BDN visual journalist Troy R. Bennett makes 5 photos a week with only a 50mm lens on his camera in his hometown of Portland, Maine.
I was stationed at Mike Michaud’s HQ in Portland on election night with my colleague Chris Cousins, an old friend and BDN political reporter. I’ve covered many election nights before. Mostly, it’s a lot of waiting. This time was no exception. Supporters milled around, anticipating the Mike’s appearance. Candidates usually only come out of seclusion to claim victory or concede defeat.
I sat down at my laptop to file early pictures of the scene just after the polls closed. I wasn’t worried about missing Mike because stagehands at the Port City Music Hall had a hung a movie screen in front of the podium and were projecting a TV broadcast. I’d have plenty or warning of Mike’s arrival because the’d have to drag the ladder back out and unhook the screen from the rafters first.
I had that in mind again when it was all over. Mike conceded. I shot pictures. I sat down to upload the images to my hungry editors in Bangor. But I kept the corner of my eye on the stage. I thought there was a chance the same stagehands would come out with their ladder and take down the big “I Like Mike” sign behind the podium.
I thought it’d make a good statement of the election night results, something T.S. Elliot or Earnest Hemingway would call an “objective correlative.” That is, something concrete, like workmen taking down a sign, that stands in for an emotion.
You see, Mike Michaud is pretty stoic and so were most of his supporters that night. Nobody cried or wailed or carried on. My pictures lacked clear, storytelling emotion. So, when I saw the ladder go up next to the sign, I grabbed my camera and made some pictures. I didn’t know the sign was made of two pieces until they split it in half and carried one away.
That was just luck.
– Troy R. Bennett
I can’t believe it’s been six months since I started at the Bangor Daily News as a visual journalist. Time sure does fly when you’re getting shipped off to different parts of the state.
To be honest I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first started here. I’ve been to Maine a few times, and to Bangor specifically, to visit friends, but didn’t know much more about it other than it gets cold in the winter.
To give a little back history of me, I grew up in Canfield, Ohio. The buckeye state. I went to school in Upstate New York at RIT (go Tigers!), then from there I’ve pretty much been a gypsy. I’ve lived in six states in six years. New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Vermont, and now Maine. Some of these places I’ve worked at newspapers, some I’ve freelanced or interned at, others I worked for photo related companies. All of them have allowed me to grow in some aspect of photography.
When I saw the opening at the BDN, I knew it would be a perfect fit. Maine seemed like a great place to explore more, and the staff really pushed how to present stories online.
Some of the assignments I’ve had are ones I would have never been able to cover had I not had this job. I’ve covered your daily assignments of press conferences and high school sports, but I’ve also been given the opportunities to cover national news and some really fun features.
I’ve been to the County more times than some people who have worked here for years have. My second month I was shipped up north for two weekends in August to cover the 2014 World Acadian Congress, a huge festival of Acadian and Cajun culture and history, held every five years. I was totally unfamiliar with Acadian culture, but dove right in and was able to learn so much.
Recently, I was sent up north again to cover the Kaci Hickox, Ebola quarantine story. This was my first time dealing with national news and the media that comes along with it. For four days I spent about 16 years each day staking out Ms. Hickox’s home with 40 other journalists to see what her next move would be. My photos ended up getting national play on Good Morning America, The New York Times, and various other publications. It’s really cool to see your hard work plastered everywhere.
But this isn’t why I got into this journalism. It wasn’t to have my photos go viral, or to hit huge publications. Instead, it’s to help tell the stories of the people of Maine.
A few of those assignments that stick out are Bangor police chief Don Winslow’s funeral, a special performance from the Bangor Band to honor Henry F. Watson, Saint George Greek Orthodox Church moving forward after their priest was arrested, independent logger Tom Pelkey whose business would be impacted from the Verso Paper mill closing, and Bob and Julie Miner who own and run DEW Animal Kingdom & Sanctuary.
All of these people opened their lives to me and allowed me access that many other people would never be able to have. I’ve seen communities come together to help each other out in times of need. I’ve seen the good in people, and I’ve seen the bad. I’ve held people’s hands when they’ve felt scared. I’ve hugged them. I’ve lent my shoulder for them to cry on. I’ve ran through sprinklers and shared meals with them. I’ve given away many high-fives and laughs and they’ve given them right back. I wouldn’t change a thing. I haven’t worked a day at this job yet.
I’m beyond stoked to meet more people as my journey at the BDN continues.
The Bangor Daily News visuals department presents “Collage”, a blog dedicated to Maine’s visual arts and journalism.
Everyday, staff photographers at the BDN produce compelling work to illustrate stories from around the state. “Collage” is a place to share our experiences, reflect on the state of photojournalism and display our beautiful imagery.
“Collage” is a resource for a community devoted to visual arts and a place to connect with our visual staff.