The Visual Year

Milton High School quarterback Cole

It’s been quite a year.  Spent the first quarter traveling the country non-stop for an intensive video teaching series that I developed alongside fellow photojournalists from various Gannett newsrooms.  Really long days and nights turned into blissfully exhausting and productive weeks on the road airport and away from home.  I promised myself all of that hard work, stress and strain on my family would pay off.  I learned a lot.   A LOT.  And now I’m feeling more prepared and connected to what I enjoy working on: storytelling.

I realized this year that converting traditional news photographers into video shooters is a little like asking reporters to occasionally write in iambic pentameter but also retain their traditional skill sets as great, news writers.  Video is visual, sure, but it’s a different beast entirely than hunting for singular, photographic moments.  My fellow photojournalists and I feel a bit schizophrenic at times juggling all these different visual mediums, but I love video.  I now have a better connection to storytelling than I ever did before.  So, I had a hard time this year selecting images for our Pictures of the Year section because I realize so much of what I do now is not simply photography.

My visual year was consumed with trying to better myself and the newsroom that I work in. But, I’m only human so after a necessary hibernation upon returning from three solid months of travel I dove into summer, literally, and began with a proper jump into Warren Falls.  Summer couldn’t have arrived at a better time.  I traveled, reconnected with friends and relaxed.  But, I think the non-stop constant pace of my video teaching travels caught up with me and spurred me to reach out to colleagues and other Burlington creatives to launch new projects.  Somehow everything I juggled landed together and I was able to produce a fantastic first-time, 24-hour StoryhackVT project with a new group of animators, designers and web gurus to build SorrySpace.  We’re in our infancy, but check it out.  Additionally, I’m working with the Vermont Folklife Center on developing an existing multimedia story into a new interactive, sensory, multi-platform concept.  My interest lately has been rethinking and redeveloping current methods of storytelling and communication into next-level projects.  Exposure to other photojournalists during my travels and intensive brainstorming helped focus my goals for the year.  I’ll take a class here and there, attend storytelling workshops and I’ll be speaking about video at the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s annual meeting in Boston in a few weeks.  But, before all that let’s take a look back of some of my favorite photos and moments from 2013.  Enjoy.

Vermont author Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez, author, Weybridge, Vermont


Vermont Little League baseball championship

Vermont Little League Baseball Championship, Essex, Vermont


Pete's Greens Craftsbury Vermont

Pete’s Greens, Craftsbury, Vermont


UVM professor heads to Senegal

Moustapha Diouf, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont


Vermont lung transplant

Tammy Shackett, Boyer’s Orchard, Monkton, Vermont

Tammy deserves her own post.  She’s an incredible force and I truly miss the time I spent with Tammy and her family sitting around the kitchen swapping stories.  They are warm and welcoming.  Tammy’s husband, Ron, has one hell of a quick wit and her son, Tyler, is a true caretaker.  An impressive teenager.  At only 50 years old Tammy struggles to breathe because of multiple diseases in her lungs.  She needs a double lung transplant and waits each and every day for the phone to ring for her donor lungs.  I’ll quit rambling.  Just watch the video below and read the full story here. Take a minute to learn about proper organ donor registration.  It could save a life.  It could save Tammy’s life.


Vermont lung transplant Tammy Shackett


Vermont lung transplant Tammy Shackett


Vermont lung transplant Tammy Shackett


Vermont lung transplant Tammy Shackett


Vermont lung transplant Tammy Shackett


Shelburne Vermont Laplatte River

Laplatte River, Shelburne, Vermont


Swale Burlington Vermont Precipice Festival

Swale, Precipice Festival, Burlington, Vermont


Pete's Greens Craftsbury Vermont

Pete’s Greens, Craftsbury, Vermont


Burundi Burlington Vermont

Aline Niyonziam, Burlington, Vermont


Korean War Veteran Rutland Vermont

George Bates, Korean War veteran, Rutland, Vermont.  Learn his incredible story below about his unexpected service in the Korean War only to discover a close relative.




Peacham Vermont knifemaker

Chelsea Miller, knifemaker, Peacham, Vermont


Olympic skier Barbara Cochran

Barbara Cochran, Olympic gold medal skier, Richmond, Vermont


Vergennes Memorial Day Parade

Vergennes Memorial Day Parade


A curbside cheer party 20 years in the making.  A true tradition in the New North End, this family hosts a curbside cheer party for runners during the annual Vermont City Marathon.  In 2013 I spent the frigid, rainy afternoon with them and their energy was infectious.  Enjoy.


Cambridge Vermont ice storm 2013

Bruce MacMillan, owner of Cambridge Village Market, waits through a power outage during the ice storm of 2013.


Vermont Lake Monsters baseball

Vermont Lake Monsters, Burlington, Vermont


Circus Smirkus Champlain Valley Fairgrounds

Circus Smirkus, Essex Junction, Vermont


King Street Youth Center Tennis

King Street Youth Center, Burlington, Vermont


I loved this group collaboration.  Photojournalists Glenn Russell, Ryan Mercer and myself collected footage over several days detailing an event 20 years in the making: the arrival of Walmart to St. Albans.  I generally work solo because we have such a small staff, but when we have the opportunity to team up, work as a group and collaborate that’s when the best work is done.



Jocelyn Woods artist

Jocelyn Woods, Cambridge, Vermont


Jack Lazor Butterworks Farm

Jack Lazor, Butterworks Farm, Westfield, Vermont


Here’s to 2014.


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  • Elliot deBruyn

    So impressive, Emily! All this in one year, esp. “Waiting for Breath” and the Circus Smirkus shots. Making me miss VT and BFP even more.