (which included three TV stations and myself) squeezed our lenses through the narrow panes, avoiding a constant stream of people trying to come in and out of the doors during the hearing. In this admittedly terrible photo below, you can see how small the opening was, and one of the TV cameras pressed up against the window.

Dallas County Constable Derick Evans enters the courtroom for sentencing on July 2, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas County Constable Derick Evans stands in the courtroom after his sentencing hearing on July 2, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas County Constable Derick Evans, center, walks away from the 363rd District Court with wife Latrina Evans, right, after being sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine at the 363rd District Court on July 2, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Dallas County Constable Derick Evans, center, stands in an elevator outside the 363rd District Court after being sentenced to two years probation and a $10,000 fine at the 363rd District Court on July 2, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

People play in one of the fountains during the Kaboom Town celebration in Addison on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Kids cool off in the fountains during the Kaboom Town celebration in Addison on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Diego Pina, 5, plays in an inflatable bubble at the Bubble Runner attraction during the Kaboom Town celebration in Addison on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Diego Pina, 5, is rolled down a ramp while in an inflatable bubble at the Bubble Runner attraction during the Kaboom Town celebration in Addison on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Fireworks burst over Addison during the Kaboom Town celebration on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)

Guests in the VIP area wave patriotic balloons during the fireworks display at the Kaboom Town celebration in Addison on July 3, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)