Photographers' Blog

The SWAT of Salt Lake

Draper, Utah

By Jim Urquhart

It was four in the morning and for the second day in a row I found myself on the highway headed for a photo assignment before the sun rose. Still a bit tired and sore from the day before, I was however in a decent mood. The day before at the same hour I was trying to get to the start line of the Salt Lake City Marathon in the pouring rain, sleet and hail. On that morning I was assigned to photograph security efforts at the marathon, the first since the Boston Marathon bombing.

That day I covered prevention, this morning I was covering the team that are called in to help when the situation has already gone bad. The Salt Lake City Police Department SWAT team was going to be running candidates through an obstacle course as part of a test of physical fitness.

It was day one of the department’s SWAT school. Candidates spent the next six days participating in exercises designed to educate and test their physical abilities along with their decision-making skills in stressful situations.

I have always been intrigued by these groups. They are some of the top cops who are licensed to kick butt while decked out in impressive gear. They save hostages, bust down doors and in general make it a bad day for the less than honorable among us.

Well before dawn I was at the site visiting with my police department contact, who was the same person that hired me for my first newspaper job 16 years ago, when I had a thought from the past.

Angry Birds at Sundance

By Jim Urquhart


Courtesy of Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune

I am not a star stalker nor am I a paparazzi. I am just a screaming photojournalist and the Angry Birds Champion of the World!

I was recently given the opportunity to work with Reuters’ photojournalists Lucas Jackson and Mario Anzuoni as part of the photo team covering the Sundance Film Festival. This was my second year covering the event, which is more like a triathlon in terms of photo work. The days can be long, you have to use different photographic skill sets and there’s a bit of competition for pictures.

It is the one assignment a year like it for me. I mainly cover breaking news, features and sports. I know nothing about celebrity or entertainment news. But for some reason this doesn’t deter the editors from throwing me in to it. Luckily Mario and Lucas know what they are doing.