Off to Hamburg 
Thursday, August 16, 2007, 17:05 - Travel
Berlin

Well I am off to Hamburg today for a few days of R&R! Not that life has been especially stressful here in Berlin but it is always nice to change things up and Hamburg is a pretty nice city. So I will catch up with you guys on the other side!


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Opposite Ends 
Monday, August 13, 2007, 14:31 - Shooting
Berlin

It’s raining outside. Again.

I’m not trying to make a big deal about this but I had to wear a jacket yesterday. In August. Does that seem wrong to people? In New York it is hot and steamy and here it is cool and wet. I guess the grass is always greener….

I suppose the three people who are reading this blog want to know what I have been up to. Well, yesterday I spent most of the day shooting at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Warning: Not Safe for Work images below!


Tourists. © Damaso Reyes

Here are some images from the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall that I took for Christine, another Burns fellow to whom I suggested a story on the deterioration of the wall and people’s efforts to renovate it. The wall is slowly crumbling because of exposure to the elements and to tourists who can’t seem to resist the urge to chip a few pieces away. If something isn’t done soon it seems like there won’t be much of the wall left for future generations.


Another chip in the Wall.© Damaso Reyes


Hole in the Wall. © Damaso Reyes

Earlier in the day I spent a few hours shooting nudes. I know, what is a photojournalist doing making “arty” pictures? Well I do indeed consider myself an artist and a photojournalist. In addition I am of the firm belief that as an artist, and even a journalist, it is important to stretch one’s creative muscles, taking the same kinds of photos and working on the same kinds of stories not only leads to boredom but to inflexibility.


Up against the Wall. © Damaso Reyes


Peace. © Damaso Reyes

Since college I have worked on a nudes series. Because it is not what I normally do I have been rather hesitant about the whole affair feeling that unless I could bring something new to it why bother at all. Recently I decided that it was more important to try something new than to try to break new ground, especially since I am not really planning on sharing these images, they are more for my own personal growth. But I thought it might be interesting for you guys. Feel free to make suggestions and let me know if you want to pose, finding models is the hard part!


Torso.© Damaso Reyes


Chin. © Damaso Reyes

This week I hope to continue the street photography I started doing last week. Nothing special; just carrying the camera around and shooting. Berlin is an incredibly interesting city to photograph in and I am looking forward to shooting as much as I can here.


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Finding Tom... 
Wednesday, August 8, 2007, 20:05 - Travel
Löpten

So today I got out of the office to work on a story. As always, the universe has a wicked sense of humor. My Vanity Fair colleague and I took our rented car out into the German countryside hot on the trail of Tom Cruise.


At the Flughafen. © Damaso Reyes

First we went to Berlin’s Tempelhof airport, home to the historic Berlin Airlift as well as the flight school where Herr Cruise took so classic planes out for a spin. Then it was off to Groß Köris where we hoped to find perhaps where they might be filming. We talked to the mayor, we ate fish by the lake, I took photos in the rain.


Where are we again? © Damaso Reyes

We didn’t find Tom Cruise.

Another day, another Euro....

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First Day, First Impressions 
Sunday, August 5, 2007, 18:01 - Project News
Berlin

So my first day of work was on Friday and I was very excited to get things started. I showed up bright and early and was introduced to the shiny, minimalist offices on Unter den Linden. White walls, white floors, white desks, white computers, pretty much white everything. The people were warm and friendly and didn’t even seem to mind my bad German, fortunately for me. There was even some openness to one or two of the story ideas I pitched, so we shall see what comes of it.


A moment in the Floh Markt. © Damaso Reyes

Yesterday and today I made my way to a few of Berlin’s famous flea markets. I picked up a few things here and there but that rare bargain Leica lens is still on the run, maybe one day I will get lucky. After spending the early afternoon in the sun (yes, it has finally warmed up here!) I met a few of the other Burns Fellows at the Beach Bar. While Berlin is not on the ocean we were still able to dig our toes in the sand and watch the tour boats wind their way along the Spree. Afterwards I met my friend Patricia, who I met at Solitude, for a quick bit to eat before she had to head back to her cell, er, I mean home in Hanover.

Back to work tomorrow but I am meeting a source later for a story I am working on, details to follow. The big question I have for you is whether I should go to Zürich this weekend. There is a big street party that I would like to photograph but I am a little on the fence, what do you guys think?

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Then We Take Berlin! 
Thursday, August 2, 2007, 15:54 - Shooting
Berlin

The process of settling into any new digs is completed for me once I have done laundry and gone to the supermarket, both of which I did today. While most people love apartments with lots of light, the fact that my room has two big windows and no draperies was not something I was happy about at five o’clock in the morning when the sun began his journey through the sky on Apollo’s chariot. So I was up and up early and I did some reading, web surfing and eventually made my way to the market where I loaded up on way too much food, a relic of my days at Solitude when the market was 40 minutes away by bus instead of a ten minute walk as it is now.

The sun has decided to come out today and I managed to make my way without a jacket, a novel idea for August I admit but one I was fully dedicated to exploring. After a homemade lunch of exciting pasta, I made my way across the Spree and visited American artist David Krepfle, who has been living here in Berlin for the past year and makes some very interesting art.


Portrait of the Artist as a young man. © Damaso Reyes

I thought he would be a great profile subject so I went over with camera and notebook in hand and after a few preliminary beers we talked about his life and art. Hopefully you can read all about it in Vanity Fair Germany if they are suitably impressed by my industriousness and decided to run the story. Otherwise I will post it here but in the meantime here are some photos…


A few pieces of the puzzle. © Damaso Reyes


Hard at work. © Damaso Reyes


More and More. © Damaso Reyes


The hands always tell. © Damaso Reyes

I am looking forward to starting “work” tomorrow, whatever that will entail. It will be nice to be in an office; of course I am sure that is just when the great weather will start here. At the same time I am sure they will understand how important it is for a good journalist to be out in the field so let’s keep our fingers crossed!

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Back in Berlin 
Monday, July 30, 2007, 15:18 - Travel


Berlin

Ich bin Hier!

After two and a half days of bonding with my fellow fellows in Virginia I boarded a plane and headed off to the Bundesrepublik. As is usual, I couldn’t sleep so by the time I arrived I was quite tired (off course staying up till three in the morning “discussing” trans-Atlantic relations didn’t help either).

So here I am at the home of a friend of one of the German fellows until my room is ready on August 1st. I slept, showered and now am about to go and eat, exciting isn’t it? I just found out that I don’t start work until Friday so I thankfully have a few days to get adjusted and settle in before the excitement starts.

Have no doubt that this will be a challenge. After all I have spent the last seven months doing whatever I pleased whenever it pleased me. What will it be like to be in an office environment? Of course I hope to be out in the field as much as possible but I go into this experience with an open mind, hoping that I can learn as much as is possible.

It is cold and rainy here. I wish the warm embrace of my hometown but I know that there is something waiting for me here, something that I can’t quite see but I can imagine in my mind’s eye. The future, as ever, is an open road, one that I continue to enjoy walking down….

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Home Again.... 
Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 19:31 - Travel, Project News
New York City


© Damaso Reyes

I am sitting on a train at Pennsylvania Station waiting to go to Washington for an orientation for my Burns Fellowship. It has been an exciting twelve days here in the Big Apple, my only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer. I rode the Cyclone at Coney Island; I had sushi, Thai, and Indian food. I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. I went to the Museum of Modern Art.

I bought a Leica camera!

Yes, the dream has come true and special thanks to Ken Hanson for help making it happen. Even as we speak my two film SLR cameras are sitting back in Brooklyn, only the digital camera keeps me from fully being in the world of rangefinders. I have shot a few rolls and so far it looks great. What is perhaps truly amazing is the aura that the camera gives me. No, it is not that people are impressed by it, in fact I have concealed the camera’s true identity with black tape. No, there is some about the small German machine that eliminates anyone’s objections to me taking their photograph. Time and again I stood a meter away for someone and while they registered my presence, when they saw they camera they simply shrugged, as if to say “well it is just a little camera.” Never before have I felt such freedom of movement. I think I will have a very good time over the coming years.

Now of course I want more.

So now I am off to our nation’s capital for a few days before heading to the Federal Republic. Having spent six months there already I feel like I know something of what I am getting myself into but since I will actually be working during the day and speaking not a little German, it will be different. How, I am not sure but as you well know uncertainty has been my constant companion so why should I leave it behind now?

The night before I leave Stuttgart I was up late packing and cleaning my studio. I finally finished at close to 2 in the morning and I decided to walk around a bit outside. I circled the castle and made my way to the edge of the forest. The moon was nowhere to be found and only the light was the distant illumination provided by the city. I stood at the edge of the forest, at the threshold of a path that I had walked dozens of times before.

There was little that could be seen except the silhouette of the trees against the sky. I stood there for a time, staring into the forest and looking at the path which was all but invisible in the inky blackness of the quiet night. I continued my vigil and ever so slowly the dim outline of a path begun to revel itself to me.

I looked at the path, still dark, still mostly obscured and stared at the very same time at my own life. I stood at the edge and could not see very far at all but I knew the path was still there; I had walked it before, there was nothing to fear even if the exact shape of things to come could not be discerned. I smiled with that secret knowledge tucked safely away and returned for one last night in my studio before returning home.


And now I once again find myself leaving, heading down that darkened path, which I hope will eventually lead to a sunny glade…

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Sommerfest 
Monday, July 9, 2007, 00:36 - Events
Stuttgart

Well yesterday we had our annual Sommerfest here at Solitude and it was quite an experience. Food, music, performances and of course lots of art on display all over the place. We even sold off many of the photographs that I had been exhibiting and raised money for both the Akadamie and The Europeans. Later there was dancing until the wee small hours of the morning…






The question that everyone was asking... © Damaso Reyes

And now I must prepare to head back to New York. Still have some scanning left to do as well as packing, but I am very excited about seeing my friends and family and eating in my favorite places. But I will miss my long walks in the woods and visits to the mineral baths here in Stuttgart.




The answers visitors left... © Damaso Reyes

I am looking forward to the two months I will spend in Berlin where I will work at Vanity Fair Deutschland as part of my Burns Fellowship. It should be an exciting time and no doubt I will have a chance to practice my German on a daily basis!

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The End is Nigh 
Tuesday, July 3, 2007, 14:59 - Personal
Stuttgart

Well it has been nearly six months and my time here at Solitude is growing short. I suppose that I have been missing this place as long as I have been here but the peace and tranquility that I have experienced since I have arrived will be difficult to replicate. At the same time I am looking forward to coming home again in just a few short days. New York is always most exciting during those first few days after your step off the plane. Since I was born there I will never know the thrill of flying into New York for the first time so this is as close as I can get…


Geneva's main train station. © Damaso Reyes

This time in my life has been important for many reasons, perhaps least of which are the many photographs I have taken. More important I think is the mental development that has occurred since I have been here. I have refined my shooting style and process. I have discovered a rhythm that I hope will carry me though the rest of my time here in Europe. I am making the transition from heavy SLR cameras to lighter rangefinders.

Six months ago I felt as though I had just begun this project; today I will as though I am deep inside of it. As usually happens when I shoot a great deal I fell refreshed and inspired. I have a thousand new ideas of what to photograph and am excited about the possibilities that the future holds.

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Objects of Desire 
Wednesday, June 27, 2007, 15:48 - Project News
Stuttgart

Recently I had a chance to update The Wish List, feel free to have a look!

I went through and thought about my current needs and since I am in the process of making the switch from SLRs to rangefinder cameras, there were several things on the list that I have deleted and a few things that I have added.


A Leica 35mm lens

There are lots of ways to support The Europeans and donating something from The Wish List is a great one!

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Life is one big party.... 
Sunday, June 24, 2007, 14:33 - Shooting
Stuttgart

Friday and Saturday I went to the Württembergischer Kunstverein where Dr. Cornelia Lund and Dr. Holger Lund of Fluctuating Images gallery here in Stuttgart were curating a series of events exploring the relationship between parties and art. On these two days they invited DJs as well as multimedia artists to come and put on a show, here are a few images from the two nights…


Intensity... © Damaso Reyes


Shadows... © Damaso Reyes

Otherwise things have been pretty quiet. I am processing the 40 odd rolls of film that have accumulated in my studio over the past few weeks as well as trying to enjoy what is left of my time here at Solitude. In August I will start my two month Burns Fellowship where I will be working at Vanity Fair Germany in Berlin. I am very much looking forward to spending a few months in Germany’s capital city and I hope I have a chance to do some travelling while working on stories.




Dancing Queen... © Damaso Reyes

It has been a productive 5 ½ months here and I feel that the project is on very firm footing. Of course looking at the images I have produced thus far reminds me of how much further I have left to go but at least I feel as though I am on the right path. In the meantime, I am looking forward to the 12 days I will spend back in NYC where I hope to eat as much good food and see as many of my friends as I can! The countdown has begun…










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Back to School 
Wednesday, June 20, 2007, 15:04 - Travel, Shooting, Commentary
Schömberg

I made my way back to the Schömberg Children’s Clinic to photograph the small school that they have for the patients. From the first time I heard about it I was very interested in photographing the teachers and students, much thanks to Dr. Uwe Petruch for arranging this visit for me.


Adrian gets a little help... © Damaso Reyes

Someone recently asked me why I was photographing at the hospital and I feel that they were not satisfied by my answer. I get the question WHY a lot , why Europe, why CERN, why the Landtag? Why, Why, Why?????


Music Class. © Damaso Reyes

My best answer is why not? Why isn’t the Kinder Klinik worthy of being photographed? I guess the real answer to all of these questions is twofold. First, because I am here. Second, because it interests ME.


A Happy Adrian. © Damaso Reyes


Numbers Game. © Damaso Reyes

As much as I am trying to create a record of both what Europe is like now and how it is changing so that future generations can view their history in context, I am working very much for myself. I could spend all my time photographing what other people think is relevant or important but then it would cease to be my project, it would just be current events.


Science Experiment. © Damaso Reyes

So I go to places like Schömberg and meet people like Adrian and Daniele and hope that at the end of this long process the images I cobble together make some kind of sense. I can assure you that I am having a great time doing it!


Daniele in computer class. © Damaso Reyes
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Trip to CERN 
Thursday, June 14, 2007, 01:30 - Travel, Shooting
Geneva

Well it has been two incredible days, almost enough to make me wish that I had taken physics a little more seriously in high school, sorry John, all I can do is take photos…

I arrived in Geneva early yesterday morning after traveling all night on the train, next time I will splurge and get in a day early so I am a little less tired but right now I am young and underfunded so without a single drop of coffee I made my way to CERN on the #9 bus. On the way to CERN it struck me just how international a city Geneva is, something I should have realized since it hosts both CERN and several United Nations agencies but after spending so much time in Stuttgart, which is, let’s just say less diverse, it was like a little taste of home seeing all the different faces speaking all those different languages.

I made my way to CERN’s reception area where I was greeted by fellow American Katie Yurkewicz who would be my guide through the world of particle physics. Several people have asked me both how I came to learn about CERN and why I chose to go there to photograph. The simple answers are how couldn’t you have heard about CERN and why wouldn’t you want to go there? Seriously, CERN has been in the news for years, especially recently because they are building the world’s largest particle accelerator. At 27 km in diameter, this will also be the world’s most powerful, allowing the physicists there to smash protons together at close to the speed of light. And it is a great example of European cooperation with scientists from all over the continent, not to mention the world, contributing their knowledge.


Damaso Reyes, particle physicist for a day... © Damaso Reyes

Of course you ask why would anyone want to do such a thing? The answer is by doing so the scientists hope to create conditions close to those which existed just after the creation of our universe in order to find some exotic and rare particles like the Higgs Boson, particles which have been theorized as being the smallest and most basic building blocks which make up our universe, but have yet to be found.

So in a large tunnel underneath Switzerland and France, they are building experiments which hope to detect these particles. It is very ironic that they are building the world’s largest, well just about everything it seems like, in order to detect the universe’s tiniest particles. I was extremely lucky to visit CERN now while the experiments are still under construction, in a year they will all be underground and inaccessible.


Big enough for you? © Damaso Reyes

First Katie and I drove into France (my first trip by the way) to visit the Compact Muon Soleniod. It just goes to show you that scientists do have a sense of humor because when we walked into the massive building where parts of CMS are being built we were confronted by a massive object, at least 15 meters tall. The colorful detector is just one of many which will examine what happens when you slam a bunch of protons together at 99.99% the speed of light. By the way, I am not getting into detailed descriptions because A.) you can follow the links and read all about it and B.) I don’t want to screw up the science.


Just one part of the CMS. © Damaso Reyes


Plugging away... © Damaso Reyes

The scale of these “experiments” truly is awe inspiring, it is simply amazing that we can build things so massive and complex. Words fail me so here are some photos.

After this we went down.


Into the heart of the beast. © Damaso Reyes


Pretty cool, huh? © Damaso Reyes

Down into the tunnel where the Large Hadron Collider lives, cue scary music…


A little fine tuning on the beam pipe. © Damaso Reyes


This is what all the excitement is about. © Damaso Reyes


We've come to the end of the road...© Damaso Reyes

After seeing CMS you expect the tunnel to be massive, and it is pretty big but the actual beam pipe, where these itty bitty protons will be whizzing around is pretty small, maybe half a meter at best. But the pipe needs to be vacuum sealed and cooled down to a crazy temperature and serviced so when you factor all that in the tunnel gets big. Of course the caverns that hold the massive detectors are, well massive themselves and I got a chance to appreciate the scale of what they are doing again as I saw some of the CMS begin to come together.


All your protons are belong to us. © Damaso Reyes


Everything is under control! © Damaso Reyes

After a short drive to the control center we went to visit ALICE. No, she’s not a person but another of the LHC experiments: A Large Ion Collider Experiment to be exact. Again, a pretty big thingy, which is about how much justice I can do to the millions of man hours put into this device, or devices to be more accurate.


The heart of ALICE. © Damaso Reyes


LHCb is in effect.

The last stop was to the LHCb experiment. It just amazed me the amount of running around and climbing around that these scientists do. If you think that particle physicists just sit at desks all day well here is proof that they don’t!


Some of a few thousand detectors. © Damaso Reyes


Working hard... © Damaso Reyes

In the evening I went to Lausanne where I had dinner with Caroline Tosti, an old friend I met in Rwanda the first time Jimmie and I went in 1999. I had not seen here then so it was great to have a chance to catch up after all these years. Lausanne is a lovely city on Lake Geneva and I had a great time but couldn’t stay out too late since I had to get up early and head back to the detectors!


Agostino. © Damaso Reyes

Today was just as interesting as yesterday. I spent the day with two scientists working on different experiments, offering two different views of what it must be like to work here. First I hung out with Agostino Lanza, who is working on the ATLAS experiment. A distinguished older Italian gentleman whose soft voice belies an extremely active mind, he is a senior scientist and his day was quite a bit more relaxed than what I would see later. First stop: a meeting. In Italian. That lasted over an hour. And I don’t drink coffee.


A tough one... © Damaso Reyes


You can see the gears turning... © Damaso Reyes

Of course anytime you are building anything this huge you are going to have meetings and lots of them. I think I got off easy! After the meeting, which was discussing some problems they are having with some of the detectors, we went around CERN running errands, picking up equipment and other odds and ends, something I would expect one of his graduate students to be doing but it just goes to show you that everyone here works together! Just before lunch I got to see some of the massive data processing center for ATLAS which will be used to decide which of the millions upon millions of collisions per second are of interest and should be saved. As a tech head it was pretty cool seeing all that massive computing power, all I could think about is the awesome LAN video game parties you could have!








Too much tech, too much fun... © Damaso Reyes

After lunch I spent the afternoon with Jesus Puerta Pelayo, who is working on the CMS experiment. Young and fit, Jesus was full of energy and showed it as he raced back and forth from one part of CMS to the other. His main challenge while I was with him was to reinstall a circuit board. Sounds pretty easy but this isn’t just opening up your PC at home, we had to climb four stories of scaffolding to get to the spot where it had to be put back in. Then we had to climb back down and get on a small crane to access the backside and plug in the data ports. Pretty cool but also time consuming. “I’m not a physicist,” he joked “I’m a technician!” he joked but what is amazing is that most of the people crawling around these massive machines are indeed physicists. Imagine going from the classroom and the blackboard to a massive hole in the ground, this must surely be the most interesting and exciting time of their lives!


Once again Jesus saves the day! © Damaso Reyes


Minor adjustments.© Damaso Reyes


The Holy ghost. © Damaso Reyes


Up close and personal. © Damaso Reyes

And then it was time to say goodbye to CERN and all the lovely people there. I hope to come back over the coming months as the experiments come closer to going online but I will always remember my exciting two days in the world of science!


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes
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Lost and Found 
Monday, June 11, 2007, 22:17 - Commentary
Stuttgart

Why aren’t you in Hamburg? Two different people asked me this question in the space of as many days and they, as well as you I suppose deserve an answer.

Of course my friends were referring to the anti G8 protests happening in Hamburg and other cities here in Germany, which played host to the event. Instead of photographing demonstrators voicing their opposition to global imperialism I was off taking photographs of expensive cameras and sick children. But again the question is why miss out on the biggest story of the month, if not year here in Germany?


A picture just for Conan! © Damaso Reyes

It is important for you to understand where I am coming from. For years, in fact for the bulk of my career as a photojournalist, I spent my time photographing demonstrations, protests, press conferences, fires and perp walks. Any kind of breaking news was of interest to me. At a certain point, in fact it was after I returned to New York from Indonesia, I realized that this was not the kind of work that I wanted to do. There are people who do it far better than I can and as I explained to someone this week I believe that when everyone is covering a particular topic or event (Iraq, Paris Hilton, etc) that is in fact a perfect signal to me that I should be covering something else.

Now if I had an unlimited budget and an assignment from a big time newspaper would I have been covering the protests? Perhaps, but as I told my friend Conan this week over the next few years there will be no shortage of protests. This project is not about a protest that happens this month; it is about the larger themes that are impacting on the lives of people living here in Europe. I have to stop focusing on the trees and start mapping the forest and sometimes, in fact most of the time, that will mean missing out on the story du jour.

I can live with that…

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Up and Atom! 
Monday, June 11, 2007, 05:35 - Travel
Stuttgart

11:45 p.m. and waiting for the train to Geneva, don’t let anyone tell you that this business is glamorous!



After waking up early this morning to photograph the mayor of Stuttgart, here I am waiting for an early morning train to Geneva where I will photograph the incredible particle physics lab at CERN. For two days I will be lost in the world to science, not to mention chocolate, which should be interesting! I will catch up with you guys on Thursday…

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