Dynasty – Ten Titles

For the past three weeks or so, I’ve been holed up trying to edit more than 20 years of photographs of the UConn women’s basketball team for a book on the 10 NCAA Championships they’ve won. A daunting task in many ways since we were limited to about 10-12 pages per chapter. Daunting, too, given the reality of how technology has changed from their first victory against Tennessee in 1995, when our photographers were still shooting film, to this year when Cloe Poisson and Michael McAndrews covered them during each round digitally shooting both stills and video to try to satisfy the enormous appetite of our readers online, in print and through social media.

My how times have changed.


Minneapolis, MN 4.2.1995 UConn women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma has enjoyed the ride that led to his first national championship. His players hoist him perfectly on their shoulders and carry him off the court. Photo by Brad Clift / The Hartford Courant

To view more photos and history of the UConn women’s basketball team click the View More link:

Passages from the Hartford Courant’s book,“Dynasty: UConn Women’s Ten-Title Season”, were used in each chapter here were written by John Altavilla, Hartford Courant UConn women’s basketball beat reporter.

To purchase the book go to this pre-order page:

Read More »


Super Bowl XLVIII

The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will play for the NFL Championship at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, February, 2, 2014. The week leading up to big game turns into a media circus and for the football fan the NFL has created the largest “Fan Festival” by blocking off over a dozen city blocks in Times Square with a variety of events. I will try give a glimpse of the things I encounter along the way with a series of Instagram photos.

Hope you enjoy…

Gearing up for the "Big Game", I went out and purchased a new hat for Super Bowl XLVIII, MAD BOMBER meet @AngryJohnnie. It's supposed to be a cold night, but hey it is New England after all.

Gearing up for the “Big Game”, I went out and purchased a new hat for Super Bowl XLVIII, MAD BOMBER meet @AngryJohnnie. It’s supposed to be a cold night, but hey it is New England after all.

To follow along VIEW HERE:


2013 Staff Photos, From a Year in the Arts

Southport, CT  6/13/13  Michael Douglas talks with director Rob Reiner on the set of the movie "And So It Goes" which was being filmed inside Nicholas Fingelly Real Estate in the Southport section of Fairfield. Diane Keaton and Frances Sternhagen are also in the movie, Keaton was not on set today.  Photo by JOHN WOIKE |

Southport, CT 6/13/13 Michael Douglas talks with director Rob Reiner on the set of the movie “And So It Goes” which was being filmed inside Nicholas Fingelly Real Estate in the Southport section of Fairfield. Diane Keaton and Frances Sternhagen are also in the movie, Keaton was not on set today. Photo by JOHN WOIKE |



Companions in the Face of Alzheimer’s

With her faithful Freckles by her side, Sharon Ann Scully, 57, of West Hartford speaks about her diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers disease and the unconditional love she gets from Freckles..  There is no known cure for Alzheimer's.There are an estimated 70,000 Connecticut residents living with Alzheimer’s Disease, a haunting, fast-growing and fatal illness that is projected to surpass the rates of heart disease and cancer. There are support groups, trial medications and even coconut water that patients and their caregivers eagerly add to their daily regimens. And then there are the loyal companions like Freckles and Ben, pet canines who were destined to be euthanized early in their lives. Instead they now comfort and offer hope to the people who saved their lives, like Alzheimer’s patient Sharon Ann Scully (above with Freckles).
Read More »


First Round of the Travelers Tournament

Ideal golf weather was on hand for the opening round of the 2013 Travelers Tournament at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

Charlie Hoffman sits atop the Travelers Championship leader board with a 9 under 61 during the opening round of the 2013 Travelers Championship at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Thursday. Hoffman looks out over the 17th green waiting for his turn to putt.

Charlie Hoffman sits atop the Travelers Championship leader board with a 9 under 61 during the opening round of the 2013 Travelers Championship at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Thursday. Hoffman looks out over the 17th green and may have been reflecting on last years finish when he held a 2 stroke lead on the same hole but wound up with a double bogie and then a bogie on 18 to give the championship to Marc Leishman.


Read More »


End of Summer

Where did the summer go? That question seems to always arise once Labor Day, the “unofficial – End of Summer”, arrives. The summer seems to go quicker each year as I get older, a week at the shore in the middle of it all is my greatest respite from the daily grind of life.

As the next season approaches I felt it was worth a look back on the summer and some of my favorite images.

The “Transit of Venus”.

I was sent to cover the transit of Venus, a once in a lifetime event at the Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium in New Haven. It had been cloudy all day and there was little hope when I left Hartford that the sun would be visible as the tiny planet made its pass across. But with some patience and a little luck the clouds began to breakup around 6 o’clock and by 6:30 the grand event began.

The planetarium provided me with a large neutral density filter that knocks out 99.999% of the sun’s harmful rays to allow me to capture the photo of the sun. As I was shooting the crowd that had gathered for the show, Jason Archer picked up the filter and used it to look at the transit as other used special glasses to catch a glimpse. I like the effect the filter gave, almost like a portal looking out into space as the the overcast clouds are reflected on the surface.

Hartford Courant reporter Hillary Federico took a “shot” with Dom Basile, a certified firearms instructor, as he gave her pointers and a little backup while test firing a M16 machine gun at the Metacon Gun Club in Simsbury. Basile talked about the recent spike in female gun use in advance of the “Women on Target” program which will be held at the club later this month.

Assault rifles are a hot buzzer topic, love or hate them, in the right hands – like a trained instructor, police or military officer, they are a weapon used to “keep the peace”. But in the wrong hands, they are a merciless machine that devastates lives. On July 20, 2012, a little less than a month after this photo and article were published a man in full body tactical armor entered a movie theater in Aurora, CO., for a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” killing 12 people and injuring 58 others, the highest number of casualties in an American mass shooting. One of the weapons he used was an assault rifle.

The Travelers Championship had to be one of the hottest golf tournaments I’ve covered at the TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell. Chris Stroud tries to keep cool with a wet towel over his head during the second round of the 2012 Travelers Championship golf tournament at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Friday. Stroud shot a 68 and finished the day at -1.I think I got heat stroke after the Pro-Am Wednesday. The heat and humidity also took a toll on UConn women’s head coach Geno Auriemma as he had to be removed from the course after 13 holes on a golf cart and received I.V. fluids at the medical station back near the clubhouse.

One other thing you can usually count on during the week of the tournament is rain. Jon Martel of Bristol heads for the parking lot after play was officially suspended for the day during the second round of the 2012 Travelers Championship golf tournament at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Friday. Martel is a volunteer with Webster Bank and is the Hole Captain on the 2nd hole during the tournament, he and the players will be back on course at 7 am to complete the second round and the cut will be made.

Another thing you can count on, is a first time tour winner hoisting the trophy on Sunday. Marc Leishman kept the streak going after posting a score of -14 as the leaders were still out on the course. But the final four holes proved to be disastrous as each that held the lead squandered their opportunity leaving Leishman with his first tour victory.

Leslie Gordon, an instructor at the Yoga Center of Collinsville, helps lead a new class that incorporates yoga and paddle boards.  It is based on paddle boarding, which is a very hot new water sport. Paddle boards look like big surfboards, but you stand atop them with a paddle and paddle around. They are selling like crazy. And now people are doing yoga on the paddle board. A yoga studio in Collinsville has a teacher who leads yoga sessions on paddle boards on a calm section of the Farmington River in Collinsville.

Andrew Haraghey, 16, is a rising star in the sports world as he claimed 5 gold medals in the 2011-2012 Disabled Sports USA Ski Tour this past winter. Haraghey, of Enfield, has cerebral palsy and is training to compete in the 2014 Paralympics which will be held in Russia. He’ll be heading off to Mount Hood in Oregon on July 10 to begin on slope training.

I used a stencil template that Andrew and his mom had made from cardboard to cut out stars that they would sell in his fundraising efforts.

C.J. Martin takes a shot as he passes a guest watching a chucker at Giant Valley Polo Club in Hamden Thursday evening. Matches are held every Sunday afternoon and sometimes spectators are treated to live music as a backdrop to the action. The shoot was for the “Parting Shot” feature in Hartford Magazine, which is now under the CT1 Media umbrella of publications.

Vernon resident Andrew Badecker, 25 (as of July 28), quit his last ordinary job in 2007 after winning $7000 playing online poker. Having already dropped out of college, his parents kicked him out of their house. Since then, he’s gone on to win more than $2 million playing poker in professional tournaments and online. He lives a suitcase life, always traveling and never in one place for more than a couple of months, while consistently confronting the challenges of being a so-called gambler and the realization that he doesn’t have a “normal” life.

When I walked into the house of Andrew he was wearing a tank top and ironing a yellow shirt on the kitchen table.As we talked he explained he normally wore loud colors and bold sunglasses so when I saw his yellow shirt and the color scheme of the living room I knew where I wanted to take his portrait. Two lights, one with a softbox a grid to direct the light and another behind him to illuminate the colors of the two walls behind him. I bold and brash portrait for a guy that likes to make a statement.

This was one of those “Bad ideas gone worse” situations. After torrential rains caused flash flooding in Naugatuck this pickup truck was resting on the edge of a parking lot that had be eroded away by the rain.

So after assessing the situation these guys figured they had a plan to get the truck off the egde and safely onto the parking lot above. Things don’t always ended up like you planned as these men found, once the truck started going forward the weight shifted and over the side it went. Now they had a real problem.

Juan Morrero of New Haven holds onto his nine year old daughter Anysha (L) as her twin Tenysha enjoys the cool water at Wadsworth Falls in Middlefield rush over her Monday afternoon. Morrero said he hadn’t been to the Falls in about 14 years but thought of it as the family was looking for someplace different to cool off.

Mike Roberge of M&M tennis court company in Bristol spreads the red paint that will outline the courts at Plainville High School Thursday morning. Roberge, of Bristol, was working with Joe Foran of Farmington on the project that will be finished in time for school. I climbed the fence surrounding the courts to get a high angle, much to the amusement of the workers.

After a micro-burst ripped through South Glastonbury August 10th knocking power at the Glastonbury Hill Country Club, Tim Smith waits with his daughter Colleen Elizabeth Smith, her flower girls and bridesmaids for the start of her wedding. Severe weather delay the ceremony for over an hour and a half as the bridal party and guests had to navigate through back roads to get to the country club due to downed power lines and trees all around the area. Since the storm had knocked out the power the reception was moved to the Inn at Middletown which was able to help out the newlyweds on short notice.

Diana Benza of Bristol grabs a handful of balloons from Bob Irvine as they set up for an engagement party for Benza’s brother Alex Irvine’s daughter Annie at Elizabeth Park Wednesday evening. The happy couple thinks they are attending a birthday party for Letitia Benza, the grooms mother. Annie and Alex are from Wethersfield.

The sun set on top seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland during second round action Tuesday evening at the New Haven Open at Yale tennis tournament after she retired during the the second set due to a right shoulder injury. Radwanska lost the first set 6-0 to Olga Govortsova of Belarus and was down 2-1 in the second before retiring.

I’ve never covered the US Open and likely never will but I’ve enjoyed covering the tennis tournament in New Haven throughout its history. I’ve been able to shoot the stars of my generation, Becker, Lendl, McEnroe, Aggasi, Blake, Monica, Lindsay, Steffi, Venus and many more. There are certain times of the day that I like the best, late afternoon and the very beginning of the night match, especially when the sunsets.

Twenty seven teams from across the country and Canada pushed their limits of endurance and strength during the final day of the 2012 Connecticut SWAT Challenge at Reservoir #6 in West Hartford Thursday afternoon. Members of CSP #1 (Connecticut State Police) run with a few tires chained together during one obstacle on the course.

Actor Kevin Cottle works the fly rod during filming of Connecticut “Still Revolutionary”, the second TV spot for its tourism campaign. This time, instead of going to the shoreline/Connecticut River valley, they’re going to Litchfield County. The iconic West Cornwall Covered bridge over the Housatonic provides the backdrop for this scene.

Being a native of Connecticut I love to take rides into Litchfield County. My dad would pack my mom and brother into the car and we would take road trips to People’s Forest, Kent Falls and other places in the northwest part of the state. It is a wonderful place to take a “Sunday drive” when the foliage is in full display.

With matching “Barbie” backpacks, dresses and shoes, twins Raelin and Aubrae Oporto, 7, are led down the hall by mom Tricia Dunn as the new Bristol West Elementary School opened Thursday as students arrived for the first day of class.

First day of school, that goes back a long way.

Tonight my assignment fell through in Rocky Hill so I took a little ride along the Connecticut River. If you venture off the beaten path there is a dirt road that follows the river from Wethersfield south to Rocky Hill through corn fields and grass lands. I used to water ski on the Connecticut with a cousin or old friend years ago so I sometimes search for someone out enjoying the evening. As Labor Day begins, take a few moments to relax, enjoy a cold one, spend time with family and most of all be grateful for the little things in life…

…because before you know it, you’ll be saying, I can’t believe its Christmas already. Just 115 shopping days to go.

As I was driving home I decided to take a drive to a place I like to stop once in a while to watch the moon or sun rise. Tonight a Blue Moon rose above the city of Hartford.

Goodnight Moon:
…Goodnight room
Goodnight moon
Good night cow jumping over the moon
Goodnight light
And the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens
Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house
And goodnight mouse
Goodnight comb
And goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush
And goodnight to the old lady
whispering “hush”
Goodnight stars
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere

–“Goodnight Moon”, text by Margret Wise Brown

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend!





Staff Favorites of 2011

Each year brings new experiences, surprises and acquaintances that make our job the best position in the business. Thank you for being along for the ride – here are our favorite images of 2011 and the stories behind them.

• • • • • •

Patrick Raycraft

Sidewalks are not yet clear as pedestrians walk along Park Street in Hartford at the intersection of Broad Street during the Jan. 12 2011 blizzard. Patrick Raycraft | Hartford Courant

I made this photograph of Hartford’s Park Street on January 12 after setting out on foot to cover our first major storm of 2011. To me, the image provides a window to Hartford’s glorious past, its architecture, residents who once walked the same streets and its epic blizzards. The curious pattern of human figures on the street adds a timeless dimension to the photograph.

• • • • • •

Bettina Hansen

Ashley Kraushaar of Hartford, burlesque dancer with the Beat City Beauties, gets curious onlookers while having a photo shoot on Main Street in Hartford in May. Bettina Hansen | Hartford Courant

I started following the Beat City Beauties burlesque troupe at the beginning of 2011, and took advantage of their ‘nights and weekends’ schedule to drop in when they were performing and practicing. This particular weekend, I had been in New York City visiting some friends, and I remember taking a pre-dawn bus back because the girls were doing a promotional photo shoot in Hartford with a photographer they had found on Model Mayhem.

What I had photographed in the project to this point had been inside, and looked like it could have been shot anywhere. I hoped this situation would yield a scene-setting image, since they were planning on traipsing around downtown Hartford for this photo shoot, and they are Hartford’s only burlesque group. After a little while in front of the Wadsworth Atheneum, the photographer shooting their promo pictures started doing individual portraits, and pulled a few of the girls aside. Ashley (pictured) has the most outlandish personality of the group and was ALWAYS photobombing me (spoiling a picture by making a funny face) but in this situation, she managed to do it at the perfect time, when these two dudes were walking by, gawking at her. This was one of the most fun projects I’ve worked on, for sure… and this picture made that pre-dawn bus ride back to Hartford totally worth it.

• • • • • •

Cloe Poisson

President Barack Obama greets Joseph Guida, 4, of Killingworth, just after arriving at the Air National Guard base at Bradley Field May 18th, 2011. Tabitha Aime, 9, of Easton, (left) snaps a photo of the President. Tabitha's mother and Joseph's father are Secret Service agents so they were invited guests to watch the president's arrival on his way to deliver the commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London. Cloe Poisson | Hartford Courant

Whenever the President comes to the state, we dispatch several photographers to cover him.  One goes to the airport to capture his arrival, one is assigned to the venue where he will appear, and another is assigned to be at the airport for his departure.  When President Obama visited to give the commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy in May, I was given the arrival assignment.  Pretty standard stuff – Air Force One touches down, the POTUS steps through the doorway and waves to the crowd, comes down the stairs and is whisked off in a convoy New London.  But if there’s time, he will greet the crowd waiting behind a barricade for the chance to shake his hand. The press is cordoned off on a platform next to the visitors area, and the angle makes it difficult to capture the faces of the crowd if the POTUS walks the ropes.  To my great relief, he side stepped the waiting limo and made a bee line for the small crowd and spent a few minutes pressing the flesh. As he greeted a small boy, he paused and bent closer for a brief but personal exchange, giving me the moment I was hoping for.

• • • • • •

Mark Mirko

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Mark Mirko | Hartford Courant

In May I photographed Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a press conference of the World Youth Peace Summit in Hartford. I arrived at the press conference early enough to set up some lights, get familiar with the schedule and work out shooting locations. Despite these preparations, and taking into account Tutu has an engaging laugh and expressive face, the images I made from the press conference were pictures of him either sitting at a table or standing at a podium.

After the main press conference, however, Tutu agreed to sit for a series of short one on one interviews with some television broadcast outlets who had set up a studio in another room.

I was allowed to observe and document this process from the outskirts of the impromptu studio and the result was a photograph that stood out from my earlier images.

Tutu believes the media has a great deal of influence on people and in response to a reporters question he said:

“I have a great deal of time for young people. I have often been upset with the media who have tended to take the case of a young person who goes astray. And they splash it as if it was representative of all young people.

When I was growing up the only drug you had was marijuana. Today you have a whole range of really hard drugs with unscrupulous drug pushers.

What should surprise us is not that some young people go astray, when you think of the high pressure advertising to which they are exposed.

Isn’t it amazing, that given all of these pleasures, not more young people, in fact, succumb. We should be saying, ‘Isn’t it fantastic that only a few?’

Young people are incredible. They are amazingly idealistic. They really do dream that this world is capable of being a better world.

And for us oldies, the thing that I usually say to young people is for goodness sake don’t allow yourself to be infected by the cynicism of oldies. Dream. Dream that this world can become better.”

Photographs are really only silent rectangles. But sometimes an illusion is created that transcends their two dimensions of height and width. Sometimes these mute static frames make us think we are peering into a scene with depth, motion and even sound. We blink, the illusion passes and we turn the page or click away. Sometimes; these magic rectangles can even peer back.

• • • • • •

Michael McAndrews

Edward Cumming, outgoing artistic director (conductor) of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Michael McAndrews | The Harford Courant

Over the years that I have worked at the Courant I’ve enjoyed photographing artists most of all. The image of Cumming is the result one of my most enjoyable assignments of the year.

This photograph I made of outgoing Hartford Symphony Orchestra music director Edward Cumming is an example of what I mean. Artists, as a group, are willing participants in the creative endeavor to make a compelling image.

I have known Cumming for a while now and photographed him many times. I believe he had trust in what I proposed to do.

• • • • • •

Rick Hartford

Hartford Police Det. Johnmichael O'Hare, center, and East Hartford Police Det. Jason Smola, at left, both of the Hartford Shooting Task Force, make their way up the stairs at 42-44 Vine Street in Hartford in pursuit of a man with a gun who had fled inside the building Thursday Sept. 1, 2011. Rick Hartford | Hartford Courant

This is a photograph of the plain clothed police officers of Hartford’s Shooting Task Force edging their way up a flight of stairs in an apartment building in pursuit of a man with a gun. I love the drama of it, the feeling of anticipation, suspense, the possibility of encountering evil on the next landing above. It was a gift that these men allowed me to join them without restriction. There was never any negotiation between us. I think one of them had this tee shirt which said Hartford Gunslingers on it. Well, they were, and proud of it.

• • • • • •

Stephen Dunn

With the clock winding down, Connecticut's Kemba Walker (15) worked the floor and got off this shot at the buzzer to break a tie with Pittsburgh and win the game. UConn beat Pitt, 76-74 in the quarterfinal game of the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York, Thursday, March 10, 2011. Stephen Dunn | Hartford Courant

I chose “The Shot” by Kemba Walker in the closing seconds of the Pitt game during the record-setting Big East tournament in NYC where UConn won 5 games in a row to win the Big East championship, all on the back of Kemba Walker. No team had ever won 5 games straight in this tourney and it was nuts. I had only packed enough clothes for 2 days, assuming UConn would lose and go home. They kept winning and, of course, the rest is history.

• • • • • •

John Woike

Forestville, CT 8/28/11 John (known as JR) Rusgrove of Bristol is distraught as he watches the Pequabuck River in Forestville consume his new restaurant Garnish after Hurricane Irene drenched the state Saturday night into Sunday causing major flooding. Rusgrove and his wife Leanne just opened the restaurant August 11 as they worked to reopen their first restaurant, the Parkside Cafe in the Federal Hill district of Bristol, which was destroyed by fire on Valentines Day this year.

J.R. Rusgrove of Bristol is distraught as he watches the Pequabuck River in Forestville consume his new restaurant Garnish after Tropical Storm Irene drenched the state Saturday night into Sunday causing major flooding. Rusgrove and his wife Leanne just opened the restaurant August 11 as they worked to reopen their first restaurant, the Parkside Cafe in the Federal Hill district of Bristol, which was destroyed by fire on Valentines Day this year.

I chose this photo as my favorite photo of the year because of the angst I felt for J.R. when I took it. I live less than a mile from this section of Bristol and when I took my dog for a walk that afternoon to see what Tropical Storm Irene did I ran into him standing in the road assessing the damage to his new restaurant. I have come to know J.R. and his wife Leanne from their first restaurant, The Parkside Cafe, and the loss they suffered when a fire destroyed it on Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

I’m happy to say the damage from Irene was minimal and they reopened the following week. They are planning to reopen The Parkside Café soon as well and my wife and I plan on ringing in the New Year with them at Garnish since there is much to be grateful for this year.

• • • • • •