Year in Photos: Capturing the Moment

  • Rep. David Binford, R-Orford, left, stands outside the gym at Rivendell Academy as Wakame LittleJohn, middle, and Abdishakur Gure, right, members of the Winooski basketball team, walk to the locker room following their playoff win in Orford, N.H. Wednesday, March 1, 2017. Binford, a girls softball coach at the school and an Army veteran, said the school asked him to provide security for the game. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Valley News staff photographers and interns are sharing the stories behind their favorite photographs of the year. More of their favorites can be seen in Photo Galleries. James M. Patterson shares his pick below.

This is not my favorite photo I have taken this year for the Valley News. Far from it. The picture lacks moment, composition and quality of light, elements that often serve to catch viewers' attention, provide insight into a story and compel them to read more.

Rather, it is a simple document of elements that came together at a post-season basketball game at Rivendell Academy in early March. But it has stuck in my mind through the year.

I was running late, and as I jogged toward the school from a distant parking space, I saw a man in a tactical vest, with a pistol in a holster, telling another driver not to park in a drop-off zone near the school. The lack of a law enforcement badge and his military style of dress made me pause as I continued into the school.

Stepping into the gym I was met with another uncommon sight in our region, not known for its diversity. The Rivendell Academy boys basketball team was playing a predominantly black Winooski, Vt., team.

Winooski has a large population of refugees resettled from African countries. Given President Donald Trump's travel ban on immigrants from seven countries, including Somalia and Sudan, early in the year; a new law that had just been enacted that made it legal to carry a concealed weapon in New Hampshire without a permit; and the increased political tension since Trump's candidacy and election, I found it hard to focus on the game, an important playoff contest for both teams.

At halftime I sought out the man in the vest and learned he was state Rep. David Binford, R-Orford. His daughters attended Rivendell, where he was a softball coach. He is a veteran, having served with the Army in Afghanistan in 2010-11 and in the Air Force during Desert Storm.

Because of the crowd expected for a playoff game, Binford was asked to serve as extra security, helping out an Orford police officer. But it was a surprise to school administration when he showed up at the game armed.

My colleague Jordan Cuddemi followed up with a report about the nuances of gun laws Vermont and New Hampshire and how Binford's appearance at the game prompted the Rivendell Interstate School District to draft a clearer policy stating that only uniformed police are to provide security at athletic events.

In the months since it was taken, I have thought carefully about the juxtaposition in this photo and how it came about. I think of the challenges of processing visual information, making judgments, and challenging my own assumptions while trying to capture images that accurately portray events around the communities of the Upper Valley. This picture may not be my favorite, but it is likely the most important time this year that I put the camera to my eye.

—  James M. Patterson