June 23, 2008

things aren't always as they seem. things are always as they seem.

...fine, i admit it.
my life is more horrific than yours.

June 21, 2008

Sanctuary

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clearing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.
-Kate Chopin, The Awakening
I try to escape to the idyllic isle of Pawleys Island every year.
It has become my sanctuary. The ocean, a cleansing baptism of playful relief.
Salt water has healing properties, as do cool breezes, warm sun, soft sand and loved ones.

After a frustrating week at home, I had the pleasure of fleeing my daytoday to the island on the Atlantic into the arms of my family and friends and love.
The soft sand holds almost two decades of my summer memories.

where, who would i be without the people i love?
they lift me up. they ground me.
around them, i sigh less. i laugh more.

and with this backdrop? well, it comes pretty easy.

June 15, 2008

the beginning of the end, the middle of the end, the end of the end

you got to look outside your eyes.
you got to think outside your brain.
you got to walk outside your life
to where the neighborhood changes.

.ani.difranco.

More images from my numerous visits to the endangered, very soon to be extinct, Gilbert Manor Project and a few photos from the lives of some residents beyond their former home, in new neighborhoods.

June 13, 2008

RIP Gilbert Manor Project

I have not shot a lot of longterm documentary projects. I wouldn't be so bold to say that I've very seriously dedicated myself to more than a few. But I'm not naive, I know that access and trust and follow-through can be difficult.
With that being said, a photo story I chose to work on starting last November presented me with nothing but obstacles and frustrations. By last week, after working on it off and on for 6 months, I've decided it was cursed from the start.
First, the community I wanted to document, a housing project made up entirely of impoverished African Americans, was skeptical and withdrawn from me, a white stranger with a camera on my neck. I was emotionally invested in the story before it began because this can be a racially tense city. On blogs and message boards and even an official's email, the sale of the Gilbert Manor Housing Project became a black versus white/ poor versus rich issue to some people, whether that was the root of the issue or not. (Case in point, the comments below my photos online) I am sensitive to stereotypes and bigotry and through working on this I learned that stereotypes can be both very true and very false. This was a story I chose to work on not because I thought I would get really great access or even really great photos, I just wanted readers to pause and really see, even for just a moment over their coffee in the morning, a community that existed for decades that they drove past every day and probably ignored every day. Two months into me wandering the community trying to meet more people and slowly gaining hints of trust by knowing more and more names, it was decided that the two photographer/two writer poverty project would be completely scrapped for reasons too absurd to explain. The reporter on my team said he would still write something so my photos would be used. I kept visiting the community and realized the few people who had let me into their homes and lives were very unreliable when it came to meeting with them or returning my calls or even answering the door. I then found out that a mother I decided to focus on lied to me about a very important detail that could compromise her family if it was published. I worked around it and the reporter happened upon a new family to supplement my access. Then, the reporter got swamped with daily work and couldn't find time to write the article, then the story was pushed back a month, then another. When I brought this up to my boss last week, editors decided the photos would run minus the article before it lost its timeliness and relevance to the community, and they would run my photos on the front page. YAY! on Sunday. YAY! then I was told they would be running all nine photos on the front page. Oy. Good exposure for the readers to notice, but not a lot of space to tell a story with my photos and not a lot of opportunity for good design/layout. (Some photos just aren't readable at 2 inches.)
Finally, the web element I spent hours on (my redemption!) was never put online although it was referred on the front page all due to egos or miscommunications or something I don't even understand.
Like I said, cursed.

All those frustrations aside, I met people I probably wouldn't have otherwise thanks to my job and the time I was given to work, I learned how to swerve around roadblocks and to keep working despite them, I learned how to rise above my own discomforts and fears and be more friendly and open and approachable. I'm still trying so hard to not become too emotionally wrapped up in what happens with my photos and my stories and to enjoy and learn from the process. I am trying to not become cynical about my possibly idealistic view that you can work on a story you find important to serve the readers and show them things or people or lifestyles they have never seen and even went out of their way to see for decades. I don't want to give up the journalistic ideal that you can help people see their community differently.
Maybe even at 2 inches wide.
Maybe not.

(you may have to pause this to be able to read each slide.)

June 12, 2008

Paridise-roids

Pawley's Island, South Carolina is my annual sanctuary.
I've gone there just about every summer for the past 20 years and I can probably attribute 30% of my freckles to that Atlantic coast paradise.

sigh.













































June 7, 2008

Self Portrait of a Portrait

I was flipping through my favorite poetry books the other night and inside of my ee cummings book, I found this treasure:
I'm ashamed that I cannot remember the little hands that drew it. I know I must have been on an assignment and the child gave it to me before I left. She did a pretty good job at guessing how to spell my name (top). I'd say my legs and feet look pretty much the same in her drawing as they do in this photo...

Now, I'm off to the beach with family and friends and my bearded guy. My next post will be my longtime-coming-neversatisfiedwith- Gilbert Manor story... if beach photos don't sneak in before.

June 3, 2008

Peaches in the Palmetto State.

millions of peaches, peaches for me.

i crossed the border from the peach state into the palmetto state for a story about peaches yesterday. go figure. the palmetto state (South Carolina) actually produces more peaches than the peach state (Georgia).
after poor peach crops in 2007, the fruit will be making a comeback in South Carolina orchards this year.