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2020: Behind the Lens

I believe I am not alone when I suggest that most of us rang in the new year and 2020 with high hopes and optimistic ideas. COVID-19 changed all of that for most of us and early in the year, our aspirations and plans were put on hold for what is now nine months into the global pandemic. Regardless of COVID-19, I was fortunate to be able to document a lot of our nation's history. With that, here's a look at a few of the images that I took from behind the lens in 2020.

Women's March Cincinnati

Women's March Cincinnati

In early March, tornado season began. On Super Tuesday, a day that was supposed to be all about the election, powerful tornadoes struck middle Tennessee. I traveled to Cookeville, Tennessee the same day and documented the recovery efforts by local volunteers and EMS crews.

A homeowner and her friend sift through debris hopeful to find personal belongings where their home once stood.

Volunteers look for survivors following the estimated EF-5 tornado that struck Cookeville, TN.

A makeshift memorial sits next to the destroyed home where a young girl was killed during the tornado that struck Cookeville, TN.

The view of an apartment complex that once stood in the Echo Valley area of Cookeville, TN.

I took two trips to Cookeville to document the tornadoes and the recovery efforts. Once I had completed my work, I set out to return home to pick up my credentials to cover F.C. Cincinnati and their Major League Soccer season. As I was traveling home from Tennessee, it was announced on the local NPR station that the seasons for the MLS, MLB and NHL were suspended until further notice. That was when the reality of how COVID-19 was going to impact us in 2020.

A few weeks later, I found myself in Chicago, IL., documenting the city's response to COVID-19, which included the conversion of the McCormick Center Convention Center into an alternate care facility (ACF). The ACF, resembling a field-hospital, would eventually be used to treat patients suffering from COVID-19 symptoms as local hospitals were full. The McCormick Center, once complete, would be able to treat roughly 1,200 patients.

The McCormick Convention Center in its transition to alternate care facility (ACF)

Another wing of the McCormick Convention Center as an Alternate Care Facility (ACF)

The United Center was used to store non-perishable food items for distribution during the start of the global pandemic.

A woman stands in line at a Trader Joe's in downtown Chicago.

At the end of May, and as if the global COVID-19 pandemic wasn't enough to deal with, George Floyd was murdered -- and his murder was caught on camera. The video footage of his murder sent several major cities around the country into a nearly two-month period of continued protests, demonstrations and riots. For Cincinnati, the first major riot within the city happened the night of May 29th.

Local Cincinnati businesses were damaged and looted during the early George Floyd protests.

A local business owner hugs her friend as volunteers put plywood over broken windows at her business.

Protest organizers protect an Ohio State Patrol officer and his cruiser from other protestors.

A Hamilton County Sheriff's officer stand off against demonstrators at the Hamilton County Courthouse.

Demonstrators stand their ground against Hamilton County Sheriff officers at the Hamilton County Courthouse.

A SWAT officer of the Hamilton County Sheriff Department is seen in a mirror during a George Floyd protest.

Hamilton County Sheriff, Jim Neil, takes a knee in front of protestors at the Hamilton County Courthouse in Cincinnati.

On June 7th, an estimated 15,000+ demonstrators took the streets to march in protest over the murder of George Floyd.

As the protests began to subside, 17 Black artists and their assistants painted a Black Lives Matter mural at the steps of City Hall in downtown Cincinnati. The project took three days and was funded via private donations to the project.

A few days after the mural was unveiled, a man threw red paint over the mural in opposition to the mural and Black Lives Matter movement. The suspect was captured on surveillance video, but has yet to be found and charged.

Red paint covers the BLM mural after it was vandalized the previous evening.

As the summer drew to a close, sports began to return to Cincinnati. I was able to photograph F.C. Cincinnati's last season at Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati. Next season, FCC will play their Major League Soccer matches at the new West End Stadium that is currently under construction.

With the November 3rd election on the horizon, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held political election rallies in Ohio. Pence held his at Lunken Municipal Airport in Cincinnati and Trump held his in Circleville, Ohio.

Girls take a selfie during a political rally hosted by Vice President Mike Pence.

A woman checks her cell phone during a Mike Pence political rally in Cincinnati, OH.

President Trump speaks to his supporters (and controversial nuns) during his rally in Circleville, OH.

Trump supporters hold up their hands signaling four more years during Trump's rally in Circleville, OH. (Note my getting 'the bird' from a 'fake news' fan).

Supporters watch and listen to President Trump on a jumbo screen during his rally in Circleville, OH.

As a photographer and photojournalist, I consider myself very fortunate to have survived year one of the global pandemic. Several of my fellow colleagues were furloughed during the pandemic and experienced very difficult times. Being freelance, I was lucky to have been hired for several assignments by the local NPR public radio station (WVXU). As well, my images were picked up by many news organizations around the world to include the New York Times, FOX, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and many others. On one occasion, my father called me to let me know he had just viewed one of my images on NBC's nightly national news broadcast in Bozeman, Montana.

Now, more than ever, free press and journalism is critical. I'm lucky to be a part of it.

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