Thursday, October 16, 2008

Capturing Light to Shed Light

Current Location: Midland, Michigan, USA / 43° 37′ 25″ N, 84° 13′ 45.7″ W

48 Hours to departure and I'm still packing. Engineers are still going over my gear, and my mom has yet to finish sewing my pants!

Preparing for an assignment like Ghana is a never-ending task. Your mind constantly wonders off as you try to determine what you can and cannot bring. For the most part, my gear is compact, lightweight and durable enough to withstand the elements of Sub Saharan Africa. But no matter how I pack, what I bring or leave behind, the feeling that I've forgotten something erodes my mind like a piece of cheese cutting through my lactose intolerant digestive system.

Over the years, I've traveled to many distant locations--mostly to places that the average tourist wouldn't dare to visit; some places rougher than others. Landscapes and people change, but the way I shoot and the principles I follow remain the same. When shooting in remote locations, I often remind myself that I am nothing more than a foreign observer--utilizing a marriage of technology and culture to tell a story. It's a privilege I take very seriously.

To some people, I have the absolute 'dream job'--but to others who toil behind a camera, they know all to well what I must go through to 'get the shot.' It's not easy. Doing something as simple as plugging in your battery charger into the wrong wall can determine whether you shoot tomorrow or not. And that's only technical.

What makes my job so hard at times is the mental and emotional stress that comes with it. Pointing a lens at the global underbelly is no easy task. How would you feel if you spent eight hours of your day filming starving orphans infected by HIV? How would you feel if you had to roll tape on a mother who just lost her only son to something so trivial as the lack of clean drinking water? How would you feel....?

I've learned a lot from what I've shot thus far. There is little glamour in filming those who live in third world countries--yet, I know that my images will some how make a difference, and it's this form of storytelling that makes my job so rewarding when everything falls into place.

Through my visuals, I intend to give my subjects a voice, a platform in which they can speak. Imagery and photography is a universal language. Everyone understands it. And as a captivator of light, it's my obligation to do justice to their stories--to make sure my subjects receive the acknowledgment and attention they deserve.

Capturing light so I can help shed 'light' on some of the worlds most daunting problems. This is my role as a cinematographer. And that my friends, is why I do what I do.

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