There’s no better illustrative expression in the newspaper business than “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
In the world of community journalism, most reporters head out in the field with a notepad, pen — and a camera — to record in stills and video what words can’t quite capture. Sometimes we manage to grab an image or two that become the cherry on the top of a nice piece of storytelling.
Over the past year, I believe I captured some of those photos that helped readers to better understand, in a visceral way, the give-and-take of a story or its emotional impact imposed on a few individuals or even an entire community.
The recent tornado, for example. What better way to put yourself in the shoes of those fellow Port Orchard residents who are now homeless following their experience with the twister? An image of a fallen 100-foot-tall fir tree that nearly split a home in two or a shot of someone’s bedroom furniture now open to the elements after an exterior wall was shorn from its foundation.
Our past three issues of the Independent — and our website kitsapdailynews.com — have featured photos of the tornado’s damage that evoke emotions words couldn’t sufficiently express.
Here are some of the photos I took during 2018 (and a few from the last month of 2017) that tell their own tale. They appeared in the Independent and our website over the past 13 months.
Setting sail on Sinclair Inlet
I joined a dozen or so land-lubbers-turned-sailors in August aboard the historic tall ship Hawaiian Chieftain as it pursued its pretend-foe Lady Washington around Sinclair Inlet in a simulated battle. For two hours, we were taken back to experience the aura of a salty 1788 seaport, replete with a fun group of pirate wannabes.
Calling all seagulls
The Fathoms O’ Fun’s Seagull Calling Contest is always a fun event and a great chance to capture images of the most willing of contestants — kids. In this photo, Ava Keiser gave onlookers at the waterfront her best vocal performance while brother Chieftain (and mom in the background) looks on.
Jedi’s special day (Nov. 16, 2018)
A little 3-year-old boy, Jedi Minters, was the toast of Port Orchard in November on a special day in his honor. Free to climb aboard cool service vehicles of all kinds, the sick child — in the midst of an unsuccessful fight against acute myeloid leukemia — brought out, in the bright light of a fall day, this community’s giving heart and compassion.
A family grieves for ‘Pop Pop’ ((July 20, 2018)
These stories are gut-wrenching to cover and write about. The image of a grieving granddaughter, Emma, in the arms of her mother, Tawnie Ploe, illustrated how the senseless loss of husband, father and grandfather Michael Keaton was like a blow to the human spirit. It’s one in which this fatal hit-and-run incident continues to defy explanation. There’s no salve to heal the wound, even half a year later.
Spuds a-plenty (March 23, 2918)
South Kitsap couple Bob Gilby and Donna Branch-Gilby had just harvested vegetables from their Glenwood Road Southwest property, but they had a tenth-of-an-acre of potatoes still in the ground. In March, they invited community members under the coordination of the Kitsap Harvest gleaning coordinator, Paisley Gallagher, to glean the spuds for their own use — and for South Kitsap Helpline’s food bank. Plenty enough potatoes were harvested for hundreds of servings of mashed and scalloped potatoes, French fries, and presumably lots of au gratin casseroles and potato salad.
Fathoms parades and princesses (July 6, 2018)
What better way to describe a summer Fathoms O’ Fun Grand Parade than illustrate it with photos? As we do each year, the sights along Bay Street are a cornucopia of photographic opportunities. There are lots of kids bouncing about, for sure, and princesses by the dozens riding herd on parade floats. I snapped a shot of a waving princess, Liliana Williams, who rode aboard the Sequim Irrigation Festival float.
Kitty Hall (Aug. 24, 2018)
A dour, mysterious gray and black-striped kitten played hard-to-get during “Kitty Hall,” a Kitsap Humane Society adoption event for kittens that drew curious City Hall employees and even a visit by the mayor.
The tragedy of suicide (June 15, 2018)
I decided to write a multi-part series of articles about the tragedy of suicide following the late-spring deaths of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, who both took their own lives. Kitsap County isn’t immune to this sad, baffling and complicated part of the human condition. I spoke with Kelly Schwab, program manager of the Crisis Clinic of the Peninsulas, about grim local statistics, which mirror the nation at large.
Christmas musings (Dec. 21, 2018)
The surprise EF-2 tornado knocked off the Dec. 21 front page a whimsical story and photos of the Christmas musings of four preschoolers from Adventureland Preschool. It’s really difficult NOT to capture cute photos of 4- or 5-year-old youngsters — and these little characters didn’t disappoint.
Remembering Katie (Oct. 12, 2018)
Remember Katie Phillips? Dozens of the people who worked with and were served by this vibrant woman certainly do, and they undoubtedly will always remember her. The Washington State Ferries employee was killed when she was struck by an impaired driver on her way home one early morning while helping a stranded motorist. Katie will be remembered after an October ceremony where a safety sign was unveiled in her memory at the place where she was killed.
And a year ago … the Nimitz returns home (Dec. 15, 2017)
While the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz returned home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton just in time for Christmas in December 2017, it’s worth a second look. The series of photos detailing the Nimitz homecoming won an award in the color photo essay competition in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association journalism contest. As part of the essay, I followed newlywed Holly Carlson and her family as they anxiously waited for her husband Nicolai to disembark on the gangway.
Holly graciously allowed this photographer’s peering lens to watch in (at a respectable distance) as she awaited her new husband’s arrival. When loudspeakers at dockside began playing Meghan Trainor’s Christmas song “I’ll Be Home,” tears began to flow for the new wife, a nurse at Madigan Medical Center — as they undoubtedly did for hundreds of others also awaiting a loved one’s arrival.
And as it happens at the end of all fairy tales, the newly reunited couple kissed and hugged at the bottom of the gangway. It was the end of a beautiful story — and an eventful year in photos in South Kitsap.