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Monday, April 24, 2006

Photographing Diversity

In a non technical sense, photographing peoples lives can be difficult. How does one tell a story in a single image which conveys a sense of community. Trust is often the key. I try and not bring attitude onto a scene where people need to be able and trust a photographer. Showing a person with a sense of dignity is key, no mater who they are.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy James Valencia interviews the victim of a stabbing in Highland, April 8, 2006

Highland is a community in San Bernardino County in which the most extreme conditions of economic divide exist. I have not seen this range of rich to poor anywhere I have worked as a photographer in one city except San Francisco. San Francisco has the opulence of Nob Hill to the project of Potrero Hill. Highland has the upscale homes on the hill to the well traveled gang turf of it's west side. San Francisco has 750,000 people over 47 square miles, Highland has about 50,000 residents.

Photographing a community where such extremes exist can be challenging both mentally and physically, but conveying it honestly is still the ultimate challenge.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Graduate Level Training

People might get the idea I spend a lot of time at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, usually a couple trips a year, they just happened to be now. I suppose it helps that the NTC is in San Bernardino County like The Sun Newspaper. This event was special because often I hear on assignments, "You should have been here for this or that" or "Next week we will do this." It gets a little frustrating knowing you missed the best photo opportunity. This time it worked out. Unlike the first day, (the week before), where I shot about 700 images (and used 8 in 2 papers) this time I shot 1,300 pics and we used 4. That is the nature of the paper biz. Luckily the Internet has my back. This assignment was a challenge because when there are so many subjects to photograph one may have the feeling that they are missing something else. My philosophy is, I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I will make the best picture I can, here and now.

With the mind-numbing and ear-piercing rattle of machine gun fire bouncing off the steel-walled shipping container "buildings." It made it a bit harder to concentrate on pictures, but also added to the excitement. I kept thinking how glad I was that no one was using real bullets.

Thanks to AnnJohansson.com for the pic of me (standing around doing nothing) during a "car bomb" attack on the village ;)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


"They die here so they don't have to die in Iraq" Maj. John Clearwater of Ft. Irwin's PAO
The Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, in California's Mojave Desert is a military training sand box often referred to as "the box" the size of Rhode Island. 50,000 troops are trained here each year. Force on force used to be the mantra but now its RPGs and IEDs. Learning to deal with the real world situations of today's Iraq. About 1,600 troops and civilians including 250 Iraqi Americans are the OpFor or opposing force to the visiting units.
"If you took off the blind-fold and told me this was Afghanistan, I would say OK." Said New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins who has lived and covered the war in Afghanistan and Iraq for the past three -and-a-half years.
The slide show: Insurgency

Monday, April 03, 2006


Letting things just happen, sometimes, can be a rewarding experience both photographically and in life. Sometimes as a working photojournalist I find myself just exploring the community to relate what is out there to the readers. Being a photographer also gives me a wonderful excuse to talk to people without seeming too strange. When I found these retired guys flying model airplanes I thought that I could have a little fun with creating pictures and learning from them. Turns out a few of them actually flew aircraft in the military and one flew in combat... And yes, he said it does help him fly the models.

The slide show: Radio Control Planes

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Not Just a Leap

I often say "If you do anything for eight hours a day, you can be a supermodel." I mean, anyone who can put in the time and effort can accomplish anything! Spend 40 to 50 hours a week in a gym and see what happens... Photography dose not come easy to everyone (or me for that matter) but think of the time I put in on top of my love for the craft. I want you to think of what it is you truly love, what inspires you, and create a mental path of how you can make it happen! Create your reality, take and make no excuses and everything will work out perfectly!

I was inspired to think about this because of conversations I have had with friends lately and my trip to Anderson School for their Special Olympics. Think about what these people have as obstacles in their lives and continue to leap.

Photo-Anderson School student Richard Rodriguez reaches for the sky while attempting the standing long jump during the 4th Annual Special Olympics, Thursday, March 29, 2006 in San Bernardino. He made it 5 feet and 6 inches.