Photo of the Day #61 
Friday, October 17, 2008, 11:11 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
The question we all must ultimately ask is: what do I want to be?

Sure it sounds like something a 6 year old would say but how many of us have honestly asked and answered that question lately? The reason I mention this is because of yet another article on PDN’s blog extolling the virtues of a camera which shoots video.

“Earlier in the afternoon, Laforet suggested to me that the new cameras, which allow image makers to create commercial-quality still and video images working on their own in low light, were a major technological advancement along the lines of the daguerreotype, the Brownie and the 35 millimeter. However, he said, the technology in the Nikon D90s and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II’s would be a bigger advancement than those preceding landmarks, because, he said, it would “redefine what our jobs are” as photographers. Given their technical skill sets and stylistic sensibilities, photojournalists, Laforet thinks, are the people best equipped to utilize this new imaging technology.”


Film at 11. Berlin 2008 © Damaso Reyes


For me here is what it all come down to: you are in a hotspot right in the middle of the action. Something incredible is about to happen do you A.) shoot stills or B.) shoot video? This is the question thousands of photojournalists will soon have to answer. Some will no doubt decide to shoot video and pull out still images but this is no longer photography it is videography.

The two fields have vastly different needs and you can’t really do both, at least not well. People looking to shoot a lot of video will be frustrated by the limitations of a DSLR. I am not a luddite, as you know I have a digital camera and use it. The real problem is that today photographers are increasingly asked to do jobs for which they have little training and even less desire. That doesn’t really change anything but it is important to note.

As for me, I will stay with the stills. If and when I want to shoot video I will get a video camera. But I am a still photographer. Since age 16 I have had the word photojournalist on my business cards.

It isn’t going away anytime soon…

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Photo of the Day #60 
Tuesday, October 14, 2008, 12:31 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
It seems like immigration, and the tensions that are closely associated with it are never far from our posts here. Today we turn out attention once again to Italy which has one of the most complicated relationships to immigrants of all E.U. member states. As we pointed out recently some immigrants have integrated so well they win top prizes for their culinary achievements.

But that doesn’t mean that anti-immigrant violence doesn’t happen. Last month in Milan an African immigrant was beaten to death after a store owner and his son thought he stole a package of cookies.


The writing is still on the wall. Spain 2005. © Damaso Reyes

“Although there is some debate about whether the killing was racially motivated, the attack on Mr. Guibre was the most severe in a recent spate of violence against immigrants across Italy. The attacks are fueling a national conversation about racism and tolerance in a country that has only recently transformed itself from a nation of emigrants into a prime destination for immigrants.

“A black English person, or French person, or Dutch person, that’s O.K.,” said Giovanni Giulio Valtolina, a psychologist and scholar at the ISMU Foundation in Milan, which studies multiethnic societies. “But a black Italian is a very new thing.”


Italy, like the rest of Europe is changing as immigration continues to accelerate. The question is how will these societies adapt to and integrate their new citizens?

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Too Big to Fail? Too Small to Survive? 
Monday, October 13, 2008, 10:03 - Commentary
Can a country go bankrupt?



It is a question that is on many people’s lips in America and in Europe. In Iceland, the question seems to have been answered as we read in a recent article in the New York Times. The tiny nation has seen the value of its currency plummet and its banks start to fail.

“Iceland is bankrupt,” said Arsaell Valfells, a professor at the University of Iceland. “The Icelandic krona is history. The only sensible option is for the I.M.F. to come and rescue us.”

Leaders of E.U. nations recently met to shore up their own credit and banking markets in a bid to avoid the troubles Iceland has faced. Whether it will work remains to be seen.

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Photo of the Day #59 
Friday, October 10, 2008, 14:14 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Inclusion is the antidote to radicalism. It seems like an obvious statement but a recent article in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad points to the conclusions that Dutch researchers came to.


Bridging the gap. Paris 2008 © Damaso Reyes

“Researcher Marieke Slootman says Muslims should become involved in the wider Dutch society. "They can still have orthodox beliefs, but they won't use violence to force these on others if they see the Netherlands as their country," according to Slootman.

"Some of their ideas might clash with our democratic life-style, but listening to them takes the wind out of the sails of those who say the government is the enemy of every Muslim," she says.

“Slootman says it is important to avoid evoking 'us versus them' emotions and politicians must play a role in this. Un-nuanced comments by politicians make Muslims feel more isolated in the community, the researchers say."


If integration is the true goal of Europeans then of course that has to include political integration. As American painfully accepted in the 1950’s and 60’s minorities can’t fully participate in the life of their society unless they are allowed to participate politically as well…

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Still photos are dead! Long live still photos! 
Thursday, October 9, 2008, 13:28 - Commentary
So with all the advances in high resolution videography the day we still photo conservatives have been dreading is rapidly approaching. Some photographers are now shooting ultra-high definition video and taking still images from that video as we read in an article from PDN online.


From my cold, dead hands! © Damaso Reyes

Of course it is not simple as 1,2,3 but the point is now that in the coming years an increasingly number of photographers will simply become videographers and anyone who says that these two fields overlap just doesn’t know what they are talking about. Still and video shooters have very different concerns from framing and focus to audio recording and usually one suffers for the sake of the other. What will no doubt happen is we will see a lot of great video and bad still imagery in the future.

And that is my rant for today!

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Be a Brit Different! 
Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 13:01 - Project News
I’m a TransAtlanticist!

I am one of several artists commissions to create a piece inspired by British culture for this new website. When I was first contacted I thought it was a great idea and wonderful opportunity. As the manifesto points out:


Signs by Damaso Reyes

“By invention, our cultural landscape is a transatlantic blend of ideas and customs. And it has been the friction between these ideas that has yielded our most substantial innovations.”


Take some time to check out www.transatlanticism.org and see the artwork!

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Film is Dead! Long LIve Film! 
Monday, October 6, 2008, 11:22 - Personal, Commentary
People have been saying that film is dead since the start of the century. With each successive generation of digital camera the shouts grow louder. Now you digicam can shoot movies if you so choose. How long will it be before people are saying the still image is dead?


The king is dead, long live the king. Vienna 2008 © Damaso Reyes


All that having been said, Kodak just released another new film, the ultra fine grained Ektar 100, and is using one of my images to promote it! There is a reason I chose film when I decided to work on The Europeans. I liked the idea of consistency, of films archival properties and timelessness. Increasingly we see the world digitally but the job of a photographer is not to show us what we already see; it is to show us the world in a new way. Increasingly film is the tool that allows us to stand apart.

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A visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard 
Sunday, October 5, 2008, 14:41 - Personal
I know today is the Sabbath and all but I just wanted to share some non-European images. Yesterday I took a trip over to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where many of the artists there were having open studios. While the Navy Yard has been transforming over the past decade from its shipbuilding past to a more diverse future there were still signs everywhere of its heritage. Enjoy the images!


Façade.



Through a window, darkly.



Out of context.



Remains of the day.



A closed door.



Up and down.


Power and nature.


Fast forward.

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HCB Quote of the Week #53 
Saturday, October 4, 2008, 16:24 - Commentary
While I love spring, fall in New York isn’t too bad either. The crisp air, the changing leaves and the changing light all give one a special feeling I haven’t found anywhere else. So while I enjoy a fall afternoon enjoy your HCB Quote of the Week.


Autumn in New York…. © Damaso Reyes

Actually, I'm not all that interested in the subject of photography. Once the picture is in the box, I'm not all that interested in what happens next. Hunters, after all, aren't cooks. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Photo of the Day #58 
Friday, October 3, 2008, 15:18 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
What fascinates me about xenophobes and those who would end all immigration in Europe is how fervently they believe that immigrants will destroy their culture (never mind that no culture can be considered “pure” and is the amalgamation of centuries of interaction) and replace it with their own.

Then we read an article like this one in Der Spiegel which talks about how it really works.

"Once a year, the "Gambero Rosso" (or "Red Crab") -- a kind of Michelin Guide dedicated to the spirit of slow food -- presents its coveted awards to restaurants, vineyards and estates that preserve the traditions of la cucina italiana. And this year the award for the best spaghetti alla carbonara went to Hassen, a Tunisian immigrant. This has made him the guardian of the most Italian of all Italian dishes."


I can be a chef too! Cologne 2007 © Damaso Reyes


When given the opportunity immigrants often do a very good job at assimilating on their own without any pressure from society. It is my observation that it is when immigrants are excluded from opportunity and discriminated against that they tend to huddle together for mutual protection. This article highlights a great example of how immigrants can actually help preserve the cultures they become a part of.

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Photo of the Day #57 
Thursday, October 2, 2008, 15:03 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
Continuing on our immigration theme from yesterday comes an interesting article from Der Spiegel online about a hunger strike being led by a group of asylum seekers and immigrants in Belgium.

“Debkota and seven other people on hunger strikes are being cared for at the Latin America House in Brussels. They come from Nepal, the Ivory Coast, Congo, Guinea, Brazil and Iran. The hunger strikes are being conducted by illegal immigrants or asylum seekers whose applications for residency permits to stay in Belgium are pending or have been rejected. In recent years, hunger strikes and other protests have become a common way for illegal immigrants to try to stay in the country,”
Petra de Koning writes.


A future hunger striker? Vienna 2008 © Damaso Reyes


It’s interesting that such extreme actions must be taken by those seeking a better life. In contrast a recent article in the New York Times talks about how underserved communities in New York are actively seeking foreign doctors and sponsoring their visas. Given the demographic issues facing Europe you would think that more countries would start long needed reforms but as we saw yesterday in Austria the far right can still use immigration and the fear of it as a vote generating machine.

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Photo of the Day #56 
Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 12:48 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
For all of those who missed them while you were gone today marks the return of the Photo of the Day. As you might recall the goal of this daily posting is to both introduce, or reintroduce, you to my images as well as keep you up to date on the latest news from Europe. I hope that my work is not just about documenting history but capturing moments that are relevant to our lives today.


A protest vote. Vienna 2008 © Damaso Reyes


It was no surprise that Austria’s far right Freedom party gained in the recent election this weekend but commentators were shocked at the nearly one third of votes they managed to pull. To say that the party is xenophobic would be charitable. As we read in this article in The Guardian they have long used anti-immigrant sentiment to pull votes, especially in the country’s rural districts.

Austria, like many other European nations, is going to have to come to terms with their need for immigrant labor and how this will change their culture and society. Just because an ostrich sticks its head in the sand doesn’t mean that nothing is happing above ground…

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Reflections on France 
Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 12:52 - Travel, Commentary
Brooklyn

It feels good to be home again. I spent a good part of yesterday walking around, meeting friends and running errands and it was just another reminder of the powerful link I have to this great city. It will always be my home, of that there can be no question.


Leaving… © Damaso Reyes


But I also had an opportunity to reflect I bit on the past month. While I don’t feel like I captured any great narrative stories I do feel like I got many individual images that will serve as a window to that place and time that I inhabited. The more time I spend in France the more and more I like it. The French have a relaxed but passionate sensibility that I can very much relate to. I look forward to exploring the country more in the coming years.

But for now I am back but don’t think that I am not planning my return!

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HCB Quote of the Week #52 
Saturday, September 27, 2008, 14:15 - Travel, Commentary
Paris

I am here in Paris getting ready to head out on a flight towards New York. It has been a great month here and I hope you have enjoyed the images. See you on the other side!


Cheers! © Damaso Reyes

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

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The Savage Coast 
Thursday, September 25, 2008, 12:07 - Travel, Shooting
Rochefort-en-Terre


Yesterday I traveled to the Cote Sauvage or Savage Coast here in Brittany. The place lived up to its name with dramatic vistas of wave battered coastline. It really was amazing to stand at the very end of France and look over the distant horizon towards America, where I will be heading back on Saturday. It was a great trip to end my travels here in France and here are a few images!


You are here! © Damaso Reyes



Crash, bang! © Damaso Reyes



The Channel. © Damaso Reyes



Rocks and waves. © Damaso Reyes



Turbulence. © Damaso Reyes



Thinking. © Damaso Reyes



The castle in the distance. © Damaso Reyes



The lonely fisherman. © Damaso Reyes


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