Thursday, May 29, 2008


Waiting for the matatu.

Today is cloudy and dreary. Instead of venturing out into the quarry or the camp I have been shooting I decided to wait until tomorrow for nicer light. It give me a chance to run the errands for the the things I forgot in New York. I guess a fresh towel is a good idea. It’s been an interesting experience getting to slow down and work at my own pace. I’ve moved into a house of some pretty cool Italian film makers and an American photographer who have graciously taken me in. So much for the idea of being my own sounding board. They are a great bunch. Bonus: everyone cooks, there’s a baby that is alway laughing, and the market in the is part of town has prosciutto. The only thing that’s missing today is a clear sky. There’s always tomorrow. More later.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


"Nice but kind of flat don't ya think? You got to get up early to chase that light you know", said the snide bitchy photographer from a paper out west glancing over my shoulder as I looked over the take from my first day in Haiti. Despite wanting to club her with 70-200 I silently agreed. It's two years on now. After a week working for Operations Smile I got up this morning at 5AM to "chase that light" for my portrait project on those displaced by Kenya's election violence. First stop Mathare, one of the poorest sections of Nairobi, where in one city block 400 families were chased out and had their homes destroyed by people they used to call neighbors.

Sadly since being in Kenya I have not had more than three hours of sleep at night. Trying to be coherent storyteller and chasing that light is an exercise in masochism. Even though I may be giving myself heart palpitations from too much caffeine and seeing nothing but thick dark storm clouds in the sky, I schuffle off to chase that light. Half way there I feel as dark as the clouds as my driver Franics says "you'll never see sun on a day like this". I try not to scowl. I don't want to hate him this early into my trip. Lucky for him five minutes into my visit to Mathera the sun comes up big, golden, and beautiful. I can't help but think of you snide bitchy west coast photographer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


I am feeling a little bit proud of myself since I have been able to update this thing twice despite the fact I have just spent the last 24 hours traveling and very few sleeping. Part of that is my own fault since I can't say no to my new friends and their obsession with watching the Manchester Chelsea game until the wee hours. I am exhausted and have not even finished downloading my cards. Instead I am rambling to myself here.

I feel a little out of my comfort zone. I am usually surrounded by other photographers most of whom are my friends. Here I'm all by myself. I realize how much I rely on the sounding board of others and not on my own instincts. It's kind of nice. Jarring, but still nice.

 I started shooting the Operation Smile job this morning following around one doctor, a nurse, an administrator and a line of parents and kids. So far my mission has required a lot of waiting around. I spent time in the hospital with the doctors today waiting to see patients. I spent time with patients waiting to see doctors. The first time I did this for Operation Smile it was a little more buzz since I saw the front end of the mission before kids had their surgeries and before the scars healed. I am happy to say six months on these kids are gorgeous. It makes me pretty happy to see the end result turn out so well for such a great group of kids. 

The people are friendly despite all they have gone through in the last few months since the violence erupted during the election. Kenya still seems to me coming back. I hope to start working a little on repatriation as soon as my time with Op Smile is done. By then this should be my new comfort zone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I am sitting on British Airway flight 112 to London listening to a surprisingly good Red Hot Chili Peppers album on my Ipod. As always I am wide awake for an overnight 8 hour flight. “Just in case something happens.” It’s not like I am going to open my shirt and find a red “S” and a cape and save us if the plane goes down. I am going to fall out of the sky like everyone else “if something happens”. God, I hate flying.

With that said, this is my making an effort to to get back on track with the blog entries. On track means that i need to put a little more into this. My last entry was in week 5 roughly 44 weeks ago. Classic right? I could blame it on the rigors of a 7 month stint in Iowa shooting politics and that I have been busy being one of the producers of another blog, but let’s face it I get distracted.

As we lurch at 30,000 feet across the pond. I can’t help but think of how I got here. I got a call a few weeks ago to ask if I would be going to Kenya for Operation Smile. I had done some work for them in Brazil a few years ago. They do great work and it’s the type of thing that can get overlooked between the floods, campaigns and earthquakes. It’s small and a cliche, but to see the look on some child’s face that’s suffered with all kinds of deformities is one of the happiest moments I have had.
On top of that It’s kind of hard to pass up a free trip to the mother continent. I have spent the majority of the last year covering the election and since returning to New York, I’ve had the feeling I was spinning my wheels.

I’ve been walking round with a frown on my face lately. Something is missing. That's not to say that I hate my city, but it is a little bit of a downer after spending so much time covering the presidential campaign in Iowa. Funny right. It’s strange to miss a sleepy state where you can’t get dinner after ten.

I came home with a bit of contempt for my once beloved New York. I hate your crowds, the attitudes, the velvet ropes at your bars, the two hour wait for a table at a restaurant that used to be my place and now you pay attention to everyone but me, the the publicists that look down on me(I’m a nice guy), On top of it I say Reuters not Rooters you moron. God, what do I see in you New York? I have so got to get out of here has been my battle cry.

This trip comes at the right time. The perfect summer romance during the slow season for the New York freelancer. Oh Kenya you are so beautiful with your fragile power sharing government, your repatriation efforts. In the worse case scenario, I’ll go on safari. You will be my summer love.

Since I was on taking this trip I needed to stock on a few things. I had to look good for my new love right? Off to Paragon I went. I needed a dry fit hat, travel locks, a new bag, a travel sleeping bag, and that oh so special last minute impulse buy, wash and wear synthetic underwear. How can I survive with out those. Wash them in the shower and supposedly they dry after a few minutes in the sun (we’ll see).

After spending way more than I intended. ($150 sunglasses did the trick), I headed back to Broadway to find myself in the middle of the New York Dance Parade. Kind of silly right? Not really. I saw ballet, flamenco, salsa, tap, and my personal favorite roller dance. I tossed on my press pass( why stand behind the barricade when you can walk the street with the marchers right) and took my new 50 mm for a spin. Funny how a sunny Saturday can turn around here. It’s not much but, it was just what I needed to turn that frown upside down. Crowds, attitudes(the ones that give you character), dancing in the street. How can I hate you New York. You have always given me everything. My wife, my friends, the work I love, culture, diversity, a community of the like minded, dinner after 10PM, even the temperament and abilities for someone to call me and send me to Kenya. I have no idea what my problem was. What was I thinking. I still love you New York. I’ll see you later in the summer.