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

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.