2014 Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography

William Widmer - Pine Bluff Arkansas

The Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography (MPS Fund) was created by the New Orleans Photo Alliance to honor the life and work of Michael P. Smith, one of New Orleans’ most legendary and beloved documentary photographers. My friend Brandon Thibodeaux won this year’s $5000 award judged by Michael Famighetti, editor of Aperture Magazine. Brandon’s series When Morning Comes is a delicate and beautiful body of work from the Mississippi Delta, and he couldn’t be more deserving of the award.

I was proud to be named as one of five finalists for this year’s award for Postcards from Pine Bluff, a project I plan to continue shooting up in Arkansas over the course of this next year. Check the awards page for the other great projects that received mention and be sure to dig into Brandon’s work, too.

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Read more.. Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Relativity Media for Variety Magazine

Last month Variety Magazine commissioned me to photograph Ryan Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley, the Founder/CEO and President of Relativity Media, respectively. Relativity is a full-scale film production studio based in Los Angeles, and Kavanaugh and Tooley flew in from the West Coast (and then straight back again) to meet me on the set of “The Best of Me”, a feature film currently in production in South Louisiana starring James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan.

This was a ‘hurry up and wait’ shoot — we didn’t end up starting until dusk and couldn’t use lights since we were on an active film set, but they were great to work with and Variety is running several pictures in the current issue as part of a tenth anniversary feature on Relativity. I’m not quite sure about the storyline of “The Best of Me”, but the scene they were shooting that night involved trains and guns and pickup trucks, so at least they’re covering the bases…

Variety : Relativity Media Celebrates 10th Anniversary and Q&A: Relativity President Tucker Tooley

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Read more.. Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Four Years After the Spill – April 2014

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20th, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. It claimed eleven lives and is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. States along the Gulf Coast are still reeling from its aftermath — In Louisiana alone, 4.6 million pounds of oily material was removed from the beaches in 2013, over double the amount collected in 2012. The mess is definitely still out there.

In 2011, I worked on a New York Times story that explored the low yields reported by Louisiana shrimpers: Gulf Shrimp Are Scarce This Season; Answers, Too (peep the slideshow)

This past month, I was able to follow up on the legacy of the BP spill with two different assignments. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal took different approaches and pegged both stories to the fourth anniversary on April 20th. Following are some of my favorite images from both shoots. One of them ended up on the cover of last Sunday’s NYT, which is always pretty cool.

New York Times: How a Gulf Settlement That BP Once Hailed Became Its Target

Wall Street Journal: BP Spill Fines Pay for Inland Cleanup

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Read more.. Friday, May 2nd, 2014