2014 MSHSAA Track Championships (Large Schools)


Last weekend marked the fourth time in nearly five years that I have covered track. It has always been one of those sports to elude me. However, it it is always a breath of fresh air to shoot something different and try and find new ways to look at things. Since this was the second week in a row covering the state track meet, I had a general idea of what to expect as far as access is concerned. As I quickly found out, there were times where I was granted access that I was completely surprised about, and others that left me scratching my head at it being pulled or denied. All in all, I was pleased with what I walked away with this past week, and am looking forward to moving forward with the rest of my summer.











And this is how I felt at the end of the weekend:



Rain or Shine: 2014 MSHSAA Track Championships (Small Schools)

St. Joseph Christian’s Max Carrillo follows through after throwing while performing in the discus competition in the 2014 MSHSAA Track Championships at Lincoln University on May 23, 2014 in Jefferson City. (David Welker | Special to the News-Press)


Oh what a difference a day makes. The first day of the 2014 MSHSAA Track Championships was a blistering one. Zero shade, no relief from the sun and heat beating down on those of us around the track. On Friday evening, I said to my writer for the St. Joseph News-Press that I didn’t want to get sunburned on Saturday. Who would have guessed that there was going to be storms rolling through the area the next day and would make an additional sunburn unlikely. It had been five years since I last shot a big track meet, and I really had to beat off the rust. Here are just a few of my favorite frames.













Welding Shop: On Assignment for the the Los Angeles Times

Sparks fly as Loren Minnis, 48, uses a grinder on a piece of metal while working in the Ozarks Barge & Dock Service workshop on April 7, 2014 in Lake of the Ozarks, Mo. Minnis was part owner of Menace Bar & Grill in Lake Elsinore but had to close down in part because of a lawsuit against the bar in 2010. He now works as a welder in Missouri. (David Welker/For the Times)


Last week, I had one of the coolest assignments of my life. Not only was I working for a client who I have always wanted to do some work for, but I was also shooting something I had very little experience with. Now, before I get started, let me say how grateful I am for having great photo editors who have pushed me to be a better photojournalist. Every now and then, I get a call from other editors who ask me if I could do work for them simply because one of my current clients gave them my name. I am thankful that each and every opportunity I get from current clients. I hope I never underestimate the power of my relationships.



Now onto this assignment. The Los Angeles Times called and asked if I would be willing to photograph a subject in the middle of Missouri for them. I agreed, all while wondering what they would want of someone in Southwest Missouri. After receiving the background information for the shoot, I called and got a date and time set up for me to make the drive to Lake of the Ozarks to create a few frames of Loren M., my subject. Loren is one of the nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure to meet. The guy just bleeds passion for life, and he was awesome to work with. After discussing my plans for the assignment, he agreed that I could follow him around for the day. Loren works as a welder in the machining shop of a dock building business. I was assigned to get two main shots of Loren, but he allowed me to just follow him around for a few hours while he worked. While the majority of my frames are of him working, I found myself always looking for something new in similar situations. New framing, new light, new action. Each time the shutter opened and closed, I knew I had to find another way to shoot the scene in front of me. I spent about three hours of watching Loren and a co-worker weld and grind metal for a new piece of a dock. Every now and again, they would stop and tell me what was happening.








When the shop’s thirty minute lunch break rolled around, all the workers filed into a small room in the corner of the building. Even the owner of the Ozark dock building service came in and sat down. Loren was nice enough to introduce me to those in the room, and they all joked about why the Times would want to do a story on him. A co-worker joked that his new nickname would be “Hollywood”. But then there was a moment of honesty. Loren began to tell them why I was there. He didn’t necessarily always dive into the details, but he began to tell them about his passion for motorcycles and for the bar he owned in Los Angeles. I have not heard someone speak so passionately about something in a long time. He began showing photos to those in the room. Photos of his old bar, and some of the bikes he built, including one for the San Diego Chargers. And there I was. This is why I got into photojournalism. I had no idea that my day would turn into this moment of honesty and passionate talk about what a grown man cares about. But, I was there to document it, and am thankful that they were either oblivious to me at that moment or, at the very least, willing to let me shoot a few frames.



After lunch, they all left the room, and I spent only about fifteen minutes more with Loren. I made four final frames of him before I left that I was extremely pleased with. I leave you with one of those. While this may not be where he thought he might end up, Loren is making the best of it, and he continues to be passionate about the things that he loves.




A big thanks goes out to the staff at the Times who contacted me to photograph Loren. It was a great pleasure to meet someone new, and to have the opportunity to tell their story visually. If you want to know more about Loren’s story, click this link.


All Images © 2014 David Welker/For the Los Angeles Times

Feature Portrait: Southwest Missouri Baseball

A week and a half ago or so, I got a call asking if I would shoot a portrait of one of the better local high school baseball players for the News-Leader. Since I am always looking to do a nice sports portrait, and come up with new ideas for these, I was pretty excited. We were supposed to have bad weather, so I was actually excited to do some shooting inside a netted batting cage or something, but the weather held off and we were able to shoot outside. I had roughly ten minutes to set up, shoot and get off the field before they thew the tarp on the infield. After shooting a few ideas on the mound, I moved to the dugout to create a few more frames. Here are a few of the images of Logan-Rogersville Wildcats pitcher Jacob Schlesener, who is committed to the University of Arkansas.







2014 D-II Elite Eight: Drury Falls to West Liberty

Drury Panthers guard Drake Patterson, left, and guard Lonnie Boga, right, sit on the bench after fouling out of Wednesday’s Elite Eight game against the West Liberty Hilltoppers in the 2014 NCAA Division II men’s basketball tournament at the Ford Center on March 26, 2014 in Evansville, Indiana. (David Welker/For the News-Leader)


To end my basketball season, I spent a week with the defending Division II National Champions, Drury Panthers, as they made their way to Evansville, Indiana to compete in the D-II Elite Eight. Much like last year’s title run, I spent a large portion of my time with the team, following them from the hotel to the Ford Center, and to a local YMCA for a community engagement event. Spending time with these guys off the court has revealed a lot about how they operate on the court. Seeing them play with young kids and teach the fundamentals of basketball showed a love for the game that goes beyond the championship rings. Game day came on Wednesday and the Panthers looked extremely focused and ready to take on the Hilltoppers from West Liberty in their Elite Eight matchup. In the end, Drury was drowned by a barrage of West Liberty key three-pointers, including Seger Bonifant’s 6-6 behind the arch. Drury would fall 85-75, ending their chance for a repeat as national champions. A huge thanks go out to Drury for hiring me to cover this for them, and also to the staff at the News-Leader for having the faith that I can cover some of these great assignments for them.










Hoops, Hoops, Hoops: Two Weeks of Basketball

Lafayette Head Coach Chris Neff reacts with his son after the Fighting Irish won Friday’s Class 4 semifinal against the Farmington Knights during the 2014 Show-Me Showdown at Mizzou Arena on March 21, 2014 in Columbia. The Irish defeated the Knights 46-41. (David Welker | Special to the News-Press)


I cannot remember the last time I photographed so much basketball in such a short amount of time. When March comes in Missouri, it really does turn into a time of Madness, as photographers from around the state come to Columbia for the state basketball tournament. For two straight weeks, I found myself on the hardwood at Mizzou Arena and the Hearnes Center on the campus of the University of Missouri. All in all, these two weeks of the 2014 Show-Me Showdown were filled with great basketball, fun time with friends, and working for some great clients.













3 Days, 5 Assignments, 0 sleep: The 2014 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships

Lanthrop’s Caleb Osborn celebrates after defeating Maplewood’s Romelle Person in the 120-pound championship match during the 2014 MSHSAA Class 1 Wrestling Championships at Mizzou Arena on February 22, 2014 in Columbia.


There is so much I love about the wrestling championships. I enjoy pretty much every part of it other than that the backgrounds are rarely ever clean, but, that’s life. As a former wrestler, there is a special place in my heart for the sport, and I really look forward to shooting it. Yes, it is a challenge and can be a bit repetitive. But there is something about the sport that I absolutely can’t get enough of. Maybe it is the fact that this is a one-on-one sport where anything can happen? Maybe it is the fantastic jubs that happen on a regular basis when a match comes to a halt with the slap of a hand on a mat? I don’t know, but I can’t get enough. This past week’s championships were great. I didn’t sleep much ( I got a total of 12 hours over the total of 4 days and each day was at least a 15 hour day). The floors were hard, and my back hurt by the end of the week, but I walked away with a large group of images that I can say I am proud to have my name under and published by 3 different papers. A huge thanks goes out to the staff at the St. Joseph News-Press, Kansas City Star, and the Southeast Missourian, who made my photos look good both online and in print. I look forward to being back in Columbia in two weeks to cover the basketball state championship for a variety of clients. This was a great way to open 2014!