A tribute on Martin Luther King day

Rev. James Lawson, photographed at the Holman United Methodist Church, Los Angeles, Ca 1/12/09. Photograph by Robert GallagherRev. James Lawson, civil rights activist photographed for Time magazine. Lawson, a revolutionary figure in the civil rights movement, invited Martin Luther King to Memphis in April 1968 where he went on to deliver his famous “Mountaintop” speech. One day later he was assassinated.

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lost in the archives

Calabasas, Ca 2005

Calabasas, Ca 2005

It’s funny how looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference. I love this shot, but don’t think I gave it the time of day when I initially made an edit. It has such an iconic, almost biblical feel to it. David vs Goliath. The sole firefighter taking on the behemoth of a fire- breathing monster, as he turns away his gaze at the insurmountable task. Ok, artistic writing rant over.

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Skim- a personal project

Skimboarding at Aliso Beach
The is not surfing. This is running, full-sprint, launching into oncoming waves, 360 aerials, tube-riding before landing back on shore, ideally untouched. This is Skimboarding.
Skimboarding at Aliso Beach
I’ve never really known much about skimboarding, but after seeing a couple of guys casually goofing around at the waters edge in Santa Monica, I figured there has to be more to it. So I decided to follow my curiosity about this under the radar sport. I’m always looking for interesting subjects to shoot for personal projects, ideally that have not been covered too much. What I found was not just a great visual feast of a sport, but a whole sub-culture, all focused at one spot, Aliso Beach, just an hour and a half down the 405 in Laguna Beach, California.
Skimboarding at Aliso Beach
Aliso is where skimboarding was invented in the 1920’s and is still generally considered to be the best place in the world to skim. People move here just to build a life around skimboarding and compete against legends. So I set out to capture the character of Skimboard culture and with the portraits a cross-section of the devotees who make Aliso what it is today.
Skimboarding at Aliso Beach
I shot over the summer months of 2015, leading up to the World Tour event at Aliso called The Vic, on the last weekend in August. After a few weeks I got to know who’s who and a great set of characters were becoming apparent thick and fast. I love to shoot portraits of people who are still effectively in their element, maintaining that authenticity and intensity. I want you to be able to almost taste the salt-water just by looking at them.
Skimboarding at Aliso Beach
But no matter how global Skimboarding becomes, Aliso will always be its home, its proving ground, its Bansai Pipeline. For more go to: gallagherphoto.com/galleries/skim

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Hurricane Katrina- 10 years ago

It was ten years ago this week that Hurricane Katrina almost wiped America’s most interesting city right of the map. I remember watching the drama unfold on TV, in disbelief with each day going by and still nothing seeming to be done. In all honesty, like everyone else, I never really thought it would get this bad and was kicking myself that I hadn’t found a way to get out there sooner, but after a couple of days I was relieved to get a call from People Magazine and I was on the next flight to Houston. I’ve been fortunate to cover many important human interest stories for People over the years and love working on current events with the deeper perspective a weekly magazine can offer, and with no story being bigger than this, I was excited to be a part of the team.

After a few days in Houston I drove down to New Orleans proper, along with my buddy and longtime colleague People correspondent Ken Lee (which was an adventure), where I was shocked to find a city completely deserted and literally under martial law.
Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans.

Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans.

One sight in particular that sticks in my mind from my first day there; a pick-up truck casually pulls onto the freeway ahead of us, pretty normal, until I notice a passenger sitting on the flatbed, scanning the horizon, brandishing a shotgun, cocked and looking for action!
Convention Center evacuation point, New Orleans.

Convention Center evacuation point, New Orleans.

It was an unusual time to say the least and very grateful for the experience. There’s really nothing quite like witnessing real life in action; the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve been back to New Orleans quite a few times since then, and happy to say it doesn’t seem to have lost it’s charm, or its edge. Hallelujah!
Houston Astrodome

Houston Astrodome

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Death Row no more

Earlier this year I spent a few days in Arizona on a controversial and emotionally charged Death Row story for Der Spiegel. Debra Milke, from Berlin, was convicted of the murder of her son Christopher in 1990 and had been awaiting her death until March 23, 2015, when her case was formally dismissed. I spent those final few transformative days with her, from going through the dismissal process, to facing the media and finally tasting true freedom again, as if for the first time.

As a photographer, this assignment called on all my skills; as portrait photographer, reportage photographer and news photographer. An intense and hectic combination, but I love to immerse myself in shooting real, honest situations with depth, and it doesn’t get much more real than Death Row. But it was a delicate situation and there was an awful lot of skepticism, doubt and questions flying around about her acquittal in general. This poor lady was literally out of the frying pan and into the fire with the world’s press! So they’re was a lot going on.

But none the less, we had a job to do to tell this story, and on top of that we needed to shoot a cover on a tight deadline, so we created a location studio in her house, as the rest of the world’s press was on her tail. Debra was clearly overwhelmed and emotionally taught with the whole thing. Not an easy situation, but with great help of my local assistant in Phoenix, Madison Kirkman, we pulled it all off.

In the end, our cover didn’t run as it was a busy news week in Germany and sadly a crazy German pilot decided to fly a plane into the side of a mountain. But here’s a mock-up of one option we were working on; Debra Milke before and after a long visit to the big house. To see more of my latest work go to gallagherphoto.com.
Bildschirmfoto-2015-03-19-um_sample
Debra Milke, photograhed at home in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Manny Pacquiao & Freddie Roach

Go whoop that sucker, Manny!
Manny PacquiaoWhat a team these two make. It’s clear when you see Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao working together that not only are they a great team, but have a genuine friendship too.Freddie RoachFreddie has Parkinson’s pretty bad, but the astonishing thing is, once he’s in the ring, gloves on, pads on…it’s gone. Not a sign of it. Clearly he’s operating on another level.Manny Pacquiao  and Freddie RoachMuch respect to him and his life’s work…. Manny the Pacman Pacquiao. Poetry in motion.IMG_3249

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Bora Bora for The Guardian Weekend

travel photography in Bora Bora by Robert Gallaghertravel photography in Bora Bora by Robert GallagherIt makes for an interesting life when one day out of the blue an email can come in and the very next week you’re off to a South Pacific Island for a few days to tootle around and shoot beautifully inspired pictures. What i love specifically about travel photography is that in its very essence it’s your job to immerse yourself in the travel experience. You have to feel it to capture it. That does mean long hours though, as you’ll always be top and tailing the day (shooting at sunrise and sunset) which means up at the crack for the best light, but it does make for a memorable experience!

This assignment was with esteemed writer and columnist Andrew O’Hagan, who was a great travel partner and portrait subject. Like me he had no problem getting into the zone!
travel photography in Bora Bora by Robert Gallagher
And as an extra added bonus to myself, I managed to wangle my return flight at my own expense……
Flight change fee: $100
Extra nights stay on Tahiti: $150
Rubbiing lime juice on hand, feet and butt after getting dragged over the reef surfing Taapuna: priceless!

I’ve always dreamed of surfing Tahiti, so couldn’t let this opportunity pass, but definately had no plan as to how to make it happen (there’s nowhere the rent boards on the island it turns out). But after meeting some awesome people within 24 hrs, I was also able to turn an amazing work trip into a fun little surf trip as well. Life is what you make it and take chances when opportunities arise. Oh, and the $150/ night place on Tahiti? The Tahiti Airport Motel. Great place, very clean, friendly and literally right across from the airport. I walked to catch my flight!

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inventing the next instagram

Stanford University’s Technology Ventures Program is Silicon Valley’s incubator for the next big thing. A business program where playtime is problem- solving. The brainchild of innovation gurus Tina Seelig, Ph.D and Tom Byers, Ph.D, the program is dedicated to accelerating high-tech entrepreneurship. It’s a high value prize for all at Stanford, and enrollment is limited to a dozen outstanding students each year. Plus you get to wear paper cones on your head all day and call it work!
Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. April 30, May 1 2012. We spent a couple of days with the professors and students of the STVP, poking around the creative hub on campus that is the d.school and generally soaking up the chilled out yet intense vibe that is Stanford for The Times magazine, and let me tell you, these kids know they’re at the center of the business world.

Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. April 30, May 1 2012.

STVP Mayfield Fellows Class of 2012

Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. April 30, May 1 2012.

STVP students Robin Perrani, Jenna Nicholas

Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. April 30, May 1 2012.

Angela Hayward, manager of STVP.

Tom Byers, Tina Seelig of Stanford Technology Ventures Program

Tom Byers, Tina Seelig, creators of Stanford Technology Ventures Program

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Working in the Shadows

farmworkers in san joaquin valleyWith the release of Cesar Chavez , i thought i’d re-visit a personal project i’ve been working on about immigrant farmworkers in California. Maybe it’s because i’m not from here, but this hidden, yet essential workforce has always fascinated me. They may be in America, but it’s certainly not a dream…..
farmworkers in san joaquin valleyCalifornia has long been the land of the migrant farm worker. From the dust bowl migration of the great depression, as depicted by John Steinbeck in Grapes of Wrath, to todays countless undocumented border jumpers. With an endless supply of an increasingly desperate labor-force, California’s central valley economy continues to reap the benefit, becoming the main agricultural center in the US and propelling the State to the level of a global economic power.
farmworkers in san joaquin valleyFor many who cross America’s borders illegally however, life can be harsh; some have no option but live in shanty town- like labor camps; some of the women are subjected to rape. Even embezzlement by fellow Mexicans immigrants is a problem, as well as the pure physical exhaustion of the un- regulated manual work, not to mention the constant fear of deportation. All to earn just $6 an hour.
farmworkers in san joaquin valleyHuron, a small town of 5,900, is a virtual Grand Central terminal for the immigrant workforce. Twice a year, lettuce is harvested in the area, and the population at least doubles in size. Known as the “Heart of the Valley,” Huron, in western Fresno county, lies about 50 miles southwest of Fresno. This is the heartland for what inspired Steinbeck, and where he ultimately set his literary classic.
'Working In The Shadows', un-documented farmworkers, Huron, Ca.It’s like a time- warp to a frontier town of the Old West, except the cowboys are all Latino’s and instead of carrying six- shooters, they’re packing lettuce knives! It has been described as ‘knife-fight city’ by some, due to the evening activities of some migrants who descend on the town. There’s a handful of bars, five gangs and a famous drug alley. In 1992, the mayor was shot in a dispute between bar owners and resigned. With it’s undocumented and transient workforce, cash is the preferred form of payment, and robberies are common. Gang members know most workers don’t have bank accounts.farmworkers in san joaquin valleyIn 1998, Huron averaged 15% unemployment, and it’s per capita income was fifth lowest in the state, with 39% of it’s residents living below the poverty line. Many of the migrant workers either live in the labor camps in town for about $6 a night, or in converted garages and back-yard sheds, paying $300 a month or more. There is limited housing available for farm workers, and many live in trailer parks that have sprung up over town, that don’t have permits for even basic utilities. Not much seems to have changed for the impoverished and desperate working man since the 1930’s. As Steinbeck described in Grapes of Wrath; “They ain’t human. A human being wouldn’t live like they do. A human being couldn’t stand it to be so dirty and miserable.”farmworkers in san joaquin valleyEnrique is a 35 year old undocumented farmworker from San Luis, Mexico. He began his journey north on Valentine’s Day 2006, leaving behind a mother, sister and niece. In his quest to reach California, he paid a coyote $1200 and endured three straight days and nights walking in the Arizona desert. He makes his home for now, which was donated, in an overcrowded and moldy trailer in the backyard of a sympathetic Huron resident’s house. He is lucky, although damp and cramped, he manages to find privacy and safety over the choice living in a shared room at the labor camps.farmworkers in san joaquin valleyThis photo- essay examines the daily life of the undocumented immigrant, picking food for our tables at minimum wage, whilst we debate whether we even want them here.

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