Monday, October 29, 2012

Head of the Charles Regatta 2012

David Gasser passes off a PB&J to Coach Jim 

Women's collegiate four

View from Eliot Bridge near the end of the course. 

Mini Cooper makes an appearance...

The women's 4 talks with Coach Carla over the phone before their race. 

Coach and alumni Chris Guerra shakes hands with Chris Massey before the race.

Jon Massari and  Sean Kennelly sporting their RIT Crew hats and Resolute tattoos

Anna- Marie Lee prepares for the race with a Go-Pro camera attached to her hat. 

Anna-Marie Lee steers the boat under the Eliot bridge- the final bridge of the race- with Nicole Conway in bow. 

Morgan Mowins, Devan Musa, Dani Absi, and Nicole Conway compete in the women's 4 with Anna-Marie Lee coxing. 

Jon Massari, Chris Massey, Sean Kennelly, and David Gasser compete in the men's 4 with T.J. Binotto as coxswain.

Morgan Mowins embraces her mom after her last race as a collegiate rower at HOCR.

Two weekends ago, which seems like ages ago, I went with my team as the photographer for the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, MA. Even though I wasn't rowing, it was heaps of fun hanging out with the team and getting the chance to get some pictures of everyone. 

This was my boat at our race last weekend at Head of the Fish in Saratoga Springs. 

Dumpster Diving: Take Two!

Been super slack on my blog lately but with rowing pretty much's on, baby. Hurricane Sandy is here and I'm headed out in the morning to hang with Autumn and hammer out some more photos for this awesome story. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

En-Kata Choir Maasai Visit

In the foreground, Neema and Shelley hold hands while Elisaba watches. Natasha and Namayani smile as Petro gives them a thumbs up for his good move in Angry Birds. 

Jeremy Feser plays foosbal against Jeremy Stephensen and Ezekiel while Yona and Shelley watch. 

Cedric Horne looks up music videos of the En-Kata Choir produced by Pamoja Ministries. Ezekiel, Yona, Petro and Neema look on. 

Jeremy takes on Petro, Ezekiel, and Maliaki in foosball with one hand while Namayani quietly watches.

Namayani rejoices after Jeremy Feser beats the three Maasai men at foosball. 

Petro gives Namayani a lift to reach the cross fit bars on our way out. Ezekial and Yona look on after already having their turn. 

Follow the Maasai at their website En-Kata Choir to see if they'll be in your area or if they've performed impromptu performances at McDonalds lately. They'll be back in the Rochester area in two weeks. Scroll below the latest blog post on the home site to see their schedule. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Maasai in My Kitchen

This was how my morning began. 

Check out the En-Kata Choir (click the name) to see their other adventures and to see if they'll be singing near you!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dumpster Diving: Night I

A grocery store's throw-aways. 

She pulled out seven of these just near the top. We suspect there may have been more. All were brand new, unused in the box and/or in plastic.

An office store dumpster stacked with recyclable calendars and planners for 2012. All will be thrown into a landfill. 

The total loot for the night completely filling the back of the car.

Last night one of my fellow cagers graciously traded a shift so I was able to go out and work on my final project which is on (drum roll, please) dumpster diving!

Autumn has been working on starting a non-profit of sorts to go directly to the store managers and ask if she can take the food they'd otherwise throw away. There wouldn't be much difference from what she's doing now by distributing to families except she'd have a piece of paper with other organisations backing her and it would be much more in the open. 

After last week when she was busted and barricaded in the back of a grocery store by three cops and basically told to not get caught officially, Autumn suspected there would be "no trespassing" signs and locks on the dumpsters. To her surprise however, she got one of the biggest loads of food yet plus the seven brand new food dehydrators. "Now I can dry and save the food we found for winter!" she exclaimed. 

It's like this: we hear a lot about the growing gap between the upper and lower class, slowly eroding the middle class. Most "middle class" families have parents that work hard, at least two jobs within the family, and still can't pay the bills or just barely squeak by. With so much food being thrown away and the potential to save hundreds of dollars a month on food bills, it made a lot of sense to her to get out of the house for some moonlight diving. 

So, what was in the dumpster? Hot dog rolls, pears, nectarines, bags of onions, 3 bags of potatoes, melons, meat (dated to expire the next day that was still cold 30 min. after being thrown out in 37 deg. F weather), cauliflower, broccoli, tri-colored peppers, 12 half-gallon bottles of 100% apple juice, 7 new food dehydrators, hot dogs, turkey dogs, a giant chunk of pork, spotted bananas, small bagged sweet peppers, cucumbers, and 10 boxes of Capri Suns. 

Stay tuned and pray we don't get busted by the wrong cop. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"You just have to get out of the office, hit the road and not be afraid or too shy to walk up to strangers in any situation. You make contacts, which can lead to other contacts and it kind of snowballs. You have to get organized and be focused on your goals. And finally, you have to be persistent and work hard. I believe hard work trumps talent."
Jay Janner, interviewed here on the The Deconstructed Image

Monday, October 1, 2012

Washington, D.C. 2012 Wrap-Up

 The deeper involved that a person is in different things the greater the appreciation for how those activities can connect and make a person stronger.

Due to a series of unplanned events, I didn’t get home until almost 4am on Friday (actually Saturday) and had paperwork and repacking waiting which created a window for two solid hours of sleep.  Made it in time to catch the 7 hour bus ride to Lowell, Massachusetts for my team’s first regatta of the fall season.

The strongest feeling that developed this week is this: in no way do I regret returning to rowing for this fall but there’s nothing else I’d rather do next than conquer the next goal of getting an internship or assistant job. Once I get something in my head to get a hold of, everything else becomes a struggle until I catch it and put it to rest. So for that part, I’m relieved I went back to rowing and finished what I started. I realized half-way through the week that I didn’t miss rowing while away. 

 If anything that realisation caused me row harder this week because this will likely be the end of rowing for me for a long time and at last, I’m content in that. Completely content. In a circuitous path since graduating five years ago, I think I’ve actually narrowed in on the one direction for work I’d want to do and grapple with. NPR’s work is the intensely beautiful and fascinating. The idea of working with Dereck and Beverly Joubert, a couple who has created multiple documentaries in Africa for Nat Geo, creates a hold-your-breath kind of hope in me.

There’s no path to something I want- it’s now the path itself I find so intriguing and desirable. I don’t just want to win an award or “be” a visual journalist or achieve any specific title or goal- I just love multimedia and learning about it. Why not? The whole process and experience is so fulfilling and attractive to me it’s like, “Why wouldn’t I do it?” Well, there’s a slough of reasons but like we heard this week, there’s always going to be shit to deal with so it may as well be dealt with doing something you love. A person is willing to fight for something they love. Willing to risk.

Risk, getting sick, business management/marketing, and passion were the common themes of the week. Everyday we heard at least one photographer tell us they'd taken a chance at some point. Amanda Lucidon (Legal Stranger Project) talked about that and said, "The way I learned is by failing." Personally, Louie Palu had the most concise advice and next to NPR was the most interesting character we met. He told us, "There's no silver bullet. It's all hard work...Always be positive and just work hard. It's all about obstacles. I've got about four-hundred obstacles going on all the time." It was both a relief and a get-on-your-boots moment. Everyone who was really successful, which was pretty much everyone, had a lot going on. They talked about the importance of business management and Johnny Bivera went to far as to say 30% of gross income should go back into marketing oneself. McClatchy's photo editor, Linda Epstein, recently recovering from a serious bout of pneumonia, offered encouragement to combat our fears of never making any money. "Are you ever going to make any money doing this? Eh...There can be money to be found." Which means it won't pour into your bank account with direct deposit like some people's jobs. It will have to be sought and worked for. 

It seems like students are bombarded with the phrase, "personal project" (which this entertaining blog kindly voiced their opinions on) and we all just wonder, when? But they've all managed to do it; sacrificing marriages, time with friends, family, and working on vacation time like Jacquelyn Martin from AP who recently returned from Tanzania working on a person story about albinos who have been put into homes" after being targeted and killed for their limbs. 

The photographers were all highly motivated, passionate people. Those traits translated directly to their work. But we could listen to the best of the best all day long and unless we decide to reach out and do the work it won't even matter that we'll have met them. We'll be one of those people students always run into that say, "Oh, yeah I went to school for photography," and now work a desk job or something different. 

It was really a privilege to spend the week with everyone.

It’s terrible to be on the cusp of pursuing something that has the touches of deeply affecting you. There’s a choice to be made and it’s terrifying to say yes to that which you feel passionately about because, like anything, the deeper you love and are involved with something (or someone) the greater the potential for hurt and the sharper the agony of defeat. That’s why I said yes to rowing. I no longer wanted to be a person who walked away from things because they meant a great deal to me and I deemed the cost of both success and failure from it too great to tackle. It’s why I won’t be rowing again. This time around, somehow, the table’s been swapped and it’s not rowing that brings tears to my eyes thinking about risking it all for it.

I’m not sure exactly why it happened but shortly after sitting down in the rather unattractive, boring grey room of National Geographic and Ken Geiger began speaking, my little old sharp eyes got all watery. Of course, the page of the latest issue of the magazine was turned to a story occurring in Botswana. So really, it all came to a sort of rising action part in my personal story for the past few years. There it was- all on the table: Africa-based documentary work in the form of multimedia/video, created in the environment of living/working in the bush. It’s a challenge and a risk. It’s so exciting. I freakin’ love changing a tire on the side of a dusty road in the middle of nowhere and talking with people about their lives, not just in Tanzania, but everywhere I've been in the last year. Taking a year off taught me a lot of things but chiefly how to appreciate and value people wherever they're at in life. 

 I just feel like we have all these misconceptions about others and if we could only meet those “others” a little bit might change in them. Whether they’re those Republicans/Democrats, those Africans, those lazy people on welfare, those rich people with easy lives, those whores, those gays/lesbians, or whatever. I grew up in a house-hold hearing about “those” people and frankly, I hope I become a person who's willing to risk my life bridging the gap for other people to have their stories told.

More times than not, the seemingly random activities and excursions I've delved into have actually been another important stepping stone on the path. Like that semester in Tanzania that I secretly applied for which changed my life, sent me towards RIT, and created a friendship that provided not only a place to stay in D.C. this week with a dear friend but another relationship/connection with someone at National Geographic. I’ve been back to Africa, travelled a bit, and now that I’m nearly done with school, feel utterly grateful for everything I’ve been able to do.

A lot of people dread graduation but it's exciting to think about about the work I get to do before graduating, how positively most things have turned out so far, and what's possible for the future . John Newton who penned "Amazing Grace", once said, "I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I hoped to be. I am not what I wish to be. But, blessed be God, I am not what I was and by his grace I am what I am." It's been a challenging and crucial five years, albeit not a straight path. No one would mistake me for the most talented PJ student or the strongest athlete but I can accomplish more as a student than I have been in the past and lift heavier weights than the day before. Over time, the effort pays. Below are two quotes I memorized my freshman year of college that I've kept before me. They call upon the individual to compete against one's own self; the greatest contender we face. 

"Most people lose not because they attempt and fail but rather because they fail to show up all together. They allow the fear of failure to overcome them and they become apathetic, they find it easier to let go of their dreams than to attempt greatness and fall short...

There will always be those with more talent, those with greater raw tools but we are responsible for ourselves. Hard work closes the gap to the more talented, you just have to want it more than they do, work harder than them plain and simple. Claw, scrape, and bleed to get the job done. Treat your talents as the special gift they are, treat your relationships with the care and love they deserve, in the end relationships are all we have. Give everything, follow your heart, risk, put all your chips on the line. That is when we live. Chase your passions, do the the thing that makes you come alive, do the thing you are not sure you can do. Do that and you truly live. Do that and you have already won. Risk is good, risk is living."
- Josh Cox, elite marathoner

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 
Theodore Roosevelt, "Citizenship in a Republic", Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, 23 April 1910

Day 5: Johnny Bevira & National Geographic

That's right, the honest to goodness National Geographic. We didn't plan to meet Johnny Bevira until the end of the week when things changed a bit but personally am so glad we did. He had a lot of solid suggestions and was real about how much the job can take out of a person. As a result of that toll, he also suggested we have something in life that keeps us mentally in check. Like anything, pushing too hard will just create burn-out and then you're useless. Several times this week, it seemed everywhere we went, someone had been sick or was a bit under the weather from the Olympics or the political conventions that have been going on. It just happens.

I can't lie- when I looked up Ken Geiger's name personally, I wished I'd done so sooner because this is one of the links that came up: Field Test: Serengeti Lions. When we're sitting in those grey rooms asking the same questions we've asked all week, which are great to know, I personally forget to think that these people we've met have spent a lot of time outside of the office in some incredible places. 

Johnny Bevira at Reuters
"It’s a lifestyle choice for you…you’re going to have to a balance.

It’s very rewarding- I’m not sure if many can do it.

Photography is just a small part of what you can do for your fellow human beings.

It’s about you and your life- how much you put into it is how much you’re going to get out of it.

Otherwise you’re going to miss out on a great deal of your own life because you’re living your life telling the stories of others.

Having your own personal (life) is going to help bring you back.

“When stories nestle in the body the soul comes forth.”

Success isn’t “this is it”- it’s a long process.

“What are you guys doing out there? You need to be in here!”
Warren Thomas, professor speaking to John and his friend at Mardi Gras

You guys should have something fun…

Portrait market. Things that sell are going to have people in them.

Having that stuff down the road could be the reason you get hired.

Sometimes your interests are not known to you: that’s why it’s important to show your work to other people.

I love our industry because we’re open to so much cool stuff out there. It’s like Michael said; it’s like a passport.

Everyone got sick. We were just working so much.

Actually take the time to create something beautiful because it’s not about you.

Everything else can fail but not the quality of the work you produce.

Thirty- percent of what you take in ever year should go back into marketing yourself.

Fear is good. Just remember there’s an answer to a lot of issues you run into."

Ken Geiger & Bill Douthitt, National Geographic
"Sometimes it’s just caring about something…that’s what actually flies around here…what really gets you around here.

The world is not sitting there waiting to say yes- you’re going to get a lot of no’s.

Looking for someone that’s very passionate and curious about something.

Biggest Mistakes
Ken Geiger
People that shoot “bang bang” pictures that don’t tell a story. Can you tell a story? Are you smart enough to string pictures together?

Do you have images that are interesting enough to have five cover story options and inside story photos?

David Allan Harvey’s first story for National Geographic done on Tangier Is. but the photos are extremely engaging. He knew how to connect with people.

Sam Abell’s bleak story in Newfoundland. Jody Cobb’s story in West Virginia.

Really about your ability to connect- a distinct passion to whatever it is you’re doing. You can do a good story here."