davidgoldmanphoto

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.

Freddy

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!

 

David

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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Alaska (the wild frontier) by floating mall.

In Alaska, Cruise Ship, Juneau, Seattle, Uncategorized on September 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

So if you have been following my Facebook fan page then you would know that I went to Alaska at the end of August. This was not a paid gig, just a family vacation. A little event was sponsored by my uncle (my mothers brother) who lives in LA. This is the Emmy wining writer of such shows as Fresh Prince of Bel AIr, Murder She Wrote and everyone’s  favorite The Cosby Show as well as many others. He is still the funniest uncle I could hope to have. We seem to get along very well even though we can argue.  Anyway it was my uncle his daughter her kids Talia and Maya and my mum who flew in from Los Angeles (my mum flew to LA viaToronto). We all met in Seattle and boarded the Princess cruise ship. I have to say that I never thought I would find myself on a cruise ship but it was the only way to Alaska that I could see at this time. My expectations for cruising were low and I was not let down in my expectations. I often say cruises are for newly-weds and nearly-deads.  I was not disappointed!  This was a boat full of older folks.  Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those demographics. The only issue is that I’m definitely not the first and hopefully not the latter. I was amazed at the entertainment on the boat it was like being transported back to Las Vegas circa 1972. This giant floating mall that seemed to have done a big sponsorship deal with Citizen watches (only on the boat could you pick one up for 50% off US prices).

Of course there was the food! Another Vegas style event, It seems we had only just boarded  the boat when we made our way to the buffet, if you didn’t know, boats are known for the all you can eat at anytime type of feeding zones. This boat was no different. People sat down while still in port and began to eat like it was the last thanksgiving of their lives. Wasting food as if grew from the very oceans we would be cruising on and I’m not just talking about fish!

I can go on about the gluttony, the waste and the odd entertainment but the truth is the boat was simply a means to get ourselves to Alaska. We left Seattle on Sat morning and set out for Juneau. The weather although not cold or rainy was not really nice enough to enjoy the pool on the deck so I spent time in my room reading. I finally made my way through the Keith Richards bio “Life” … not bad but I’ve certainly read better. GIve the bio on Lenny Bruce a try.

Guitars as you enter the Experience Music Project Museum

Guitars as you enter the Experience Music Project Museum

Looking up at the Seattle Space Needle

Looking up at the Seattle Space Needle

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My mum looking out as we get close to Juneau

My mum looking out as we get close to Juneau

My cousin Talia expecting rain.

My cousin Talia expecting rain.

Looking down from the helicopter to the Mendenhall Glacier.

Looking down from the helicopter to the Mendenhall Glacier.

Helicopter landing on the Mendenhall Glacier.

Helicopter landing on the Mendenhall Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

Our guide showing us how it's done on the Glacier

Our guide showing us how it’s done on the Glacier

Two days later we arrived in Juneau: In 1880, it was slow going for Joe Juneau and Richard Harris as they searched for gold with the help of Native guides. After climbing mountains, forging streams and facing countless difficulties, they found nuggets “as large as beans.” From their discovery came three of the largest gold mines in the world. By the end of World War II, more than $150 million in gold had been mined. Eventually the mines closed, but the town Joe Juneau founded became the capital of Alaska and the business of gold was replaced by the business of government.Some 30,000 people live in Juneau. Its total area makes it one of the biggest towns, in size, in the world. Only Kiruna, Sweden, and Sitka, Alaska, exceed Juneau’s 3,248 square miles.

Today Juneau is famous not only for gold and government but also for its breathtakingly beautiful glaciers and stunning views of both water and mountains.

Beautiful views awaited greeted us from the boat as we headed into port, The water was almost green and certainly very cool. Small ice bergs dotted the water. Trees on the either side of the boat gave the smallest taste of the forests that make up so much of the land.

The key thing to do when you take these Alaska cruises is to get off the boat and do an excursion. For me I decided to take my chances and go for a helicopter tour of the Mendenhall Glacier. This amazing glacier is 12 miles long, a half-mile wide and from 300 to 1,800 feet deep. Stretching from the Juneau Ice-field to Mendenhall Lake, it has been slowly retreating since the mid 1700s. This was an amazing experience and such a beautiful location. Somewhat sad as we realized how it has receded over the years. What once coated so much of this area has been reduced to a fraction of what it used to be. The helicopter ride was very cool if a bit scary. It was my first time being in one and i was not exactly excited for the ride. I was lucky though because based on my weight and size I was placed in the front seat beside the pilot. I asked if he was a war veteran and of course he said that he was a vet from the first gulf war, I felt safe in this guys hands. He told me I could open the small sliding window and shoot out but to be careful because the suction could pull the camera out. Since my favorite camera store Fotocare was kind enough to allow me to use a great 70-200 I was less inclined to hang it out the window. The 24-105 and the IPhone I thought sure why not.

After Juneau we headed off to Ketchikan.

Ketchikan is known as Alaska’s “First City” because it’s the first major community travelers come to as they journey north. Located on an island, Ketchikan began life as an Indian fishing camp. The name Ketchikan comes from a Tlingit phrase that means “eagle with spread-out wings,” a reference to a waterfall near town. In the early 1900s, when gold was Alaska’s claim to fame, fishing and timber industries were established in Ketchikan. The growth of these industries helped make this Inside Passage port Alaska’s fourth-largest city.

Pretty pictures of boats.

Pretty pictures of boats.

Unfortunately both my cousin Jenny and I were a little late making any definitive plans for this one so by the time we tried to book some kind of exciting excursion it was too late and nothing of any interest was available. Not to worry though, we had some bonding time and must have walked close to 10 miles that day. Through the town that had more T-shirt stores and assorted jewelry stores selling native art as well as yep you guessed it…. Citizen branded watches than you could shake a totem pole at. We wondered to a very cool old cemetery and then hiked up to a beautiful waterfall. That’s where I took the requisite  waterfall images with the slow water and the fast water (shutter speed tricks).

If it doesn't fit in the crate it goes on top.

If it doesn’t fit in the crate it goes on top.

Back on the boat and it was off to Skagway, I can’t help thinking that it’s called Scankway but that’s not very nice haha! This time Jenny and I had our shit together and we decided to go zip lining  and since Jenny’s married name is Zipkin I decided that when I post on all social media for the day I would say we were #Zipkinin pretty clever eh? don’t answer. So we took the school bus out of town while the driver delivered her prepackaged story that lasted just the right amount of time and finished as we arrived at the Zip Line start. This is a town that used to rely on logging and fishing but now it’s almost entirely down to the cruise ship tourists. The day was great the zipping was fun and nobody got hurt or broke anything. It should be mentioned that even though my IPhone weather (Yahoo?) was telling me that it would rain every day on this trip it was anything but. Sun and blue skies.

Our next stop or place to see was Glacier Bay National Park. I will just copy and paste what Princess Cruises says about it because they do it better than me:  Just west of Juneau, this breathtaking national park and preserve boasts some of the world’s most spectacular tidewater glaciers, such as Margerie Glacier, which often drops colossal chunks of ice into the sea. Not surprisingly, Glacier Bay National Park and its epic ice giants are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising Alaska’s magnificent park system.

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It can be busy up here. Two ships passing in the day.

It can be busy up here. Two ships passing in the day.

The cousins having a look.

The cousins having a look.

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View from my balcony.

View from my balcony.

Coming into some fog

Coming into some fog

Some proof of my existence

Some proof of my existence

A little selfie.

A little selfie.

The whale tale shot. Wish I could have seen more.

The whale tale shot. Wish I could have seen more.

Skagway was the last stop so the next day we turned and headed back:

Skagway was the gateway to the gold fields for the thousands who flocked to Alaska and the Yukon with the hope of striking it rich. Skagway may have boasted the shortest route to the Klondike, but it wasn’t the easiest. Over 100 years ago, the White Pass route through the Coast Mountains and the shorter but steeper Chilkoot Trail were used by countless stampeders. Many a would-be miner perished on the treacherous Chilkoot Trail.
The gold rush was a boon and by 1898, Skagway was Alaska’s largest town with a population of about 20,000. Hotels, saloons, dance halls and gambling houses prospered. But when the gold yield dwindled in 1900, so did the population as miners quickly shifted to new finds in Nome.
Today, Skagway has less than 1,000 residents. It still retains the flavor of the gold rush era.

The cruise back was fine and uneventful, we stopped in Victoria, BC for a few hours at night and that was nice since I had never been but we really only had time to grab a bite, walk around a bit and then get back on the boat. The next morning we arrived in Seattle. I said goodbye to the family as they all headed back to LA while I was visiting friends in Seattle. I actually arrived in Seattle a couple of days before the cruise so I had some time to kick around. From the  Experience Music Project to Pike Place Market and Broadway where all the old grunge tattooed people are hanging out.  I had a chance to go sailing with some friends and even see Brue and Brandon Lee’s grave. One yummy place I ate at was Glos Cafe where I had the best egg Benedict I had ever had in my life. Of course the coffee is good in that town.

Here are a bunch of assorted IPhone shots for your viewing pleasure.

Sunset from my balcony.

Sunset from my balcony.

Space Needle

Space Needle

Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Guitar.

Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Guitar.

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Say cheese

Say cheese

view from the chopper on the way to the Mendenhall Glacier

view from the chopper on the way to the Mendenhall Glacier

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Palin 2012 two for one hats.

Palin 2012 two for one hats.

Me and Jenny.

Me and Jenny.

This is how we eat in Victoria, BC.

This is how we eat in Victoria, BC.

Bruce and Brand Lee's cemetery.

Bruce and Brandon Lee’s grave.

So those are the words and the photos that make up this Alaska trip, I hope you like it.

David

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