Gathering my strength (Not giving up)

In Documentary work, fotocare, India on October 31, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Like usual it’s been a while since my last post but I have a feeling I will be picking up the pace very soon. After two years of wanting to do a project in India the time has come to do it. I feel like I could write a lot about perseverance and the act of not giving up. I believe to not give up is a concioius choice. It’s easy to give it up and stop believing in whatever it is you once felt strong about. I’m the kind of person that when I get my teeth in I don’t really give up. That’s not to say I hang on with no hope. So a few years ago I was in India shooting for UN Women and I was made aware of migrant sugarcane workers and the challenges they face as they work in difficult environments with very little pay. I don’t want to go too far into it here but the bottom line is I’ve decided to go back to India to spend a month there between Nov and Dec/14.

I have been humbled and honored by the support I received to fund this project through an IndieGoGo campaign that I started. Close to 100 people contributed financially and many helped to spread the word on social media. I have never knowingly received that kind of support before and I feel a real responsibility to do a great job.

One of the things I like the most about being a photographer who travels and does projects like this is that I know there are a ton of images that have yet to be captured. I know they will be dynamic and cool, the experiences will be life changing but from here in front of my computer I can’t even imagine what they are.

Not many people will just give you something for nothing these days. Life is short and busy and complicated and, and, and… but some amazing people did just that for me. They have empowered me to do a project that is close to my heart.

I will be sharing a lot of the work from this project on social media via this blog, my Facebook site and Instagram. Follow along, lets see what happens.

I have been really lucky to have been sponsored for this trip by some photography companies. Without their amazing help I would be struggling to get the images I know I will be getting. So big thank you to:

Fotocare photo rental

Tamrac camera bags

Lexar Memory Cards

Zacuto for shooting motion on my DSRL


Markham Summer Camp In Watts, LA

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm

From July 6-18 I was working at the Markham Summer Camp in Watts. I was hired to teach young boys and girls from the inner city of LA about photography. I’m writing this little blog post on my flight back to Brooklyn (gotta love inflight wifi) I had never been to Watts even though I lived in LA for 12 years. Truth is I had no reason to ever go to Watts. From what I had heard it was a very rough part of the city and the flash point to the Watts Riot in 1965  It’s been a place that has certainly been underserved with more than it’s fair share of poverty and violence. Still within this area the Markham Summer Camp exists on the grounds of the Markham Middle School.

When I first met my campers I was not sure what to expect. I was told that I would have as many as 20 kids. I’m actually glad that not that many campers ever showed up. I think the most I had at any point was 8.That does not seem great as far as attendance goes but in fact it was a great number to give some really dedicated attention to and so the kids that did show up had a great time and really took to photography. The camp does not have a lot of money for photography and the technical elements that go along with it like cameras, computers and printers but we managed to make it work. Don’t get me wrong, there were far more campers then what showed up in my photography course. The camp offers theater, sports, photography, Dance and many other options. Campers just pick what they want to participate in. Each week they offer new options for the kids to do.

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Portrait of Hector

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The group: Hector, Lesley, Amelia, Robe, Zhenn, Freddie, Catherine

Photo-bombed by Brian.


Sharing and learning, Sevalas and Zhenn

Sharing and learning, Sevalas and Zhenn

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Portrait of Damien

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Portrait of Brian

It’s really amazing because the camp is offered totally free of charge to kids and they are provided with snacks and food. It’s a great way to keep them off the street in the summer and help them to socialize in a healthy and productive way. They also get an opportunity to engage in some activities that they would normally not have the opportunity to do.

Zhenn does a selfie.

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Captured walking by a mural of the Watts Towers

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Portrait of Lesley

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Even though the camp is free they still find it difficult to get campers to attend, odd considering all they get but life can be tough for many of the kids and it’s not always easy or even safe for them to get to the camp.

The staff was amazing and caring. I want to make a special shout out to a few like Grace, Dhakir, Robe, Amelia and Catherine. There were many more but it was these individuals that I worked with on a daily basis and selflessly worked long days to make sure the kids were well taken care of and enjoying their time.

The school is just around the corner from the famous Watts Towers an amazing man made sculpture created by one man over the course of 33 years. An Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia spent the better part of his life creating this work of art. It reminds me of  Opus 40 in upstate New York and Harvey Fite who spent 40 years of his life building it.

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Watts Towers

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Watts Towers

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Watts Towers

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Watts Towers

One of the nights after camp a handful of the staff and myself went along to a housing project for an event they call summer night lights designed to help give kids something to do to keep them off the street and away from gangs. “The Summer Night Lights program is a public and private partnership undertaken by the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development (“GRYD”) and The GRYD Foundation” The goal was to tell the parents about the camp and encourage them to take their kids to the camp.

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Portraits from Summer Night Lights

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Portraits from Summer Night Lights

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Portraits from Summer Night Lights

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Portraits from Summer Night Lights

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Portraits from Summer Night Lights

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Portraits from Summer Night Lights

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Portraits from Summer Night Lights


So that was two weeks in the inner city of LA. If you ever get a chance to see the Watts Towers I highly suggest you do. I should say that most of the images in this post were done by the campers. It’s once again rewarding to give back and help out. Try it, you may like it!



Just Hanging Around (don’t judge a book by its cover)

In Documentary work, Suspension on May 28, 2014 at 4:11 pm

A few weeks ago a new friend asked me if I would like to accompany her deep into the heart of Long Island as she was doing an article on a young man who would be suspending in the backyard on some kind of trapeze like contraption. Why of course I said and can I shoot it? Since she was the writer of this little piece she needed to ask the client and they agreed.

Truth be known I’ve been curious about this kind of thing for some time but since I don’t run or swing in those circles I was not sure how or when the opportunity would arise. However like many things if you are patient and live long enough they sometimes will show themselves to you. I rented a Zip car (no free plug for them with a hyper link) and the use of a great little navigation app called Waze that has never let me down before we headed out.

I picked up the car around 3pm (riveting info I know) and started to drive. She the writer (alex Mar) told me it would take about 1.5 hours to get there. Funny since it was only about 20 miles but that’s how it works in NYC during rush hour. I guess Long Island is a hot destination for working folk at the end of the day. Waze had us on and then off the highway and then back on again all with the goal of saving us time. Of course there is no way to know if we did save time but we did seem to jump a few cars on the journey.

When we finally showed up at the house it was as unassuming as any little bungalow could be. Perfectly manicured lawn, nice fence, the whole deal. Seemed like the perfect place for a murderer to come from. Sorry to disappoint!

I set about setting up the shot that I had imagined in my head. A very dramatic black duvetyne as a backdrop and one Octabank light. The problem was that the wind was causing some issues so I had to pull down the duvee (that’s what we call it in the business) Not to worry since I managed to put it up again against the garage so it had no place to go.

We went inside and Cer was beginning to prep the suspender Emmanuel. This required an alcohol swab of his back in the area that the poles would be thrust through his skin to support him while he swung back and forth.

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Emmanuel laid down on the massage table and Cer squeezed some flesh and then with a mighty push he punctured the skin, in one area and out the other. I did not even hear a peep from Emmanuel. What a tough guy I thought. He did the same on the other side of his back just below his shoulders and then hooked up some kind of clamp so the ropes would have something to connect to.

That was it really. Did it look gross? not really gross more like this is odd and why would someone do this to themselves.

We walked outside and I asked Emmanuel to do some portraits. I wanted to get some shots of him before the blood would (might) come out and his skin would be pulled from the weight of his own body. He obliged and I got some cool dramatic shots.

Speaking of drama, these guys are were so sweet and nice that it was hard to see the drama here. I was expecting tough MOFO’s but honestly they could not have been nicer. I hope that does not wreck their street creed but they were cool. Other than the gapping holes in their ears and all the ink and pierced nipples and who knows what else they were totally normal.

Here are a few images from the shoot, hope you like them as always please do not copy or steal. All images ©davidgoldmanphoto.com

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