June- A month in review

To say June has been a month of learning would be an understatement. Let me just say first and foremost the support that has been shown by not only the photo community, but the community at large has been incredible. Myself and the 27 other photographers that lost jobs at the Sun-Times at the end of May are incredibly grateful to everyone who has lent a hand or a kind word. Witnessing this level of support has been truly awesome.

So let's start at the end of May. May 30th at 9:39 a.m. to be exact:

In a hotel conference room a few floors above the Sun-Times office 28 photographers are dismissed in one fell swoop in favor of wire, freelance and reporter-provided photography. In total, over 600 years of experience and Chicago knowledge, with an average of over 21 years apiece, was kicked to the curb without so much as a thank you.
As soon as the HR packets were passed out and explained to deaf ears and glazed over eyes a majority of us traveled to Billy Goat Tavern which has harbored years of the city's journalists, their triumphs and tribulations.

Glasses were raised as the legends watched from picture frames on the wall and other media outlets began to trickle in and report the news of the day.

It was a surreal atmosphere, the community here in Chicago is a rather tight-knit one even between the two daily papers. Friends would come down, partly to report, partly to share in the sorrow, but all with the inauspicious knowledge of what this meant for the profession we hold so dear.

Before it could all fully sink in, I was off to a previously scheduled freelance assignment photographing a conference at McCormick Place in Chicago.

The lack of down time gave me the opportunity to process the events of the previous day while limiting the time I had to dwell on the negative emotions.

As the days passed and the news spread, support grew, and the Chicago Newspaper Guild held a protest outside the Sun-Times office.
Once again, it was an experience knowing this protest is not one I am being sent to cover, but take part in.

I have found the feeling of the immediate aftermath similar to the feeling of having the covers torn off before I was ready to get out of bed. I knew full well that eventually the alarm would go off, but I just wasn't ready for it quite yet.
Events that I would cover regularly, now seem different without that warm blanket. I knew what images I needed to come back with and I knew where I had to be to get them. I went beyond that of course, but at least it was a starting point to orient myself and "warm-up" if you will.
I photographed a Cubs game for a client who wanted me to focus on a certain player. "Just him?" was my response? "Well this should be fun!" and off I went, free of the worry I would miss that key play at the plate or big catch in the outfield.

My biggest freedom though has been time. Time to float and time to play.

On top of everything that has taken place over the course over the past month, I was asked by CNN to photograph as many of the 28 laid off photographers as we could wrangle up. It was a humbling experience, an honor, a daunting task and probably the most nervous I have been before a shoot in a very long time. 

Photographing one photographer is a task by itself, photographing 23 of the 28 Sun-Times photographers, a lot of whom I have learned from and looked up to since I've started my career, not to mention one being Pulitzer Prize winner John H. White is unheard of. No pressure.

Nerves aside, I could not be happier with how the photos turned out. It was so much fun photographing all these great people and aside from the much expected ribbing from the veterans, everyone was great in front of the camera. 
Here are a few of my favorites and some outtakes.

Check out the time lapse for a full behind the scenes look at the shoot. Thanks for looking!

STM28 Photo Shoot from Brian Powers on Vimeo.