Our first Chapter of Wasteland featuring the people who live on Jharia’s fiery mines is featured today on the New York Times [Lens] Blog.
Check out the our piece and the rest of this inspirational blog designed by Zach Wise and crew at the Times.
From the blog: ““Wasteland”
Are you prepared to spend six minutes in hell? This is the question posed at the beginning of “Wasteland,” a mulitmedia documentary project by Bombay Flying Club. And with good reason: as the first installment of a series on industrial pollution, “Wasteland” explores the burning coal fields of northeastern India. Whole families live and work in the toxic dust, their homes built on burning ground. Many make a living by illegally collecting baskets of coal to sell for the equivalent of $1 to $1.50, enduring extremely hazardous conditions.
Bombay Flying Club is composed of two Danish photojournalists and one Canadian videojournalist. Their motto is “online journalism as it could be.” It’s easy to see why.
The entire multimedia package is presented in black and white, and the film delicately weaves video and still photography. The images are elegant and beautifully composed, which at times distracts from the horrific realities at hand — instead of sweltering suffocation, some images convey a cool detachment.
But the film is undeniably stunning. “Wasteland” should not be missed. (K.B.)”
The cover photo of Megan Fox for the June issue of Esquire was shot using the RedONE video camera by photographer Greg Williams.
From the site:
“It allowed her to act,” Williams says. “She could run scenes without being reminded by the sound of a shutter every four seconds that I was taking a picture. As in still photography, a lot of it is capturing unexpected moments. This takes that one step further.” He then went back and pulled out the best images, which you can see in Esquire’s June issue, on sale May 10. Plus, there’s a fantastic by-product: Even though we made the film to get the stills, we were left with ten bewitching minutes of footage of a beautiful woman. We edited it down to a mini movie, which will be available at esquire.com/megan on May 4.
Check out a preview here.
Filters that is.
I’ve fallen in love with shooting with the 5d mark II. Yes, it has its share of issues. Lately, I’ve started to use an external audio recorder to synch my audio as I patiently await the arrival of the new adapter.
But, back to the point. Filters.
Using a 10 stop filter outside in direct sunlight truly takes advantage of what the camera has to offer. After all, the point of using primes with this camera is to control depth of field. Here are a few frame grabs from a video that will run in early April.
An audio comparison using the 5d mark II’s internal audio, a Sennheiser MKE-400, and a Rode NTG-2 Shotgun via “exposed light” on Vimeo.
Also, the Rode Video mic, which I am currently using, and fairly satisfied with for the time being.
That being said, Beachtek has a preview on their website of a new adapter with 2 xlr imports that attach to the bottom right side of the camera that looks to be about the size of a small battery pack. Word on the street(or forums) say that it will have a 48v phantom, and allow headphone monitoring. The unit is scheduled to be released first quarter 2009, and may be the answer we’re all looking for.
From Kathy Kieliszewski:
There are more than 18,000 children living in foster care in the state of Michigan and of those, 6,000 are wards of the state; legal orphans. Over three years ago, Detroit Free Press photographers Kathleen Galligan and Regina Boone began photographing the foster children at Christ Child House, a sort of modern-day orphanage and therapeutic home on Detroit’s west side. Over the years, it has been home to countless dozens of Michigan’s legal orphans. Regina’s focus was on a boy that had been adopted from the house and was transitioning into his new family while Kathleen concentrated on the boys at the house.
As many photojournalist know, photographing juveniles in foster care usually results in backs of heads and silhouettes. The Michigan Department of Human Services, which rarely grants permission to openly photograph children in its custody, gave the Free Press this unusual access to highlight the plight of Michigan’s foster children. “It’s an effort to educate the public on the challenges we face,” said Bill Johnson, head of the Michigan Children’s Institute, the DHS division with legal custody of the kids.
Many kids spend three years or more in the system–if not whole childhoods. Those three years allowed us to follow the progression of children through the system; the birthdays, holidays, sports trophies, lost teeth, failed adoptions, new foster homes and new families.
Kathleen and to a smaller extent Regina, had been photographing off and on for nearly two years before videographer Brian Kaufman joined the project. We had given this problem a face, but now the kids had a voice. There was no expert in the system as qualified to talk about life in the system as the kids themselves. Over that final year, the focus shifted to complimenting the already existing photography with great interviews and key moments told best with video.
With the reporter assigned and web on board, advocacy for the boys of Christ Child House drove how we shaped the plan for print and online. The Free Press has a longstanding children first mission and this project was a natural extension of that. The goal was to tell the story of life at Christ Child House as well as highlighting boys still up for adoption and giving people resources on how they can help through donations, mentoring, foster parenting and even adoption.
From Ehrin Macksey:
About 11 months ago I met a journalist here in Hanoi, Vietnam. He told me about how there were these pockets of leprosy villages in Vietnam and how he had visited one. This peaked my curiosity, because in the 2 years I had lived in Vietnam I had not heard of them. He gave me some contacts of some doctors that worked with these Villages and that is how this project started.
After months of meeting different people and collecting my facts, I finally got permission to visit one of these Villages, Van Mon.
I went back to this Village 6 times, usually for 2 or 3 days, which is all I could afford. I started to be treated like one of the Villagers instead of an outsider. When this happened, I really started to experience the daily life of Van Mon. I woke up every morning at 3:00 AM. I got me gear together and would go to see the morning rituals of the residents. One of those mornings, I saw a man walking to church. This particular person grabbed my attention, not because he was going to church, but because he was going alone and he was blind. I went up to him and introduced myself. He seemed very nice and invited me to join him in the morning service. I watch him go pray in church. He sat by himself in the darkest part of the church and no one seemed to pay attention to him. At times during the service, I would catch him wiping away his tears.
I started talking to this man more and learned that his name is Bop. I spent many of my afternoons with him in his humble living quarters. He told me stories about how he survived an American bombing, how he came to Van Mon and what he thinks of his life now.
I was deeply touched by his stories. All of them seem to be full of hardships I could only imagine. Yet here is a man who still goes to church by himself, takes care of himself and even clean his own house, all while blind and disabled.
I told Bop I wanted to tell his story and he gave me permission to do so. As our relationship progressed, he would tell me about his childhood and how much he misses his family. He also told me, that even though he is religious, he feels like this life is just a test. There is no more happiness in this life. So he prays and looks forward to his next life where he hopes things will be different.
When I started to produce these pieces there was so much information. So many stories to focus on, but Bop’s story, was to me, the one that captured all the stories of all the people.
Documenting the life at Van Mon, was for me, emotional. After documenting such scenes like the washing of the patients or the local hospital I would be drained. I would finish shooting and walk away into the village banana field, the only place to be alone, feeling a mix of anger, sadness and helpless. When Bop told me about his family and started crying, I nearly cried with him. His pain was so deep. To see this grown man, older than my father, cry because his family, who is well off, did nothing to take care of him or show any love towards him.
I hope I have represented these people well with my work. I truly hope that more people will know about Van Mon and help them the best they can.
From Travis Fox:
I was standing on a mound of debris more than a dozen stories high. Behind me was half a mountain, its face brown because a landslide slivered off the other half. In front of me was the ruined town of Beichuan, China, where not a single building remained standing. And under my feet was a mixture of dirt from the landslide, stones from the buildings, and dead bodies.
It had been several days after the earthquake that I arrived in Beichuan, but the scene was like nothing that I’ve seen before. In Aceh, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka, I saw absolute destruction after the tsunami. And there were plenty of dead bodies littering the ground of Iraq during the invasion. What made this story different was the access we had, not only to the ravaged areas like Beichuan, but to the agony of the survivors.
I used “The Agony of Surviving” as the title of my video from Beichuan that day. It seemed like an apt description of the women that I ran into on top of the mound of debris. It was a frightening scene. She was digging with her bare hands, trying to find the remains of her daughter. Her screams echoed across the flattened town. At the time, I was too preoccupied with making sure my camera was functioning properly to fully grasp what was unfolding in front of me. Only later, translating the footage and watching it over and over, trying to transcribe quotes like “Mommy is here to pick you up,” did the pain fully hit me.
I was surprised at how articulate the Sichuanese were in describing their pain. Many of the victims were poor, some illiterate, but nearly everyone I spoke with was able to express himself or herself well. Believe it or not, this is one of the most difficult parts of being a videojournalist. Often people just don’t have anything to say. I remember riding in a rickety bus with a group of Afghans who were returning home to their village after a 20-year exile in Pakistan. When we arrived, I asked… What else?.. “How do you feel.” No matter how many different ways I phrased it, the answer was always, “We are fine.”
Li Shan Fu’s expressions were almost poetic. He lost his only daughter when her school collapsed in the town of Juyuan. Li’s wife saw their daughter pulled from the rubble, but since then theye weren’t able to locate her. Li spoke about being so sad that his legs barely functioned during his 10 day-long search for his daughter. He allowed us to be there when he reviewed pictures of dead children. His expressions told us everything about what he was going through. His legs no longer supported him.
From Scott Strazzante:
“Common Ground“, my collaboration with MediaStorm, is the latest and, I believe, the best incarnation of my personal project on cattle farmers Harlow and Jean Cagwin. The project had always been a still photography only endeavor and it wasn’t until I started working with MediaStorm did I incorporate interviews and video. The first years of shooting from 1994 to 1998 were for my personal photographic sanity. A place to go to make real photos when I got discouraged by the quality of assignments that I was being given at the Daily Southtown, a suburban Chicago daily that I worked at between 1987 and 1998. In 1999, after moving to the Herald News in Joliet, Illinois, I pitched the Cagwin story to my editors for publication in the newspaper.
Images were eventually published on two separate occasions during my stay at the Herald News. A version of the story was also part of my 2000 National Newspaper Photographer of the Year portfolio. By the time I had left Joliet in October 2001, the Cagwin story had gone from a feature on two senior citizen cattle farmers to one of deteriorating health, the family farm as a disappearing way of life and suburban sprawl. While working on the Cagwin story in Joliet, I had received permission to retain the copyright on the farm images. Upon arriving at the Chicago Tribune in 2001, I made the same request and it was honored. On July 2, 2002, I photographed the Cagwins as they watched their farmhouse being razed to make room for the Willow Walk subdivision. That day would mark the end of the story. Well, at least that is what I thought at the time. In the subsequent years, I thought from time to time about going back to the land to find a suburban family to document as a bookend to the Cagwin story.
Twice I made half-hearted attempts at finding a new family but the story never seemed to get off the ground. In March 2007, I gave a presentation of my farm story to a group of photo essay students at the College of DuPage. After showing my images, a student raised her hand and said, “I live in that subdivision.” By the next week I was at Amanda Grabenhofer’s home in the Willow Walk subdivision photographing her, her husband Ed and their 4 children. At that point, my only plan was to someday publish a book with chapter one being the Cagwins and chapter two being the Grabenhofers. On my third visit, I photographed Amanda’s son Ben wrestling with his cousin CJ with a jump rope tied around them. The photograph reminded me of a photo that I had made of Harlow Cagwin wrestling with a two-day old calf with a lasso tied around it.
The two photos got me thinking of life and the similarities between the farm and the subdivision that I had noticed in my few visits to the Grabenhofer home. After constructing the two “rope” photos into a diptych, I immediately was able to make three others. On my subsequent visits, I kept my mind open to similarities and differences as I documented life on Cinnamon Court, the cul de sac in the Willow Walk subdivision where the Grabenhofer home was located. In October 2007, I publicly presented my diptych essay for the first time while coaching at the Mountain Workshops in Kentucky. One of the people in the audience that day was Chad A. Stevens, a multimedia producer at MediaStorm. Stevens saw the multimedia possibilities in the project and he encouraged me to talk to his boss, Brian Storm, about a possible collaboration.
After a very short discussion, Storm and I agreed to give it a go. In the meantime, the Chicago Tribune published my diptych project in their Sunday Magazine and online under the title, “Another Country”. A month later, National Geographic featured the essay in the Photo Journal section of their February 2002 issue. In March 2008, I flew to New York City where Stevens, who Storm assigned to produce the project, and I went through every frame I had taken on the project.
I returned to Chicago and recruited Wes Pope, who at the time was my co-worker at the Chicago Tribune, to help me interview the Cagwins and the Grabenhofers and to shoot b-roll on life in the subdivision, In June 2008, after months of work, MediaStorm debuted a 6-minute piece at Look 3- The Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, Virginia. In July 2008, MediaStorm released a 7-minute version of “Common Ground on their website.
The entire multimedia piece was conceived and constructed by Stevens. He even located a musician named Andy Webster who provided a beautiful piece of original music as the score. I am very happy that the multimedia piece became reality. I always felt that I had missed a huge piece of the story by failing to interview the Cagwins as they were living thire final years on the farm. Most of all, I consider “Common Ground” an unbiased historical document on the issue of suburban sprawl overtaking the family farm in the shadow of America’s major metropolitan areas. The next and final step will be finding a publisher for the book.
From Sean Dunne(Very Ape Productions):
I first became interested in Paul’s story back in February ‘08, when I heard about the highly publicized eBay sale of his collection. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of him or his collection until then. So I researched him a little more and found out that it was declining sales in his store and health issues that were causing him to sell it. Unfortunately the sale fell through. I contacted Paul in June and asked him if I could make a short documentary about him and he agreed. Surprisingly no one else had contacted him about doing a profile. As a side note, this taught me a lesson to never assume that someone else is already covering something, find out for yourself.
I thought the story would be important for a number of reasons. First, because it was timely. His lease was ending and the collection hadn’t sold, there was a sense of a ticking clock surrounding the whole thing. Second, because his story seemed to serve as kind of a microcosm of a failing record industry and economy. And lastly, to try and bring some much needed attention to the collection and try to help him get it sold.
I happened to be passing through the Pittsburgh area later that month on another shoot and I arranged to shoot a day with Paul. Due to a schedule conflict we only had around 7 hours to shoot both Paul and his collection. It was tight but we got our shots. The initial edit took close to a week with another week for revision, tweaks, color-correction and mix. We didn’t really have any plans for it after that. Maybe sell it to a network like Current TV or sell it as web content for another network. I posted it on Vimeo to kind of test the waters and get a sense of whether people liked it. From there it kind of took on a life of its own. The Internet has taken this thing to places that no other forum could have, not even TV. The whole experience has been fun. I like instantly hearing feedback on the piece. It’s been encouraging and makes me want to pursue some other story ideas I have.