recent portraits

I’ve accumulated a lot of photographs of people in the past few months. These didn’t exactly fit into any of my essays. All were taken in various parts of Tanzania.

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So long, farewell

Frank & Salome got married recently. While I photographed their wedding as well, I thought the images from the farewell were a bit more interesting. The farewell is when the bride formally says goodbye to her family and is embraced into that of the groom’s. In this case, there was a lot more hoopla and fanfare here than at the wedding, which occurred two days later. The day showcased a melange of tribal customs; Salome is a Masai, Frank a Chagga. My favorite of these was the lavishly ornate, roasted goat, also known as “the cakie”. The event, which took place on the slopes of Mt. Meru, served as a reminder that while Africa is modernizing, its deep-seated traditions remain.

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Seeds of Tomorrow

I never knew the significance behind breeding seeds, or that it could even be done to produce beneficial results. Without understanding the exact science behind it, I can emphasize that it’s very important – important enough to be able to lift lives out of poverty. My most recent assignment was here in Tanzania with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation photographing agricultural projects. (If you frequent my blog, you’ll know this subject is familiar territory.) Since 2006, the Gates Foundation has supported an organization headed by Kofi Annan called Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The grantee’s goal is to spark the same agricultural revolution that led to India’s self-sufficiency in grain foods beginning in the mid 1960’s. This is done partially through the Gates PASS (Program for Africa’s Seed Systems) initiative, whose projects I photographed in recent days. In the 1990’s, an epidemic called Cassava Brown Streak[…]

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Fighting Chance

Education is neither universal nor compulsory. Most people have no choice but the out-of-pocket health care plan. Tanzania is anything but the land of opportunity. At least the kids at Light in Africa have a chance at a fruitful, prosperous life. Often times it is a better chance than those living outside the walls of these children’s homes in the Kilimanjaro Region. The Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania’s most populous outside of Dar es Salaam, is home to some 20,000 orphaned children. The idea of immediate family in Sub-Saharan Africa extends beyond the borders of mother, father, son and daughter; the majority of those without surviving parents stay with aunts and uncles, cousins or grandparents. Where this is not financially feasible, where home life has been deemed unsuitable, or where the child has no surviving relatives, they enter life in a children’s home. The region, like many other populous areas of Sub-Saharan[…]

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Off to a slow crawl

I’m behind on my blogging. I know. I have an excuse; I’ve just arrived in Tanzania, where I’ll be for the next few months. The internet is so slow here it takes me all day to do what I could do back in the States in an hour. I’ve spent the last several hours trying to upload these photographs, something I think I’ll only be able to do monthly from now on. I’ve been on the internet since 9 this morning attempting to pay bills and answer emails. My online banking took about 20 minutes just to sign in while the guys next to me in the internet cafe took up all my bandwidth laughing hysterically over old episodes of Tom & Jerry. The very second the page finally loaded, the power went out. Things take longer in Africa, where urgency is seldom found either in an internet connection or[…]

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Motor City, West Africa

On Monday I had a few hours of time on my own to explore the city of Bamenda, in the North West Highlands of Cameroon. Away from the steamy jungles of the South and Center, the North West has a cooler climate than the rest of the country, which contributed to my desire to get out of my hotel room and explore the city. I came to Cameroon expecting to practice my French each place I went, but found that Pigeon English was more widely spoken in this region than any other language. I never really got a grasp on it. In the North West, the motor bike is king- the quickest and cheapest form of transportation around the city and a must-have for any young bachelor looking to find a date for the evening. I found a driver with whom I could communicate and we agreed upon a price[…]

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Touchdown Cameroon

After 32 hours of travel since leaving Richmond, I’ve arrived in Cameroon. It’s my first foray into West Africa and my first time back on the Continent since April. The landscape and flora are similar, but I was hit with a wall of hot, thick, damp air upon disembarking from the plane. Humidity of this magnitude is something I’ve never experienced in Africa before. The East, the South, the center are all blessed with mostly agreeable climates. The latest U2 album (to be released next week) has made for an unbelievable soundtrack through the clouds, above the Sahara, and over the green hills of Cameroon. Sorry Bono, I got a pirated advance copy.

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at home in RVA

It may appear that the only time I take my camera out when I’m in Richmond is when I’m at a party. This isn’t exactly true, but my friends have been the extent of my documentary endeavors since Christmas. Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharpening my eye and testing out new equipment at the expense of those closest to me (along with their pets) in preparation for an upcoming assignment in Sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to testing out my new Canon 5D Mark II SLR camera, I’ve been refining my use of flash with ambient light, especially outdoors (see the last pics of my friend Justin in the Manchester district’s train yards). I’ve also been trying out my new camera’s ability to shoot HD video. In the past, some clients have asked if I offer video as part of my services; I hope I’ll soon be comfortable answering[…]

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And the nominees are…

Last year’s post about my all too close encounter with a machete in Kisumu, Kenya (and the photos to prove it) has been nominated for an RVA News blog award today. RVA News is my hometown’s source of news, entertainment, sports and community events. Click on the logo to vote. Move over Mamma Mia!. Winning this award would be just one step towards my dream of turning this harrowing story into a Broadway musical.

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(almost) left behind

This week I started cleaning out hard drives of the some of the superfluous images from last year’s assignments. I deleted quite a bit, but I also found some photographs that I previously thought either didn’t pass muster or that didn’t fit into a thematic essay. Some turned out to be real gems and a few will likely end up in my portfolio. I was blessed to be able to travel a great deal in 2008. These images come from Ecuador, Peru, Zambia, Tanzania, Armenia and Georgia.

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