26 October 2008

"On Working Photographers & Colleagues..."

Ever since I've started this blog, I've thought of highlighting the important work that some of my closest colleagues are doing. I know how we all like to peruse the internet for the latest gadgets, ideas, professional organizations, multimedia & documentary sites, and E-Zines, but I just wanted to really keep it all pretty simple here.

So I'd like to occasionally use this space to mention the careers of "Working Photographers and Colleagues...", with a column here to introduce some of the hard working photographers I know and respect in the business. Sort of a personal referral if you will, to those out there who are getting it done, both locally, nationally and even internationally.

First on the list and head and shoulders above anybody I know today is Shiho Fukada of Beijing, China and formally of New York. I've known Shiho for nearly five years, dating back to when we worked the streets of New York while freelancing for the NY Daily News. I eventually was hired as a night photo-assignment editor at the News in 2004, and Shiho subsequently left the confines of freelancing for the paper, branching out and began shooting assignments for the Associated Press, The New York Times and many others. Speaking from my photo-editor background, Shiho's work exemplifies everything that I look for and admire in a true documentary photographer. She has the passion, commitment and dedication in her work, and the heartfelt compassion along with unending energy to complete self-assigned projects and stories in some of the world's most difficult locales. Her work appears regularly in the NY Times (and NY Times Co. owned International Herald Tribune), both when she was in New York and recently from China, where she'd covered the earthquake last Spring. She's also shot Olympic features in and around Beijing during last summer's Olympics. She's worked the aftermath of the tsunami a few years ago, Bangladeshi ship breaking workers (just an amazing story in itself), birthing mothers in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami, strippers in Japan, and a project that just downright knocked my socks off; a portrait project of the victims of the China earthquake with her subjects holding family portraits of their deceased loved ones killed in the earthquake. Shiho even took the time to interview the subjects, to learn a little about them and their lost loved ones, which is information crucial to the project in her thorough caption material. Some of the portraits alone just take my breath away, as I know firsthand how difficult it is to work in an earthquake region. (I've seen my share of earthquakes & natural disasters through the years...) I do hope that you will take the time to view her site and her fine work. Now that she's based in Beijing, I'm looking forward to following her work & career from there, as well as projects I'm sure she'll be working on in Southeast Asia. Shiho is the real deal and not afraid to go where the most important stories are on the world stage. -cg.


24 October 2008

"A Voice for the Voiceless..."

One of my assignments on Wednesday was supposed to be a press conference at a local factory in my area, where 29 workers had previously been fired. I was really troubled to meet some of these immigrant workers demonstrating outside on that chilly afternoon, believing that they "didn't need union representation" at their factory, so soon after many of their fellow workers were fired by the owners earlier this month. Forty workers filed a petition, citing unsafe and sweatshop conditions, petitioned OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) as many of the workers receive only minimum wage, even after working at the factory for years. They have no health benefits, sick time or vacation time off. The factory, the nation's second largest nail-polish bottling plant, is being investigated for various violations. Having been to many of their home countries myself, like Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico, and of course knowing the importance of labor unions & workers' rights in this country, I am hoping our efforts in the press will do these workers some good. -cg.

20 October 2008

"Covering a Murder Trial, HS Sports, & other related stuff..."

BMX racers. High School volleyball & football. And a few other assignments I've already forgotten. The past week (almost) panned out as another typical week on the job. Well, not so typical, as I spent three days covering the end of an emotionally charged murder trial, and witnessed the defendant found guilty on all 23 counts of a killing from May 2004. Cameras haven't been allowed in courtrooms in the State of NY for quite some time now, and I believe it's now up to the judge's discretion for each case, so the paper was pumped that we were allowed visual coverage during the attorney's final summations on Wednesday, the jury verdict on Thursday, and then a final sit-down interview with the son of the victim, who also was shot during the crime. Those long hours spent in the county courthouse with other media, as well as our top-notch crime reporter, Oliver Mackson, cautiously made my part relatively easy. I mean if you can call hanging out in the courthouse corridors for something like 6 hours waiting for a jury verdict easy... It all brought back a lot of memories of covering big trials in the city, and throughout my career. Oh yea, there were a few high school sports assignments thrown-in during the week, and the installation of a new college president at Mt. Saint Mary College, where the access was really good. Here's a slideshow of the week's take:

*(No audio this time. Use the arrows at the bottom of the player or click the image to scroll forward through the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. )

11 October 2008

Honor Guard. October 10, 2008.

Army National Guard soldier PFC Aaron Mondie salutes with the American flag prior to a funeral at the Orange County Veteran's Cemetery in Goshen, NY on Friday, October 10, 2008. The Newburgh unit of the Military Forces Honor Guard of New York provides funeral services for active duty and former military personnel. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

*This is the kind of story that reminds me why I became a photojournalist. Access. Observation. Truth with a camera. All buzz words in the business, sure, but this is what it's all about for me. Nothing comes even close. I spent the day yesterday with soldiers in an Army National Guard unit that provide formal military funerals for active duty as well as prior service members (like me). This is part of a larger piece I'm working on with audio and hope to attend another funeral with full honors with this unit, as I have full behind the scene access into their preparation, rehearsals, etc. Stay tuned. Here's a slideshow from the day with audio. "Semper Fi." -cg.

*(Click the image above or click the arrow at the lower left of the player to start the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the captions button at lower right of the player. Remember to turn up your audio for the 2-minute piece. -cg.)

03 October 2008

"...You work your side of the street, and I'll work mine..." - (actor) Steve McQueen as Frank Bullitt.

The Week: September 29th. - October 4, 2008. This has been one those weeks were everything sort of all kept falling into place technically, scheduling wise and esthetically. For making images and stories, it was wonderful. Just wonderful. Started the first part of the work week chasing another homicide story in Middletown, NY, covering everything from the PD brass holding an afternoon press conference or "presser", announcing the fifth murder of the year committed the night before. Immediately after, the reporter and I hustled to possibly see the victim's family, where we found his brother and niece grieving in a nearby neighborhood bodega. (This image would make the front page of the next day's paper.) Then that same evening we got a tip in the newsroom, that there were a ton of police cars at a house just a few steps from our main office. The reporter and I showed up on the street, and within minutes, Middletown and State Police removed one of the murder suspects from the house in shackles and handcuffs. On Wednesday I was up before the sun and back on the road to Middletown to be the first one at a new mosque to photograph the Muslim holiday prayer celebration, Eid al-Fitr, (audio slideshow below in separate player) and another law enforcement assignment brought me to the law office of a longtime local judge in a nasty election campaign for the county Surrogate Court seat. This was a good gig and offered me the opportunity to put up two portable strobes in the judge's law library to make a nice series of portraits of one of the true movers & shakers here in our coverage area.

On Thursday, on a more humanistic approach, I spent some time with a young couple and their 4 year-old son, who recently had a brain tumor removed and is undergoing chemotherapy & radiation treatments. On top of that, the boy's father just lost his job as a mechanic at a local Ford dealership, as they closed suddenly due in part to the national financial crisis.

The week is still unfolding, as we've had another police involved shooting just this morning. (early Saturday.) I will add a separate slideshow of the week's work ASAP. Here's the piece from the mosque in Middletown, NY:

*(Click in the text above or click the arrow at the lower left of the player to start the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the captions button at lower right of the player. Remember to turn up your audio for the 5-minute piece. -cg.)

Here's the rest of the week's work.

*(This is an updated player w/o audio, but will also play automatically by clicking the arrow at lower left to start the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the captions button at lower right of the player. -cg.)