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A year in the life of a newspaper photographer

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Sebastian Kerns, 9, and Ben Billiet, 8, yell with excitement as they observe the chemical reactions during a Baking Soda Pillow experiment Monday at Mad About Science camp. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
A hound rides with it's head out the window as it pours rain Tuesday afternoon on Highway 108 near Lime Kiln Road. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
It was a close call for Chad Ellison, of Porterville, Ca., when the bull he was riding, Bucking bull, Snappy Tom, jumped all around him Saturday afternoon. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Dozens of people gather on a dock at the Pinecrest Lake boat launch Friday morning to watch as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife plant 2,500 pounds of rainbow trout, 1,2500 of which were three-to-five-pound trophy fish. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Addie the Dog was rescued by Jim and Myla Hildreth, of Sonora. Vets said Addie would probably never work again, but she is proving them wrong. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Mother Lode Round-up 2016 queens and 2017 queen candidates, spray water at Coyote Sam and his Gang of unruly bandits as they steal the harness and reigns of the Round-Up Marshall. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Sonora Elementary School sixth-graders Hannah Tracy (left) and ReAnnan Ross (right) run by groups of kindergartners on their way through the campus during the annual Turkey Trot Friday morning. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Mist rises from Pinecrest Lake Monday morning. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Bailey Tubbs, of Filer Id., rides 'Jeffery's Blue' during the Saddle Bronc Riding event at the Rodeo Saturday. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Gini Seibert, owner of Out of Hand Creative Art Center, places art pieces in her storefront window. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Nearly thirty turtles warm themselves on a log in the lake at Columbia College. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Columbia College Fire Academy students sit on the floor of a shipping container designed to teach them live fire attack and fire behavior. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Levi Lowe smiles as Sonora High School Golden Regiment band plays songs in his honor as a send off before he goes to the National Poetry Out Loud Competition in Washington D.C.. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Al Cepeda, owner of Servente's Saloon in downtown Sonora for 27 years, is retiring and has sold the business. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Robert Nikiforuk, 8, of Sonora, hit a ball hard into a net as he does a tee batting drill. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)
Gavin Egger, 7, of Sonora, holds on tight during the Mutton Busting Saturday. (Maggie Beck / Union Democrat)

Every day is different. That’s what I enjoy most about my job, the diversity of each day.

The fact that I have no idea what’s going to happen, where I’m going to get sent, or who I’m going to meet next keeps me interested.

I feel humbled when I’m invited into homes, schools or businesses to tell people’s stories.

That was my feeling when I took what was my favorite photo of the year, two boys who showed sheer excitement and wonderment as their science experiment expanded a bag.

Here’s a list of my other favorites.

2 — I had been driving around Calaveras and Tuolumne counties looking for what we call “weather art.” Nothing. I was feeling defeated as stopped at the Lime Kiln traffic light when this dog stuck its head out the window to feel the rain, allowing me to capture this photo and head back to the office.

3 — Photographing the rodeo is pure excitement. This photo is in my favorites because it captures the rider as close to danger as he could have possibly been.

4 — I began this day at the Moccasin Trout Farm and photographed the workers netting these gargantuan trout. The photo, with giant trout flopping about and onlookers staring wide-eyed, always makes me smile.

5 — Addie. This pup wears her happiness as a smile on her face. And that’s why I like this photo.

6 — Oh, man. It’s tradition. Coyote Sam foils the Round-Up year after year. This event is one of my favorite to photograph for a couple of reasons. I adore Coyote Sam and I love the confusion and chaos it brings to the drivers and onlookers on Washington Street. This year some people at a nearby bank called police to report a disturbance. Only in Sonora.

7 — I’ve photographed the Sonora Elementary School annual Turkey Trot for several years. This was my first year in this location on the campus. I enjoyed being around all the cheering children. The blue skies, wet ground and lighting were all in my favor, too, so that helps.

8 — The mist, fresh-fallen snow and the blue skies are all reasons why I chose this landscape photo.

9 — The excitement, fear and amazement of the rodeo combined with the sheer power of this horse is how I decided to submit this photo for my top photos of 2017.

10 — Out of Hand has been an inviting and warm place for our community’s youth (and adults) to go and create pieces of art. I hold a special place in my heart for the subject of this photo and I like the composition.

11 — Turtles sunbathing on a log. What’s not to like about this photo? My assignment was to photograph spring.

12 — Fires are exhilarating and scary. Firefighters training is always interesting. Photographing training with live-fire is fun and exciting.

13 — Levi Lowe is a humble Sonora High School student with incredible talent. This photo of him smiling with the Golden Regiment Band reflected in his glasses is a favorite because he is a pleasure to be around.

14 — I can’t really put into words what it is I like most about this photo. Is it Al’s acceptance to having the photo taken in the first place? The “regulars” at the bar? The wadded dollar bills stuck to the ceiling? Maybe it's the overall composition of the photo… I can’t put my finger on it.

15 — Being a photographer for The Union Democrat for more than 10 years, I photograph many of the same events year after year so when I figure out a different way to photograph a child playing a sport they love, it’s exciting to me.

16 — Gavin Egger’s grimacing face and white knuckles and the excitement of being in the arena during the Mutton Busting event are all reasons why I chose this photo.

17 — One of my favorite things about working for the Union Democrat is meeting incredible people who inspire.