Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ferguson, revisited.

By now you’ve seen a million photos from Ferguson. Most of them are more dramatic, emotive, profound, or better-toned than these. Many of us rushed to Florissant Ave. with our body armor, gas masks, and kevlar helmets…but none of us had all the facts. Yes, this is the nature of breaking news, but the story in Ferguson fit the narrative perfectly. It affirmed the presuppositions of so many. I sometimes fear the media horde that descended upon Ferguson did more harm than good. But at the end of the day, I’m just a lowly freelancer, and I don’t have the answer. Hopefully it can be said that I didn’t take sides, I took pictures.

Ferguson Protests

Surrounded by dozens and dozens of media, Officers from the St. Louis County Police tactical unit detain an unruly demonstrator during a protest over the police shooting death of teenager Michael Brown earlier in the week in Ferguson, Missouri, U.S. on Tuesday, August 19, 2014. Despite making several arrests police forces did not deploy tear gas as in nights past. Luke Sharrett for Bloomberg News


Thursday, January 8, 2015

States In Play for The New York Times

As a freelancer, I don't usually travel too far beyond the borders of my beloved home state of Kentucky. However, this fall The New York Times enlisted me to work on a project called States In Play. From August through October I was able to travel to six states in four timezones. The midterm races in these state were too close to call, making them battlegrounds in the year-long struggle for political control of the U.S. Senate. Instead of focusing on the individual candidates and their campaigns, each story examined a long-term cultural or economic issue that influenced local voters in 2014. Thank you to The New York Times for the assignment and sincerest gratitude to my dear wife Elizabeth for caring for our infant son during my absence.


An old Alaska Railroad car sits on a stub track in Anchorage, Ak. on Friday, September 26, 2014. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Made in America - Part II

Below are a handful of photographs I made during Bloomberg News assignments earlier in the year. My travels took me to farms, distilleries, breweries, and grocery stores to name a few. It's always a fun time learning where things come from. Here's Part One.

Pig A Hampshire pig belonging to organic farmer Will Meurer of Wholesome Living Farm is pictured in its pen at an old dairy farm in Winchester, Kentucky, U.S. on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. Meurer raises organic chickens, hogs, and grass fed beef to sell to local restaurants. Luke Sharrett for Bloomberg


Monday, December 1, 2014

Troop Returns for Getty Images

As the Pentagon continues to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan, Kentucky's two major Army Posts have seen thousands of troops return home to their friends and families. Over the past year I've been able to cover a handful of military homecomings for Getty Images at both Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. While most homecoming ceremonies follow the same script, witnessing all of the smiles, tears, and hugs between reunited families never get old.

Sgt. John Tejeda of the U.S. Army's Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, embraces his wife Yahaira Tejeda following a homecoming ceremony at Fort Campbell, Ky. on Friday, March 21, 2014. About 60 soldiers returned to Fort Campbell after a nine-month combat deployment providing artillery and mortar support for coalition forces in Afghanistan. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jim Beam for Getty Images

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to tour the Jim Beam Bourbon Distillery in Clermont, Ky. for Getty Images. The smell of sour mash permeates the manicured distillery grounds and the vintage architecture is a wonderful compliment to a distilling process that has not changed in a hundred years.

Barrels of Knob Creek Single Barrel Bourbon sit on a flatbed truck after being drained at the Jim Beam Bourbon Distillery on Monday, January 13, 2014 in Clermont, Ky. Japanese company Suntory Holdings acquired Beam Inc. for $13.6 Billion in a deal announced Monday. Beam is the owner of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon brands and was purchased at $83.50 per share. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)


Headstones of the Section 60

This month I made my annual pilgrimage to Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery. With my wife and our boy Truman in tow, we walked through the cemetery on Veterans day with our good friends Lindsey and Tony, both veterans themselves. We paid a visit to the grave of my cousin Dave, the men of Extortion 17, and the rest of the dead from our most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I spent about two hours strolling through the headstones. Reflecting. Remembering. Trying to reconcile the feelings of sorrow and pride inside me. Thank you for looking and honoring the lives of these men and women. See also, Part One and Part Two of this series.

SGT Aaron Xavier Wittman
Army - January 10, 2013 - Afghanistan


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Tale of Two Derbys

This year I covered the 140th Kentucky Derby for Bloomberg News. It was an enjoyable change of pace to focus on the business side of things. As I wandered Churchill Downs for two days something struck me. From the ultra rich to the indebted gambling addict, all types turn out for the big day. It’s quintessential Kentucky. Horses, betting, big hats and bourbon. From the billionaires on the grandstand balcony, to the common man packed in the sweaty infield, there’s a place for everyone. Take a quick stroll under the grandstand on Derby morning and you’re sure to brush shoulders with horse lovers, socialites, racing fans, gamblers, millionaires, revelers, curious culture seekers, and drunk college students. Indeed, the Kentucky Derby is a curious cross-section of class and culture. Below are some photos from Derby weekend in diptych form.

Racegoers wear Derby hats at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Appalachia for The Washington Post

Earlier this year I traveled to Appalachia to photograph the effect of The Affordable Care Act/Obamacare on residents of Breathitt County in Eastern Kentucky. Most of the people I encountered received coverage under the medicaid expansion portion of Obamamcare. Like much of Appalachia, Breathitt County has suffered from the decline of the coal industry in addition to the nationwide economic downturn.

Uninsured individuals seek coverage through The Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," in Appalachia
Jeff Fletcher, 52, smokes a cigarette alongside his dogs Snoopy (left) and Walter (right) after standing for portrait near his mobile home on Thursday, November 21, 2013 in Jackson, Ky. Fletcher, an uninsured resident of Breathitt County, was able to enroll in the Affordable Care Act earlier in the day through Kentucky's health exchange. Luke Sharrett for The Washington Post


Food Stamps for The New York Times

Last summer I spent a few days photographing food stamp recipients and visiting a local food bank in the Western Tennessee town of Dyersburg. The number of citizens on public assistance has swelled in recent years due to the recession and sluggish economic rebound. Cuts to the food stamp program have been floated as the nation's lawmakers in Congress struggle to strike a balance between domestic spending and the debt. 

Food stamp recipient Tarnisha Adams sits with her granddaughter Callee in Dyersburg, Tenn. on Thursday, August 15, 2013. Adams, who is trying to feed and pay her three boys’ way through community college, lost her job as a rump skinner in a hog rendering plant after finding out she was seriously ill with heart, lung, and kidney problems. That evening she prepared a large pasta dish for dinner in hopes that it would feed her family for the next 3 days. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times


Public Defenders for The New York Times

In January I traveled to Missouri and spent a day shadowing the Public Defenders office of the St. Louis County Justice Department. Most public defense lawyers are notoriously overworked and underpaid in relation to their colleagues in the private sector. Those that I met in St. Louis were no exception. Already averaging around 10 different hearings per day, public defenders in St. Louis are worried they don't have the proper time and resources to devote to each case.

Case files belonging to Public Defender Warren Popp are pictured before a probation hearing in the court room of the Hon. Michael T. Jamison of the 21st Judicial Circuit Court at the the St. Louis County Court Building in St. Louis, Mo. on Thursday, January 23, 2014. Public defenders in St. Louis are struggling to keep up with mounting case loads. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.