Fri Oct 28 2011
A few weeks ago I wanted a few days of low tech living. My goal was to leave my digital camera behind and ignore email, twitter, facebook for a mere three days. I would find my roots and shoot film. I would leave my iPhone behind(or at least turn it off). I was going to have a great awakening. Then I woke up in a lovely little mountain town in the hills of Shanxi province where farmers grow dates in live in homes that are dug into caves. While ”showering” with no running water is pretty common, I did have a funny “what the what” moment when technology found me and I was told me they had cell service and internet. I sucked it up, bit my lip, and checked my email. Progress is everywhere in China. Who am I to turn my back on it. I did stick to one of my guns and shot film though. I’ll try to untether myself again next time.
Fri Sep 23 2011
A few weeks ago I packed my gear and headed off to Kashgar to cover a mission by Operation Smile there. Kashgar, a city in China’s western state Xianjing, is where the sun stays out until at least 9PM and is home to Uighurs, ethnic Chinese Muslims. While the past few years have seen violent encounters between the Uighur population and their Han Chinese neighbors, my job did not give me the freedom or time to look at that side of life in Kashgar. Instead I followed the hundreds of people looking to give their children a new face. Over the course of four days 158 patients, many of whom were from some of the furthest areas of China’s west and were seeing a doctor for the first time, received reconstructive surgery by a team of 50 volunteers from China, Australia, and the U.S.
Fri Aug 12 2011
After overtaking Japan to become the number two economy in the world, it seems it’s time for China to set it’s sites on it’s next conquest. Producing this year’s winner of the Ms Universe contest. Apparently winning the Donald’s beauty contest is such a priority, a training camp was set up to teach contenders to walk, talk, smile, use make up, and have that killer instinct one needs to win this coveted crown. It’s hard not to be tongue and cheek about it when I kind of felt like I was in boot camp. A perfumed, lip glossy kind, but still a sort of boot camp.
Mon Apr 04 2011
I spent most of March and April covering the tsunami aftermath in Northern Japan. It’s feels like forever. It’s been quite difficult emotionally and logistically. Resources such as fuel, food, and transportation are still in short supply. While that makes it challenging to get around, its pretty trivial in the face of all of this. Since I arrived I’ve heard so many people tell me the stories of loved ones lost or homes destroyed. At the same time I’ve heard people talk about hope and having a never give up spirit through all of this. I’ve met a mayor of a town who lost his wife yet has barely slept since the tsunami trying to hold his town together.
Sun Jan 30 2011
For months I’ve been a bad little blogger. Again. I’ve spent the last few months trying to sort out a visa for India, gone to Haiti(again), covered elections(again), and moved around the world(again). Throughout it all, I’ve neglected to blog. I started this thing to share my work and clear my head. Kind of like an online after action report. I’m still trying to work out the kinks and be more efficient with it. It’s a one of my New Year’s resolution. That and run in the New York City Triathlon. We’ll see how it goes.
Anyway….. After half a year in I am off to a new city and new country. I am now in Beijing for the forseeable future. While I miss India, my firends, colleagues, and Diwali and want to go back more than I ever imagined, I have had enough of being in j-visa limbo. I am still holding out hope and am planning a trip there in the spring but in the meantime I can find new bureaucrats to drive me nuts. While I enjoyed my most recent time in New York but my heart is here in Asia. If I can’t be in one rapidly growing Asian country of 1 billion I guess I’ll have to settle for the other rapidly growing Asian country of 1 billion.
I’ve had had the good fortune to work with Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal since getting to Beijing earlier this month. This week I got to work a story on farmers who are stockpiling their harvests of cotton in hopes that the prices will rise back to the record high from a few moths ago before a sharp drop just recently. With a year of inflation and higher costs for fertilzer and labor it’s easy to understand what motivates them. Growing up I spent my summers working on my grandparents’ farm, so I’ve always had a place in my heart for farmers. I can empathise with them on how much it costs to work the land especially in a season of drought. It’s been tough on them. Many of them seem hopefull that there will be a rebound in the coming months. In the mean time they are storing the stuff in backyard closets and even living rooms. Check out the WSJ Photo Journal piece here. If you want to read the story click here.
I’m adjusting to being here slowly but surely. I hate the cold and not knowing Mandarin but there’s good stories to be told. I am getting on to telling some of them.
Mon Aug 09 2010
Since being back in New York I rarely go anywhere without my camera. I get mocked for it all the time since I usually wind up dragging my whole kit(laptop, the works) with me. It sucks but it’s worth it to have my stuff at my fingertips. The other night I was out drowning my sorrows with friend and fellow photog Holly Picket at a karaoke bar when we came across drunk girls ushering one of their own from the single life to marriage. All off key but happy as clams. What better way to celebrate one of life’s milestones than to drink until the sun comes up and sing off key for complete strangers?
Mon Aug 02 2010
Since being back in New York I am struggling to not only do good work but do work that does good for the community here. I got to do a piece for the NYT on a swim class for juvenile offenders. As the class instructor put it, these are the kids that need the most TLC. Not a bad afternoon of shooting. I had the added challenge of make pix with out identifying any of the students for legal reasons. Hopefully I’ve managed to do that and won’t be taking any awkward calls from the Department of Juvenile Detention.
Mon Jul 26 2010
Ahhh, the 1960′s. I’m talking the early 60′s when ladies in swanky dresses and guys in sharp hats, natty ties and suites were strolling the block. Last night there was screening of the 1960′s era show Mad Men in Times Square and it brought out the sharply dressed. It was probably the nicest night weather wise since I got back to New York so it added to the charm. It was a good night to get dressed up and take your girl to a show on the Great White Way. The tough part was framing an image with out a fat guy in cargo short and an Abercombie and Fitch t-shirt. How we came from suites and ties to that I’ll never know.
Fri May 07 2010
I turned 40 the other day and to my surprise it didn’t hurt a bit. I put on my Converse All Stars and they were still my favorite pair of shoes. I put on my Ipod and found out I still like rock, rap, and punk music. I put my cameras to my eyes and realized that people pay me to do something I would do for free and that’s exactly what I did with the day. Since I am in Bangkok for a short break to change my visa I celebrated the day by shooting protesters trying to force new elections. No point in being idle(see above). It feels good to be young.(I also stayed out til 4AM and partied with new friends. All work and no …..well you know)
Fri May 07 2010
I am shooting a feature on coal mining in the state of Jharkhand and to my surprise I lost my phone. Sort of. For those that know me this is far from a surprise. It’s an expectation. In two years I have gone through five blackberries, an Iphone, and half a dozen misc. gateway phones. Every few months I a scurry about trying to recover phone numbers as I can never remember to back up my phone book. At least this time I’ve done that. It’s been nearly 24 hours that I have been untethered to the world outside of my current surroundings. It’s the longest I have been without a phone since I was a teenager. It’s weirdly relaxing to know that no one can reach me(other than by Skype, email, or AIM that is and only when I am at the hotel) for the next two days. I am spending my time wandering open coal fields and meeting nice people as I learn about life in Jharkand where nearly 400,000 people are supposed to be moved off of land that sits on top of burning coal fields. I’m not looking to see if I missed a call or a text. I’m taking my time to make pictures and not stressing about my visa or where my next assignment is coming from. I am focused on my surrounding and realizing how lucky I am not to have to live like this. My issues with visas, work, money, and my future are pretty trivial in comparison. I tend to take for granted that I am loved, nurtured, and get to do what I’ve wanted to do since I was 10 years old. I just wish I did not loose another phone to remind me of that. As we wander around the question is posed to Rajan our fixer about toilet and sanitation issues facing the village we are shooting. What he says me makes me chuckle since he delivers his answer so sweetly and matter-of-factly. It turns out one person’s bath room is another’s blog post.