I spent a summer in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California two years ago. During that time I went to San Francisco for a week. I stayed at a hostel near the ‘tenderloin district,’ an area full of prostitutes, homeless people, drug dealers and drug addicts. Its not the safest neighborhood. I had the chance to meet a homeless person, he told me his story, which was quite sad, however I didn’t know what to believe, I had a gut feeling parts of it were truthful, but I just didn’t trust him. The next day I was walking near the financial district, it was extremely crowded, a totally different universe compared the quiet, remote mountains several hours away. As I was about to cross the street I nearly stumbled into a very dirty, grimy, unshaven man sitting on his legs, with his head resting on the ground, his arms were out straight with his hands folded, a small ratty piece of cardboard read: “Please help, homeless with AIDS.” I have no idea if he was telling the truth, but the entire situation was incredibly overwhelming. People walking by in immaculate business suits and dresses, on cellphones or listening to music, tourists gawking at the buildings, no one more than glanced at him. I found it unsettling that humans could ignore each other in such a way. I wanted to yell. Tears came to my eyes and I just stood there, it was too much of a shock. I still wonder about this man, how he ended up there, praying on that sidewalk, if his sign was the telling truth, and how come he didn’t seek real help, or maybe he has?
I generally do not give money (although I have and occasionally will) to homeless people. However, I do not think it is as simple to say that the homeless in America are just a bunch of alcoholics and druggies. The data does not support this assumption/stereotype. There is a large population of working poor/homeless in this country. The fact that you can work full time and still barely (not always) afford a place to live, or healthy food to eat is disturbing. You can work but still be homeless? There are also many elderly, the rural poor, the structurally unemployed, and divorced women.
What about the rest of the world? The structure of the global economy is widening the already enormous gap between the wealthy and poor.
According to the World Bank, “2.1 billion living on less than $2 a day and 880 million on less than $1 a day.”
The cost of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 is estimated to be about $40-60 billion a year. This pails in comparison to our military budget of $653 billion, or the $700 billion wall street bailout. This is getting a bit beyond the scope of this blog. I just wanted to rise an important, often overlooked issue.
Above is a photo of a homeless fellow in our nation’s capitol, sleeping under the eave of a door in downtown D.C to avoid the rain. I took it in October of 2007 with a Canon 350D.
I love photographing sunlight through leaves, particularly Beech and Striped Maple. [Canon Powershot Pro1, 10.56mm, 1/1600 F/8)
Two years ago I went to a talk given by a photojournalist who had just returned from Iraq, she had spent over a year there over a few trips. I happened to sit next to a fellow UNH student, who I talked to, he was a senior majoring in journalism and art, with a photography focus. He was interning with a major regional paper as a photographer, where he now works full time and loves it. We got to talking and I mentioned my desire to do more with photography, but I didn’t know in what direction or how to go about it. He recommended I inquire with the student paper (where he use to work), which I did! It was an amazing opportunity! I loved working for the paper.
I had the chance to photograph all sorts of events, from war protests in Washington DC and Boston, various local campus events/interest stories, a Nobel poet laureate, climbing competitions, muscians, and guest speakers. I also had the chance to photograph many polticians/public servants such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich (twice), (then a senator) Hillary Clinton, Rep. Ron Paul, (then a senator) Barack Obama, former Sen. John Edwards (three times), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, former UN weapons inspector- Scott Ritter, President Clinton, President H.W. Bush, as well as the Republican Debate on campus. While it helped me discover that I do not want to be a fulltime photojournalist, it was an amazing experience, and I recommend it to any aspiring student photographers looking to learn more and have fun. I learned a great deal about myself and about photography in the process! (google image search my name to see a few of my shots from the paper)
Below is a photo from the 2007 Commencement, it’s one of my favorite photos from working at the paper. Not because it is of high quality (it isn’t- I was shooting with my Canon Powershot Pro1 on max zoom), but because it is my brother shaking hands with former President Clinton. I would not have been able to get this shot if I wasn’t with the paper.
A few weeks ago after I bought my first lens beyond the stock 18-55mm lens. I decided to get the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II for around $78. At 1.8, the lens has a super fast aperture! I love it! Very fast in such low light conditions, I am amazed by it. The AF (autofocus) is not too good, very noisy and searches a great deal, and the build is not what you would find in a higher-end lens, however for the money it is an amazing lens! The optics are great, very sharp images are possible, with some pretty great bokeh. You cannot get a lens this fast, for so little money, that I know of, anywhere else.
So here are a couple of exampls, not the best shots or most interesting but a good example of what the lens can do. The photo on the top is at the lab I work at, the mouse is one of the first shots I took after it came out of the box, the bottom is some red squirrel cooking on a fire.
I have been a little sick the last few days, but I went for a nice walk for a few hours on Sunday. I walked down by the Cocheco River, I found some dormant grasses by the bank of the river near the covered bridge and skate park. I used my new 50mm lens for this shot (more on that later). It was quite windy, so I shot it at 1/400, F/5.6.
This photo blog will be an outlet for my photography. My goal is to post photos weekly (daily when I can) as a means to critique and share my photos. I recently got my first DSLR, a Canon 450D, I am still learning each day and experimenting with it.
I’ve seen a few of professional photographers speak/give seminars, what one of them said has really stuck in my mind. This particular photojournalist makes an effort to take a couple hundred photos every day! He keeps each photo and selects his best from each day, even if it wasn’t that great, and he posts it online. It strikes me as a great exercise to do this. In order to become a better photographer you have to take pictures! So that is the goal of this blog, to share some of my photos (good and bad) and to get feedback and hopefully learn a great deal along the way.
Thanks for checking out my blog!