Sooooo. As many of you know, this is what I do with my life now. I know I have royally failed at updating my blog. The last time I even posted anything I was in another country and it was almost 8 months ago. A lot has changed since Bosnia, both inside me and surrounding my life. And while there have been many ups and downs in the first year at my new job, this new chapter in my photographic life has definitely shed light on places in my heart I didn’t know existed.
I’ve learned what Im passionate about, and what drives me crazy. I’ve learned that I am not nearly as tolerant as I should be. I’ve learned that no matter where you go or where you work, there are some things you will never escape . I have learned a lot lot lot about sports, and athletes in general.
Believe it or not, before I started this job I thought basketball was an arbitrary game where people just ran up and down the court with the ball, and those people just so happened to be the best, so they always fell in the right place. WRONG. Turns out most sports are like chess, lots of thinking and pawning etc. Who woulda thought…. And no matter how good they are, they are still only 18-19 years old… hahaha.
Generally I am terrible about updating my blog- this I know. But I’m sitting in the Vienna Airport halfway done with my travels to leave one of the most amazing photo experiences of my life.
Truth With a Camera, for those of you who dont know, is an organization geared toward photojournalism with a social justice purpose- that creates photos that make you want to react, and change something. I participated in this workshop last year in Quito, Ecuador, and this year in Zenica, Bosnia. My NGO moderately fell through so I ended up working on an essay about the remnants of the war.
The Bosnian War ended in the mid 1990’s but there are still some very deep scars. Racism rules the country and you can still see bullit holes in every direction you turn. I witnessed some amazing things and heard some incredible stories, despite a language barrier. The last day the whole group got to attend a ceremony on the bridge in Visigrad, where they dropped 3000 roses in the river for all of the victims of genocide- the muslims that were senslessly slaughtered by the serbs and then thrown into the river.
You can see it in the faces of Bosnians- they still hurt. And for many of them, what they saw, the people they lost, and the stories they bear testimony to will never leave them. As we rode in one of the front vehicles of a line of bus loads of thousands of people in the processional to attend this ceremony, I sat in the back of the van and silently cried. You can feel the pain in the mountains of Bosnia, where thousands of dead bodies still wait to be uncoverd- holes full of trash and bones. I actually stood on the pile of bones where 8 people were burned alive, locked in a neighborhood house, and just discovered this week.
All of these photographs are from the 3,000 roses ceremony, which was not only very emotional but also very tense. It took place in territory still occupied by Serbians, and many of them looked on with hateful glares. Many of them regard the leaders of the genocide project as heros, even still.
Soon I’ll throw together an edit of my essay. Until then, thanks for looking!
Its football time in the bluegrass, which means the general student population as a whole is getting trashed every Saturday. Were working on a project about different issues like on campus drinking, so it was really cool getting to spend most of a football game shooting things other than the game. Its surprising how much better of photos you can get when you look off the field…
Yesterday began Joker Phillips reign over the UK football team. Itll be interesting to see what he can do.
In about 8 hours I get on a plane to leave Ecuador. I’ve grown here, photographed some incredible people. I’ve learned things I never dreamed I would even need to know.
You can’t grow as a photographer, a photojournalist, unless you know how to continue growing as a human being.
And all I can say is thank you to all the people who touched me in my time here, who blessed me, those who let me in their lives, and showed me how to really see.
went on a nice little vacation to peru for a week, which included a trip to the desert. Doesnt look like stereotypical south america huh?
Today is my last day staying in Salasaca, And I’m a bit sad. It is crazy how fast the time has gone by, but I am looking forward to my upcoming vacation to Peru.
This woman I met seemed really sad, as she watched the rest of her family work. Her dogs name is pequeño.
One issue I’ve learned a little about here in Salasaca is the fight to preserve pure Indigenous culture. This is hard because indigenous women have married men that are not and vice versa. And so their kids become Mestiz. Some people have more of a problem with it than others, but many of the pure indigenous are trying to remain pure indigenous, and stay away from the mixing of the Mestiz. But the kids in the village, don’t seem to care too much, they play together, and honestly they wouldn’t see the difference if their parents didn’t tell them otherwise.
This is Antony, hes incredible. He’s probably around 80, he didn’t seem to sure of his age… haha. He has six cows and two donkeys and lives on the same dirt path as me. I spent awhile chatting with him and photographing him, and he noticed my hiking boots. He was quite impressed with the durability of my shoes. If you can see his in this photo, you’ll notice they are like a piece of cloth with holes. Which is crazy considering how much manual labor these people do… Turns out we wear the exact same size shoes. :) So after I was done photographing him, I walked back over the next day with a present. Now were Sole mates. He reminded me of my grandpa, how excited he gets when he gets Lowes giftcards on christmas day so he can buy new power tools. Antony might wear my shoes until he dies, he really might. Thats a good feeling.
Here’s another frame from yesterday morning. About 3 families were working together to build a water line and a system to drain sewage going down into the area of Salasaca where they live. The women are amazing, they work just as hard and life just as heavy of things as the men do.
I met this woman who was also working this morning as I hoofed it through the valley. Good way to start off a Saturday.
Today I had a nice little saturday morning photo adventure, here’s a frame from my morning. I’ll throw a few more up too.
Living in an underdeveloped area/ country definitly makes you appreciate things you normally wouldn’t, that’s a pretty wellknown fact. But something I’ve grown to appreciate more than anything is my education. Not just from my school system but also the support and emphasis that is placed on learning and knowning by my community (even if i do live in one of the states worst in education…) Here, farming is whats important. Keeping the family running and the animals and plants upkept so that they can eat. Parents don’t have enough hands so instead of encouraging the kids to learn at an early age, they are working, like Fannie in my previous post. They work with their hands, doing hard labor fit for adults. And thus, when it comes time for them to read, write or speak spanish, or even write their name; they can’t. The salasacans are striving to preserve their culture, but one thing that is changing, and needs to change, is that slowly, ever so slowly, they are learning. They are coming to classes, and sacrificing the work from their kids and that is how things change, for the better.
Every time I see a salsacan woman just about, theyre usually making string out of lambs wool, or their tools are close by. This tool here was temporarily sat down in the window so other work could be done.
This is what seeing a helicopter for the first time looks like.
Here, Fannie fights to drag her families new calf away from its mother. Everyday Fannie must walk about 45 minutes from where her family lives close to the center of town, out to where their farm land is, to care for the cows and the crops.
I was walking along the road yesterday and happened to meet this amazing 11-year-old named fannie who was on her way to check on her familys cows and corn fields. I asked her if I could come work with her and take pictures, and of course she said sure. Here’s one frame from the afternoon, I’ll post a few more as well. Still not sure which one’s I like the best.
Maybe? let me know what ya think.
Rufino plays a tune on the violin for the students at his school in Salasaca. I have a video of the music, which is pretty nice considering I don’t have a mike or good audio equipment with me, but for some reason wordpress wont let me put it up here.
Rufino, a school teacher from town, eats dinner with his family.
Let me know which one you like better, por favor. Or if i just need a different photo all together.
I woke up up to this. Its called Chimborazo, its one of the biggest mountains in Ecuador. And in the morning the clouds, sometimes, part enough for you to see. And thats when you know it will be a great day. Its beautiful.
… I fell asleep under a blanket of this.