30 January 2010

Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 30•Jan.•10

This is Port-au-Prince today, two and a half weeks after the earthquake that killed an estimated 200,000 people. More on all this later when I return to CONUS and am able to add a slideshow here to the blog. These are the images that we all as photojournalists push ourselves to create. No matter where it is when the call comes. I was last here in 1999 and prior to that in 1993 with two former colleagues on my first international shooting assignment. "Thanks Funch for encouraging me to tag along on that first trip back then. I have felt your spirit here all week..." -cg.


29 January 2010

Haiti. 29•Jan.•10

Bon Jour from Fond Parisien, Haiti. We didn't have internet for most of the day yesterday, so I fell a little behind in the editing / transmitting routine from here on the border of the DR. (Dominican Republic.) Here's an idea of how it looks from my end to be working here, documenting the work of trauma and orthopedic surgeons operating on Haitian earthquake victims.

I haven't worked this hard since, well, my last volunteer surgical mission... -cg.

27 January 2010

Haiti. Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010

Fond Parisien, Haiti: Putting in a lot of hours. It is not easy. It's hot, dirty and tiring, but the rewards are many. The smiles and the happy glances from the grateful Haitians acknowledging that this surgical team is helping them here in an IDP (Interally Displaced Persons) camp in the mountains is immeasurable. That is why I am here. -cg.

26 January 2010

"Haiti..." January 2010.

Young Haitian orphaned boy at the Love a Child Health Center in Fond Parisien, Haiti on Tuesday, January 26, 2010. An Operation Smile orthopedic and plastic surgical team from Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA are in Haiti treating victims of the 7.0 earthquake earlier this month.
© Chet Gordon for Operation Smile

Fond Parisien, Haiti. Welcome back to Haiti - This is truly "The Zone..." (more on this mere phrase later.) Returning to Haiti two weeks after the massive earthquake that struck this island nation is obviously overpowering - almost traumatic if you will. From earlier posts you'll know that I'd traveled here in the Fall of 1993 on my first international self-assigned shooting trip. More like a mission. Or a calling, if you will. The images that are constantly produced here by any number of photographers are always powerful. Haiti tests your strengths and passion as a photographer, even if you don't realize it at the time. There is something about the people, the language, and oh this beautiful Caribbean light here. But I am not here on a mere nostalgia visit. This is the real deal, because as the world knows - the shit really hit the fan here two weeks ago. That is why I am here. Without question, without hesitation. Working as a volunteer for Operation Smile of Norfolk, VA means the world to me. Always has throughout my career. It has all sort of been a blur through the weekend and the continual travel, last minute change of plans and logistical nightmares of sorts so far. The medical team I'm documenting are settled into refugee camp called the Love a Child Heath Center about 20 kilometers from the Dominican Republic border, here in the mountainous region of Haiti. Most of the team are now sleeping in tents left by a team from Camden, NJ that pulled out today after two weeks here in country. That's right, I said American trauma and plastic surgeons as well nursing staff are sleeping out under the stars. I prefer and empty storage room we've converted from a classroom in one of the buildings on the grounds of this compound. In fact, we were initially going to work at a field hospital on the Dominican Republic side of the border, but when the need was realized here by our administrative and advance people, swift decisions were made to move the team here for the duration of their stay.

It's late. I feel extremely lucky to have internet connectivity and hoping it'll be reliable for the rest of the week. I'll work hard to add a few more posts here during the week on the blog, after I've moved files to the client. You can read more of how this mission is going for Operation Smile here in Haiti by going Here. -cg.


24 January 2010

"En Route to Haiti..." 24•Jan.•10

Operation Smile warehouse workers unload cargo from a tractor-trailer onto a waiting SWIFT AIR Boeing 737-400 charter aircraft at Norfolk International Airport in Norfolk, VA on Sunday, January 24, 2010. An orthopedic surgical team and support personnel from Penn State are en route to Haiti after the 7.0 earthquake earlier this month. © Chet Gordon for Operation Smile

Writing from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, en route to Haiti. I am traveling with a small team of orthopedic surgeons and support staff from Penn State University, all volunteering our time for Operation Smile to get to Haiti to do what they can in treating the thousands upon thousands of traumatic injuries we're likely to see from the earthquake on December 12th. Arrived here earlier tonight from Norfolk, VA on a chartered Boeing 737 aircraft (above & left) that is primarily used to fly pro sports teams based in the Arizona market around the country. It was truly a first class operation, and most of us weary travelers forget about the few days we've been in Virginia awaiting air transportation into Haiti after the Marines pulled their offer to fly us directly into Port-au-Prince on Friday evening. It was a whirlwind to even be asked to document this mission for longtime client Operation Smile, as I literally got the call on Thursday afternoon in New York while working, and by close of business that day, Operation Smile people had me booked on a 10:20AM flight Friday morning to get to Norfolk to met up with the medical team, as our initial departure for Haiti was to be Friday night...
Tomorrow is an extremely early call as we're scheduled to meet the cargo that accompanied us on the plane and begin the overland journey to Haiti. We are expecting a least a 3 or 4 hour drive to the border. I'll do my best to send images to the Operation Smile offices back in Norfolk, as well as blogging when I can here. Stay tuned. -cg.

18 January 2010

Onè Respe: A Photographic Benefit for the Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake

When last week's massive 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, rescue & humanitarian workers from around the world stepped up immediately - some arriving within 24 hours. Photographers from the world's premiere picture agencies, newspapers & wire services raced to the island nation as well. The images coming out of the capital city Port-au-Prince and outlaying countryside are just heart wrenching. Everyday. Doesn't matter who's making the images- it all hurts. Those of you that know my career, know of my past trips to Haiti, and the stories I've told of the impoverished island nation. Fast-forward to the present. Fellow photographer Lane Hartwell in the Bay Area contacted me and asked would I donate a few of my images for a fund raising magazine for the American Red Cross that she was producing. Without hesitation I hustled to send her a few of my favorite images from Haiti that I'd made back in 1993. I only wish I had more of those wonderful old chromes scanned and ready to go as high res digital files. In fact, that personal trip was my first international shooting assignment. These are preview pages of my images made on that trip that are included in the magazine. (Click each page to see a larger view):

I do hope that you'll visit the magazine publisher's link HERE and purchase a copy. All proceeds from sales of the magazine will benefit the American Red Cross International Response Fund to help the work ahead in Haiti. Especially now with such grim images coming in we wanted to give a glimpse into the lives of the Haitian people and hope for what is possible. These photographs show the sense of family and community, the sheer happiness of the Haitian children in spite of the extreme poverty in their country. -cg.

16 January 2010

"And on the Sixth Day..." Jan. 16, 2010.

Christina Bookal walks back to her apartment after a prayer service organized by Chaplain Crisis Response Ministries at Bookal's Benkard Ave. home in the City of Newburgh, NY on Saturday, January 16, 2010. Bookal is the mother of 4 year-old Marc Bookal, who went missing on December 14th. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

As I'd written last month on this story of the 4 year-old missing child case, "This One Hurts..."
I am still occasionally on the story of little Marc Anthony Bookal who went missing from his home back on December 14, 2009. It has been some week for news (and sports for that matter) and the good pictures from select assignments keep happening. Since this is the biggest story I'm on so far this new year and is actually a continuation from late last year, including a few in my POY (Pictures of the Year.) I have to visit and post some of the images here and highlight how the case is going.

14 January 2010

Haiti. Oct. 1993.

In October 1993 I traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti with two colleagues on my first personal international shooting trip. I remember walking the streets in Cite Soleil, Cite Carton, Bel Air, Delmas and of course Petionville. Working in Haiti on that first self assigned project changed my personal perspectives on approaching long-term projects and of course working in a poverty stricken country. Six years later I returned with an NGO client and moved about the familiar neighborhoods. I know of the landmark buildings, like the Presidential Palace in central Port-au-Prince that have collapsed in this week's earthquake.

As Haitians tonight are living in the streets after Tuesday's devastating earthquake, my heart is aching for the people there. I know from working at earthquakes in Turkey and El Salvador, as well as Hurricane Mitch in Honduras,
and down in the Gulf Coast States a few months after Hurricane Katrina, it'll be a slow rebuilding process for this Caribbean country with it's unimaginable living conditions, minimal infrastructure, and no economy to speak of.

I am waiting to hear from colleagues working there and a few that are in transit now. Think of the people in Haiti and what they're enduring now and what they're faced with for the months, if not years to come.
I am. -cg.


*Ironically the following image from the '93 trip was the first one I selected from the archives back in October to introduce "Rewind", occasionally highlighting photographs that may not be in the main portfolio. ~cg. 14 Jan. 10

REWIND - Images from the Archive.

Cockfighters. Port-au-Prince, Haiti. October 1993.

Presenting REWIND - Images from the Archive.
I've thought for the longest time on how to showcase some of my favorite images here on the blog that aren't particularly in the working portfolio for one reason or another. Look for this occasional feature where I'll highlight a single image from the archives that's meant a lot throughout my career. Enjoy. -cg.

10 January 2010

"Hoops du Jour 2009-2010"

Welcome to the beginning of the 2009 - 2010 High School (and college) basketball season. I've been waiting for a long time to get back into the local gyms in our coverage area for games and practices. Well, maybe some of them.
Others are just plain nightmares and challenges to work in for photographers. Probably started thinking about working games this winter back before the Army - Navy game in mid December. OK, now that the season is in full swing, and I've covered a few games, here's how it's all panning out so far, particularly schlepping in lights to all the games I've covered to date. Makes a big difference in improving my keeper rate of images shot at these games, including shooting both ends of the court. Also, a breaking story of sorts materialized here for the state champion Newburgh Free Academy Goldbacks, as transfer student Devon McMillan of Uniondale, Long Island joined the team last week. NFA defeated Uniondale last March up in Glens Falls, NY in the state semi-final game and eventually won their first championship the following day when they handed #1 ranked Niagara Falls a 20 - point whipping. Upon hearing that news last week, I immediately retrieved a few file images of McMillan (left) from that game in case our guys end up writing about the kid.

Yesterday was a quick feature at the local YMCA on
former Middletown HS player Ryan Rhoomes (right, and below) who now plays in Queens at Benjamin Cardozo HS. You're going to hear a lot about this kid as several big schools are recruiting him. He's one of the top prospects in the talent-rich five boroughs in the city. West Virginia, St. John's, Providence, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati have already made him full scholarship offers. Rhoomes is averaging 16.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocks this season. Ironically his former Middletown team is undefeated so far without him up here in Orange County.

Tuesday night it's Minisink Valley vs. Kingston girls up at Kingston HS and the final regular season matchup between rivals Stefanie Dolson of Minisink and Rachel Coffey of Kingston. Dolson (lower left) is headed to UCONN next season and Coffey (right) to Syracuse,
so this is definitely going to be a special night to work.

It's going to be fun the rest of the w
ay photographing both boys & girls basketball up here along the Hudson that's for sure. -cg.

01 January 2010

"Recapping My 2009..."

*"Oh No, Not another look at a photographer's "Best of 2009" post out here in cyberspace...!"

Yea, I figured it was time to get around to sifting through my favorite 10, 20, uh, probably more like 40+ favorite images from the past year. Hey, It's my blog, right...? After a bit of teeth-clenching, sleepless nights, and laying on the delete key to whittle down my favorite 6 for the paper and then 10 to post over at SportsShooter, here are the images that truly meant the most to me in 2009. In all seriousness it was an extremely rewarding year for making photographs - and that's what all this is about in the first place, isn't it...? There were days where I couldn't wait to get out of bed - way before sunrise - to head out on the job. Shoot, there were a few long haul nights again last year where I didn't get to sleep at all (see: The Newburgh Bombers' Bust - Here.) or napped in the car after logging more than 1,000 miles for three days of coverage up in Glens Falls, NY for the HS State Basketball Championship Tournament games, including installing arena strobes & remote cameras alone. Worked assignments that routinely called for two, and sometimes three cameras (see: remotes for HS basketball and feverishly installed a remote for an unforgettable hot air balloon ride Here.) The highlight of the year for equipment overkill on one assignment was covering my third West Point Graduation & Commissioning ceremony in Michie Stadium, where I arrive with five cameras, and enough supporting gear to open a small curbside camera shop. Slipped away from it all in June to get the passport stamped again for a week in Bermuda. There were stories that touched me & grabbed my heart, and countless people who went out of their way to offer a kind word, share much needed laughs, hold a ladder, loan me gear, or put something in writing about the work. Continued the most basic mindset to be in the right place at the right time when I could - and probably more importantly, worked my butt off to be in that place to not only witness firsthand but to capture those oh so special fleeting moments that we as photographers live for. Realized again that it's not all luck at this level, and just as Sports Illustrated photographer Bill Frakes told me in a lecture years ago when I was still pretty green in this business, "Luck is where opportunity meets preparation..." I never forgot that.

I trust that some of the following images in the click-thru slideshow will leave an impression on you as well. *(Click the image or the arrows at the bottom left of the player to manually scroll through the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the captions button at lower right of the player. You can stop the small continuous slideshow in the right column by clicking the pause II button under that player.)

Here's the video again that the paper put together where sports writer Kevin Gleason and I talk about HS player Will Bouton's game winning 3-point shot with two seconds remaining, to knock off arch rival Mt. Vernon in the state playoff quarterfinals. (first two pictures in the above slideshow) What made these two sports pictures particularly sweet was that NFA went on to win the State Championship up in Glens Falls, NY. This game exemplified their full roster of talent, unselfishness as a team, and a picture I surely needed to have. Talk about being in "the Zone..."

I am already looking forward to the challenges of the new year 2010... Happy New Year & Don't touch that dial! -cg.