Monday, October 31, 2011

Jumping the hurdles with respect

When the patients say no, a portrait of the doc is still valuable
I recently had the opportunity to work with one of my favorite clients.

They're not just my favorite just because they love what I do. They're not even my favorite because any gig for them means a flight, a passport stamp and usually a headlong interactive experience with a culture I had not yet encountered.
Counseling a man who has not told his family his HIV st
 
It is also because what they do is important.

By working with them I have the great opportunity to show the world that important work. In a way to be a part of what they do, even if I don' see myself as the one doing the heavy lifting.

That said, these projects are hard work.

When there are hurdles in a shoot, you still shoot.

Testing blood for HIV
When in a permission-only situation you figure out a way to make those images for which permission is not needed.

When frustrated, you take a deep breath and then try something else.

In a case like this, you respect people's wishes and find another way to make telling images.

Work it and then work it again.

This was the nature of a part of my work in Guyana recently where the larger lesson taught me that the stigma for having HIV/AIDS is still significant.

With this stigma comes the unwillingness to be photographed. We would ask permission from the patient, who would say no. All we could do was wait and ask the next patient, after a while, asking permission even to photograph over their shoulder, no face, to see the healthcare professional in action rarely saw success. Sometimes they agreed, more often, they did not.
Hospice. A vigilant son and his mom.

Unfortunately these folks have very real concerns.

As I photographed a group-counseling session, (only the side of the room where people had consented), a woman discussed with the group her challenges, being avoided by people she cared about, a family member not accepting extra vegetables she had purchased at market.

It is not unusual for people to be shunned, for employers to make up excuses to fire the HIV-positive person. Another group member confronted that challenge.

A consenting patient checks in with a program nurse.
The level of difficulty in making pictures, of course pales in comparison to the real-life challenges people live with in this place. Sure there are ad campaigns, radio programs broadcast constantly to educate the populace, to mitigate this ostracism based on ignorance. In Guyana it seems a tall mountain they're climbing.

As I kept trying to produce images of these programs that my client would find valuable, the government and the aid organizations keep trying to eradicate the stigma.

Results come from picking yourself up and trying again.


Lend a hand! Check out Rick's Kickstarter project.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pixels of Mercy

As you may know, the workshop that we have planned and worked so very hard to promote, was put on indefinite postponement this summer as it became clear that the economic landscape was just too much to overcome. We hope that sometime in the future the times and interest will develop and alllow us to bring it all back.
Meanwhile, it was our most disappointing task to let our new friends at the partner organizations know that we would not be coming.

They were probably more disappointed than we were.

We did not want to let them down.

We decided to try a different tack.

We decided we'd put together a team of photographers to put together an essay that looks at the work of a number of these small organizations that are doing some pretty amazing work. By treating it as one essay, we could cover more ground in a short time and create an essay that blends four styles.

The thing is, these kinds of projects are not exactly cheap to pull off, especially on an economic landscape where publications buy pictures but do not fund essays.

The new landscape is more about crowd-sourcing and grant-writing to find the funds to give these people a voice in photographs.

It is with that in mind that we have launched a project fundraiser on Kickstarter.com to to make this project a reality.

Two things make such a campaign a success, a project that people believe in, and lots of networking: spreading the word, retweeting, Facebook posting, until so many people know about it that it must succeed.

This is really important because, through the Kickstarter model, the goal that we set to cover our project costs, must be met in pledges.

If we miss the goal, none of the funds are collected.

Spreading the word is absolutely key.

Please visit the site, watch the video, meet my colleagues, learn a little about the organizations we will photograph.

Be inspired.

Pixels of Mercy

As you may know, the workshop that we have planned and worked so very hard to promote, was put on indefinite postponement this summer as it became clear that the economic landscape was just too much to overcome. We hope that sometime in the future the times and interest will develop and alllow us to bring it all back.
Meanwhile, it was our most disappointing task to let our new friends at the partner organizations know that we would not be coming.

They were probably more disappointed than we were.

We did not want to let them down.

We decided to try a different tack.

We decided we'd put together a team of photographers to put together an essay that looks at the work of a number of these small organizations that are doing some pretty amazing work. By treating it as one essay, we could cover more ground in a short time and create an essay that blends four styles.

The thing is, these kinds of projects are not exactly cheap to pull off, especially on an economic landscape where publications buy pictures but do not fund essays.

The new landscape is more about crowd-sourcing and grant-writing to find the funds to give these people a voice in photographs.

It is with that in mind that we have launched a project fundraiser on Kickstarter.com to to make this project a reality.

Two things make such a campaign a success, a project that people believe in, and lots of networking: spreading the word, retweeting, Facebook posting, until so many people know about it that it must succeed.

This is really important because, through the Kickstarter model, the goal that we set to cover our project costs, must be met in pledges.

If we miss the goal, none of the funds are collected.

Spreading the word is absolutely key.

Please visit the site, watch the video, meet my colleagues, learn a little about the organizations we will photograph.

Be inspired.