Darrell Hoemann takes a fond look back
Longtime News-Gazette photo editor Darrell Hoemann is retiring, and we asked him to take a photographic look back at his career. Here is how he approached it:
"It was a challenge when features editor Tony Mancuso asked for a selection of my favorite photos from my 25 years at the N-G. This is a project I'm just not very good at. I've always had trouble with contests because they require you to look back at what has been done. What was next has always interested me more.
"Nevertheless, here are some moments that stand out for me. I've probably missed some, and there is an unnatural bias because I was balancing the managing part of my job with filling in by covering local cultural events and other news."
"One career highlight was covering the 2003 Nobel prize ceremonies with reporter Greg Kline." The University of Illinois had two Nobel prize winners in Paul Lauterbur and Anthony Leggett that year, and we went for focused coverage. This photo was the climax of a week of scrambling around Stockholm, Sweden, after convincing the foreign ministry we were real journalists with a notarized letter from publisher John Foreman. (The functionary wasn't sure about us, but the raised seal convinced her.)"
"We've increased our coverage of cultural events in our amazing community. On my arrival 2-1/2 decades ago, photographers were not allowed at most performances. By demonstrating we could combine good reporting and unobtrusive manners, we slowly gained access to document the talent — homegrown and visiting.
"The 2010 photo of Itzhak Perlman performing in Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, left, combined digital technology with a camera 'muzzle' to show the joy of the performer without disturbing audience members.
"Likewise the 2007 photo of Buddy Guy, right, was collaboration with KCPA staff. Guy, a headliner at the Ellnora Guitar Festival, turned down requests for photos. But persistence by Krannert staff, who trusted our ability to not intrude, got approval with just 20 minutes before the curtain."
"Speaking to a Girl Scout troop once, I was asked why I became a photojournalist. As someone who came of age in the tensions of the 1960s, I said it was because I believed we were all more alike in our goals and lives than we realized and if I could show how we were all more the same than different, it might help us all live together.
"When The N-G gathered local photographers for a special section offering a visual look at a week in our community, I assigned myself to Sunday morning, photographing the Spanish language Mass at St. John's Catholic Church on the UI campus.
"Likewise, during one Easter season, the Mount Olive Baptist church choir allowed me to photograph their rehearsal and high-energy worship on Palm Sunday."
"Not sure how this happened, but somehow I developed a sub-speciality in covering fireworks. My favorite is probably this image from 2007, the first year the event was moved to Parkland College. I used a radio remote to fire a remote flash to light the Olympic Tribute and then used budding cell phone technology to send the photo from my laptop in my van to make deadline and beat the traffic. Yeah, major geek stuff here."
"I had photographed the local roller derby team as women were just getting organized into a team, so it was fun to photograph them later when they were in full derby mode. They didn't disappoint, offering great action with visual appeal."
"The 2009 funeral in St. Joseph of Maj. David Audo was another highlight. The trust the family and their church placed in us was a little intimidating, but I tried to measure up. Sitting in the balcony with the muzzle on the camera allowed me to document the tributes to this fallen soldier for both our readers and the family."
"John Dixon and others have taken really great fire photos, but this was a day when I was the only available and headed south to Villa Grove before we really knew what was happening. On arrival it became apparent this was a significant event for the town. I spent the next several hours sending photos from the car and helping the local stringer file reports."
The public is invited to a reception for Hoemann from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday (Aug. 16) at the newspaper office, 15 Main St., C.