Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tied to a 400-lb. 'heart,' man awaits new wonder

400-lb Heart - Images by Pat Shannahan

These images are from a photo story I am working on about Charles Okeke. In the fall, doctors removed his ailing heart and replaced it with a Total Artificial Heart. The new heart is powerd by a 400-lb driver that must go everywhere with him. For the past 340+ days he has been trapped in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant or for modern medicine to find an answer. There is hope that the company that makes the heart he currently has will get permission from the FDA to try out a new artificial heart system that weighs 12 lbs. If he is able to get that he will be able to leave the hospital and live at home with his wife and three children.

To read our story in The Arizona Republic click here.

Pat Shannahan

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Man Sentenced for Crash that Killed Officer

Yesterday I photographed the the sentencing of Salvador Vivas-Diaz for the manslaughter death of Phoenix Police officer Shane Figueroa. Vivas-Diaz crossed the middle line and crashed into Figueroa as the officer was responding to a call. his blood-alcohol level was 0.24, three times the legal limit in Arizona. The judge sentenced him to 16 year which was the max for this case. Over 40 uniformed police officers filled the courtroom. I made this image of officers reacting as the prosecution showed imags from the crash and from officer Figueroa's life on large monitor in the courtroom.

Shooting in court is always a challenge. Normally you are positioned in the back of the courtroom. Everyone talking is facing away from you. Photographers are also required to put their cameras inside a cloth blimp to dampen the sound of the shutter and to put there camera on a tripod which make it physically awkward to shoot. Courtrooms are always dark which makes it a challenge to make pictures without movement. I like this picture because I think it shows the emotion that the officers had in the courtroom that day.

To read the story on AZCentral click here.

Pat Shannahan

Double Parked

I love it when I stumble upon an unexpected photo. Sometimes photography is like that, you're walking down the street and then you see something that makes you slam your heels into the ground and stop. I was in Tempe on a hot afternoon working on a story about parking. Due to the paper's time scheduling/deadlines they needed me to find something during the brightest, nastiest-light time of day. When I saw this it immediately made me smile.

Pat Shannahan
@pshannahan twiter

Thanks Reynolds Institute

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to 35 high school journalism teachers at the ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute held at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School. It was so nice to see people excited about journalism and passionate about passing on their excitement to students. I found my love for photography in high school. I was lucky enough to have a great teacher who encouraged me keep taking pictures and helped provide many of the tools to improve my skills. The journalism world is changing so fast. No one is really sure what it's going to look like in 10 years. One thing I am sure about. There are always going to be stories that need to be told. There is always going to be a need for pictures. Photography is one of the ways we figure our world out. A great picture allows us to see through someone else's eyes, revealing a world that may be different than our own. Photography speaks to the heart before it speaks to the mind. There is always going to be a place for that.

I was flattered to see that some of the Reynolds Institute teachers wrote about me in their blog. You can see it here. Thanks Reynolds Institute.

Pat Shannahan
@pshannahan twitter

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Woman's Work

A Woman's Work - Images by Pat Shannahan

I recently had the opportunity to photograph Arizona rancher Maryann Pratt working on her ranch in a rural valley near Payson. Maryann ranches her piece of land all by herself. There is no calling in sick, no procrastination, and no one around to pass the buck. If something breaks, she has to fix it. If cattle need to be moved, she has to move them. Like a modern Zane Grey character, she lives off the grid. Solar panels power her home. A generator supplies water from her well. Satellite internet keeps her in touch with the rest of the world. She also grows much of her own food. It's refreshing to know there are still people like Maryann providing for themselves off the land and living the old west lifestyle in the new west.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Instant Classic-- Polaroids

Polaroids - Images by Pat Shannahan

I was inspired by several recent news stories to put together a collection of my favorite images made with my Polaroid SX-70. The great thing about the SX-70 is that is shoots TIme Zero film. The film's emulsion remains soft for a few minutes after the images is made. You can use a dull tipped object, such as a burnishing tool, to move the emulsion around under the plastic cover. The results can look like an painting. All of these images are just scans of the polaroid. No Photoshop filters. Sadly, Polaroid does not make this film anymore and the art of the SX-70 is slipping away. The NY Times has a gallery of reader images shot with polaroid cameras on their Lens photo blog. It's well worth checking out.

NPR has a nice story, with photos, about an exhibit of polaroids at the New York Photo Festival. It shows the work of 14 European photographers who used polaroid instant films.