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December 31, 2012

Photos of the Year by Jim Vaiknoras

One of the best parts of my job is taking photos in the elementary schools. The kids are so expressive. Even when involved in what might seem like a mundane task, they bring a joy and exuberance that is, unfortunately, lessened as they get older. When I visited Manchester Memorial Elementary School to cover a performance by Wampanoag Singers and Dancers, however, that notion flew out the window as dancer Danielle Hill and school Principal John Willis joined pinky fingers and performed the mosquito dance with the energy and joy of a first-grader.

It’s easy to forget that we didn’t always have cellphones, but without one, I don’t think I would have been able to coordinate this summer shoot with the crew of the schooner Thomas E. Lannan. The plan was for me to be positioned at the end of the breakwater at Eastern Point and photograph her as she sailed around the harbor at sunset. Driving to get there through Gloucester, though, I ran into some traffic and got there a few minutes too late. Or so I thought. I shot a few good photos, but was a little disappointed that I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. Then my cellphone rang. It was the captain of the Lannan asking if I wanted him to make another pass by me. I got better photos than I could have hoped for. As I was leaving, a couple who had seen me jogging down the breakwater to catch up with the boat said, “Lucky break, them turning around.” I pulled out my phone and told them it wasn’t lucky at all.

Sometimes things happen so very quickly, in the blink of an eye. On a warm August evening as I was getting ready to head home from work, I decided to take a ride by Good Harbor Beach to take advantage of the evening light. As I walked on the beach I noticed a group of people playing football farther down. Between that group and me there was another group playing Frisbee; I had already decided to photograph the football players. As I walked around the Frisbee players, I caught a sign of movement out of the corner of my eye. Without even thinking, I instinctively and swiftly turned, knelt on the sand, took exactly four frames of what I saw, wrote down the man’s name and continued on down the beach where I photographed the family playing football.

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