It was great seeing not one, but two, pieces published in the October issue of Discover magazine! The first story was shot at the UCLA Brain Imaging Center to illustrate a first-person narrative by writer Jeff Wheelwright relating his experience getting tested for the Human Connectome Project, a large study creating a baseline map of the brain to better study how it ages. For the story we created a series of images of him going through various cognitive tests, as well as an overhead of him lying in a decommissioned MRI machine. That latter was a challenge, but we pulled it off with the help of my assistant LR, a patient subject and a Camranger remote, which allowed me to shoot live view wirelessly from my laptop to my Nikon, which was carefully positioned overhead on a boom. The second story was a fascinating piece on advancements in stem cell therapies that are allowing people such as Kristin MacDonald, who I shot at home in Beverly Hills, to regain partial vision almost totally lost to Retinitis Pigmentosa, an incurable degenerative eye disease that caused her to start going blind in her twenties. Others have successfully used the therapy to overcome paralysis caused by stroke or injury. The advancements were initially made possible by the passing of California Proposition 71 in 2004, which provided $3 billion in funding for stem cell research in the state after the feds cut off funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001. I did a related story several years ago when scientists were just figuring out how to work around the ban, so it was great to see how far things have come in the last seven or so years. I’m looking forward to seeing the advancements this field is sure to produce in the coming years.
An article recently ran featuring work I did for Der Spiegel last summer. The story focuses on the slow economic decline of the city of San Bernardino – home of the original McDonald’s restaurant – as it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, which it officially filed for less than a month after our visit. We – myself, the writer and a videographer – spent a long, hot, winding day in the depressed town of 213,000 that took us from the site of the restaurant, which is now an independently operated museum, to a number of agencies, a brief visit with firefighters at risk of losing their jobs and finally to a city council meeting where the council discussed possible austerity measures that would be required to eventually dig out of this mess. Something that at this point seems a long way away. The article’s an interesting read. Check it out here.
This was the scene last time I was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2008. Other than the overcast skies (forecast shows rain for the next 10 days!), I expect little to be the same when we return this Thursday. At the moment the Haitian National Palace is still in ruins and the surrounding Champs de Mars plaza is still a tent camp, more than two years after an earthquake leveled the nation’s already troubled capital. Add to that a cholera epidemic and who knows what to expect. What I do expect to find however is the same spirit in the people who live there, as they carry on in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
This time I’m heading down with Erinn and our friend Michael to tag along with GlobalDIRT (disaster immediate response team), a fledgling NGO, started by a young Marine, Adam Marlatt, during the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. Following the tragic event, Adam and Robert Sullivan, also a Marine, hit the ground, converting a bread truck into an ambulance to help rescue some of the countless victims. Only two years later the organization is working on building the first 24/7 911 ambulance system in the country and is working with the local government and other NGO’s to help create a more efficient system that will better aid victims in Port-au-Prince and eventually across the country. We’ll be telling their story as well as discussing the shortcomings of emergency medical care in Haiti and the inefficiencies of some of the larger NGO’s.
Erinn and I are paying for this project largely out of pocket will be operating on a shoestring budget. We can therefore use all the support we can get in order to make a professional project that we hope will bring a large amount of attention to the organizations efforts and the ongoing problems in Haiti. Upon our return we’ll be aiming to publish the story in a number of magazines and news outlets. I will also be shooting video, which we hope will broaden the reach of our story. Of course, prints will be available for purchase when we return, but we are also taking pre-orders/donations at a slight discount in order to help us while we are down there. If you care to help out I have listed below the thank you perks I am offering in exchange for your support. Other than that, wish us luck!
Donations can be made via Paypal to my address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
All donors will receive a thank you email and can take pride in knowing that they are furthering a longtime tradition of quality news reporting by serious and dedicated journalists. Donors names will be included on a “Thank You” plaque, which will be displayed during the photo exhibit in Los Angeles.
You will receive the previous perk, plus a custom thank-you postcard featuring an image from a select series of photos from the project and others taken along the way that reflect the beauty and character of Haiti.
You will receive the previous perks, plus set of four postcards for your personal use, featuring images selected from the project and others taken along the way that reflect the beauty and character of Haiti.
You will get everything from the previous perks PLUS an 8×12 inch signed print of your choosing from a limited edition print series featuring images selected from the project and others taken along the way that reflect the beauty and character of Haiti.
You will get everything from the first three perks, PLUS an 11×17 inch signed print of your choosing from a limited edition print series featuring images selected from the project and others taken along the way that reflect the beauty and character of Haiti.