Behind-the-Camera of Photojournalist Nic Coury in Monterey County, California.

December 28, 2011

My Favorite Photos of 2011.

Espresso. I love the stuff.

This year has been wild. I shot a lot of fun, interesting photos and a lot of photos that bothered me.

Here are a few of my personal favorite photos away from work.

Casey Stoner leads his Honda teammate down the start/finish straight at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August during the 2011 Indianapolis Moto Grand Prix.

I traveled to Indiana (above) to shoot the other U.S. moto race and it was a great chance to get out of the state and shoot racing. Cycle World magazine ran one of my photos from that race as well and I got stay with my good friend Andrew Wheeler who is a killer photographer on his own right.

"Serial" artist Ed Leeper.

Per usual, I did a lot of portraits, including my friend and artist Ed Leeper.

Below was a sampling of a few shots I did for Figge Cellars, a winery I have been working with for a few years. Peter and his crew make great, local wine and they're super nice folks.

The campaign this year was "Share It" and I think we accomplished that.

Below is a photo I did for Ferrari. Yes, the shiny, red car people. I did a video project for them in August, which was fun, but challenging.

A Ferrari 250 GTO heads down turn 8, the "corkscrew", during the Monterey Motorsports Reunion in August.

More portraits:

Mandalyn in her element.

Mandalyn is a good friend and this wild, artsy type and I have many photographs of her, but this is one of my favorites. She has this wonderful smile and it shows off here.


Curator Marcelle Polednik at the Monterey Museum of Art.

This last photo was taken in Santa Cruz only last weekend. Shot on my point-and-shoot of surfers at Pleasure Point. I saw this frame with the fading, cloudy mountains in the background and went out to compose a photo that showed all these great elements.

December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays from the Coury Family.

Dad, Nic, Mom, Vincent, Kristen and Mike.

December 23, 2011

A View of the Water.

Canon G12. ISO 80, f/8.

Surfers at Pleasure Point in Capitola this morning.

It just shows that you can make good photos with any camera if you "see" the picture you want to make and work within any constraints you may have.

December 11, 2011

This is the End: Thoughts from Visiting the Monterey County Coroner's Office

Monterey County Sheriff's Detective Randall Dyck wheels a cadaver out of the morgue refrigerator.

On Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving, I had a photo assignment for a feature story we did on the Monterey County Coroner's Office. It was an interesting and intriguing experience.

I got to see an full autopsy on a young man, which was also an interesting experience. I stood next to the body and other bodies in the morgue and while I'm not easily spooked, the main thing that struck me was how little life, if any, was still in them. It was a bit surreal.

Forensic pathologist Dr. John Hain cleans up following an autopsy.

The county's forensic pathologist Dr. John Hain is an interesting guy to talk to. As he put it, he wants the county to get better at how and why residents in Monterey County die. Hain says he can tell how someone died, but not necessarily why they died and was very intriguing.

In an area with the highest murder rate per capita and with occasional suicides, the reason of why a person chooses to send themselves or another to the afterlife baffles me as well. I have covered a handful of hard situations and murders in my career and I've never understood the motives of people in those situations.

As I photographed the four death investigators who work in the coroner's office, we chatted about the hard moments on both of our jobs. It was interesting to hear how to deal with death on a daily basis. I can't imagine being surrounded with the post-final moments all the time, but you would really start to appreciate life quite a bit more and start to care less about the frivolous nonsense that many people live daily.

One of the quotes in the story has Hain saying that, "(The coroner's office) is trying to give the dead a voice. They have something important to tell us."

My presumption would be that it is better to live well that hold pain and fear as the important things in life.

The morgue refrigerator is kept at 38 degrees.

December 7, 2011

Tudor Wines Wild Mushroom Dinner

I had the distinct pleasure to eat dinner this evening at the Tudor Wines wild mushroom dinner at Andre's Bouchee in Carmel. It was hosted by one of my clients Dan Tudor who makes killer local pinot noirs from Santa Lucia Highlands and he invited me to the dinner.

Dan paired five of his wines with the four dishes served and all were very good.

The menu is in order in the photos below.

Winter black truffles from Perigord baked in puff pastry, with butter lettuce in a truffle coulis.

Alaskan Artic Char salmon filet with sauteed local, wild chanterelles.

Fresh, local farm-raised saddle of rabbit stuffed with wild, local porcinis and foie gras.

Beef tenderloin in a wild, fresh morel mushroom sauce.

Chef's special creme brulee. (I think it had minced mushrooms in the creme...)

Dessert wine next to all the pinots.

It was all really good stuff.

December 2, 2011

A Quick Espresso.

Espresso. Canon G12.

Oh yeah, in case anyone forgot, I LOVE espresso.

It's been a long week with lots of breaking news, which I may get to later, but here's a $1.77 (tax included) espresso shot from Caffe Trieste in Monterey. It's good stuff really.

Also, here's my espresso photo blog:

November 11, 2011

Conviction and Photojournalism

Photographs of the five, young Marina residents that perished on November 5.

This week was a bad one for local, breaking news.

I got a message from my editor on Monday morning asking me to go photograph the home of a fire two days before where five, mentally-retarded residents died. There was a press conference later that day and I took a picture of the mother of one of the victims. The Associated Press was there and the story was national news.

Last night, there was a memorial at a local church where a few hundred family, friends and the local firefighters and police officers attended. It was a really hard scene to take pictures. There were four television cameras and three of us news photographers there.

I shot the below photo of Connie Cruz whose daughter Monica was one of the five. After the service was over, Ms. Cruz walked to the altar, grabbed the photo of her late-daughter and started sobbing loudly. It was really had to take this picture, but as my good friend and colleague Conner Jay from the Salinas Californian said this morning as we were discussing shooting the similar photos we took, "You have to have conviction when snapping the shutter or it's in vain. You have to believe that your photos are important."

It is really hard being a news photographer sometimes. Being asked to photograph a grieving parent who tragically lost their child is very hard, but you have to put your emotions to the side and just shoot. It is necessary to make hard news photos, but it never gets easier.

It feels very predatory sometimes and I can't imagine what it feels like, but it's part of the job to document the bad as well as the good. As Marina mayor Bruce Delgado mentioned during the memorial, "These five, young people brought hundreds of people together locally and people all over the country paused for a moment when they heard the news. Who else can do that? They brought a community together."

As I was photographing people near the altar after the service, one gentleman who was a family member of one of the victims turns to me and says, "You would have wanted to know him (nodding at his photo). He was always smiling and enjoyed everyone."

A reporter and I at the Weekly was discussing it after work tonight. It's just part of the gig.

Marina mayor Bruce Delgado tears up while sitting with local pastors during the memorial.

The house on Monday morning.

A memorial to the five victims across from the house.

November 9, 2011


Occupy Monterey protesters gather in front of city hall on November 5 before marching through downtown.

As many journalists in the United States, I have been covering the Occupy movement. The local chapters sprung up from original Occupy Wall Street movement nearly two months ago and has been quite an event to watch unfold.

It is interesting seeing different factions of the community gather together for change, but as one article mentioned that other than exchanging information and stories, the movement has been in person and not online, which is even harder to ignore.

As a journalist, the Occupy movement is a very, very fascinating event to cover, because no one knows what directions it will take. As Joao Silva, a photojournalist for the Associated Press, wrote, he is loves being a photojournalist, because he is literally on the edge of history as it is happening and that is a really interesting place to be.

Last weekend, I ventured with my cameras up to Oakland, Calif. where the Occupiers have been stationed in front of city hall for many weeks. Oakland has gained some infamous notoriety due to violence erupting during a few of the recent protests and as there are many sides to a giant event like this, there are many views and insight to what was going on and I wanted to see it for myself and tell my own stories of the people I met.

Two occupiers wearing Guy Fawkes masks bare the heavy rain in Oakland on November 5.

It was fascinating. I drove up after covering an Occupy Monterey gathering and was drenched after walking only a block to get to Frank H. Ogawa Plaza at Broadway and 14th avenues where the Occupiers were.

Other than my camera, I was completely wet, but I was really enjoying listening to people on the street talk about what drove them out to make change. One unnamed guy told me that it was inspiring to see so many people do something about their political angst rather than just complain about it.

Protesters' tents in Frank H. Ogawa Plaza are dwarfed by surrounding buildings in Oakland.

I produced the video below from last Saturday's Occupy Monterey gathering.

What hit me a few into covering Oakland was that all of these people, all over the country and the world, are gathering for better change and are wanting more happiness in their lives. They want to live as best they can, doing whatever is it that makes them happy.

That same thought struck me later as I was watching this old punk band, Swinging Utters, play a show in downtown Oakland.

The Uptown in downtown Oakland.

The though that struck me at the punk show, watching people thoroughly enjoy the show, was that they were having a great time. They really didn't want to be anywhere else and that was neat to see.

It comes down to letting people be and letting people do what makes them live life to their own fullest inclinations.

Old school punk rockers Swinging Utters rock out in Oakland on November 5.

Subrosa Cafe in Oakland.

And of course, I stopped at a few different cafes to get really good coffees during my trip...

Monterey peace activist Ed Leeper's truck parked across from city hall on Pacific street.

October 24, 2011

RIP Marco...

Sunday was a terrible day for motorcycle racing.

Italian superstar Marco Simoncelli died after injured he sustained in a freak accident following a hard crash on the second lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. I was watching it live at 1am California time and the red flag went out right away. It was a bad scene. The race was cancelled about an hour later. Marco was 24.

I didn't personally know Marco as well as some of my colleagues who spend the entire year shooting moto racing, but he was one of my favorite riders. He was aggressive and just plain passionate about racing. More importantly, he was a super nice guy and was always smiling. I met him in 2010 at Laguna Seca while he was signing autographs for fans. He nodded at my colorful shoes, thinking they were cool.

Marco, a 250cc World Champion, was known as SuperSic to fans all over was super fast. He had taken second the weekend before Malaysia and was touted to chase the World Championship next year on the Honda, but he went out doing what he really enjoyed. Moto racing is a very dangerous sport, but he rode with a pure enjoyment of the sport.

Marco went out doing what he loved to do and that's all one can ask for really.

Speed on Marco.

October 6, 2011

Jessica and Patrick Wedding in Soquel.

Jessica and Patrick.

It's always nice when you just nail a photoshoot, especially when it's something like a friend's wedding that you're shooting for them. This was that.

On October 1, I had the pleasure of photographing my friend Jessica's wedding to Patrick at Bargetto Winery in Soquel. It was fun: the weather was great and it was a nice, small wedding of about 100 people.

Even though I brought too much stuff, I shot a majority of it on a 35mm f/1.4 and a 85 f/1.4, which are easily two fantastic lenses from Nikon and my 300 f/2.8 for the ceremony and tight shots. Good equipment makes life easy.

Here's a few of my favorites.

September 25, 2011

Making a Photo.

The above photo illustrates something that I explain to people about being a professional photographer and that is that I have a lot of bad frames.

That shot is from turn 5 during a morning practice session at the 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis Moto Grand Prix a few months ago. I was positioned about 10 feet down from the photo window to shoot the bikes coming at me (see the below photo) and I kept missing the picture: it just wasn't working as a frame, so I moved on, but it took me a bunch of missed shots to see this.

The point being that pros make a lot, and I'm talking a much higher number, of bad frames that keepers, but we only show the good stuff...