Valley News' Photographers Pick: Our Favorite Photographs
At home in Windsor in March, Katrina Petschke, left, dances with her daughter Shyann Isaacs, 8, while Tyler Petschke, 4, and Turtle Petschke, 3, run around the water toy that their mother bought for them.(Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
Brittney Bennett hugs her daughter, Haylee Kelly, 2, after a nap at the Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction in April after learning that Bennett’s 6-week-old daughter, Isabella Kelly, has Down syndrome. Bennett and her fiance had been living at the Haven for two months. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »
Paul Efstathiou shaves and showers next to his truck at his Windsor campsite in August. Efstathiou’s rented home was destroyed during Tropical Storm Irene. (Valley News - Jenna Schoenefeld) Purchase photo reprints »
Hoping to finish before sundown, Brian Stroffolino lays the flooring for a yurt in Hartland last October. Brian and his wife, Melissa, moved into their new home just six days later on new land that will be the home of Oak Wood Farm. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »
Dan Perry, 76, of Bradford, Vt., center, hits his ball to the green while playing a friendly game of golf with friends at the Bradford Golf Course in March. (Valley News - Theophil Syslo) Purchase photo reprints »
Valley News photographers Jennifer Hauck, Sarah Priestap, Jenna Schoenefeld, Theophil Syslo and Ryan Dorgan talk about the circumstances surrounding their favorite pictures of 2012.
Jennifer Hauck: This kind of assignment is what is important to me about being a photographer at the Valley News. It may not be my best image of the year, but it embodies what I try to do every day: Tell people’s stores. It’s that simple. In April, I spent about 12 hours at the Upper Valley Haven simply trying to show what a single day there is like. I witnessed people devoted to their families, enthusiastic staff members and volunteers and everyone working to make life better. The residents at the Haven were gracious, allowing me photograph them during hard times. The staff trusted me and gave me the freedom to interact with residents and clients. For a photographer looking to tell compelling stories, it was a perfect day.
Sarah Priestap: Unless you saw this picture when it ran in the first few months of 2012, you probably won’t believe that this was taken in March. For several days in a row that month, the East Coast saw record-breaking temperatures in the 80s, causing anxiety for skiers, farmers and environmentalists. For me, however, it made what is usually a difficult time for feature photographs much more interesting and exciting, as people were out starting their gardens, biking and — yes — pulling out the sprinkler to cool off. The combination of the evening light, the glee of the children, the water droplets (which soaked me completely, by the way), and the unusual weather make this photograph my favorite of the year.
Jenna Schoenefeld: I knew that, when I went to hang out with Paul Efstathiou, I would walk the unsteady ground up to his Windsor campsite, cameras in hand, and be greeted by someone with a smile on his face and a “Hey, how ya doing?” I knew he lived in a tent, alone, and I may be his only visitor. I may be the only person he talks to all day.
This picture is proof that an intimate story like this can be done only when the photographer and his or her subject trust each other. Whether Efstathiou was content or depressed, he nevertheless granted me access to his life and its most personal — and perhaps humbling — moments. It took a lot of bravery on his part to do that. I am thankful for his trust, and I am thankful to be reminded of the importance of that type of relationship, whether developed in an instant or over time, that is necessary for an honest picture.
Ryan Dorgan: Brian Stroffolino was dead tired when I made this picture. He’d been working for what seemed like an eternity to get his new home built before the snow fell. Sunrise to sunset, every day. Dead tired, but always reaching for the next fastener, and then the next and the next.
Stroffolino let me into his life for a few short months, and for that, I’m truly grateful. He and his wife, Melissa, put things in perspective. They showed me the importance of community, of giving all you have, of loving your neighbor and of working tirelessly to get to where you want to be.
Theophil Syslo: The Bradford (Vt.) Golf Course opened for the season on March 18, 2012 — earlier than most people can remember. I wanted to capture the whole environment of the course and stepped back to use a telephoto lens. It was a beautiful day, with the scent of spring in the air. A group of men were playing the course and I photographed them while walking around the pond. Now, every time I look at this photograph, I wish I was still running around Vermont — and that I knew how to play golf.
Editor’s note: The Valley News photo department can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.