One Mile and a Cloud of Dust

Land Speed Racing, El Mirage Dry Lake, California. The high octane screams, the desolate landscape, the stainless steel against a moon-like surface. It’s an iconic, timeless visual that echoes the gritty determination of man and machine has no boundaries.

One Mile and a Cloud of Dust. Land Speed Racing at El Mirage Dry Lake, California.One Mile and a Cloud of Dust. Land Speed Racing at El Mirage Dry Lake, California.One Mile and a Cloud of Dust. Land Speed Racing at El Mirage Dry Lake, California.One Mile and a Cloud of Dust. Land Speed Racing at El Mirage Dry Lake, California.One Mile and a Cloud of Dust. Land Speed Racing at El Mirage Dry Lake, California.One Mile and a Cloud of Dust. Land Speed Racing at El Mirage Dry Lake, California.One Mile and a Cloud of Dust. Land Speed Racing at El Mirage Dry Lake, California.

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a night at the not-so-sh!tshow

An epic night of music and mayhem from the mind of photographer, friend and (probably not yet realized to himself) music promoter David Fearn (aka @shitshowdave). Bravo young sir, what an amazing night of loud and sweat!

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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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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.
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Debra Milke, photograhed at home in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Neue Journal; Surfing in Iran

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’.neuejournal, surfing in iran

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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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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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