Very excited and proud to be a part of the inaugural NeueJournal, an art-book project published by NeueHouse. A beautiful piece featuring some amazing artists including Brigitte Lacombe, Richard Burbridge, The Edge, Frances McDormand, oh, and me! I collaborated with Taylor Steele, a legend in surf-filmmaking circles, on the story ‘Surfing in Iran’.
Go whoop that sucker, Manny!
What 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 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.Much respect to him and his life’s work…. Manny the Pacman Pacquiao. Poetry in motion.
It 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!
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!
With 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…..
California 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.
For 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.
Huron, 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.
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.In 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.”Enrique 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.This 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.
This month marks the fiftieth anniversary since that fateful day in Dallas when John F. Kennedy was brutally gunned down in broad daylight. A day that etched so much into the public’s lexicon…. grassy knoll, Texas School Book Depository, “back and to the left” and of course the Zapruder footage. Drop any one of these into a sentence and everyone knows what you’re talking about. And yet, fifty years later, the conspiracy theories and obsession with the assassination has not waned. If anything, since 9/11, suspicions have increased.
I too have fallen victim to fascination with those events, even simply about the very place where history unfolded. Dealey Plaza remains pretty much unchanged, almost a living time- capsule to November 22, 1963, and so it should. It is fascinating to walk around, stand on the same spot seen all around the world, and try to put yourself in the shoes of those standing there that day. What thoughts must have been going through there minds from one moment to the other? And then, glance around, perhaps to that grassy knoll, and ask yourself, who was standing there, if anyone, and what exactly did happen?
On my first trip around the US, traveling like any good European, and not a single American, i chose to travel by train, which was a great way to see the country, if not a little laborious at times. However, on the slow pull into Dallas, late at night, i was fascinated to keep an eye out for anything recognizable, particularly Dealey Plaza. I’d known that the famed grassy knoll backed onto some rail yards, so i wondered if i might travel near by. Not a moment after having that thought, i seemed to cross over a strangely familiar underpass, that was in fact Elm Street. Dealey Plaza was right there in front of me….the single most dramatic and tragic location of American, if not world history in the last century or so! It was a breathtaking discovery. I knew from past stops the train would wait for about ten minutes or so at the station, so as we crawled to a halt not more than a couple of hundred yards later, i seized my opportunity (of course i wasn’t to know i’d again be in Dallas years later to shoot Tony Romo, quarterback of the Cowboys!). Anyway, so i jumped off the train, into the balmy Texas night air, ran down the street, guessed a left, followed by another left, and soon found myself in the same spot where the mysterious ‘umbrella man’ put up his brolly, just before the first shots rang out. JFK…. may he rest in peace.
One of the most outspoken conspiracy theorists, filmmaker Oliver Stone, is taking the opportunity to look back by releasing a collector’s edition of ‘JFK’ on November 12th. The box set includes a director’s cut, a Kennedy-themed portion of Stone’s Showtime documentary The Untold History of the United States and another full-length documentary on the assassination. In addition, Stone and Warner Bros. are re-releasing JFK in New York, Los Angeles and Washington from November 8th through the 14th.
The Space Shuttle holds a special place in my heart. I was obsessed with Space travel from an early age, and yes, Astronaut was my first what-do-i-wanna-do-when-i-grow-up thing. Added to the fact i was born in the year Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. But the Space Shuttle in particular was exciting to me, because it was the first program i got to fully experience right from the beginning, so you can see how i’d built up a strong connection. It felt like my space program. In fact, one of my earliest school memories, when i was maybe 10 years old or so, we had to give a class demonstration on any subject of our choosing (a daunting prospect to any kid). As i considered myself somewhat of an expert on the Shuttle, naturally i chose it, focusing on the remarkable aspect that everything was re-useable. But what i specifically remember was when one class- mate asked the question “what do they do with their waste?”, i answered “They re-use it!”, not realising he meant their toilet waste. I now stood in front of a room full of howling class-mates! Thanks Space Shuttle. Good times. Anyway, it’s been a long journey, but she’s finally retired, and i was compelled to take a look at her last journey, which was without doubt one of her strangest, through the mean- streets of South Central L.A. Good on yer Space Shuttle, always interesting right to the end. It was great to see she still inspires hope and wonder wherever she goes though.
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If you’re a lucky photo editor or art buyer, coming soon to a desk near you…. our latest promo-zine ‘Fighters’. We hope you enjoy.
Over the christmas holidays myself and some friends took a hike out to one of the Los Angeles’s hidden treasures….. Deep Creek natural hot springs. It’s really quite a remarkable find, and quite a long uphill hike back. But make sure you leave the springs before the sun goes down, or you’ll be sleeping rough out there in the California desert.
Not much of a gun- afficianado as such, but it is a fun and unusual thing to do when the parents are in town from UK. So off we went to shoot some Guns Yee-ha! Those things are surprisingly accurate…. or i’m extraordinarily good at it ( i think it’s the former). We shot a Beretta 9mm, and an AM-15, which is basically an M-16. It’s makes you think, you don’t have to be an amazing talent to hit the target with these machines in your hands. Scary thought really.