Thursday, March 27, 2008, 12:55 - TravelStuttgart
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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Saturday, March 22, 2008, 16:52 - Shooting, CommentaryStuttgart
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
Saturday, March 15, 2008, 19:55 - Project News, CommentaryStuttgart
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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Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 20:56 - CommentaryStuttgart
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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Saturday, March 8, 2008, 13:42 - Project News, CommentaryStuttgart
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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Tuesday, March 4, 2008, 11:13 - CommentaryStuttgart
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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Saturday, March 1, 2008, 22:14 - Travel, CommentaryStuttgart
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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Thursday, February 28, 2008, 09:30 - Travel, Shooting, CommentaryVienna
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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Saturday, February 23, 2008, 13:29 - CommentaryVienna
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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Monday, February 18, 2008, 11:42 - CommentaryVienna
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
Saturday, February 16, 2008, 23:20 - CommentaryVienna
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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Thursday, February 14, 2008, 16:18 - ShootingVienna
So every day this week Iíve been taking the train to the Ute Bock Center. It is a place where people seeking asylum can come for counseling, legal advice and even housing. The small staff there does wonders with the few resources they have available and they have opened their doors and allowed me to photograph at the center.
Everyone is a foreigner somewhere...
The first day I have to say I was pretty overwhelmed. Many of the asylum seekers come to the center because they are having a problem which can range from an upcoming legal procedure to being threatened with arrest or deportation. They often have to wait for hours before they can see someone and the sense of frustration with the asylum system is palpable.
I havenít made too many photographs yet, much of the past few days has been about observing and getting comfortable but the more time I spend there the more I see and begin to understand. For the next two weeks I will probably work on this project exclusively, I hope I can do justice to the stories I encounter.
Karin, a staff member. © Damaso Reyes
Frau Bock herself. © Damaso Reyes
Looking for answers... © Damaso Reyes
Waiting for mail. © Damaso Reyes
Thinking. © Damaso Reyes
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Saturday, February 9, 2008, 16:05 - Travel, CommentaryZŁrich
Yep, Iím in Zurich for the weekend for a meeting and a little downtime with my friend Philippe. I havenít been blogging much because Iíve been in the darkroom every day this week processing film. 48 rolls down, less than 20 to go! Of course I still have to scan and edit all that. Plus next week I think I will finally get to start working on the immigration theme of my project, something that may very well take up the rest of my time in Vienna.
While I was in NYC back in December I got to shoot some of the new Tmax 400 film from Kodak. Hereís a snap of my hometown to go with your HCB Quote of the Week!
In photojournalistic reporting, inevitably, youíre an outsider. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
"American Photo", September/October 1997, page: 76
23rd street looking north. © Damaso Reyes
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Saturday, February 2, 2008, 15:36 - Shooting, CommentaryVienna
Another week, another ball! I know, itís tough going from one formal ball to another but hey, I made a commitment to document the changing face of Europe! On Thursday I went to the TU Ball, which was conveniently located about five minutes from my door. It was a little more traditional than the Regenbogen Ball (I even had to buy a bow tie) but it was still fun. The Fulbright Commission got a table and we all went to a fun evening of dancing and music. The ball was held at the Hofburg, and it was lavish to say the least.
The name is Reyes, Damaso Reyes
Often while working on this project I feel like an anthropologist but instead of hacking through the jungles of New Guinea I get to don a jacket and tie and hunt the elusive Wiener. It is fun getting a chance to visit these other worlds. I suppose that is what I like most about the camera: it acts as a passport allowing me to enter places and see things that I would otherwise not be able to. With that, here is you HCB Quote of the Week and some photos. Enjoy!
One has to tiptoe lightly and steal up to one's quarry; you don't swish the water when you are fishing. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
Everybody dance now. © Damaso Reyes
One step forward... © Damaso Reyes
On the sunny side of the street. © Damaso Reyes
Folk music. © Damaso Reyes
Dancing cheek to cheek. © Damaso Reyes
Eye contact. © Damaso Reyes
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008, 22:09 - CommentaryVienna
As this month comes to a close I canít help but look towards the future. I was checking my files and I have nearly a dozen different grant and fellowship applications out there which I am still waiting to hear back from. Of course I wonít get the vast majority of these but the waiting and uncertainty is always unsettling. During the past year between my Burns fellowship and my stay at Solitude I havenít had to worry too much about where to live or where the next check was going to come from. As of February 29th both of those issues are very much on my radar. This is one of the reasons that I have to get more serious about fundraising. Long term security is something I have never had but if I want this project to reach its full potential I need to have the money in place to work for months and years. Feel free to donate or pick something out form the Wish List! I need all the help I can get.
Do Not Want.
It seems that my uncertainty is being mirrored in the U.S. election season as well. After two narrow losses in primary states senator Barack Obama won the southern state of South Carolina by an impressive margin. I was sad to see the debate devolve into a series of racial attacks led by former president Clinton but I canít say that it was unexpected. I can only hope that the Clinton campaign takes the rejection of negative tactics that South Carolina delivered seriously and focuses instead on promoting the virtues of the candidate rather than trying to tear down the others. While it has been a rollercoaster ride and I look forward to it ending soon this campaign, its length and depth and record voter turnouts illustrates that American democracy is very healthy.
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