Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kentucky's Leaves of Gold

Kentucky is a state with a rich agricultural heritage. Since it's founding in June of 1792, the Commonwealth's vast natural resources have supported everything from the world's finest bourbon distilleries to champion thoroughbred racehorses. This fall I was able to explore Kentucky's rich tradition of tobacco farming. I was captivated by the beauty of the leaves and fascinated by the traditional harvest and curing processes that have remained unchanged for centuries. I was also blown away by the work ethic of the migrant workers who performed the heavy labor of the harvest. Special thanks to local farmer Ray Tucker for allowing me unfettered access to his fields and tobacco barns.

Migrant worker Victor Parra of Mexico cuts Burley tobacco grown by Tucker Farms in Finchville, Ky. before hanging the leaves in barns to begin their six week curing process on the morning of Monday, September 9, 2013. The migrant workers participate in the U.S. Department of Labor's H-2A temporary agricultural program which allows agricultural employers to hire temporary help for seasonal work. Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images


Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Lost Boys - Jacob Mach

Earlier this year I began work on a long-term assignment for The New York Times Magazine. Over the course of a few months I got to know Jacob Mach, a Sudanese refugee who had settled in Atlanta, Ga. in 2001. Jacob is one of “The Lost Boys” who fled the Sudanese Civil War in the 1990’s. He and a group of boys from his village escaped genocide by fleeing into the African bush with little more than the clothes on their backs. Those who survived being chased by rebel fighters, crocodiles, and lions settled in a Kenyan refugee camp for the next ten years. Along with nearly 3,000 other lost boys, Jacob resettled in The United States through a State Department program. After gaining American citizenship and completing his undergrad in criminal justice at Georgia State, Jacob set out to become the first Lost Boy to work as a Law Enforcement Officer in the United States. It was amazing to witness Jacob's determination and faith in Jesus that allowed him to overcome the obstacles and setbacks along his journey in America. Read the story and watch the documentary here.

Sudanese Lost Boy Jacob Mach sits for a portrait on the front steps of his Habitat for Humanity house in Southeast Atlanta, Ga. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times Magazine


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Coming Home - Fort Knox

Last month I covered the return of 250 soldiers from Afghanistan to Fort Knox, Ky. for Getty Images. Troop returns are a lot of fun to photograph, though capturing the fleeting moments and gathering accurate caption information can be hectic and stressful as a photojournalist. There's something about seeing soldiers return from war and reunite with their families that resonates deeply inside me. Witnessing so many joyous reunions in a short period of time often causes tears of my own to well up and block my viewfinder. Still, I feel a tinge of sadness in my heart as I long for the reunion I never had with my cousin, Pfc. David H. Sharrett. Welcome home, troops.

Rachel Wolfston and her 2-year-old daughter Alexia wait to greet Spc. Joshua Wilson of the U.S. Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, during a homecoming ceremony in the Natcher Physical Fitness Center on Fort Knox in the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 20, 2013 in Fort Knox, Ky. About 250 soldiers from 3rd Brigade returned to Fort Knox after a nine-month combat deployment working alongside Afghan military and police forces in Afghanistan's Zabul Province. (Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)


Monday, December 23, 2013

Mike Yastrzemski for The New York Times

Earlier this year I photographed Vanderbilt University right fielder Mike Yastrzemski (#18) in Nashville before a home game. Mike (grandson of famous Boston Red Sox player Carl Yastrzemski) has been a standout player for Vandy for the last couple years and has good MLB draft prospects. Mike was great to shoot and really seemed like a pillar of the team. For more on Mike and the baseball heritage of the Yastrzemski family check out the story by Tyler Kepner of The New York Times here.

Vanderbilt senior right fielder Mike Yastrzemski (#18), grandson of Boston Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, walks to batting practice before playing with the Vanderbilt Commodores against Presbyterian in Nashville, Tenn. on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. Vandy won 5-2. Luke Sharrett for The New York Times


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Route 66

Last week I drove 125 miles of historic Route 66 between Williams and Holbrook, Arizona. Retracing what's left of "The Mother Road," the iconic 2400 mile highway that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles, was a mixed bag of emotions. By the mid-eighties nearly all of the towns along Route 66 in Arizona had been bypassed by Interstate 40. Many of the bypassed towns have withered severely over the years. I only had a few hours this trip, but I could spend a week on Route 66 in Arizona alone. The road is rich with history and stories of a bygone era. Many great photographers have captured this strip of road in the past, but here's my humble contribution to telling the story of America's highway. Thanks are due to my dear wife for graciously letting me take a day of our vacation to shoot these photos.


Wigwam Village Motel #6 - Holbrook, Ariz.