Sunday, January 8, 2012

Community gets to meet photographers
from The Indianapolis Star

The Indianapolis Star, Indiana's largest newspaper and now a multi-platform media company, held its first-ever "Meet the Photographers Night" at its downtown Indy plant on Friday night, inviting anyone in the community to meet and talk to the people who capture pictures and video that appear in The Star print and digital products. More 120 people took advantage of the opportunity.

The Star began the evening's program by letting visitors meet, for the first hour or so, one on one with individual photographers. All of the staff shooters were on hand except Charlie Nye. At the same time that was going on, attendees were invited to have a free portrait of themselves taken by Star staff photographers. Portrait subjects had the option of posing with provided props -- old-fashioned press hats and/or a choice of three or four antique cameras. The photos will be available to download at flickr sometime next week. A representative of Roberts Imaging, the premier photo retailer in Indianapolis and all of the Midwest, was on hand to talk to any comers about pictures, gear and accessories.

After the one-on-ones and portraits, the company showed an audio-visual presentation featuring some of the staff's best and most dramatic images. Interviews with several shooters were included in the presentation, including one of Matt Kryger, the photographer who happened to draw the assignment to shoot the country-western music act Sugarland on Aug. 13, 2011, at the Indiana State Fair. Right before Sugarland was to take the stage for its performance at the outdoor grandstand that evening, an abrupt, but powerful wind and rainstorm swept through the fairgrounds and knocked over the concert stage infrastructure, which fell onto spectators in the first several ground-level rows from the stage. Seven people died either that night or shortly afterward; 61 were injured. Many of Kryger's photographs taken that night, from the capture of the actual stage collapse to the rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath, were part of the AV presentation Friday.

After the AV show, all of The Star photographers went to the front of the seated area to field questions from those of us who were attending. This consumed the lion's share of the evening, and it seemed like many of us would have liked for it to continue longer when they called it a night. Several people who I talked to afterward remarked about how impressed they were with the staff as a whole, and how their interactions with each other during the Q&A seemed as if the shooters enjoyed an intrastaff camaraderie. Mike Fender, director of photography at The Star, told the crowd early in the evening that the company would like to make this an annual event. From all indications of those in attendance and those I talked to afterward, I bet it would be well-received and -attended if they had even two or three of these a year.

The pictures in today's post are from Friday's event, almost all from the Q&A session. The lead images is a perspective shot of the left side of the stage area where the photographers sat during the Q&A. From left are Danese Kenon, Rob Goebel, Marc Lebryk, Joe Vitti, Kelly Wilkinson and Matt Detrich.

Above: It's always great when you get Joe Vitti to smile, because his smiles are big ... and genuine. Here he shares a laugh with (from left) Rob Goebel, Marc Lebryk and Kelly Wilkinson.

Above: Although all Star photographers are generalists when it comes to the assignments they are given, Frank Espich and Michelle Pemberton do draw the lion's share of assignments for The Star's features products, including Indy Living (publishes Sundays), Weekend (Thursdays), Taste (Fridays) and Home & Garden (Saturdays). 

Above: Greg Griffo (with microphone) is The Star photogragraphy staff's point person for auto racing. He has coordinated its photo coverage of the Indy 500 for many years and will travel to the bigger Indy Car and NASCAR races. Next to Griffo are (from left) Matt Kryger and Joe Young.

Above: On several occasions Friday, Espich heaped glowing praise on his photo staff colleagues. 

Above: Matt Kryger (far right) was The Star photographer at the State Fairgrounds the night of the concert stage collapse on Aug. 13, 2011.

Above: Robert Scheer (left) gets a lot of Star Media's Colts, Pacers and big-college sports photo assignments. He told the crowd that he's among the one-third on the photo staff who use Canon gear, the rest, Nikon.

Above: Matt Detrich, like Scheer, also is on the newspaper's Colts photo coverage team.

Above: Kelly Wilkinson during one of the light moments of the Q&A session.

Above: Marc Lebryk (with microphone) actually isn't on The Star newsroom photo staff; he shoots almost exclusively for Star Media's marketing and advertising departments. He is flanked by Rob Goebel (left) and Joe Vitti.

Above: Yet another capture of a lighter moment, this time with Goebel as foil. He is looking at Danese Kenon. Behind Rob is Marc Lebryk.
Above: Danese Kenon was one of the event's chief organizers. For the longest time, she held true to a project to take and upload one photo per day to her website, although a recent check would seem to indicate that the streak was snapped in November. She has some amazing shots in that collection, certainly worth a check if you have the time.

Joe Young (right), a longtime shooter for the old Indianapolis News and now a part-timer at The Star, shot the tragic aftermath of the State Fair Coliseum explosion on Oct. 31, 1963, which occurred during a performance of Holiday on Ice. Seventy-four people were killed, 400 injured. He was recalling that experience this picture was taken.

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