November 20, 2011 

Avoiding camera awareness is an ever-present part of my job, and being the stranger with a two-foot ponytail and big cameras makes me pretty conspicuous most of the time. It's not tough to avoid stares when there's a lot of activity going on or you've spent a lot of time with a subject, but neither is usually true during feature hunts — especially ones where your subjects look interesting while strolling down the street.

A quick explanation to most adults will get them to avoid looking at you, but as was the case when I found Jean Card, left, and Laurie Gerber riding "Missy" and "Kissin," a lack of camera awareness doesn't mean it will be a good photo:

Animals of course don't understand when you give them a rundown of your photographic goal, like when I snapped some photos of Bobbi Felando walking and carrying her dogs earlier this year:

It's another boring photo to be sure, and they really just illustrate how desperate I can get while hunting for shots.

Quizzical stares are almost as hard to avoid with young children, like when I juxtaposed Junior Florés, left, and Danny Mancera's car strollers with real passing cars:

I wasn't able to capture much of a moment in this shot, like the others, since I came across these people right before their treks ended. And while I like the goofy looks on the little guys' faces, a shot of them enjoying their artificial auto rides would be much better.

One of my favorite finds in recent memory came last Wednesday as the Tri-Cities had its first snow of the winter as Artia Cheatham caught snowflakes on her tongue while walking with her mother Shemika and sister Akeylah after getting out of class at Amistad Elementary in Kennewick:

I like that I seem invisible in the photo, and while that required some luck, it also took some time.

I didn't know where I wanted to go, just that I was going to stay close since I had no idea how long the snow would last. I grabbed a quick snap on my way to the car just in case I didn't find anything of interest,

and looped around nearby parks and schools until I saw Shemika and Akeylah hanging out at the bus stop. Akeylah was enjoying the snow as I parked, but hustled back to her mom as I introduced myself. Their photo reflexes kicked in as Shemika moved the stroller into the snow because she thought it looked ratty and Akeylah grinned shyly:

I hung out and chatted with them, snapping shots as dark vehicles passed by in hopes of showing the snow while they took turns looking at me:

I didn't really care for the bus stop scene, but shot through it while talking to get them comfortable with me until Artia got out of school. They happened to be walking, so I tagged along hoping a fun snow moment. I like the contrast between Shemika and Akeylah's expressions,

but Artia isn't doing much. The interaction between sisters is nice in this shot,

but I don't like the composition and the white car doesn't accentuate the light snowfall. Thankfully, it came together for one shot.

I hope it captures that youthful feeling of joy when it snows and I'm glad I had a chance to meet them before this moment happened and build a little rapport. People are usually taken aback when you first approach them about being photographed while they're doing everyday things. There's no denying that it's a weird situation, and alleviating that initial discomfort is one of the many reasons this job is so much more than "just" taking pictures.

For a look at when eye contact works in a big way...

Check out the "Spotlight on William DeShazer" at The Image, Deconstructed for the story behind DeShazer's gripping photo of little Loretta, post-surgery. It's plenty storytelling just seeing the infant hooked up to all the machines, but the eye contact really gets you in a way that the other photos of her don't.

Lens has a cool feature on behind-the-scenes photos at Vienna's Museum of Natural History.

And check out these clever still-life setups.

Yeah, these links aren't very current, but that's because I've been off all Thanksgiving week, but have an unnatural obsession with maintaining my weekly publishing streak. Followers of BtF who don't read the paper are probably wondering what happened in my hotly anticipated cross-town showdown between Kennewick and Kamiakin. Well, it was stone cold freaking awesome — a close game with some nifty plays and steady snow for the first half.

Plus, I almost got taken out when Kamiakin's Zach Umemoto shoved Kennewick running back Grant Woods out of bounds, which always gets the blood pumping:

You can check out a photo gallery here, with help from Paul T. Erickson.

Kamiakin's win sets up a rematch with three-time state champion, Bellevue, who shut out the Braves 38-0 in last year's state title game. They're supposed to be even better this year and it'll be interesting to see how Kamiakin performs this time.

Home field can't hurt, but Bellevue's win last year made eight state titles in 10 years. I wouldn't bet against them. With Prosser's semifinal against Archbishop-Murphy kicking off the doubleheader at Lampson, the safest bet is that I'll be blabbing about more football next week.

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