Thursday, June 5, 2008


My co-worker BOB says that "every photographer should photograph the people they love." He believes this should be "done often. Because as with life, things change. The people you love can change, and sometimes who they are also changes." I couldn't agree with this more. As a photojournalist I shoot strangers lives everyday,I document the good, the bad, the joys and the sorrows. But I think that we need to do the same with those people we know the best and love the most. Unfortunately if someone were to find my images of my love ones long after I am gone, they might not ever really know I existed. I am always behind the camera and other than snapshots the rest of my family take, my collection of images rarely have me in them. But some may argue that might not be such a bad thing.

I had the honor of documenting two huge milestones and accomplishments in my family two weekends in a row. Which also meant I got to travel back east for two back to back long weekends.
My little sister, Lauren, who those of you that are close to my family also know her as JUJU, graduated from Elizabethtown College. This was a huge deal. JuJu was diagnosed with some learning disabilities at a young age, school was never really came too easily for her but bound and determined to not let that get in her way she took to college and worked her butt off through every class and test. She worked hard and was respected by her friends, professors, employers and of course her family.
This was her big day, one that none of us can describe in words how very proud of her accomplishments we are.

The second was my Grandpa's 100th Birthday. I already posted a column I wrote about him but ... he is the cutest 100 year -old ever. (I know I am biased), but after 23 family members from across the country gathered for a party weekend and many friends came from as far away as Mississippi, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey and Washington state to celebrate with him he told us it was one of the best days he could have ever asked for. He admitted after 3 days of partying and more cake then he's ever eaten in a short amount of time he was exhausted. But you can't blame him. I'd Get a little worn out after a 100 years too. He is wonderful and it was a real honor to have had him be such an amazing influence in all our lives.
( He is looking good for 100... and he has never spend the night in the hospital his entire life.)

Here are the images of my loved ones...

Lauren noticing her best friend parents who came from NJ to see her graduate.

Got to give "JUJU props..." we were the only people that had a sign. Needless to say it left a few people wondering, who the hell would name their child Ju Ju. Long story... but a funny one.

That's right a flamingo. (I got some made tape skills. The president of the college told her he liked he hat when he gave Lars her diploma. )

My Grandpa... looking good for 100. Isn't he adorable?

Everyone toasted him, before he blew out his candles. Because of fire codes we were unable to put 100 candles on the cake. We might have burned down the restaurant.

Marena, My cousin heath's daughter who is 18 months, she is blowing kisses. She is cute. going to give her dad a run for his money when she gets older, paybacks... cuzo.

Theron... (or Napoleon? ) You can dress them up but ... taking them out? that's a whole different story. He is the resident family funny man.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy 100 birthday, Grandpa; enjoy rest of ride

Grandpa and I Thanksgiving 2007.

"Elderly Love" my grandparents Gladys and Percy Batey, ages at time photo was taken 92 and 95, Thanksgiving 2003, The last Thanksgiving I spent with both of them. I wanted to photograph them so I would have memories... I didn't know how long I would have with both of them.

We have a column that runs daily in The Evansville Courier & Press called "Good Morning Tristate", It is a chance for anyone in the newsroom to write a column about themselves or something that happened to them and share with our readers. I decided I would write one to my Grandpa who turns 100 today.

With people living longer and longer, society is getting used to seeing people live to 100. So much so that we no longer see it as a big to deal to live that long. But, I beg to differ.

My respect for those who reach old age comes from a man who stood on the sidelines of every cross-country championship, saw me off to the prom with the promise I'd be the most beautiful girl in the room and was ready with a plate of cookies, even when I was in trouble with my parents.

As a photographer, I have met incredible people and some of my favorite are senior citizens. I credit my grandpa with the love and respect I have for them.

Today, my grandpa, Percy Batey of Williamsport, Pa., turns 100, or as he told me last week on the phone, he is turning 50 again. Technically, he is my stepgrandpa; he married my grandma in 1977, four years before I was born. But to me he has always been grandpa.

He was there when I was born. Though he and grandma lived about four hours away, he was there to celebrate every birthday with me until I left home for college. Every play, from elementary school through high school, he was always in the audience and was by my side to share every big accomplishment and milestone in my life. He taught me how tie my shoes, ride a bike without training wheels, roller skate and how to drive.

The lessons he has taught me in first 27 years of my life have shaped the person I am.

He has lived to see more than I could ever imagine in a lifetime. He's lived through the 1918 influenza epidemic, the Great Depression, both world wars, the civil rights movement and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He has seen warfare develop and change, watched as a man walked on the moon and seen medicine and technology advance beyond his wildest dreams.

You would think our lives could not be more different, but I have come to realize the older we both get, the more similar we are. It's true, life comes full circle.

Grandpa and I spend hours every couple of weeks talking on the phone, something we started doing more frequently once my grandma passed away more than two years ago. After the current events are done, we talk about life. He tells me life can sometimes be a little lonely. I tell him I know what he means. I tell him the unpredictability of life is sometimes difficult. He reassures me that it's the best part. "Sit back and enjoy the ride, Erin," he says.

He tells me to continue chasing my dreams, and not to walk around in life "with blinders on" because I never know who or what amazing adventure could be right in front of my eyes. He tells me to remember that kindness and respect open doors, and hard work will make my dreams come true.

He tells me that nothing is ever more important than family, but family isn't just limited to those who share your DNA. He tells me that good friendships can be hard to find but will enrich your life more than you know. He tells me not to be afraid to open myself up to love and always make sure that you love all the people around you.

Though I know our time together is more precious now than ever, all the moments big and small we have shared will become part of his legacy, and the memories won't ever be far from my heart.

Grandpa, happy 100th birthday. I love you more than you know. Enjoy the rest of the ride.

— Erin McCracken464-7681or

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I finally decided I would start a blog, my family and friends are tired of trying to keep up with my daily adventures from so far away, so I thought I would make it a little easier on them. ( Plus, not everyone is like my father who gets the Evansville, Indiana paper sent to him in Baltimore, Maryland, daily to keep tabs on my work. Nor do most live close enough to my parents to see the personal gallery they have started to collect and hang up on what remaining empty wall space still exists in their house and if you have ever been to our house, dad's going to need to build an addition just so he can have more walls to fill.)

SO ... What better way to start off my new blog then with the exciting Indiana Primary ... I never would have thought when the year began and the 2008 Presidential Election push began that Indiana's primary on May 6 would even matter or that the hoosiers would have a say. It hadn't mattered since 1968 when Democratic Candidate Robert F. Kennedy beat Eugene McCarthy in Indiana only one month before Kennedy was killed.

What a crazy month it has been, exciting for sure and it even put Evansville on the map (for those of you who weren't sure where the heck I have been living for the last year and a half or had never heard of Evansville, IN it really does exist, after an earthquake, and a visit from Barack on the night the Pennsylvania primary results rolled in, the rest of the country now knows we exist, and that earthquakes really can happen in Indiana ... )I had forgotten how exciting politics could be since I left D.C. almost 5 years ago, but despite the crazy early morning and late-night-deadline-pushing appearances from Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama it was awesome to experience history being made from a front row seat.

I covered Hillary in a small town hall meeting outside, Barack meeting with blue collar workers in Evansville and a visit from his wife, Michele Obama speaking to an gym of people. I then got a chance to cover Obama supporters waiting for results to come in Tuesday night. As exciting as the last three weeks had been Tuesday night did not disappoint. Down to the final hour and last possible second before the paper was printed (we actually did stop the presses ) Hillary pulled off only a 2 % win over Obama. But, Obama's supporters are like none I have ever seen. I have never seen so many people so passionate about a person because they believe that person can bring about change. People have quit their jobs and volunteered traveling the country for someone and something they really truly believe in.
So enough of my rambling... here's my stuff... and the beginning of my blog. ENJOY.

Obama supporters watch the numbers come in...

Sen. Barack Obama visits with blue collar workers

I got up at 4 a.m. to shoot this, although he did not make an appearance until 6:30 a.m. but at least I watched the sunrise.

big fan....

Um, yeah, saw this guy, I am not even sure what to say about this ... though, I did promise my co-worker Denny Simmons if he ever wins a Pulitzer I will shave my head and spray paint a "DS" in the back...

Sen. Hillary Clinton visits Princeton, Indiana

Michelle Obama ...