Houses on the Sand: photographs from Lima’s Pueblos Jovenes

Situated on an oasis along the Pacific Ocean, Lima is surrounded by desert dunes and dozens of ancient archaeological sites. Streams of settlers from the countryside come to Lima to make their homes on the miles of sandy bluffs that surround the city. They build them with whatever materials are available: cardboard, straw, tin sheets, driftwood. Such settlements are known in kind terms as pueblos jovenes, young villages. Other times they are called invasiones, invasions. I’d seen pictures of these “young villages” during my research of Peru and was fascinated at the initial sight of them: row after row, mile after mile of makeshift housing perched on sandy hillsides and rough desert terrain attesting to the pioneering spirit of these settlers. I had to visit them for myself to find out if the transition to Lima was worth it for these immigrants. One of the first people I encountered was[…]

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Waterborne poverty: stories from the Peruvian Amazon Basin

The sun rises in Belen, and the dock workers prepare to go home for the day. They’ve been working all night to carry in the day’s produce, charcoal, iron, petroleum, you name it, in time for the 7AM customer rush. “Dock” should be thought of in loose terms. It really means where the water meets the shore at any given time of the year. Banana carriers have to be the most skilled of all the laborers. Balancing the bunches on their backs, sometimes three at a time, they transport them past the muddy riverbanks, up the hills of Belen and through the busy market alleyways, doing their best to evade the children who sneak up to pilfer the fruit from the stems. As the Nile was and is to Egyptian civilization, the Amazon and its many tributaries are the lifeblood to the communities it penetrates, beginning in Peru at the[…]

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Assignment: Ukraine

I’ve been going non-stop for the past nine days and my shutter has fired more times than I can recall in my comparatively young days as a photographer (I’m 26). Batteries constantly charging and files downloading, it’s good to have a rest. This time I’ve been in Ukraine, a country that for most part is off the beaten track, that is unless you happen to be a Mongol or Viking invader. As history has it, Ukraine is actually a much-traversed land situated in North-East Europe. I’ve been photographing for Heifer International in Western Ukraine, which was at various times in the past 500 years part of Poland, Austria, and the USSR, and has seen occupation from the likes of the Mongols in the 13th century to the Nazis in the 20th. Of course, upon arriving my luggage was MIA. A message (that looked like it’d been sent via telegraph) had[…]

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Richmond’s New Favorite Son

One of the more amazing things in life is to watch a pro-golfer swing a club. Even if you don’t like golf, you’d be pretty astounded. I discovered this as I was asked to photograph at the Kanawha Golf Invite for Captech this week. The event featured John Rollins, a VCU graduate and Richmond native, who did very well on the last PGA tour and continues to have success in the world of professional golf of which I know nothing about. Yes, it seems Richmond has a new hometown hero. Maybe a statue on Monument Avenue is in the works. And maybe John Rollins will be shown beating children with his golf club and taking away their books. (Only Richmonders will get this.) He hung around, offered tips, and hit golf balls with thirty to sixty-something aged professional males who were nearly knocked to their feet every time he swung[…]

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Out of Egypt…

Okay, so I wasn’t really in Egypt this weekend. These photos were taken at Jockey’s Ridge in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Jockey’s Ridge is a massive sand dune park where extreme adventurers go to hang-glide, sand board, or in my case, just walk around and climb on the dunes. I thought I had the park all to myself but as I was taking some photos of the bare sand dunes, a big group of people came walking over the ridge. At first I thought I’d wait ’til they left but I saw something very surreal in how small and out of place everyone looked on these great piles of sand. One can draw their own metaphors and Biblical allusions from here….

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Marriage the old fashioned way

Regardless of what type of photographer you are, you’re going to photograph at least one wedding during your career. I approach weddings mainly from a documentary point of view and greatly enjoy doing them. I try to capture the events as they unfold rather than spending most of the time posing people. The wedding I shot Saturday was that of Craig and Kathleen in Norfolk, VA. Kathleen, a fashion designer working in LA and her now husband Craig, an artist and designer, chose a vintage look for their wedding that made it so interesting to photograph. Kathleen designed her own dress. The guest book took the form of a vintage type-writer. To top it off, the couple was escorted in a 1962 black Cadillac for the day. The wedding took place at the Women’s Club, a mansion in the Victorian neighborhood of Ghent in Norfolk. From the site, to the[…]

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