Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

I had never experienced "Black Friday" first-hand before photographing the madness last night and this morning for the Marin IJ. I guess I've always been the type of person who never really saw the need to go and camp out at 4 in the morning to buy something.
This year was a bit different for most companies. A group decided to open either on Thanksgiving night or right at the stroke of midnight on Friday. Best Buy was one of the big chains who had a line hundreds deep sneaking almost to the street in San Rafael.
Toys-R-Us has a jump on the competition letting in its first customers after 9 pm.The lines quickly grew long...
And the confusion for the shoppers only grew larger as they tried to find the great deals in the store.In Novato, Jennifer Abarca, 19, and her goddaughter Jennifer Lopez stood first in line since 2 pm on Thursday to buy a 46" inch LCD TV for $298 dollars at Target in Novato, Calif.
She wasn't the only one who had that idea.
Soon lines were crazy also at Target...
And traffic jams were common in the aisles.
While some celebrated getting the item they wanted...others were exhausted, as were Marco DeLa Rosa and Isela Hernandez after shopping at Kohls.
Some stores stuck to traditional early Black Friday openings. 11 year-old Andrea Cruz (center) smiles after she rubbed off a $300 dollar gift certificate to H&M while waiting in line for the store's 4 AM Black Friday sale opening at the Northgate shopping center. She was cheered on by her friends for her lucky find.
So all in all I can understand why people do it. It can be a lot of fun. You can get some great deals but its a completely overwhelming experience. Now would I do it again on my own if I was not on assignment? That's the question. You can read the Marin IJ article here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

MLS Cup - Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Houston Dynamo

It was raw; it was rainy; it was fun. The championship was on the line and the fans were ready despite the crappy weather.
The growth of the supporters movement of MLS was on display during the MLS Cup final. As an impartial fan (well as a Metro fan, which by default makes me completely impartial) I was impressed with the passion of the Dynamo and Galaxy fans who gave it their all to support their clubs.
The Dynamo fans, a group of four different supporters organizations, held a tailgate before the game in Lot 18. Some had spent 26 hours on a bus ride from Houston to make it to the game. One fan even brought a Chucky doll dressed in a Dynamo jersey as a mascot of sorts.
Right before the march into the stadium someone lit a flare and the Dynamo chants started up.
And even Chucky got into the party atmosphere.In the first half I was with the Angel City Brigade, one of the supporters groups for the Galaxy. They had a huge TIFO display before the match.

And right before the start of the game the fans threw a bunch of streamers everywhere.
And even gave a body surf to the Galaxy mascot.
Even despite the horrible weather and rainfall the fans were urged on to cheer on the Galaxy.The tight affair was 0-0 at halftime.
In the second half I started it with the Houston fans. The passion was everywhere...
The brass band sounded amazing...
And Chucky made another appearance.
But LA scored a goal in the 72nd minute...

And soon the Galaxy fans were cheering their club's 3rd MLS Cup title.The LA Riot Squad fans, another supporters group, cheered like crazy.
And celebrated their expected win...
And the team players showed their appreciation bringing over the MLS Cup for them to celebrate with as well.

It was great to see the Galaxy fans and Dynamo fans bringing their passion to the game. It was an amazing setting and great to see. Looking forward to traveling and seeing a lot more of the supporter sections all around the MLS next season!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy SF - Takeover of Bank of America

Sometimes you can't avoid the news...which is what happened to me this past Wednesday. I had finished an earlier shoot and was getting my tires changed near the State building in San Francisco when the Occupy SF protest walked right into me.
Luckily I had my cameras with me so I jumped right into the fray and took photographs...
A lot of the protesters were UC students protesting more proposed cuts to the UC School Systems...
The speakers were angry...

and wanted change...
And I learned from there that some of the protesters had taken over a Bank of America downtown...
I actually thought I had finished up my shooting and was running one more errand dropping off some mail when I ran into the street blockage outside the B of A that had been "Occupied".

Police stood guard outside...
As they arrested the protesters one by one...
Inside they had pitched a tent, to symbolically "Occupy" the bank...
In the end the police pushed the viewers back from the glass windows...

And arrested protesters in the tent..

And too the tent down to end the Occupation. I wish I always had this luck running into news this way. Guess it just proves the point my old Photojournalism instructor would say. Always carry your camera with you. You never know what you are going to see.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Oakland General Strike

Yesterday I witnessed one of the most remarkable events. A group of thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters (estimates of the crowd ranged from 7,000-20,000) literally shut down a large part of a downtown Oakland and the Port of Oakland.The impetus of the strike was the brutal crackdown on the Occupy Oakland protesters camp in Frank Ogawa plaza in downtown Oakland last week. The protesters there had come out in support of the Occupy Wall Street protests that started a month and a half ago in New York City against social inequality in American society.
Over the past week the camp had returned and the protesters had called for a general strike for the city of Oakland to protest the police action.
During the day protesters walked through the streets of downtown Oakland. Large national bank branches were a particular target of protesters.......especially Bank of America. At least one of their branches was vandalized.
But for the most part the thousands of protesters were peacefully assembled in their plan to shut down the city and then march to the Port of Oakland to disrupt the shipping at the 5th largest port in the United States.
After a rally in Frank Ogawa plaza that included a performance from the SF Mime Troupe......protesters walked from Downtown Oakland to the port.
Residents watched the march...

And some held signs in support of the protesters.
When the protest arrived at the port it was a site to behold.The marchers had literally stopped all the commerce of the port.
People climbed on top of tractor-trailer trucks...
...waving flags.
They also climbed nearby train signal structures as well.

Most drivers took the scene in calmly.
There were some drivers that were upset that they couldn't finish their job and return home..
And as night fell the protesters called a meeting known as a General Assembly to try and continue the blockade of the port. Ultimately the stoppage only lasted until the morning and overnight a group of violent protesters broke off and had an altercation with the police in downtown Oakland. But it was interesting to see what thousands of people working together for a common cause could achieve.