As photographers, or more specifically photojournalists (of which I'm not so sure I identify with anymore), we inhabit a world of transit, interrupted by brief, often intense experiences as we drop into stories, spend a few hours or days on them, then just as quickly move on to the next.
I watched the path of Hurricane Sandy filled not with an itch to cover the next big story, but with memories of the New Jersey shore, where I spent parts of each summer of my childhood swimming, surfing and making sand castles. Now we take our children there and I still marvel at this narrow stretch of land, how fragile it is, and how new and different the ocean and sky can be each day. Our family has a home in Mantoloking, where one of the more iconic photos of the storm, showing the Mantoloking Bridge descending into water, was taken. The house is about a five minute walk from that bridge and for a long time, we had no sense of whether our house made it through the storm or not.
So this was unmistakably my story and my place and I immediately felt protective of how it was covered and of all the little details that journalists were getting wrong (the bridge was misidentified by the Times and others as being in Seaside Heights for nearly a week).
These photographs are from a single day (last Monday), as I walked along the beach starting around 4AM until the sun came up. To reach the beach, I walked down silent roads, framed by bumpy piles of waterlogged mattresses, sofas and tables stacked high on the sidewalk. With no electricity, the beach and sky were deeply dark and there was no delineator between horizon and sky. The destruction was mostly just jagged dark shadows against a slightly lighter sky.
The news media quickly moved on past the Jersey shore and rightfully so, as many areas of New York were hit much harder with much more vulnerable populations. Still, this place, my place, is just in the beginning of rebuilding, and inevitably, this will be the place I return to, again and again.
One of my two and half year old son's favorite games is hiding, then shouting, "You'll never find me!" It's sort of a wonderful notion, that as long as he can't see us, he's invisible.
I've taken to photographing these moments as he remains absolutely still, at least until he opens his eyes and peeks at me to make sure I'm still looking for him. Here are a few of my favorites.
I've photographed the nationwide gathering of conservatives known as CPAC for four years now. Each year, I enter the windowless Marriott where it's held, contending with the muddy orange light offset only by the crisp LED lights that are trained on the latest rising star in the Republican party. These walking packs of shouting reporters, over-reaching security guards (I'm looking at you, Santorum handlers) and every conservative blogger within eight hundred miles give regular citizens one of their few opportunities to view these people close up as they thread their way through the CPAC floor.
Each year, I talk to huge numbers of exceedingly polite teenagers in suits and ties, see some vile t-shirts/stickers for sale and try to find something that's maybe a little more nuanced, a little less reactive than the year before. This year, I couldn't shake the eerie, red stage lights that bled into the dark corners of the rooms and touched those on the margins of the event.
my Desmond Tutu photo on the cover of his new autobiography
My wonderful agency passed along some photographs from Desmond Tutu's 80th birthday and the release of his autobiography that occurred last week in Capetown, South Africa at a church that was once at the center of resistance against the apartheid government. The publishers chose an image I shot of Tutu a few years ago for the cover.
photos courtesy of PQ Blackwell Publishers
I don't see photo shoots as opportunities as much as they are experiences, brief moments to be lived through and hopefully changed from in some way or another. What I remember about photographing Desmond Tutu at the tail end of a two day conference was that he had a plane to catch and I had to push a little to even have him sit for me. He was in an enormous hurry and stood there with this beatific smile on his face as he yelled at me to finish up and get a move on so he could get to the airport. There wasn't any malice in his voice and he patted me on the back and gave me that same smile as he rushed out of the tiny, makeshift studio I had spent hours crafting. As far as I know, he caught his plane, and I learned that it's always worth that extra, sometimes uncomfortable effort to approach a subject, even if their time is brief.
While it was enormously gratifying to get a copy of his autobiography with one of those photographs selected as the cover image, the more exciting thing was the enormous fresco of Reverend Tutu painted by local artists based on the image, that will hang on the wall in one of his charities in South Africa.
The title of this post is in reference to the video below, which shows Rev. Tutu getting his groove on during his birthday celebration. The video also shows him checking out the painting (apparently he thought the artist didn't paint his nose large enough) and Bono from U2 singing to him.
Like many photographers (I suspect), I often keep a camera with a wide angle lens near me while in the car. These images I take rarely serve as more than an instinctual record of scenes that catch my eye as people and places hurtle past. In rare cases, I'm surprised by the visual successes of one of these photos.
The photos here come from my trip earlier this month to Kerala and were all taken from the backseat of an SUV. The purpose of the trip was to visit family there and subsequently we were traveling quite a bit most days. I'm still sorting through the images and waiting on my film to be developed and hope to share a few more images.