freelance editorial, commercial, photographer + videographer


What a day: N.C.’s Moral Monday in review

Thousands marched from in North Carolina’s Capital from Halifax Mall to Fayetteville Street to hear a fiery speech delivered by N.C. NAACP President William Barber II during the final “Moral Monday” demonstration of the N.C. legislative session. Watch a highlight video by News & Observer staff photojournalist Travis Long who covered the majority of Moral Monday and related demonstrations for the The News & Observer.

Seeing the Invisible | A yearlong look at N.C. poverty part 2

Ride along with Fayetteville Police Department’s homeless specialist Stacy Sanders on a routine patrol as she checks in with some of Cumberland County’s estimated 1,600 homeless residents living in shelters, woods and under bridges.

Read Gene Nichol’s coulmn here:

America the Gutted

Had the pleasure of working on the North Carolina segments of Global Post’s America the Gutted Series:

Produced and Reported: Solana Pyne
Field Production and video: Travis Long

Conventioneers offer impressions of Charlotte and the DNC

DNC delegates and conventioneers share what they like about Charlotte and what impresses them the most.

Travis Long
Mika Chance
Jeffrey Sholar
Laura-Chase McGehee

Legendary club demolished

Staff and regular bar patrons watch as the The Brewery, a legendary local live music venue was leveled Tuesday, August 2, 2011 to make way for a drug store, parking deck and apartments on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, NC..

Stills: Travis Long and Takaaki Iwabu
Video: Travis Long
Editing: Travis Long and Takaaki Iwabu
Music: Ryan Adams “My Heart Is Broken” live at The Brewery October 21, 1999

Joyride in an F-15E

Air Force Capt. Michael Jokhy of the 333rd Fighter Squadron and News & Observer photojournalist Travis Long take you inside the cockpit of a 50 million dollar F-15E Strike Eagle based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, NC. The F-15E Strike Eagle is a dual-role fighter designed to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

Freestyle phenom

Sixteen-year-old Indi Cowie of Cary is considered by many to be the best female soccer freestyler in the world. Watch as Cowie performs some of her mind-blowing tricks.

Agents’ Secrets

This series, the product of months of reporting, reveals deep trouble at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. “Agents’ Secrets” shows an agency in line with prosecutors’ wishes. Agents and analysts ignore or twist the truth and push the bounds of science.

The Trailer

A preview of Agents’ Secrets: Junk Science, Tainted Testimony at the SBI, The News & Observer’s four-part investigative series exposing systemic problems in North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation. This trailer promoted the series on a week prior to publication in print and online.

Footage: Travis Long, Shawn Rocco, pool, SBI
Stills: Shawn Rocco, provided
Editing: Travis Long, Shawn Rocco.
Music: “34 Ghosts IV,” Nine Inch Nails (Creative Commons)

A Confession Doesn’t Add Up

Floyd Brown, a developmentally disabled man, spent 14 years locked up in a mental hospital because of a murder confession that has been widely discredited. SBI agent Mark Isley testified that he took down Brown’s confession word for word. But those who knew him or examined him said the document couldn’t have come from him.

Footage, editing: Travis Long, Shawn Rocco
Interviews, narration: Mandy Locke
Stills: Harry Lynch
Additional footage: Dr. Moira Artigues

Bloodstain analysis: ‘A bunch of malarkey’

An SBI bloodstain pattern experiment draws criticism and catcalls.

Footage: Travis Long, SBI.
Interview, script, narration: Joseph Neff.
Editing: Travis Long

A Truth Seeps Out at Last

Jailed for 18 years, Greg Taylor’s exoneration calls into question forensic practices at the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

Footage and editing: Travis Long, Shawn Rocco.
Interviews, narration: Mandy Locke.
Stills: Shawn Rocco, Chuck Liddy, SBI.

Read the entire series at:

Update – August 27, 2010: Scathing SBI audit says 230 cases tainted by shoddy investigations:
An audit commissioned by Attorney General Roy Cooper revealed that the State Bureau of Investigation withheld or distorted evidence in more than 200 cases at the expense of potentially innocent men and women.

Update – January 30, 2011 – CNN airs “CNN Presents: Rogue Justcice”: An hour-long documentary based on the The News & Observer’s investigative series “Agents’ Secrets: Junk Science, Tainted Testimony at the SBI.” The documentary included a significant amount of News & Observer video footage and photographs as well as interviews with reporters Mandy Locke and Joseph Neff.

Update – February 9, 2011 – “Agents’ Secrets'” series receives McClatchy President’s Award:
“Raleigh’s coverage of the misdeeds of the state Bureau of Investigation uncovered a startling story: The agency responsible for many prosecution cases couldn’t be trusted. Reporters Joseph Neff and Mandy Locke worked for months to review documents, study practices and analyze questionable cases. Their reporting led to sweeping changes in the state agency, and spawned a CNN documentary that ran nationally this month. The project comes with an eloquent online website that includes stories, graphics and photos and tracks the developing coverage of this story. “Wow,” one judge wrote across the top of the entry. The judges panel added, “The treatment of this subject turned into a conversation all across town, which meant the reforms and reaction developed a real momentum. With the excellent reporting and strong online treatment, the series provides a how-to on making the most of an important, ongoing investigative project.”

Update – February 18, 2011: “Agents’ Secrets” receives Public Service award: The News & Observer was awarded the N.C. Press Association’s Public Service award for the investigative series “Agents’ Secrets.” The series also received first place recognition for best video, best multimedia project and investigative reporting.

Related Post -February 17, 2010: Innocence Panel Sets Greg Taylor Free

The Forgotten All-Stars

Playing in a time of segregation, some of the best basketball players in the nation starred in relative obscurity. With blacks shut out of North Carolina universities, many went on to success out of state or in other fields. These are a few stories of a handful of African-American basketball players who, in another time, might have become national athletic heroes. Few of their victories and great moments were recorded by the mainstream press. Now, a half century later, we tell you about some of the greatest high school basketball players to ever play in North Carolina: The Forgotten All-Stars.

Footage, interviews, stills and editing: Travis Long

Read the stories:
Lawrence Dunn: In the limelight at last
Paul Grier: The best in his city
Reginald ‘Hawk’ Ennis: ‘The greatest’
Harvey Heartley: Denied a chance to go to NCSU
John ‘Goat’ Bullock: A champion, a mystery
Stephens-Lee High: Led by star trio to title

Airborne With Stunt Rider Kenny Steinke

Professional freestyle motocross rider Kenny Steinke of Melbourne, Fla. performs aerial stunts during the King Action Sports Stunt Show during the 2010 North Carolina State Fair.

Footage and editing: Travis Long

Cameras: Go Pro Hero and Canon 5D Mark II

Fans Erupt as Duke Wins National Title

Following a nail-biting game, Duke fans erupt inside Cameron Indoor Stadium after winning the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship against Butler 61-59. The celebration quickly moved outdoors where a large bonfire was set.

Footage and editing: Travis Long

Innocence Panel Sets Greg Taylor Free

A three judge panel votes unanimously to undo Greg Taylor’s 1993 conviction for the murder of Jacquetta Thomas, a prostitute in Southeast Raleigh. Their decision exonerates Taylor and releases him from a term of life in prison after 17 years.

Footage: Travis Long, pool
Editing: Travis Long

Update – May 21, 2010: Governor pardons Greg Taylor

The Legacy of Frank Weedon

For five decades, Frank Weedon has been the conscience of N.C. State sports as sports-information director and an athletic administrator. Now, as his memory starts to fade, alumnus and former sportswriter Tim Peeler is in a race against time to document what Frank knows and what Frank has collected over the years for posterity.

Footage and editing: Travis Long
Still photos: N.C. State University

Oh, High Tech Night…

Each Christmas, Denny Cole of Cary, N.C. spends months preparing his house with 3000 feet of wire and 17,000 lights set to music in an elaborate digital synchronized light show.

Footage and editing: Travis Long

Legislators Face Off NASCAR-Style

North Carolina state legislators face off in the Pit Crew Challenge with members of the Red Bull pit crew team at the state legislature building.

Footage and editing: Travis Long


In recognition of Bike to Work Week, I put together a stop motion of my daily 3.6 mile bicycle commute from my home in east Raleigh to The News & Observer in downtown Raleigh set to “Black Mags” by The Cool Kids.

All images were made with a Canon 5D mounted to my bicycle with a Bogen Magic Arm and triggered by an intervalometer. Ambient sound is from a shotgun mic mounted to the bicycle frame.

Footage and editing: Travis Long.
Additional footage: Vanessa Van Horn.
Music: “Black Mags” The Cool Kids.

Great 8 2009

The 2009 edition of News & Observer’s “Eight Great Local Acts” spotlights eight of the best and brightest music acts from the Raleigh Durham area including: Jason Graves, Lonnie Walker, Double Negative, Violet Vector & The Lovley Lovelies, Alesana, The Loners, Inflowential and Hammer No More The Fingers.

The Trailer

Footage: Travis Long, Jason Arthurs, provided
Editing: Travis Long
Music: Jason Graves

Double Negative

“Ah! Diction” by Double Negative filmed at the The Milestone in Charlotte, N.C.

Technical: Stop motion shot with a Canon 5D, 40D & Sony Z7U at 4 fps. Contains 862 still frames. Edited in Quicktime Pro and Final Cut Pro.

Footage and editing: Travis Long.
Music: “Ah! Diction” Double Negative

Jason Graves

Footage, interview, editing: Jason Arthurs, Travis Long

Lonnie Walker

Footage: Jason Arthurs, Travis Long
Editing: Jason Arthurs

The Loners

Footage: Jason Arthurs, Travis Long
Interviews: Jason Arthurs
Editing: Travis Long

Lessons of Coach Yow

A tribute to the late Kay Yow, head coach of the NC State Wolfpack women’s basketball team from 1975 to 2009. A member of the Naismith Hall of Fame, she had more than 700 career wins. She also coached the U.S. women’s basketball team to an Olympic gold medal in 1988 despite having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987. Yow, 66, lost her battle with cancer in January 2009. But in the teachings she left behind, for interim women’s coach Stephanie Glance, the players, the staff, her friends and those who learned from her on and off the court, she left a legacy.

Read the story.

Footage and editing: Travis Long
Additional footage: provided by Kay Yow
Interviews: Edward Robinson
Still photos: Travis Long, Corey Lowenstein, Ethan Hyman, News & Observer archives
Music: The Grains of Time (recorded on location)

Paperhand Puppet Intervention

From the inside of an aging gymnasium in rural Saxapahaw, NC, puppeteers breathe life into recycled materials to build giant puppets, masks, shadows and silhouettes.

Paperhand Puppet Intervention, founded a decade ago by Donovan Zimmerman and Jan Burger, is a group of puppeteers and musicians who specialize in making whimsical creatures ranging from a sun mask the size of a basketball goal to shadow puppets the size of a fingernail.

“We tend toward the fantastical,” Burger says. “But we’re inspired by the natural world and the things we see around us. … We’ll see an old guy walking down the road and I’ll say, ‘I’d love to make a mask of somebody with a face like that’.”

Footage and editing: Travis Long

Promise of Protection

Vernetta Cockerham’s husband made good on threats to kill her family when he stabbed to death her teenage daughter Candice in 2002. Cockerham had begged police to lock him up. In a lawsuit she’s asking them to pay for failing to protect her.

Footage and editing: Travis Long
Interviews: Mandy Locke
Stills: Travis Long, provided
Music: “The Persistence of Loss” Nine Inch Nails, ASCAP

Chasing ghosts is one of the hardest thing we do as a visual storytellers.

Problem: Tell the story of a crime that happened five and a half years ago.

Solution: Find every scrap of visual you can including family photos, documents, medical sketches, a 72 dpi booking mug, deposition video and lots of photo and video details. Put it all together with a compelling interview and edit the hell out of it.

On July 4, 2002, Vernetta Cockerham-Ellerbee filed for a restraining order against her husband Richard Ellerbee after he beat her with a baseball bat and attempted to smother her with a pillow. Vernetta’s home became a war zone that year. Her husband beat her and for months promised to kill her and her three children. Ellerbee dug graves for their bodies in a rutted field that stretched between her home and the Jonesville, NC police station. She begged officers to lock him up.

On November 18, she notified Jonesville police several times throughout the day that she was being stalked by Richard. Vernetta says that while talking to officers, Richard drove by. The officers went after Richard and she was certain he had been arrested.

The following day while she ran errands, Richard broke into their home and brutally murdered her 17-year-old daughter Candice. Then he laid in wait and attacked Vernetta and left her for dead.

Because law enforcement is granted such broad immunity from civil liability, Vernetta had to fight for the right to sue Jonesville police. The state Court of Appeals granted her permission in 2006, saying officers made a specific promise to her and her children, failed to deliver and didn’t warn her they had not arrested the threat. Her civil case is pending.

I accompanied writer Mandy Locke to Vernetta’s apartment in Winston-Salem where she lives with her two young sons. Mandy had already conducted her print interview days earlier and spent a little more than an hour interviewing her while I shot video.

Mandy did the interview for the Dwayne Dail piece that was published last month. She has superb interview skills and knows exactly when to let the subject talk and when to redirect. This makes my job so much easier.

As I listened to Vernetta recount the day she was attacked and how she learned of her daughter’s death, it was all I could do to keep from crying.

She took us to nearby Jonesville (population 2000) where she showed us the home where the murder took place and the field where Richard dug the graves. It was a foggy evening and the light was fading. I had about 20 minutes on the ground before the light disappeared.

A year ago I might have spent a few days or more shooting photos for a Sunday page one story. I probably spent a combined 30 minutes shooting stills for this story. Many of those stills were details or “noun” photos to support my video. I find myself using my still camera for static details because they offer more control and depth of field than my HD video camera.

Once I captured the interview, I made notes of all the things I wanted for B-roll. Then I waited for another overcast day to return to Jonesville to finish shooting. A few days later the weather cooperated and I drove the 300 mile round trip from Raleigh to Jonesville.

Vernetta claims to have been harrassed by town officials after she filed suit against the police. Everything I needed to shoot was within sight of the police department and I worried that they may give me hard time. So I put on a bright orange traffic vest and went about my business. From a distance I looked like a surveyor with my tripod. No one paid any attention.

I’ve always admired the documentary “The Thin Blue Line“ by Errol Morris. It’s one of my favorite “ghost stories.” Many have compared “The Thin Blue Line” with Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” and Norman Mailer’s “The Executioner’s Song.” The movie proves that documentary film can tell the tale of a crime long after it has been committed. I’m certainly no Errol Morris, but I do want to pay my respect to the inspiration.

Update – Tuesday, June 30, 2009: A settlement was reached between Vaernetta Cockerham and the Jonesville Police.

Update – August 2009: O, The Oprah Magazine covers Vernetta Cockerham’s story with photographs by Mary Ellen Mark.

The Price of Refuge

The Trailer

To protect Sean Paddock from his parents, social workers placed him with strangers but his new family posed an even greater danger.

Footage and editing: Travis Long
Music: “Ghosts 1″ Nine Inch Nails, Creative Commons

View the entire project here.

The Legislature in 30 Seconds

A video montage of the North Carolina House and the Senate as they gavel in a short session.

Footage and editing: Travis Long, Ted Richardson
Music: “Possesive,” YACHT, ASCAP

Colleague Ted Richardson and I were assigned to make a video of the first day of the NC legislative session.


Sorry, I get sleepy just thinking about it. This was Ted’s first day in the new video rotation and I didn’t want him to get a bad taste in his mouth right out of the gate. We decided to keep the video short and sweet with quick cuts and some sped up clips. I focused on long sustained wide shots and Ted keyed in on details.

I called my wife and asked her to scour our iTunes playlist for a 30 second ASCAP song that was fun with lots of beats I could easlily edit to. She suggested “Possesive” by Y.A.C.H.T. and sent it to me via ftp.

We used the fit to fill function in FCP to speed up clips and match them to the beat by setting in and out points on the sequence where we wanted the clips to sync up.

Inside the Cockpit of an AT-6 Texan

Fly with News & Observer staff writer Josh Shaffer during an aerobatic demonstration of an AT-6 Texan. Its predecessor, the T-6, was used to train fighter pilots during Word War II. The flight was hosted by History Flight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of World War II aircraft.

Footage: Travis Long, History Flight
Editing: Travis Long

Technical: Onboard flight footage recorded to VHS, dubbed to Mini DV and captured in Final Cut Pro. Ground footage and interviews: Canon XH A1.

Obama Campaigns in Greensboro, NC

One of more than a dozen videos produced for during the 2008 democratic primary.

Footage and editing: Travis Long