Groups of people gather on Black Lake near Edwardsville on Jan. 2 to ice fish. One fisherman is seen slipping and falling before getting a hole drilled and his line in the water. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times
A group of bystanders watch as a snowmobiler zips by them on Jan. 5 during the Snowmobile Hill Drag event hosted by JerryRiceRacing at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin. Daytona Niles/Watertown Daily Times
Cadence Dillenback, 4 at the time this photo was taken, hugs a dog of CupCake Mushing, LLC on Jan. 27 at Thompson Park in Watertown. Thompson Park Day was the conclusion to Snowtown festivities in the north country. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Spc. Alec Alcoser, of Fort Drum, directs his dog, Alex, to lay on the floor in a conference room on post during an interview with the media on Feb. 20. Alex suffered severe injuries, including the loss of his back left leg, in a suicide blast while deployed in Afghanistan last year. Spc. Alcoser said he broke all four extremities in the blast and has undergone about 15-20 surgeries since. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Hundreds of mourners gather outside of 906 Myrtle Ave. in Watertown on Feb. 15 for an evening vigil to honor the five members of the Bodah family that passed away in a house fire at the same address the day prior. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Tymberlan, 18, reaches forward and touches the nose of a horse inside Credo Community Center’s barn in Watertown on April 11. Credo’s Residential Rehabilitation Services for Youth program adopted five horses in the last year. The horses are being used for the center’s new equine therapy program, which helps those struggling with drug addiction work through some of the associated psychological and emotional issues. Daytona Niles/Watertown Daily Times
Justin Walters, center, is escorted out of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Watertown on April 23 after being sentenced to life without parole. Walters was found guilty on March 20 of killing State Trooper Joel Davis and Walters’ wife, Nicole V., on July 9, 2017, at the Walters’ residence on County Route 46 in the town of Theresa. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
550 cows, the largest loss of livestock to a barn fire in recent memory, were killed on the morning of April 26 in a blaze on Walt and Doris Kennell’s property at 8711 Route 12 in Copenhagen. Daytona Niles/Watertown Daily Times
Pat Keenan, director of public works for the city of Watertown, wipes pie from his eyes after getting a pie to the face from Amanda Helmer on May 3 outside of Watertown City Hall. City employees paid money to throw pies in the faces of their co-workers to help Alfreda Augusta raise money to participate in United Way’s Over the Edge campaign. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Aerialist Nicolette Fornasari, right, is greeted by Janice, a female Indian elephant, on May 16 prior to the start of the Carden International Circus at the Ogdensburg Golden Dome. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times
Calin Horbacz, then 5, left, and Ava Horbacz, then 10, hold a sign that reads “Love is Love” during the first-ever PRIDE event in Watertown history on June 22 held outside Watertown City Hall. Daytona Niles/Watertown Daily Times
Allison Crossman, former candidate for mayor of Watertown, hugs a community members on June 25 after learning she received enough votes in the primaries to continue in the city’s mayoral race. Daytona Niles/Watertown Daily Times
Aurora Place, age 2 at the time this photo was taken, lays on a goat at her family’s dairy farm on March 19 in Glenfield. Her parents Andrew and Blake Place own Hidden Pastures Dairy off Route 12, where they milk goats and make goat milk gelato. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Harrisville Central School’s Peyton Schmitt, center, cries as his teammate Christian Butler hugs him and his coach, Brian Cooley, right, holds his head following Harrisville’s 67-54 win over Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville in the state Class D boys basketball state championship game on March 17 in Binghamton. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Family members, loved ones and friends embrace soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division who came home from deployment on July 15 at Fort Drum. About 250 soldiers returned home that day after being deployed for nine months in Afghanistan. About 700 more returned that same week. Daytona Niles/Watertown Daily Times
Autumn Genter applies baby oil to the comb of her Light Brahma Bantam hen on July 29 before the start of the 4-H Poultry Show at the Gouverneur and St. Lawrence County Fair. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times
A young boy climbs out of the St. Lawrence River on July 27 in Clayton. After completing Save the River’s 17th annual Run for the River 5k/10k race, dozen of people took to the river to cool off. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Terri Gaylor, of Watertown, right, holds her great nephew Cade Bray, age 9 at the time this photo was taken, as she tries to locate a name on the Moving Wall on Aug. 24 at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield. Gaylor’s father was a Vietnam War veteran who had a few friends that died in the war. Her father survived the war, but passed away in his old age a few years ago. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Here, an in-camera double exposure shows firefighters of the Fort Drum fire department saluting with an American flag layered over top on Sept. 11 during a 9/11 commemoration ceremony on post. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
Kendellyn Pecori, then 5, hangs her backpack up in her cubby before running off to Mrs. Smith’s kindergarten class on her first day of school on Sept. 5 at Sherman Elementary School in Watertown. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
World and national power lifting record holder Vanessa Babcock flexes with her son Roland who is wearing his super hero costume on Oct. 31 at her home in Potsdam. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times
People dance together at the 15th annual Oktoberfest on Oct. 15 at the T.I. Winery in Alexandria Bay, which showcased authentic German dance and music from the Enzian Bavarian Band & Dancers. Julia Hopkins/Watertown Daily Times
From left to right: Connor Lamica, 10, Flora Bates, 9, Kate Lamica, 6, and Nicolas Bates, 12, all of Watertown, play a game of kickball as the sun sets over Watertown’s Thompson Park on Oct. 8. Julia Hopkins/Watertown Daily Times
A member of the Carthage coaching staff hugs two of the loyal ball boys after the Comets’ loss to Cornwall in the state Class A championship game on Nov. 29 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Julia Hopkins/Watertown Daily Times
Orvis Calhoun, 84, poses for a portrait with his Winchester .270 bolt action rifle on Nov. 25 in his driveway in Watertown. It’s the same gun Calhoun used to shoot a 10-point buck on his 84th birthday earlier that month. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times
From left: Keena, 12, Katia, 9, Dezi, 7, and Jacques, 14, are surprised by their father, Nick Masi, center at a homecoming ceremony for Fort Drum’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade on Dec. 19 on post. Julia Hopkins/Watertown Daily Times
To be honest, it took me a long time to figure out how I wanted to start this letter. Writing about photography is sometimes harder than photography itself, but here’s my attempt to put the impossible into words.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent countless hours pouring over hundreds of images made by current and former staff photographers at the Times to create our first-ever year in photos compilation. Some images made me smile immediately, while others brought with them the familiar pang of heartache felt while covering tough assignments. Regardless of the feelings brought with them, each image holds unforgettable memories, and those memories are unique from viewer to viewer. This is what I love about photography.
Our photojournalists are out in the north country community every day documenting its people at each point along their individual paths — sometimes at their best and brightest moments, sometimes at their darkest hour.
The 10th Mountain Division reunited hundreds of families throughout the year upon welcoming home soldiers deployed overseas. We were there.
The Harrisville boys basketball team celebrated through tears after bringing home the state Class D title in March to their village of less than 700 people. We were there.
The beginning of the year holds a particularly painful memory for Watertown. On Feb. 14, Aaron Bodah and four of his five daughters, Merissa, 14, Alexa, 8, Erin, 6, and Skylar, 4, died in a devastating house fire. Hundreds gathered outside the Bodah home the following day for a vigil, and again days later for a memorial service, displaying an outpour of support like I’ve never seen before. And again, we were there.
These are just a few examples, but the one thing each of these events has in common is that our photojournalists were there, documenting in real time the events unfolding, getting to know the people and submerging ourselves in our community. Photography is the greatest asset we have to give viewers a front row seat to what’s happening in our community.
“You can’t document a community accurately until you become a part of it.”
As a photojournalist, this is a mantra I live by.
I could write about this forever, but for now, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. I hope you all enjoy.