Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hope is Within

Photo: A little girl living in the rubble of Port Au Prince, Haiti/ Feb. 2010

In memory of the thousands that lost their lives and to the people of Haiti who made me believe in the power of hope, humanity, and the human spirit.


There was a time many years ago, when I first began doing what I do, when I thought I could fake it--you know, cover a story somewhere and go through the emotions, not giving away pieces of myself in return. I tried to push my emotions aside, tell the story and leave when I was done. I'd focus on the mechanics: story-telling and structure. I'd have conversations, conduct interviews, and I wasn't even there. I'd nod, look in others' eyes, but my vision lost focus, my mind turned to details.

People became characters, plot lines in a story I was constructing in my head. Their mouths moved, I heard only lines of track, bites of sound. I listened for what I could use--and the rest, I fast forwarded through, deleted and never looked at again.

When I had what I needed to put a full story together, I'd pull out. Leave them behind and never really stay long enough to let my emotions set in. I thought I could get away unscathed, unchanged. The truth was I hadn't gotten out at all. It's impossible to block out what you see, what you hear. Even if you stop listening, the pain gets inside, seeps through the cracks you can't close up. You can't fake your way through it. I know that now. You have to absorb it all. You owe them that. You owe it to yourself as well.

Sometimes, in the aftermath, when you take the time to realize that hope is within, you find an image--or two, that just makes you smile and wish you had more time to feel for those who make you who you are.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut

PHOTO: Gracias Lentera, Honduras

It was a Sunday afternoon in rural Honduras when I snapped this shot. I had just finished my assignment the day before and my girlfriend, Linda had just flown down to meet me there for a quick weekend get-away. Walking down the pebble roads, I had an ice-cream in one hand, holding Linda's hand with the other. The camera was strapped to my shoulder.

Instinctively, as a photographer, you're constantly scanning for details, everywhere you go--looking for things that seem out of the ordinary. When things are normal, you question why--and when things are out of place, you never question at all--because you're too busy capturing the details that make it "different" from the rest.

Carefully watching this rickshaw chugging towards us, I paid close attention to the way it bounced side to side--the way it got louder with every inch it traveled--barely making it up the hill. As it passed, I noticed how full it was and tried to quickly count the number of people crammed inside. Nice picture, I thought--but not worth dropping my ice cream for.

I turned to give it one last glance as it passed and managed to see the little girl peeking through its window. I quickly dropped Linda's hand and went for my camera. With one hand, I held my camera tight, looked through the barrel of my 70-200mm lens and began snapping at 10 frames per second.

Ice cream was still in tact.

As my good friend Dan Denardo would say: "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut, sometimes."

Photographers Note: For all you tech geeks out there, I shot this with a Canon 1D Mark IV using a 70-200mm at 200mm set to f6.3, ISO 1600.