Monday, May 3, 2010
As fate would have it, I'm returning to New Orleans on May 16th to continue Two Years and Two Hundred Square Feet, which also gives me just enough to re-edit my book and submit it to the Photography Book Now competition. If I timed it properly, I could advertise my book at the same as the pictures were being beamed out to the avenue. Hopefully it all works out that way. Wish me luck? I'll be blogging from the New Orleans, regardless of the what happens with the book or show, so keep an eye on this blog. As usual, I'll welcome comments, critiques, etc. while I'm down there.
Monday, January 25, 2010
For the last few weeks, I've watched CNN documenting the effort in Haiti and it hasn't been entirely inspiring, but that's to be expected when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. It's like the wild west down there. Everybody answers to nobody. Meanwhile, I've started the countdown until the public grows bored of its new toy and allows the military to bow out gracefully. leaving the job half-done.
And perhaps I'm not giving credit where it's due. While I would love to participate in this lovely morsel of national pride, the proposition of history repeating itself ad nauseam is preventing me. Eventually, children will say, "If we hadn't helped those poor Haitians, they might be in FEMA trailers right now." Ladies and gentlemen, let the double speak begin and enjoy the show.
Currently in heavy rotation:
The XX - Crystalised
The Kills - M.E.X.I.C.O.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Our Time
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I've also been telling myself that I'll make up at godawful hours of the morning in order to catch the delicious morning light. I still need a bit of convincing. Another thing I've been telling myself is that I'll finally record a proper interview with Chuck. I figure that if the average temperature is 65 degrees during the day, he won't have a million fans running, thus drowning out any sort of intelligible conversation. At least that's what I'm banking on. Also, being that I don't need to worry about any kind of baggage restrictions, I can bring as much recording equipment as I damn well please.
One question I've been asking myself is what I should do about Chuck. It's getting to the point where he almost requires a separate essay. Bottom line: Chuck's story needs to be told somehow, because his story is as tragic as it is universal to New Orleanians. Local man loses everything following hurricane. It's a story that's almost on the verge of being played out, but Chuck is so personable that it absolutely slays you. Figuratively, of course. So is this to become a section in the book or another book entirely? I suppose I'm looking for advice on that.
Another thing I need advice on is showing this work. Do I have enough street cred to show on my own or even with another person? Should I trust my work to convince others that I'm worthy of a gallery show? As you can tell, the gallery world seems like it has a steep learning curve to me.
Currently in heavy rotation:
The Strokes - Take It Or Leave It
The Crystal Method - High Roller
Why? - Eskimo Snow
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Chuck explained to me that he had been living in his trailer with his three-legged dog, Spunk, for going on two years. He’s a marble worker and tiler by trade, offering his services to his neighbors that are getting back on their feet and rebuilding their houses. He has even made a poker table for the governor of
This essay documents the remaining FEMA trailers and the people that live in them. Since this essay’s infancy, it was always meant to be a sensitive retelling of the state of New Orleans and the under-represented population that occupies FEMA trailers. I never intended for this essay to be a documentation of tragedy, or for my travels to be considered disaster tourism, a practice that I consider ethically ambiguous. Not all stories are happy, but, by the same measure, not all stories are sad. This series of photographs conveys, as truthfully as I can, the stories of the people documented in this visual essay.
This project began, in earnest, in September 2008 when I traveled to
After having followed the story for years, I was convinced that I knew all that I needed to make a successful photo essay. I quickly found out that my perceptions of the situation at hand were largely incorrect. Talking to residents of
I returned to
In the same way that the project underwent a creative genesis, this book has evolved significantly from its original published form. As I reflect on it now, the original book was hastily made, so in assembling this second, revised version, the standards I set for myself were much more stringent. Now that I have the experience of presenting this work in the form of a book once, presenting old and new material in the same way is a different experience. Just as my photographic process has changed, the process of presenting this work has also changed. This new book is the logical progression from the original offering.
The number of trailers in
This project will continue to evolve until there are no longer any FEMA trailers in
To this day, Chuck is still slowly rebuilding the house that his father built. He is like so many others in
Friday, August 21, 2009
This essay documents the remaining FEMA trailers and the people that live in them. Since this essay’s infancy, it was never intended to be a documentation of tragedy, or for my travels to be considered disaster tourism, a practice that I consider ethically ambiguous at best. On the contrary, it is meant to be a sensitive retelling of the state of New Orleans and the under-represented population that occupies FEMA trailers. Not all stories are happy, but, by the same measure, not all stories are sad. This series of photographs conveys, as truthfully as I can, the stories of the people documented in this visual essay.
This project began, in earnest, in September 2008 when I traveled to New Orleans as part of a photo essay class. The interest in the story began long before that, however. The news networks ran stories about Hurricane Katrina, day and night, for weeks after the storm. I saw stories of volunteers helping to rescue people from their homes in between stories of people looking for their lost family members. I wanted so badly provide some relief for these people. I had grown up with the understanding that I need to think of others before thinking of myself. I was only seventeen at the time and had no way of getting to New Orleans. I would have to wait. When I started college, an opportunity to go to New Orleans finally came. Long after the networks had forgotten Hurricane Katrina, I had the same desire to provide relief to residents of New Orleans, though it would come in the form of a photographic essay organized into a book and gallery exhibition.
After having followed the story for years, I was convinced that I knew all that I needed to make a successful photo essay. I quickly found out that my perceptions of the situation at hand were largely incorrect. Talking to residents of New Orleans helped me understand the situation better than any news report ever could. There were more dynamics and facets to all of this than I could have ever realized. Political, social, and economic issues surrounded this hurricane and I realized very early on that this problem stretched far beyond the Bush administration and FEMA. As I learned more and more, I felt like I could empathize with these people instead of insulting them with how little I knew. In this way, the project experienced a sort of creative genesis.
I returned to New Orleans in June 2009 to continue what I had started months earlier. The time apart from the project wasn’t detrimental, however. In fact, it helped my project become more focused. During my time away, I grew more mature, more skilled, and more confident about my craft. Lessons learned on the last trip helped me be a more effective photographer by slowing down and being more deliberate, and I believe the new collection of work reflects that. Overall, I am more satisfied, both technically and conceptually, with this body of work than I ever was with the original.
In the same way that the project underwent a creative genesis, this book has evolved significantly from its original published version. As I reflect on it now, the original book was hastily made and it’s something that I regret. Now that I have the experience of presenting this work in the form of a book once, presenting old and new material in the form of a book is a different experience. Just as my photographic process has changed, the process of presenting this work has also changed. This new book is the logical progression from the original offering.
The number of trailers in New Orleans is quickly dwindling, due to new city ordinances and FEMA policies. Residents of New Orleans, whether they do not have the funds to rebuild, or are still waiting for government assistance to arrive, have a continued need for their FEMA trailers. After more than three years, their plight gets very little media attention aside from specials that run at the end of August and beginning of September for the anniversaries. Families that still live in FEMA trailers are under-represented in New Orleans society, and especially in a national context. Citizens outside of Louisiana are often ill-informed of the current situation. Two Years and Two Hundred Square Feet seeks to inform its audience that residents of New Orleans have a continued need for help and that, three years later, New Orleans is not back on its feet.
This project will continue to evolve until there are no longer and FEMA trailers in New Orleans. Until that happens, I do not consider this to be a comprehensive series documenting the final 2,650 trailers in New Orleans that existed on September 20th, 2008. As of March 29th, 2009, there are only 1,042 FEMA trailers residing in New Orleans. Due to new city ordinances and FEMA policies, trailers are disappearing at a staggering rate. Before long, no FEMA trailers will remain in New Orleans. This issue needs to be documented before the families the families in need that occupy these FEMA trailers are swept under the rug and forgotten.
To this day, Chuck is still slowly rebuilding the house that his father had built. He is like so many others in New Orleans, doing what they can to make ends meet while trying to get their former lives back. They would rather endure life in a FEMA trailer than leave the city they love so much. I hope that after viewing this body of work, you tell others of the state of New Orleans. Spreading the message will give people like Chuck a voice. Thank you very much and I hope you enjoy.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
It's no secret that the excess of the Bush administration is quickly coming to an end and it seems that the entertainment industry is just now realizing it. Bummer, dudes. To drive it home, one of the higher-ups at EMI, one of the four largest recording companies in the world, has recently admitted that the industry is now entirely out of touch reality. How did they find themselves on a ship with no captain? By wiping their asses with every new and innovative distribution method that have been brought forth, including websites like the Pirate Bay. Bummer again, dudes. So now that the industry has to learn how to live within their means and find a way to win over their already very alienated customers, they're liable to do anything they can to make it seem like they aren't greedy bastards. I sense a very elaborate "the music industry loves you" campaign in the very near future. After all, the whole "we're going to sue all of our customers" campaign did not go over so well.
And who would have thought there would be a backlash from that? With all that incredibly bad PR over suing people that didn't even own computers or grandmothers for online piracy, I'd have no idea that people would view the industry in poor taste. And I'm not trying to defend piracy. I'm not. But there are certain business practices that the industry ha taken on that I don't necessarily agree with. Picture this: you get a letter in the mail that says, "Pay us five grand or we'll unleash our incredibly well-paid and effective legal team upon you. Resistance is futile. Have a nice day." How is anybody supposed to compete with that? Even if you've done nothing wrong, you'll spend who knows how much money defending your innocence. Either way, money is going to leave your pocket, and when it does, it's going to go to the music industry. There's very little stopping them from just mailing letters out to everybody in America demanding money.
As a photographer, the proposition of sending e-mails and letters to people demanding money right off the bat is utterly preposterous and threatening to sue in the initial conversation is not a very diplomatic business practice. The extremely reactionary practices of the industry has left a bad taste in a lot of mouths. All it does is send a message that the music industry no longer cares about its customers. Not caring about your customers is not going to make your customers care about you. Not to mention the absolutely abysmal state of Top 40 radio which only leaves me thinking, "Wait, haven't I heard this before?" It is as forgettable as it is unimaginative. So what's the motivation to purchase it? There isn't any.
My suggestion: start making music worth buying or find a different way to survive. Good riddance.
Currently in heavy rotation:
Crystal Castles - Crimewave [Crystal Castles vs. HEALTH]
M83 - We Own The Sky
The AKAs - Every Great Western
Friday, July 10, 2009
Now it's time to get down to post-production and battling with InDesign to create this book of mine. One of the questions I've been asking myself is whether to update the original work (this would be my preference) or to let the new series stand on its own. Being that the series as a whole is called Two Years and Two Hundred Square Feet, it would be a little absurd, in my opinion, to have another book bearing the same name. The next question is whether to create a tighter edit of 30 photos or keep the original edit and tack on to it? I'll have to mull that last one over. Meanwhile, I'll be burning my retinas in front of a computer screen.
Currently in heavy rotation:
RJD2 - Ghostwriter
Death From Above 1979 - Luno
Spinnerette - Baptized by Fire