Contest or Scam? 
Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 19:34 - Commentary

Something has been bugging me for a long time: photography contest entry fees. As an ďemergingĒ photographer entering contests is an important part, along with applying for grants and fellowships, of getting recognition for your personal work. Often winning a major award puts you on the map (I wouldnít know about that) and helps get you more paying work.

Some companies and organizations seem to want to take advantage of this fact. PDN is a major culprit with their Wedding Photography Contest, their Self Promo contest and many others. Recently I got very excited about the first New York Photography Festival and their awards, until I read the submissions guidelines and the $30 per photo and $90 for a series entry fees. I was similarly excited about the Berenice Abbott Prize for an Emerging Photographer until I saw the $100!!!!! entry fee. Where does an emerging photographer come up with $100 for a prize that offers a camera and a show if you win?

Where the money is... © Damaso Reyes

Now looks at Visa pour líimage or World Press, both of which donít charge fees and the latter which offers a 10,000 euro prize for the top photo and 1,000 Euros for each of the category winners. It seems to me that the contests that charge fees are scams for suckers. Real contests find sponsors to cover their costs instead of taking money from underfunded photogs. In fact I think that a lot of these contest fees are more about making money than covering costs. If PDN would like to prove me wrong then letís open up the books, shall we? I didnít think so. What I do think is that photographers have to stop entering these contests and paying these fees.

Thatís my rant for the week.

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HCB Quote of the Week #31 
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 14:20 - Commentary

Well the sun is shining here in New York City and I am pretty relaxed. Canít say I have been doing too much in the way of work but that will change next week. I have quite a bit to catch up on as well as some more photos to scan and edit. So while I enjoy my weekend here is your HCB Quote of the Week!

Central Park in December.© Damaso Reyes

In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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So Called Friends 
Wednesday, April 2, 2008, 18:04 - Commentary

One of the things that I have had to come to terms with over the past few years is the fact that I have outgrown many of my old friends. Over time people I used to be close with have just become less interesting. Character traits I used to dismiss as quirks I now see as highly irritating flaws.

My biggest pet peeve is the way that certain ďfriendsĒ canít find the time to see me or hang out when I am back in town. Now of course we are all adults and get busy, even have families so I understand when there are scheduling conflicts. But part of being a friend is making time for each other and staying in touch in general and there are more than I handful of people whom I have decided to stop being friends with because their actions show that they are not interested in prioritizing or valuing my friendship. Since I have never had very many friends this has been a hard choice but I have decided that I want to have relationships where people value me as much as I value them and show it.

The trip home. © Damaso Reyes

I havenít shot anything since Iíve been back in town. Actually I still have a bit of material to go through but I am starting to get the itch. I am also having quite the dilemma about what digital rangefinder camera to get. I would like an M8 but donít want to spend the $5,500 it costs for a camera that at best will be a transition piece. Also all the reported problems with it give me pause. At the same time I donít want to carry around my SLR anymore either. What is a boy to do?

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HCB Quote of the Week #30 
Saturday, March 29, 2008, 20:40 - Commentary

It is a bit cold but the sun is shining and I am back in the city that I love with the people that I love.

It feels good!

I am very happy with the progress that I made over the past three months and I am very much looking forward to going back and doing even more. In the meantime, I have to scan and edit the remaining negatives that I shot this year (and even last year) and take care of some stuff back here at home. So, enjoy your HCB Quote of the Week!

Times Square. © Damaso Reyes

What reinforces the content of a photograph is the sense of rhythm Ė the relationship between shapes and values. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
, Photography Year 1980, LIFE Library of Photography, Page: 25

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Back to the Start... 
Thursday, March 27, 2008, 12:55 - Travel

Well itís all over!

My stay in Germany that is. I head back to NYC tomorrow and I have to say that I am very much looking forward to spending a few weeks in my hometown. Fear not, I have sixteen freshly processed rolls of film that I will edit, scan and post over the coming month so you do have something to look forward to. Bis bald!

Back to where it all began... © Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #29 
Saturday, March 22, 2008, 16:52 - Shooting, Commentary

Expanding the frontiers of knowledge. © Damaso Reyes

Sorry for the long absence, I have spent a few days this week photographing once again at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. This time around I spent some time in several different departments including the Division of Medical Physics in Radiation Oncology, Division of Molecular Genetics and the High Resolution Optical Microscopy Research Group. Slowly but surely I am chipping away at the role of science and research in transforming Europe! Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure!

The Optical Microscopy group uses lasers to visualize the smallest parts of cells. © Damaso Reyes

Watch out! © Damaso Reyes

Different colors = different wavelengths of light and resolutions. © Damaso Reyes

Only the light of a computer monitor guides the scientists as they perform their experiments. © Damaso Reyes

A patient prepares to receive radiation therapy. © Damaso Reyes

A radiation treatment session is observed using television cameras. © Damaso Reyes

Fine German engineering at work. © Damaso Reyes

A nurse assists a patient after he receives his treatment. © Damaso Reyes

The machine shop creates many of the tools used by the radiology department. © Damaso Reyes

Boys will be boys. © Damaso Reyes

Next Friday I will leave all this behind for a few weeks and travel back to New York for some rest and relaxation. But fear not, I am plotting my return to Europe in mid-May so stay tuned for more details. In the meantime, enjoy your HCB Quote of the Week!

A lab assistant prepares genetic samples for analysis. © Damaso Reyes

Even a lab bench is a personal space. © Damaso Reyes

Just like mine at home. © Damaso Reyes

And no photographs taken with the aid of flash light, either, if only out of respect for the actual light - even when there isn't any of it. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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HCB Quote of the Week #28 
Saturday, March 15, 2008, 19:55 - Project News, Commentary

So, finally!

As you can now see for yourself, I have updated my website with several new galleries. You can see photographs from Vienna, as well as more images of Stuttgart and Paris. You can look at more images of our friend the shepherd as well as asylum seekers in Vienna. There is still more to come but you can view much of what has been keeping me busy over the past few months. I look forward to hearing your impressions! Until then, here is your HCB Quote of the Week.

Seeking Asylum in Vienna. © Damaso Reyes

Photography is, for me, a spontaneous impulse coming from an ever attentive eye which captures the moment and its eternity. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
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The Photographer's Eye 
Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 20:56 - Commentary

Once again I have been spending quite a bit of time editing. A lot of you must wonder what it is all about. Well ten or twenty years ago it was all about hanging out in the darkroom and making a lot of small test prints. Today it is all about hanging out in front of the computer and looking at images in Photoshop. Hundreds of images as a matter of fact. Taking a photograph isnít just about one single moment; it is about a series of moments. I rarely take a single image of something and then move on. I will take many variations, trying different compositions.

What you see when you are taking a photograph isnít always what you want. Often you donít consciously know exactly what you want out of an image. Sometimes you donít see everything there is in the frame. So shooting three or four or five images is a way of figuring out what you want. Photojournalists are not painters; we donít have the luxury of moving our subjects around or changing the lighting. I have to work with what I am supplied. So I try different ways of framing; I move myself around and hopefully at the end of it all there is something worthwhile. Here are a few examples of what I am talking aboutÖ

This image is okay. You get the point. There is clearly some kind of transaction going on. When I put the caption ďAsylum seeker checks his mail at a NGO centerĒ you have a clear idea of what the image is trying to communicate.

This image is a little more abstract. You see a hand, not the person; you see an ID card but not much else. This is more ďartisticĒ but it is still pretty simplistic. One of the hardest things I have to do is to try to make the ordinary interesting. As a newspaper photographer editors always want you to make the image as clear as possible. This image is less direct but still pretty simple.

This image is getting there. It is a bit more abstract. Now the focus is on this piece of paper which in this context is very ironic. Maybe too much so. We can still tell there are people waiting for something. I actually like it a lot but it isnít quite there.

For me this one is the keeper. There are multiple points of focus. The image is very layered, something I consider part of my style. You can also interpret it many different ways. What is the hand in the lower right trying to express? Look how the line of the desk is broken by the hands of the people waiting. This is what I like.

I try to make images that are as complex as the world that I photograph. At the same time I am trying to encapsulate what I am experiencing during the hours or days that I am shooting in a single moment. Tough job, huh?

Normally this is the image I would select. We have eye contact with the subject. But I donít quite like the way the lines are working and I also feel like it is too direct. You look and say ďoh, poor little boy.Ē Too easy.

Now this photo has some mystery. What is he looking at; who is he? More importantly there are more symbols here. There is the wall that he can barely see over. There is the window that allows him to look but prevents him from coming inside. This image also allows us to focus on the poster on the window which advertises one of the few jobs asylum seekers can have. Too bad there hasnít been any snow this winter. When I was shooting this I thought that the first image would be the stronger one. Now I see that it is the second one.

I found this at a flea market in Vienna. Cool photo, very symbolic. It seems like J.F.K. is still with us. But I find this take a bit too direct. The background doesnít really add much to it.

A bit better. I like the woman but you canít see Kennedy any more!

Getting there, but again I feel like it is too direct.

Now we have it! Just enough of the photo is cut off to make it seem like he is rising out of the bottom of the frame. I also like the man walking toward us in the background and the tree in the middle.

As you can see editing is a very subjective process. But it is also an important part of the artistic process. You can tell more about me as a photographer by how I edit my images. How hope this gives you a better understanding of what I do and how I do it. Which photos would you have selected? I look forward to hearing your thoughtsÖ

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HCB Quote of the Week #27 
Saturday, March 8, 2008, 13:42 - Project News, Commentary

Well you will be happy to know that I finally finished scanning yesterday! Next week I will get to work editing and uploading the images from my stay in Vienna. From what little Iíve seen I am pretty happy with the results. Of course there is still more film to process, scan and edit but far less than what I have already done. The more I do this the more I recognize the need for an assistant. Of course that requires money, unless you know someone who is really good and wants to work for free. In any event, here is your HCB Quote of the Week and a photo from ViennaÖ

Mirror image. © Damaso Reyes

This recognition, in real life, of a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values is for me the essence of photography; composition should be a constant of preoccupation, being a simultaneous coalition Ė an organic coordination of visual elements.
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Snowing at Solitude 
Tuesday, March 4, 2008, 11:13 - Commentary

So as I sit here, scanning my negatives into the computer so that someday soon you can see what Iíve been doing, fat, fluffy snowflakes are falling outside my window, transforming the landscape into a monochrome world of precipitation. I know it seems like I complain about the weather a lot but I was expecting the first buds of spring, not the last gasps of winter. Ah well, at least the white is covering the brown which fills the forest. It also gives me a good excuse to stay inside and work through the dozens of negatives that I have produced over the past two months. Early reports look good, stay tuned!

The view from my window. © Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #26 
Saturday, March 1, 2008, 22:14 - Travel, Commentary

Well it does feel good to be back. I spent the afternoon at the sauna and feel much better after my long train ride from Vienna. Of course as I left Vienna the clouds rolled in and the rain began. As the sun dawned I thought to myself ďAh, I really am back in Germany!Ē

In all seriousness it is good to be back here at Solitude. I have gotten to see a few of the old fellows that know as well as the staff. I am looking forward to doing a great deal of editing as well as some shooting. Back in America Tuesday is a big day for politics as Texas and Ohio vote for the democratic nominee for President. In the meantime here is your HCB Quote of the Week!

Asylum seekers for Obama. © Damaso Reyes

Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldnít stir up the water before fishing. Donít use a flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isnít any. If these rules arenít followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obtrusive. - Henri Cartier-Bresson American Photo", September/October 1997, page: 76

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Goodbye Vienna 
Thursday, February 28, 2008, 09:30 - Travel, Shooting, Commentary

It is my last day here in Wien and I am already missing it! Well I still have a few more hours but the weather has been spectacular during the past week and I have really been very productive, so much so that I still have to do some packing. But donít worry, I will get it all done in time. I really hope I have a chance to come back soon to continue the work I started here. Time, as always, will tell.

In the meantime here are some images of asylum seeker, teacher and university graduate Alisa and her three daughters. She came here almost ten years ago from Chechnya and has been trying to make a life for herself, against all odds, ever since.

ďI wish that just once I could feel like a human being.Ē

A strong woman.© Damaso Reyes

Still happy. © Damaso Reyes

A hidden truth. © Damaso Reyes

Edges. © Damaso Reyes

Living history. © Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #25 
Saturday, February 23, 2008, 13:29 - Commentary

My time here in Vienna is growing short. I have to say that I have really enjoyed myself since I arrived here on the first of January. I have shot well over forty rolls and am not done yet!

Smiling through the hard times. © Damaso Reyes

You know itís funny but so far this year I have gotten a number of rejections from various grants and fellowships that I have applied for. At the same time I feel like I have been doing some of my best work over the past two weeks while I have been photographing asylum seekers here in Vienna. Of course I wish I had more time here but I have made a good start and I hope I can find a way of returning at some point later in the year. While I still have a few days left here in Wien my focus is slowly starting to shift back towards Stuttgart where I will be for March. I hope to catch up on some of what I didnít get to shoot last year but at the same time I will use the time there as an opportunity to meditate a bit on what I have been doing as well as edit what I have shot so far. Without further ado, here are some portraits and your HCB Quote of the Week!

Hope. © Damaso Reyes

As time passes by and you look at portraits, the people come back to you like a silent echo. A photograph is a vestige of a face, a face in transit. Photography has something to do with death. It's a trace. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Self portrait. © Damaso Reyes

Mass media. © Damaso Reyes

I want my MTV. © Damaso Reyes
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Kosovo Declares Independence 
Monday, February 18, 2008, 11:42 - Commentary

Well itís official, Kosovo finally declared independence from Serbia yesterday. It had been a long time coming and is not without controversy but the die has been cast and the people of Kosovo, who are 95% ethnic Albanians, have chosen to move forward after nine years of U.N. supervision.

Pristina, Kosovo 2005. © Damaso Reyes

When I traveled to Kosovo in 2005 the people there were very much in favor of independence and hated the limbo that came with the United Nations. The people I spoke with very much wanted to have a future in which they controlled their own destiny and they felt that could not happen until Kosovo was a sovereign nation. The question now is who will recognize their independence and what will Serbia and Russia do? I hope to get back to Kosovo at some point this year or next because for me the story is just beginningÖ

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HCB Quote of the Week #24 
Saturday, February 16, 2008, 23:20 - Commentary

Working on this story about asylum seekers is really kicking my butt. Sometimes as a photojournalist you feel helpless because you cannot actively help people the way a doctor can. You just have to sit back and document their struggles without being able to do anything about it. Now of course I hope that my images can help in the greater sense of being able to change the way that people see the world but when you see individuals, one of which you could easily be but for an accident of birth and timing, it is hard to keep the distance you need to do the work that must be done. Knowing that the world is unjust on an intellectual level is much different than confronting that injustice on a daily basis. To say the least it makes me uncomfortable, which is only fair since that is the feeling I hope to impart to my viewers.

Found in an asylum seekers center. © Damaso Reyes

In photography, the smallest thing can become a big subject; an insignificant human detail can become a leitmotiv. We see and we make seen as a witness to the world around us; the event, in its natural activity, generates an organic rhythm of forms. - Henri Cartier-Bresson "American Photo", September/October 1997, page: 76

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