Huffing and Puffing 
Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 21:38 - Shooting, Personal
Camp Bondsteel

One of these days I am going to have to get into shape, I swear!

Today I spent the day on a very interesting mission. Over the past few years one of the things the United Nations has been doing is finding and identifying the bodies of people who went missing or were killed during the war. Today we got up early and went out on one of these missions which entailed hiking for a few kilometers up and down some hills to the sport where the body was discovered.


Clearing mines. ©Damaso Reyes

As one gets older, you often think that the ravages of time donít have an impact, well Iím not yet at 30 and I can say that whatever physical prowess I had seems to have left me. I guess I never considered how fit those gym classes in high school kept me. Oh well.


A UN worker places the remains in a body bag. ©Damaso Reyes

After all the huffing and puffing was done, we got to the site and unearthed the bodies, after some of the soldiers made sure there were no mines. I can say with some certainty that exhumations donít get easier to photograph over time. Still I feel I got some good photos.

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Once again, with feeling 
Friday, October 21, 2005, 01:13 - Shooting
Camp Bondsteel

Itís dťjŗ vu all over again.

Here I am once again at Camp Bondsteel and this trip has been even more productive than the last. I have been on several interesting missions including a search and cordon mission with German troops who were looking for smuggled weapons. We had to get up very, very early so that everyone at the compound they were searching would be asleep. We got to fly in on Blackhawk helicopters through the mountains, which was pretty cool and ridiculously cold. I donít think they ended up finding any weapons in the end but I did get some good images.


A German Soldier prepares for the mission. ©Damaso Reyes

I have been going out a lot more with different units and getting a chance to see how they interact with the population, which is good. I think the next time I come through these parts I wonít embed. I think Kosovo will become one of the touchstones of this project, a place that I visit from time to time to see how it progresses.

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Back to Bondsteel 
Tuesday, October 11, 2005, 00:16 - Travel
New York City

Well it has been an slow but productive summer. Youíll be glad to know that I processed my film and got some pretty good results which you can see in the photos section of the website here. I am on my way back to Kosovo for another three weeks of fun with KFOR, if that isnít an oxymoron. I am looking forward to my time there and to follow up on some stories that I began working on the last time I was there. After that I will be doing a two week artist in residency stint at Can Serrat, just outside of Barcelona which should be nice and relaxing!

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Back to New York 
Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 15:15 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Amsterdam

Well I am headed back home to New York after shooting in three different countries and traveling a few thousand miles. I have shot well over a hundred rolls of film and Iím very much looking forward to seeing the results.

I think I can begin to see how the narrative thread of this project will emerge, though I think it will become much clearer the more that I shoot. Thatís a relief because one of my major concerns going into all this was how it would all tie together to create something that made sense. I am always a bit nervous before a big trip but I think the past few months are a good indication that this project can be successful. It is still going to take a lot of work and elbow grease but I am having a great time shooting this and am looking forward to returning to Europe in the early fall to continue shooting. Now the only questions are where will I go and what will I do?

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The Port 
Monday, June 27, 2005, 17:26 - Shooting
Rotterdam

Yesterday I spent the day photographing at the Port of Rotterdam, the second busiest port in the world. They have quite an operation over there let me tell you.


Cranes move containers at the port. ©Damaso Reyes

I was very impressed by the automation and the fact that every outgoing container is screened for radiological material, a program set up ironically with the help of the Department of Homeland Security (if only we could implement such systems at our ports I would feel a whole lot safer.


An x ray tech points out suspicious cargo. ©Damaso Reyes

They also have these huge truck mounted x ray machines to look inside shipping containers. I also got to spend some time with the drug sniffing dog trainers, who were working with a cute little pup, teaching him to sniff out fun stuff like ecstasy. I would like to do more work like this as the project goes on, perhaps spend a few days next time. Shoots like this will play an important role in the Economics thread of this project.


A puppy is trained to sniff out drugs. ©Damaso Reyes

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Shadowing the Mayor 
Sunday, June 19, 2005, 19:28 - Shooting
Amsterdam


So I have spent the past few days shadowing Job Cohen, the Mayor of Amsterdam. The days have been varied from meetings in The Hague to attending a show at a community center and the opening of a new concert hall. The mayor is a very busy man. I also got to see the Queen at one of the events.


Mayor Cohen takes a phone call between meetings in The Hague. ©Damaso Reyes


Mayor Choen waits for the Queen to arrive by boat. ©Damaso Reyes


The mayor has make-up applied before a television appearence. ©Damaso Reyes

Following the mayor around has been a great chance to keep exploring the Politics thread of this project which I hope will document not just things like elections but the people who make the system run. Time often forgets mayors and ministers alike but these civil servants play an important role in how the EU will integrate.


Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. ©Damaso Reyes

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New Amsterdam meets Old Amsterdam 
Saturday, June 4, 2005, 00:55 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Amsterdam

Having been born in New Amsterdam it is a nice treat to be able to spend some time in my cityís namesake. Weather aside, Amsterdam is a great town. It does remind me quite a bit of New York, and I really like the fact that you can walk and bike most places and the cafť culture has been very enjoyable. Premium Belgian beer in the states costs an arm and a leg but the supermarkets seem to be giving it away.


Some very special flowers. ©Damaso Reyes

I managed to visit a huge flower garden just outside of town called the Keukenhof. While I usually donít go in for nature photography, it was a nice change of pace.


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Voting Day! 
Friday, June 3, 2005, 04:55 - Shooting, Commentary
Amsterdam

Well the Dutch voted yesterday in overwhelming fashion to reject the EU constitution. After the French vote last month no one was surprised but the size of the defeat was a bit shocking for some. What does this mean for the future of integration? Right now it is all just speculation but clearly those leading the push for a more integrated EU must do a better job of communicating to the public, something up until now many in the elites never felt they had to do. At several hundred pages long, the document was unreadable, something that most likely led to its defeat.


Voting results. ©Damaso Reyes

Compared to American elections, there was very little campaigning, which struck me as odd for such an important vote. Those opposed to the EU did and continue to do a great job of getting their message across, the other side has truly fallen down on the job.


Is this the right ballot box? ©Damaso Reyes
It was a long day which began at a local polling station in Amsterdam and ended at the television station where politicians gathered to watch the results.

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Goodbye Bondsteel! 
Friday, May 27, 2005, 13:24 - Travel, Personal
Well this wraps up my time in Kosovo.


A medivac helo at sunset. ©Damaso Reyes

The past few weeks have gone by pretty quickly but I feel like I have gotten some good photos and am ready for a little down time in Amsterdam, my next stop. Donít worry, I will manage to shoot while I am there but I think I will take a more relaxed approach to things. I really canít wait to process some film when I get back to the States!

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Riot Training 
Friday, May 20, 2005, 02:18 - Shooting, Personal
Camp Bondsteel

I have shot something like 30 rolls of film in the last ten days and I think that I have more than a few good images if the digital files are any indication. As time goes on I feel like I have gotten more of a sense, albeit an extremely limited one, of what life in Kosovo is like. One thing that is certain is that life on a dry Army base can be a little dull. On the plus side this is probably the most number of days I have gotten up before 7 a.m. in a long time.


American and Greek Soldiers train in riot control. ©Damaso Reyes

Today we went to one of the European bases to photograph the Crowd and Riot Control (CRC) training. They used simulated tear gas and some of the troops got to be angry Kosovars, giving the soldiers quiet a hard time. It was hot and dirty but a lot of fun, at least if you didnít have people attacking youÖ.


©Damaso Reyes
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MEDCAP 
Sunday, May 15, 2005, 23:03 - Shooting
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo

Today was pretty cool, I got to photograph at a MEDCAP, which is basically a temporary medical field clinic set up by KFOR solider to treat rural Kosovars who might not have access to doctors. There was an eye clinic as well as a dental clinic where the Army docs were pulling out teeth left and right.


An Eye exam. ©Damaso Reyes


A translator communicates this woman's medical history to a military doctor. ©Damaso Reyes


Children wait and watch as their mother has teeth removed. ©Damaso Reyes


A young Kosovar girl waits to have her teeth checked. ©Damaso Reyes

That reminds me, I should probably go to the dentist soonÖ..

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A quick note about the photos 
Friday, May 13, 2005, 18:18 - Project News
Just so everyone knows, the photos that will accompany this blog are taken digitally. While The Europeans will be a black and white project, I still shoot digitally so I can file photographs with the stories I write as well as post images to go along with the blog in a timely manner. All the project photos are shot on black and white film, generously donated by the project corporate sponsor Kodak!

Just thought you would like to knowÖ

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Sunny Kosovo 
Friday, May 13, 2005, 04:49 - Shooting
Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo

Welcome to the Army!


The home of this man's son was destoryed the night before. ©Damaso Reyes

I have been in sunny Kosovo for four days now and I have to say being embedded with the U.S. Army is very interesting. Yes, there has been a lot of hurry up and wait, for instance I just got the proper ID badge I needed, apparently the badging people didnít quite know what to make of a journalist, but I havenít let it get in the way of me taking some good images. I will be here for close to three weeks and in that time I am hoping that I have a chance to spend time with a lot of different units and see how they operate.


Public Affairs Officer Major Wunn listens to a Serb tell his story. ©Damaso Reyes

One of the first things I got to go out on was checking out the scene of a Serbian house which had been destroyed by a mysterious explosion the night before. With the exception of the Serbs, it seems like most Kosovars are genuinely happy to have U.S. and KFOR forces around, something I bet the troops in Iraq wish were the case. More laterÖ.


2ndLt. Mills interacts with local children. ©Damaso Reyes

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The Circus 
Saturday, May 7, 2005, 22:43 - Shooting
London

So yesterday I went to the circus!


Roxy leaving the stage. ©Damaso Reyes

It was a small traveling show in one of the suburbs surrounding the city and it was interesting. I managed to spend a good deal of time backstage and got to know some of the performers including Roxy, a teenager who along with her brother are traveling around Europe performing in the circus. I think it was a nice way to end my stay in The UK. Tomorrow I head off to Kosovo. Wish me luck....


Roxy in her trailer. ©Damaso Reyes


Roxy backstage waiting to go on. ©Damaso Reyes
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Election Day/Night 
Friday, May 6, 2005, 22:16 - Shooting
London

Well election day was very long but highly productive. I spent the day with Brian Haw and his supporters. They started by driving around the district he was running for in a rented van with megaphones attached. Brian harangued Tony Blair, called for peace in Iraq and encouraged voters to come out and support him.


An Election monitor watches the results come in. ©Damaso Reyes

At the end of the day about 200 people voted for Brian.

We waited for the returns at a local community center where I alternated with hanging out with the extremely bored press corps holed up an a small room upstairs and spending time with Brian and his friends and family.


Waiting with reporters. ©Damaso Reyes

For them it was an emotional day. No one, not even Brian really thought he would win but I think there was part of him that was hoping against hope for a better showing. If nothing else Brian got to spread his message a little further.
Read the story I wrote on his campaign


Brian and a supporter after the results are announced. ©Damaso Reyes




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