Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

Drag queen Shela Magana, 28, strikes a pose onstage at Esta Noche, the only Latino gay club in San Francisco. Magana, originally from Mechoacan, Mexico, immigrated to San Francisco in 2000 and immediately fell in love with the beauty of the city.


"Famous Wayne," 56, takes a break from shining shoes on Market Street in San Francisco, where he has been working for the last 35 years. Wayne, a local celebrity, moved from Ethiopia to the United States when he was only a few months old to be with his father, who was in the Marines.


Nancy Pomchan, 62, sits in Ross Alley just outside the doors of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco, where she has been working as assistant manager since 1980. Pomchan, originally from China, came to the United States to "find a better life."


Mouhamadou "Jammin'" Diob, 30, rides the Muni on his way to work in San Francisco. Diob, an African drummer, moved with his wife from Senegal, West Africa, to San Francisco to pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician. "It's a lot of work to make it happen, but if you make it happen, it's alright."


Carlos Arteaga, 24, assistant manager of Mission Market Fish & Poultry in San Francisco, poses for a portrait with a fresh salmon prior to the filleting process. As a result of Arteaga becoming ill as a child, his mother moved him to the United States from Chalatenango, El Salvador, to receive proper medical care. "I just remember being in a car, and then we stopped at a cherry stand. That was the best food I'd had up to that point."


John Davis, 76, stands on the dock in Aquatic Park before swimming in San Francisco Bay. Originally from London, England, Davis moved to San Francisco in 1963 and immediately fell in love. "You just get the feeling that nothing is impossible here, like you really can do anything."


Era Osibe, 62, stretches on the dock in Aquatic Park before swimming in San Francisco Bay. Era moved to the United States from Tehran, Iran, in her early 20s. In 1977, she joined the Aquatic Park Dolphin Club swimming group, claiming fame for being one of its first female members.


World War II veteran Zinoviy Simkovich, 101, stands in the hallway of the Jewish Home of San Francisco, where he resides. Simkovich came to the United States from Kharkov, Ukraine, in 2000 to be with his two daughters.


Naoki Onodera, 32, sits amid piles of donations at the Community Thrift Store on Valencia Street in San Francisco. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Onodera immigrated to the United States when he was 23 to see more of the world. "When I first arrived in the U.S., it was Independence Day," Onodera said. "It was a really sunny, bright day, and everyone was drunk walking on the street. I was pretty impressed."


Wing Ken Young, 90, poses for a portrait on Grant Street in San Francisco. Young immigrated from southern China to the United States in 1981 to enjoy his retirement after many years of working in construction.


Vaughn Osmond Nixon, 59, manager of Duggan's Funeral Service in San Francisco, poses for a portrait in the funeral home chapel. Nixon moved from Grenada to the United States in 1976 to enroll in the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science, where his two brothers also attended. When recalling his first day in the United States, Nixon described, "It was a Tuesday afternoon and 64 degrees. That's the coldest I had ever been in my life."


Estrella Dezaday, 65, takes a break from housekeeping at the Palace Hotel on New Montgomery Street in San Francisco. Dezaday moved from the Philippines to the United States in 1980 to find work. "My first memory in the United States is riding on a roller coaster at Disneyland."


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Surviving the Hearst National Championship

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Surviving the Hearst National Championship

Every June, college journalists gather in San Francisco to compete in the Hearst National Championship, a competition that tests photography, writing, radio, television and multimedia skills. Participants are given a short period of time, 48 hours, to produce a story on a topic that may or may not be of their choosing. There is pressure to find a decent story quickly and edit effectively. Two Los Angeles Times interns, Susannah Kay and Julia Wall, competed this year, winning first and second place in photography and multimedia respectively. They describe their experiences:

Susannah Kay:

Having grown up just outside of San Francisco, I’d always assumed I knew the city fairly well. After all, I’ve toured Alcatraz, walked the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset and, most important, consumed clam chowder in a bread bowl amid a group of sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf. When I was told to produce a photo series on “immigrants of San Francisco” in less than 48 hours, however, I realized I did not know the city as well as I thought I did. Let me preface this by explaining how and why I found myself in this situation.

In November 2012, I entered eight of my photographs into the news and feature category of the Hearst Photojournalism semifinals. I, along with five other students, were chosen out of 163 submissions from 63 universities to attend the championships in San Francisco on June 3-7, where we competed in an intense “shoot-out” around the city. We were told to create a photo series on immigrants of San Francisco and had a week to research before the start of the competition. As I began brainstorming, I knew I wanted to produce something that would surprise the three judges — Sue Morrow of the Sacramento Bee, Steve Gonzales of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco freelance photographer Jakub Mosur. I also knew in a tight-deadline situation, I needed to play to my strengths. I have always loved environmental portraiture and felt doing a portrait series on immigrants, each from a different country, would be enjoyable to produce and would ideally stand out among the other submissions. After speaking with a few individuals I felt would be great subjects for my series, I decided to follow through with my plan. Over the course of two days, I had the great fortune of meeting and documenting a drag queen from Mexico, a shoe shiner from Ethiopia and a housekeeper from the Philippines, among others. It was so incredible to delve into a side of San Francisco I had not seen before.

I am not used to taking risks under pressure as I did when choosing to do a portrait series in a competition where picture stories on individuals and families have most commonly seen success. I doubted myself and my abilities more than once during the week. When I was awarded first place on the last day of the competition, however, the risk became well worth it.

I’ve never been one to measure my success based on the number of awards received or competitions won. More important are the invaluable opportunities that competitions like the Hearst National Championships provide to learn and grow among amazingly talented student and professional journalists.

Julia Wall:

The month of May started off with a bang.  I was preparing to graduate, move across the country and settle in to a place I had  seen only in movies. I was cruising along, trying to cherish every moment of the end of my college career when I found out I’d be one of five videographers joining a load of journalism students from across the country in the Hearst National Championship held in San Francisco (another place I’d seen only in movies).  I had no idea what to think, what to expect or even what to wear.

We were given an assignment to be completed over the course of about 60 hours. One week before we arrived in San Francisco, we were told to document what we thought could be interpreted as “the real San Francisco.”  I made call after call and got redirected and denied.  I was looking for anything and finding nothing.  It came down to the wire, two days before the competition, when my new friend and colleague, Susannah Kay, so graciously gave me a lead on a story.  I made one more phone call, and the next thing I know, I’m walking into the only successfully unionized, worker-owned-and-operated peep show in the country, Lusty Lady Theater.  There I met Courtney Crimson and Andi Baker, two people I came to know and respect for their determination, their free spirits and their love for each other.  In a short period of time, I learned a lot from them.  I can’t thank them enough for letting me into their lives for a day, and I can’t thank Susannah enough for introducing us.

As the competition came to a close, the multimedia group became a team. We forgot about competing and did what we could to help everyone meet the deadline.  It was an absolute honor and privilege to be able to participate in the Hearst National Championship.  I got to know my subjects and learned from them.  I had the chance to work side by side with some of the best young minds in visual journalism.  I discussed life goals and my work with the kind, respectable judges, and I had a fantastic week in San Francisco that I’ll never forget.


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