2011 OWH year in pictures — Matt Miller

Photo showcase: 2011 OWH Year in Pictures — Matt Miller

I started at The World-Herald in 2002. Since that time, I’ve had the luxury of meeting many very unique people and have covered most of the big events in the state, though the Aksarben Ball hasn’t been checked off that list yet. The downside of this has been redundancy. It’s hard to feel like I’m pushing any creative boundaries and also doing a good job of covering the event. As I went through thousands of images to narrow down my favorites, I did notice a pattern. From these events, such as state swimming and wrestling, Husker football games and soldier homecomings, some unique faces popped up to make unusual photos.

 

Creighton Prep's William Raynor gets his teammates pumped up before he swims the anchor leg of the boys 400-yard freestyle relay during the state swimming and diving championships at the Devaney Center in Lincoln on Feb. 26, 2011.

 

Omaha Northwest's Elijah Smith contemplates his performance after a loss at the state wrestling championships at Qwest Center Omaha on Feb. 17, 2011. Smith won his first-round match but was pinned by the top seed, Grand Island's Jeffery Brisbin.

 

With flags in hand, Omaha's Trudy Perrone waits for her son, Command Sgt. Philip Perrone. Approximately 275 Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers were welcomed back to Nebraska during a ceremony at Seacrest Field in Lincoln on June 11, 2011.

 

The other side of the perspective is from a week I spent in Haiti covering Habitat for Humanity volunteers building homes. The week was unlike any other assignment I have had at the paper.

 

Irving Hall, 78, from Albuquerque, N.M., doesn't let his age stop him from working all day long in the heat. About 400 Habitat for Humanity volunteers joined former President Jimmy Carter for the 28th annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project to build homes in Léogâne, Haiti. The town, located 18 miles from Port-au-Prince, is considered the epicenter of the January 2010 earthquake.

 

Sister Mary Assumpta prays at an altar on the side of the sanctuary at St. Patrick School. Opportunity Education Foundation, founded by TD Ameritrade's Joe Ricketts, works with more than 1,000 schools in Africa and Asia and provides supplies. Six school administrators from Africa visited the school in Elkhorn on June 22, 2011.

 

Because photographers don’t really have “beats,” the time from August to July is full of many night and weekend shifts. Sporting events rarely happen between 9 and 5 on the weekdays, and spot news can happen at any time, although it usually feels like it happens right at the end of a shift or in the middle of the night. Usually, the summer is spent taking vacations and getting caught up with our lives. This summer was far different. Most days of the week were filled with long shifts in the heat and water. Luckily, for most of us, our homes were unaffected by the summer storms and flooding. We could go home after our coverage or shift was over, unlike many of the people we photographed.

 

Since Highway 12 east of Niobrara is closed because of Missouri River flooding, Jeff Barta kayaks to a vehicle parked at the Chief Standing Bear Memorial Bridge on July 8, 2011. Barta works at 6 a.m. in at the state prison in Springfield, S.D., and leaves home at about 4:30 a.m.

Dogs and their owners, including 7-month-old Braque du Bourbonnais sisters Sassy, left, and Cinder were participating in a parade at the Pheasants Forever National Pheasant Fest 2011 at the Qwest Center Omaha.

 

And finally, the last couple pictures just illustrate how different the same event can look.

 

NU head coach Bo Pelini leads the Huskers on to the field against the Washington Huskies at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln on Sept 17, 2011.

John Jeffers takes the field before Ogallala's homecoming football game against Gordon-Rushville on Sept. 23, 2011.

Postscript: I put this post together before the end of the year so it would be ready to go at the start of 2012. But I took some photos at the end of the year that I wanted to share. I spent Christmas Eve/Christmas Day at the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. For many, Christmas is spent with family and friends, but not everyone is so lucky.

 

Kale Golden, who is nearly 3 months old, has a holiday-themed blanket and outfit, courtesy of families who donated the items for all the patients. Children spent Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at the PICU at Children's Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha on Dec. 24 and 25, 2011.

 

Early on Christmas morning, one family decided their son had endured enough. They took him off life support and he died at 2:21 a.m. He had been in the PICU for nine months, nearly his entire life. After he died, a few nurses gently bathed him and wrapped him up. Someone was always in his room until they took his body to the morgue.

Erin Muth, a registered nurse on the transport team, makes sure Eddison Wallingford isn't left alone in the room after he died at 2:21 a.m.

 

Although it was a terribly sad morning, I was left with a great deal of respect for all of the people who work in the unit, but especially for charge nurse Tiffany Simon. I appreciated her dry sense of humor. She has a no-nonsense approach most of the time, but the tenderness she showed for the children and families, especially when events became the most raw and challenging, was impressive. I don’t know how she has worked in the unit for more than nine years (the average tenure is two), but every family who goes through the PICU is slightly better off because Tiffany, and people like her, work there.

Charge nurse Tiffany Simon strokes 9-month-old Eddison Wallingford as they prepare to take him off life support.

About Matt Miller

I’ve been shooting Cornhuskers, cowboys and common folks at the Omaha World-Herald since September 2002. I was lucky enough to catch the end of the Tom Osborne era while in college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Any day I get to spend in Nebraska's Sandhills is a good day. If nice light and people (a rare sight in western Nebraska) are tossed into the mix, it’s even better. Shooting photos for the World-Herald offers several challenges: the repetition of sporting events, handling my own feelings at emotional events like shootings and funerals, and handling the wide range of weather we cover in the Great Plains. I’d be happy to share more, but you’ll have to buy me a drink, first. You can see a larger selection of my work at my website.
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