Meet the Cashions

July 20, 2010

Even though I haven’t done much posting this summer, I have been quite busy and I thought it was time I showed you some evidence.  As a student in the Honors College at the University of South Carolina, I’m required to complete a senior thesis.  Rather than write a 40+ page paper, I decided to put my visual skills to good use and do a multimedia story.

Sgt. Cashion walks with his youngest daughter Emilee, 2, to the airport gate. Cashion left in May for training before leaving on deployment.

After brainstorming for awhile, I finally found a subject that I found compelling.  Since May, I have been following a military family in rural South Carolina.  The father, Joe Cashion, a Sergeant in the Army was recently deployed on a volunteer, six-month deployment.  Joe and his wife, Lindy, have graciously allowed me into their lives.  I’ve been documenting the family as they prepared for Joe’s deployment, watched them say goodbye the day Joe left, and have watched Lindy adjust to life at home with their two daughters, Sarah, 13, and Emilee, 3, during Joe’s absence.  Once again, I’ve been amazed by the incredible willingness of people to open up their lives to me.

Sarah, 12, plays with her cousins at Joe's going away party.

Other than two grandfathers who fought in WWII, I have no immediate family members in the military, so this is a new and fascinating world to me.  I’ve enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of the military and, more importantly, how that impacts this particular family.  Most of all, I’ve loved getting to know this family as they share their story with me.

I will continue to post updates on this story, so stay tuned!

Lindy Cashion exchanges an emotional goodbye as her husband, Joe, leaves for a volunteer deployment in Afghanistan.

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For the past couple of days, I’ve been working on a short video of the winners of this year’s Best of Photojournalism contest for the National Press Photographer’s Association‘s conference, Convergence 10.  As I’ve watched the winning pieces, I’ve felt so inspired by these photographers, videographers, and producers.  But, there is one story that immediately made an impression on me: “Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy of Mountaintop Removal Mining”.  This amazing video was a collaborative project by Yale e360, milesfrommaybe productions, and MediaStorm.

©2009 Yale University

“Leveling Appalachia” is about the practice of mountaintop removal mining which is destroying mountains and covering thousands of streams in southern West Virginia.  As the video shows, it has also affected the quality of the drinking water in the surrounding areas and has caused floods, though the WV Coal Association denies it.

Occasionally when I drive home to Ohio, I take a much more scenic, though slightly longer, route through West Virginia.  I drive right through the area focused on in this video and I am always stunned by the beautiful, mountainous scenery.  It breaks my heart to think that this area is slowly being destroyed.

On another note, I was incredibly impressed by this story.  The photography is amazing, the audio is impeccable, the story, compelling.  This and the other stories in this year’s Best of Photojournalism provide me with so much inspiration for my own projects.

I hope you take the time to watch this story and let me know what you think of it.

Click here for the story.