Been a pretty random two weeks since my return from the States and Venezuela. Really just been trying to get back on track with my projects. But it’s been nice to explore Vietnam with a refreshed sense of inquisitiveness.
When I talk about Vietnam these days, I can’t have a single conversation without bringing up the words “urban development”. I guess it’s what every country goes through eventually but I have never been able to witness it first hand. The problem with development is that it often comes with collateral damage. I have no answers on how to minimize this aspect, I can only photograph what I see.
I have always had a fascination with Mt. Everest. There is just something about being on top of the world that is ever appealing. So when I finally decided fly to Nepal with two weeks notice, I knew that this birthday would be one to remember. Operation Everest Base Camp would commence with the intention to reach Base Camp on October 29, 2009. I will preface this by admitting that I have not seen the inside of a gym in more than 6 months and the last mountain I climbed was more than 3 years ago. But I was determined to trek and do so without a guide or porters.
I grew up in newspapers. I learned my photography in newspapers. But with those lessons came rules and boundaries. I had placed myself in this proverbial box dictated by the hierarchy of gatekeepers who think they know what the readership wants to consume. The very same are now watching their newspapers fall apart because change was not on the menu.
But you couldn’t tell me this. It was obvious, especially now when I look at my work. So structured. I hate it. I have to fight against the structure still. The cleanliness of the frame is like an infestation of termites. You don’t always notice it until it is ruined.
Now I want to preface this graph by saying this is not a slam on newspapers or the photojournalists who work for them. I can name one hundred newspaper photographers who excel at their job and more importantly make incredible contributions to communities all over the world. The fact is that newspapers were a comfort for me.
I could go years without ever coming up with my own projects. The assignments kept pouring in like clockwork. Then one day it hit me. I didn’t care any more. Didn’t care about the people I was photographing. Didn’t care about the issues that were important to them. I didn’t care. I had sold my soul to be comfortable and I couldn’t look myself in the eyes any more.