Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from Sisters, Oregon

To all the viewers of my blog, faithful and occasional, my best wishes to you all for a pleasant holiday and a peaceful and fulfilling 2010.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

USA Cyclocross Championships

I spent a day at the USA Cyclocross Championships in Bend, Oregon. The sport is wildly popular in the Northwest and the competitions are usually held in autumn through spring when the conditions on the loop courses are often wet, muddy, ice and snow and cold. For the four-day event here all of the above have been factors in the racing and everyone seems happy about that. Aerobic capacity and bike handling skills separate the riders quickly in the timed races. Spectators line the course and ring cowbells in support of the competitors. After the races everyone heads into town for parties. No wonder cyclocross is so popular.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day 2009

If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. - Thomas Paine

A daughter gets her birthday wish, her daddy comes home. Darren Stewart, a TSGT with the 6th Air Refueling Sqaudron, 60th Air Mobility Wing gives his daughter Sydney Stewart a kiss after arriving home from a 2003 tour of duty in the Persian Gulf region.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cambodia 1979-2009

November 4, 1979. What do you remember about that day?

The major event that day was the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran being overrun by student followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's fundamentalist revolutionaries. Ninety hostages were captured and fifty-two of them would remain in captivity for the next 444 days. It was the turning point in U.S. and Iran diplomatic relations.

For me, it was the day I and fellow journalist, Joel Brinkley, left for the Thailand/Cambodia border where thousands of Cambodian refugees were crossing into Thailand to escape the war between the North Vietnamese and the crumbling Khmer Rouge regime. Our efforts there were centered around a Louisville, Kentucky physician, Dr. Kenneth Rasmussen, who was on the front line of treatment for the sick and starving who survived weeks, if not months, of perilous overland travel to the safety of the camps.

This past summer Joel and I made a return trip to Cambodia, thirty years after the "Living the Cambodian Nightmare" project. We wanted to see firsthand how life for the rural population, 80% of the 13.7 million citizens of Cambodia are faring.

Frankly, all is not well. In many respects Cambodia is much as it was prior to the Khmer Rouge era, 1975-1979. Old methods of rice production are still used, the infrastructure is minimal, education is not mandatory, corruption exits at every level of life and hope is a rare commodity.

While the world centers it's attention on the Middle East, Africa and other regions of conflict, Cambodia barely registers on anyone's radar. It has become the forgotten country.

I offer the two audiovisual shows below. The first is from our 1979 journey and has been expanded from the original version to include additional photographs of Cambodians in transit to the United States and several of a family that had been sponsored by Dr. Rasmussen and his wife. The last photograph is of Sot Oung, the father, in an English language class. He is looking over his shoulder out a window to see snow falling for the first time in his life. Ironically, a sentence on the blackboard being used as an example of tenses, says "How often do you go back home?" There are several responses to use. The first is "I never go back home."

I have reconnected with Dr. Rasmussen, now retired and living in Tennessee. He remained in contact with the family for a few years. They moved to Indianapolis where Sot worked for Lear Jet and Saot, his wife, became a dental technician. The couple divorced and Dr. Rasmussen hasn't heard from anyone in the family in over ten years.

The world has witnessed additional human tragedy, genocide and despair in the past thirty years. The legacy of Khmer Rouge debacle, Cambodians killing 1.7 million fellow Cambodians, has had little effect on the country's ability to redefine itself in the 21st. century.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Kirsten Bloom, Changing Roles.

For the last 14 years, Kirsten Bloom has been the most familiar face of the Sacramento Ballet. Audiences have admired and respected her abilities as a dancer and an athlete in numerous roles. She has performed in Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Carmina Burana, A Streetcar Named Desire, Concerto Barocco, Etosha, and of course, The Nutcracker, each one demanding a different personna. Vulnerable, tender, feisty, sympathetic, headstrong, or regal, Kirsten showed the essence of the character in her dance. She partnered with Jared Nelson, Jack Hansen, Luis Napoles, Bobby Briscoe, Michael Vester in many of the dances adding the collaborative dimension to her abilities.

Kirsten will be taking on her greatest role, that of a mother next April and will begin her maternity leave after her final performance October 24th during the Capital Choreography Competition at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. She says she is not retiring and plans to return to dance in the future.

I have been fortunate to photograph Kirsten on and offstage for most of the time she has been dancing with the company. Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, the Artistic Directors of the company will work with the current dancers and mold them into world-class artists as they have with Kirsten. Who will dance the role of the "Sugar Plum Fairy" in this year's edition of the Nutcracker? Whoever she is will have one of the best ever to emulate.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mary Travers

Anyone who lived the 60's or has since appreciated what happened then can't say "Peter, Paul" without adding "Mary." Mary Travers, 72, died today of the effects of chemotherapy in her battle against leukemia. The trio led the folksong revival which popularized many of Bob Dylan's songs.

I learned to finger pick a guitar by playing of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" endlessly at the slowest speed possible on my little record player until I could virtually match the notes. I'm sure I wasn't alone in the attempt to make my guitar sound as seamless.

The trio brought "Blowin' In The Wind," and many more, to mainstream popularity. And this is where the story gets personal for me.

In August, 1966 PP&M were scheduled to perform at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside Denver, Colorado. There were high winds and rain during the afternoon, typical weather for Colorado in late summer. The concert could have been moved to an indoor venue, the Denver Coliseum, but it wasn't. Red Rocks is one of the most spectacular venues for a concert anywhere in the U.S.A. seating 9450 with unobstructed views of the stage. I arrived there in the rain with Sue, my date, and eventual first wife, two hours before the concert. We secured great seats, center, mid-venue and with an umbrella we waited.

The concert was set to begin at 7:00pm. At 6:45pm the rain stopped and a light breeze flowed over the sandstone walls through the audience. At 6:55pm the breeze intensified to a moderate wind. At 7:02pm Peter, Paul and Mary, without any introduction, came onstage and performed "Blowin' In The Wind." The soft warm wind, the acoustical perfection of the venue and the ethereal music is a moment that is one of my most enduring memories.

Years passed and I moved on from Denver to Louisville, Kentucky, the city where Mary was born. In 1985 PP&M reunited as a trio and scheduled Louisville as one of the performance cities. I was working at the Courier-Journal and submitted a request to photograph the rehearsal. I did cover the short practice session (unfortunately the b/w negatives lost) and I took the opportunity to introduce myself and I asked them about that 1966 concert at Red Rocks.

They all instantly remembered that moment. An introduction had been planned and the first song was not "Blowin' In The Wind." But, they also felt the breeze, saw the clearing sky and understood the spiritual connection between music, the audience, and the physical atmosphere. With no hesitation they changed the opening song. PP&M simply walked onstage, began the concert and mesmerized 10,000 hearts.

Mary Travers, your silky voice will always resonate in my core.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Summer of Contrasts

Cambodia and Canada. Experiences I'll never forget.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cambodia, "The Forgotten Country."

I completed my three week tour of rural Cambodia with writer Joel Brinkley.Everday was challenging and surprising for the experiences we had visiting with people who told amazing stories of thier lives, the terrible ordeal of the Khmer Rouge and how they cope with a rather dysfunctional government. We visited hospitals, small villages, government officials and often found our best stories simply by luck. I've posted these images in hopes that you will continue on to the website gallery for additional photos and information. The link to the gallery is: Or simply click on the Photo Shelter Gallery link on the right to see all the galleries.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Face to face with Cambodia's past

The Cambodian national torment is the Khmer Rouge era. In 1979 when survivors were arriving in Thailand the horrific stories they brought with them sounded unimaginable, yet true. Today, thirty years later I had the opportunity to see the places where genocide happened. One place just 15 km outside of Phnom Penh, is Choeng Ek, one of the "killing fields." Numerous mass graves have been uncovered, leaving a pock-marked landscape where victims were bludgeoned to death in order to save bullets.
People come and walk silently along the dirt paths that rim the craters. In some areas, remnants of clothing and shards of bone are visible. A monument in the center of the complex has a ten-layer repository of skulls. It is a somber, sad place.

A second is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in the center of Phnom Penh. Known during the Khmer Rouge regime as S-21, the former high school was converted to a torture and execution center for anyone thought to be in opposition to the mandates of Pol Pot. Between 1975 and 1979, 10,519 people were brought from throughout Cambodia, held for several months, tortured in a myriad of despicable ways, then executed. Only two survived, one a photographer who made haunting mug shots of every inmate and an artist who promised he could portray Pol Pot in a favorable manner but also painted depictions of the torture methods.

A steady stream of people move quietly through the halls and into the rooms full of hundreds of the photographic portraits and paintings. Many are Cambodians coming with their families. They stare at the photos, reach out to touch. I'm reminded of of the respect and reverence that visitors to the Viet Nam Memorial show. S-21 is Cambodia's "Wall."

In another section of the complex rooms with stark steel bed frames and shackles that bound the prisoners remind the visitors that cruelty and crudity are inseparable. Two floors of another building are full of small cubicles constructed from brick and mortar or wood where prisoners were crammed into the spaces to await their fate.

This was a necessary tour for me, not pleasant yet as haunting and memorable as anywhere I have ever been.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Closing a circle

Recently Joel Brinkley and I got together to discuss some details of our return to Cambodia next week. Although we hadn't seen each other in nearly 25 years we have been communicating through e-mails and telephone and it seemed easy to pick up where we left off so long ago. There will be a lot of time to talk about our lives in the next few weeks and how two young upstart journalists in 1979 got the biggest story of their careers.

This documentary project nearly died an early death for lack of funding. I wrote a grant proposal to the Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting asking for expenses but was denied. However, a local foundation here in Sisters, Oregon, the Roundhouse Foundation, agreed to fund my transportation costs. Hopefully I'll find an outlet for the photographs after my return but with most publications having little or no freelance budget and online outlets paying minimal usage fees I'm not expecting instant wealth.

Still, the opportunity to return to see how the Cambodian people live now after the Khmer Rouge, is incredible. I believe this will complete a journey within my professional life and it also may open up new possibilities as well.

Joel, a visiting Journalism professor at Stanford University, made an observation about the span of time we had working for daily newspapers. Basically, newspapers were not the crusading, risk-taking, and aggressive publications they became after the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. Those two events drew idealistic, adventurous, talented and healthy skeptics into journalism. The best years of daily journalism for newspapers also encompassed entire careers for people like Joel, me and thousands of others.

The dying newspaper industry finds many publications are cutting staffs, reducing news coverage, and publishing what people "want" instead of "need" or ceasing publication altogether. We feel very lucky to have moved on to the new phases of our lives.

One small thing bothers both of us: a lack of photos of us out in the field being journalists. While we were actually working the protocol never included stopping for a moment to make some pictures at whatever situation we were in. It seemed like grandstanding. Now we would like to have a few pictures of those times. Joel shot a few of me in Cambodia and I shot a few of him. The only roll of film that was ruined in processing had his pictures on it. I'm still irritated about that.

Joel's wife, Sabra, shot this photo of us. In the coming weeks I will be concentrating on documenting the rural Cambodian citizens. Making the photographs for Joel's book is the top priority but I won't forget this time to stop occasionally and make a few for the memory book.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Moving on sometimes requires looking back

To those of you who have followed this blog I apologize for the lack of a new post. Frankly, I've been unable to find a subject that excited me. However, I have been actively continuing my project to convert many of my photographs from film to digital, a tedious yet quite rewarding effort.

Some of the negatives are 35+ years old and are as clean as the day I processed the film while other strips of film have serious degradation. I think back to the days of hand processing and know that often the film wasn't left in the hypo clearing solution or washed long enough. Archival processing was usually trumped by newspaper deadlines. Fortunately, most of the issues of pinholes, dust and scratches can be remedied in Photoshop but the process often takes hours for each image.

The reward is to see the photographs again and always better than I could have ever printed them in a darkroom. It has also been a chance to assess how my style of shooting changed and matured over the years. The most pleasant surprise in this endeavor has been the opportunity to reconnect with some of the people I photographed through internet people search engines.

I've noticed that the years 1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009 are benchmarks, connected by images I made during major projects or in special moments in my life.

1969 was the year I entered the Peace Corps and was sent to Malaysia. It was also the year I began taking photography seriously.

Ten years later, 1979, I returned to Southeast Asia to photograph Cambodian refugees coming to Thailand as the Khmer Rouge regime was collapsing and revealing the genocide of nearly 2 million citizens. (the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting).

In 1989 I was half-way through the Yosemite Centennial project to document the human experience in the park. (a Pulitzer finalist in 1991).

1999 was the third year of my volunteer work with the Sacramento Ballet that gave me the opportunity to establish a 13-year body of work culminating in a trip to China with the company on their first foreign performing tour in 2007.

2009 finds me retired from newspaper work but certainly not from documentary photography. I chose this image of North Sister to say my photographic life has wide open possibilities.

Now, one of the greatest opportunities I've ever had is about to happen. I will be returning to Cambodia with my friend and fellow journalist Joel Brinkley, who I worked with on the "Living the Cambodian Nightmare" project thirty years ago. We will be visiting mostly in rural areas of the country to show that life for the average citizen has not seen a lot of improvement despite a resurgence of the national economy. Joel is writing a book which I will illustrate and we also hope to publish our words and pictures in print and/or online when we return.

The perspective I have now after "looking back" certainly helps inspire me to understand what "moving on" is all about.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Newspapers: going, going, gone.

One of my three wishes for the Genie when he appears in front of me is to always know the exact right thing to say at the precise moment it needs to be said. The Genie has not appeared and now, when I need those perfect words, I can't find the right ones to comfort or inspire. The best I can do is go out and make a photograph. A Canadian goose in flight. Fly away and be free.

My head and heart are having trouble staying connected this week following the announcement of more layoffs of journalists at the Sacramento Bee. My head knew it was coming, my heart is not as accommodating and aches for my friends and former colleagues who are now tossed into the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed. The process, from this distant point of view, appears flawed..again. No upper management layoffs; only the folks who actually do the work of getting out on the streets to get the stories and photographs get axed. The list is there for all to see on the Sacramento Bee Guild website.

The first person I heard sound the siren of the quantum shift of news dissemination from newsprint to online was the former publisher of the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, Barry Bingham Jr. in 1982 when the internet was barely out of the womb. His vision of people reading the news off computer screens instead of newsprint was not readily accepted. He was predicting that new world journalism be round, not flat. And he was more right than he'll ever know. He died in 2006 without seeing the current march of many major U.S. newspapers, like a herd of wildebeests plunging over a cliff in very slow-motion, to obscurity or outright oblivion.

I rarely have dreams that I recall but I had one recently that sticks in my mind. I was standing in an orchard in California and there were no bees buzzing around. The thought I had in the scene was that the collapse of the bee colonies was a siren warning that that the financial world, without the banking and credit markets pollinating as they are supposed to, would lead to world economic turmoil. The bees were fleeing, like coastal animals who sense an oncoming tsunami and move to higher ground long before humans figure out what's happening.

Awakening, I'm at a loss for words.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Iditarod sled dogs

I need to get away from reading bad news. The updates on the tanked world economy and the untenable situation my former co-workers face at the Sacramento Bee with their job futures are constant, sad and unrelenting. So, I'm taking a break from it and turning my attention to something a tad more positive. The 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Sixty-seven mushers leave Anchorage, Alaska Saturday on their 1,150 mile race across the frozen tundra powered by their sled dog teams. This is the Tour de France on snow and ice but unlike the bike race there is no one to hide behind or draft off. The dogs are the princes of this sport. Forty pound bundles of muscle and exuberance. Twelve tied to a sled, running their legs off for ten to seventeen days.

I have a particular interest in this year's race since one of the entrants is a local. Rachel Scdoris along with her dad Jerry live outside Bend and operate a sled dog tour at Mt. Bachelor, 20 miles west of Bend. She is entrant #58 and I'll be watching cable and tracking her progress on the web.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A sad end to Denver journalism

Tomorrow, Friday, February 27, 2009 the Rocky Mountain News will publish it's final edition at the end of nearly 150 continuous years of providing Colorado and the West with great journalism. It's demise cannot be attributed to one cause, although a rotten world economy didn't help. Declining advertising revenues, information drifting to the internet where viewers expect to get their news for free, circulation drop all figure into the mix. This cocktail of economic arsenic is not happening only to the Rocky. In months to come other papers will likely disappear and many others will be reducing expenditures by terminating the jobs of the journalists and ad sales persons, reducing the number of days the paper is published, cutting retirement benefits and wages of those left to produce the content, probably by candlelight.

The Rocky Mountain News was the first newspaper I ever laid my hands on as a boy growing up in north Denver. When I was 14 I got my first job as a newspaper carrier. A delivery truck dropped the bundles of papers in front of my house at 4 a.m. My clock radio came on at 4:05 a.m. The hit song of the day in January 1960 was "Teen Angel" which always seemed to be playing. My paper route which had 120 customers was in a working class neighborhood and so the paper needed to be delivered by 6 a.m. so it could be read before people went to work. In good weather that was pretty easy. In the winter my dad would help me by driving the route in the car when the snow was too deep to pedal through.

Sometime during the three years I kept the job I began actually reading the paper and looking at the pictures. I thought it would be a cool job to be a newspaper photographer. In fact, a very talented newspaper photographer, a father of a classmate, Julia Moldvay, lived up the street from me. Albert Moldvay worked for the Denver Post and eventually was hired by National Geographic where he went on to cover numerous international stories for the magazine. I remember him showing me his cameras once and holding one of the first 35mm SLR cameras the Post photographers were using.

My interest in news photography lay dormant during my high school years and actually didn't surface until my junior year at the University of Colorado when I took two photography classes from Bob Rhode in the J-school. The Rocky and the Denver Post were around the campus and I always enjoyed every copy I could find.

My parents constantly sent me clipped articles from the Rocky during my two-year stint in the Peace Corps (Malaysia) so I could read what was going on in Denver.

I worked in Denver five years alongside the photographers from the Rocky and the Post. At that time there was a chain of weekly papers, the Sentinel Newspapers, and I had the freedom there to do things I don't believe I would have had at either of the dailies, but the important part was that I could learn by watching how other photographers worked. This was rather important because I really had no experience to go on. Barry Staver, Bill Wunsch, Dewey Howell, John Sunderland, Bill Peery, Steve Larson, David Cupp all had encouragement for me.

The Rocky matured over the past years into a strong example of what a newspaper could do with photojournalism. With commitment from management, leadership from photo editors and amazing talent by the photographers the paper published some of the most riveting stories ever seen in newsprint.

I can still recall the smell of the ink coming off the bundles and hear the sound of the paper hitting a customers front door, a perfect strike from my bike seat. How could I ever imagine that the Rocky would suffer this demise on those cool summer mornings as I pedaled down Berkeley Place with the newspapers stuffed into bags wrapped around my handlebars.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Can the "arts" survive the recession?

The economic landscape is becoming more desolate day by day. Across all continents, political boundaries, business sectors, and down to the personal level the recession deepens. Jobs are being lost, 75,000 announced in the past few days. The impact is being felt in every facet of daily life and hard choices confront us all.

The "arts" communities in many major U.S. cities are struggling to survive as patrons stop attending music, theatre and dance performances. Half of the theaters on Broadway in New York City have gone dark. In Sacramento, the Sacramento Ballet has cancelled the remainder of their performances at the Community Center and the Sacramento Theatre Company's Main stage.

The dancers in the company are still rehearsing for the performances that can be held at the company's studio and they have taken their plight to the streets and to the internet to help with fundraising.

Lt. Col.,Ret. Fred Shadle who has attended every performance since 1962 summarizes the situation precisely. “In my view, we have three major-league teams in this city: the Kings, the Monarchs and the Sacramento Ballet. The ballet is the only one that wins all the time. The only time the ballet loses is when people aren’t there to keep it together."

I have worked with the ballet since 1996 when my daughter was taking ballet lessons and got a role as a "cherub" in the annual Nutcracker performance. She had other roles, Mother Ginger kid, a soldier battling the Mouse King and then moved on to soccer and school activities; I stayed with the ballet to photograph every production until I moved to Oregon in 2007.

Two dancers were always there. Kirsten Bloom and Jack Hansen. Their work ethic was incredible. Though injuries and fatigue were common factors, lack of passion was not. Carinne Binda and Ron Cunningham, the artistic directors of the company always managed to hire a corps of dancers who had passion and the desire to become better ever day. The Sacramento Ballet has always been a place where a dancer could come for a few years, train with Ron and Carinne and then move on to greater professional challenges. So many have. Jared Nelson, Amy Seiwert, Bobby Briscoe, Charlie Hodges, Easton Smith, Colby Damon to name only a few.

In my layman's view this is Ron and Carinne's greatest achievement, why the Sacramento Ballet is one of the finest companies in the country, and one of the great Sacramento community losses should the company not stay afloat.

Everyone has basic needs: food, affordable housing, clothing, education. Add to that insurance for health and property to keep the wolves from your door. Whats' left then, "discretionary income," gets parceled out until the well is dry.

What seems to me to be missing from the equation is food for the soul that comes from appreciating the cultural opportunities that exist in most communities. Why is it that in tough times, the soul seems to be neglected when the arts can bring a bit of joy and hope for a better tomorrow?

Dancers, musicians, actors, painters, ceramists, photographers are workers as well as artists. They have jobs just like Home Depot clerks, GM auto workers, Microsoft programmers, waiters, waitresses, cooks, plumbers and carpenters. One man or woman's job loss in one sector is no different than a loss in another. When a company's survival is on the line, however, the loss can mean a part of a community's identity is also gone.

I think back to early 2007 when things seemed better (we all know now that storm was already brewing in the financial oceans and heading straight for land). The Sacramento Ballet was eagerly planning and rehearsing for it's first-ever foreign tour, a two-week tour to Shanghai and Beijing, China. Ron and Carinne, Tim Orr, the company manager, twenty-three dancers, a lighting specialist, a stage manager, a newly retired photojournalist, i.e. me, and a group of ballet aficionados had a fantastic experience on the trip.

This was the Sacramento Ballet becoming a world-class company. It was their Super Bowl, Masters, Stanley Cup, Wimbledon, and Daytona 500. Enjoy the show and if you can spare a few dollars, send them to the Sacramento Ballet or to an arts organization in your neighborhood.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watching the President Obama inauguration

Like millions of Americans who couldn't be in Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, Diane and I joined a group of friends for a celebration brunch. Everyone watched intently and was moved by the pomp
and ceremony, the size of the crowd on the Mall and at the Capitol, and the words President Obama spoke during his address. It was also memorable for the psychological emancipation that was felt all of us witnessing the inauguration. What a great way to start a day and that hopefully will result a redirection for our country. Hope lives. Dreams live.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Archiving history

Thirty years ago the Amtrak Floridian passenger train that ran between Chicago and Miami was in it's final months of operation. Louisville, where I worked at the time for the Courier-Journal, would loose passenger train service.

I began a project to document the Floridian and over a few months in early 1979 I spent days in the Chicago train yards, riding the train and photographing the passengers, crew and an engineer, W.C. Roddy who drove the train between Louisville and Bowling Green, Kentucky.

There was also Henry LaSane, the porter who had worked for years on the railroad and was not sure he'd find another job. He met his daughter at a stop in Wildwood, Florida who came to see him. A sweet kiss from dad and he was back on board for the remainder of the trip.

The Floridian did cease operation later in 1979 due to budget cuts in the President Carter administration.

The black and white negatives have been stored away until recently when I bought a film scanner to begin another project, archiving the photographs I've made over the past 40 years. "Living the Cambodian Nightmare," the Floridian, "Yosemite, A Landscape of Life," The Sierra in Peril, Hunger in California, twelve years of performances by the Sacramento Ballet, and hundreds of family photographs, on and on...

State and local historical societies, university library archives, and many other repositories have been archiving material for many years. The Center For Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona houses the works of Ansel Adams and W. Eugene Smith for instance. The University of Louisville Special Collections has the 1.5 million images and was one of the first collections of documentary photographic history in the nation.

Newspapers have always had libraries and collections of photos and copies of past issues. Some newspapers hold on to photographers' negatives, some release them back to the photographer after a span of time, five years or so. Digital photography has changed everything in terms of archiving. Essentially that is great. Keeping track of digital images is a far more organized affair than film ever was and takes up a lot less space in doing so. But what of all the pre-digital age film of a community's history? What will become of that material as newspapers simply try to stay in business and produce a daily product?

I fear that many news organizations will not even know what they have and will have even less interest and resources to convert even a fraction of it to digital files.

Perhaps the saddest story is of the fate of the 40,000 negatives of the John F. Kennedy era shot by Jacques Lowe. He had them stored in a fireproof safe in a vault beneath the World Trade Center. He died a few months prior to September 11, 2001 so he will never know that the inferno following the terrorist attacks literally vaporized everything.

His daughter writes about the loss:

I'm really excited about Pete Souza who has been selected to be President Barack Obama's presidential photographer. He's absolutely the right man for the job of documenting the daily events in the Obama administration which will be historical in every sense of the word. This is his second tour in the White House; the first was during the Ronald Reagan years. He and his staff will be shooting digital and in fact, he made the official Obama portrait using digital, the first ever. You'll see it soon in a post office near you. He will not have the archiving issues Jacques Lowe had.

One of the keys to archiving digital photography is redundancy. Multiple copies stored in different locations. Hard drives fail. CD's get corrupted.

My intentions for my work is to scan, upload to sites out of my home, burn archival DVD's and store on good hard drives. I also have the opportunity to turn over film, transparencies, prints, and notes to some permanent archives. All of the Cambodia material is going to the CCP in Tucson and the Yosemite body of work will be housed in the Yosemite National Park's permanent archive.

Newspapers print the first draft of history, as the saying goes. Photojournalists show what was happening while that history was unfolding. We don't get the luxury of rewrite. The way we saw it is the way it will always be. I just hope that in the future there is that visual history to see.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Farewell to another little friend

By Diane: Today is a sad day in our home. We lost Puss, one of our feline family members to cancer. The disease seemed to come on quickly so we had less than a week to have our last kitty time with her. Puss came into our lives when Allison’s piano teacher got another dog and the combination of two dogs to one cat just did not work. Puss had a great deal of energy and for a time we called her
Jackie Joyner Puss Kitty because she would jump over Noire and race through the house. With age and thyroid pills she settled down. Our cats, Gracie, Puss, and Noire moved with us to Oregon. Now only Noire is left. Although our cats are usually wherever we are, we would call “Pussy Puss-Puss and she would come. She was an affectionate lap cat and always took her fair share of the bed at night. We are grateful to have had the time with her and all the love she gave us. We loved her
right back and she will be missed.

Friday, January 02, 2009