Monthly Archive for September, 2012

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Mette Frandsen – Sin City

Mette Frandsen

Sin City

ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

Mickey

I meet Mickey at a traffic light two blocks from the center of Las Vegas.

He’s carrying a heavy suitcase and the brutal and inhuman desert sun is making him sweat. He takes a break in the shadow. I ask him about the suitcase.

– I just found it in the dumpster, he tells me. It has a sticker on it: Fabulous Las Vegas!

Inside of the suitcase he finds a half-eaten pizza, soap and old worn out clothes. Mickey spends every day walking the streets of Las Vegas, looking in dumpsters for things he can use. Once he found a wedding dress. It was brand new.

Mickey came to Vegas ten years ago to drink him self to death. Today he’s homeless and located, together with his friends, on the corner of The Strip, the five-mile long stretch through Vegas with all the casinos.

Mickey shows me his right hand. You can’t count the knuckles, it’s that swollen.

– I had to get up and defend a lady because someone harassed her. In our ‘family’ we take care of each other. They paint each other’s toenails black with a marker, when one of them falls asleep – they think it’s funny.

The next time I meet Mickey, he’s skinny and the hair is long. The ‘family’ isn’t there anymore. I ask him, how he’s doing. He doesn’t say much but:

– I’ve lost track.

 

 

Don

Don had money. He moved to Vegas twelve years ago to play poker.

I can’t ask him what he did before he came to Vegas. That’s the only thing I can’t ask him. He lost his job when the recession hit and lived on the streets for about a year. He was scared and longed for the life he once had.

Don still plays poker. Not like before, but at cheaper gambling tables, where the stakes are lower. He meets women at the casinos, but they are all after the money, he says. He doesn’t like women of his own age, but prefers them younger.

Don thinks Las Vegas is a lonely place and when I ask him who his best friend is, he answers:

– My best friend is me! Me, me, me.

 

“There’s nothing fake about Las Vegas – it’s very real, welcome to Sin City”

 

 

Bio

I’m Mette Frandsen. 36 years old. Currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I teach at different workshops, lecture on my projects, do freelance jobs and work around the world.

• BA in photojournalism, Danish School of Journalism

• Attended Fatamorgana, Danish School of Documentary- and Art Photography

‘Sin City’ has won prizes and has been exhibited at selected locations and galleries in Denmark.

 

Mette Frandsen

 

dangerous current…

OUTER BANKS, NORTH CAROLINA  …. SEPTEMBER 2012

 

We are now in the process of building a separate page for the Family Drive project. We take off driving around Oct 1 for an online version of the process, but of course I am shooting all the time on it. This body of work has been modified a few times in the last three years and is even a traveling exhibit , large prints/ medium format film, yet evolution of idea and stance and raison d’être are in constant flux…Why? Because I change my mind.

Rather make up my mind. Do what will come most natural. Reflect the feelings I have about family in the broadest sense. This new project will absolutely not be what you might imagine it would be. I just cannot do, will not do, a traditional look at American families as I originally intended. An evolution of an idea is not the end of an idea and I always knew I needed another “moving part”. Not more moving parts, less moving parts, but a different moving part. Simple.

Driving across country to take pictures is a really really old old idea. Everybody’s fantasy , and almost everybody has done it. Including many non-Americans, starting with Robert Frank. Kerouac, Pirsig, Steinbeck, Thompson, Twain, Least Heat Moon, Kuralt, hell American travelers are many. Still the road beckons somehow. Crossing America North is a THING. Hard to explain, but a real thing. I guess it is because it is the WAY the place was “discovered”. Folks went West. Guns blazing. Kick ass. Wagons packed. Mud, blood, and beer, all the way, the American way.

Who among us cannot get caught up in the current election process? I mean, this time it really is a defining election. Oh I doubt the country would really change no matter. I lived in Washington for 15 years, and I know for sure that Washington is Washington and protected by all who reside no matter red nor blue. It really is one big club. Yet still this moment is as defining as I can remember. It will set a tone one way or the other. So my journey will blast right into the heart of it and will be over just as a prez is chosen by “we the people”….

The trip across will NOT be the whole book of course…It is just for others to join here online and see a thinking process. Like my riobook online , intended to be a bit of a workshop or educational experience. Unlike riobook , this will be open and free.

So join us online. Jump in with questions. Show up and buy us lunch (please).

Or, show up first at the Bubble Lounge in New York on September 24th. A Rio blast with all the characters from (based on a true story) live and present  and dancing and well, be there! Not to be missed if you are in New York. Oh yes, a cast of characters present that you might imagine if you were imagining…This is a manifestation of my last online adventure. I try always to turn my fantasies into realities…Oftentimes a real mistake, yet sometimes just right…Find out :)

-dah-

 

Ira Block – 9/11: Faces of Hope

Ira Block

Faces of Hope

Thousands of survivors have walked the difficult path of recovery since the September 11, 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center.

And although I began documenting this horrific event shortly after the attacks, focusing on the people who emerged from the burning twin towers alive proved to be not only a daunting, but also a highly emotional task. Previously, I shot a story on the efforts to rebuild the downtown area and I also photographed the Twin Towers of Light on the six month anniversary of the attacks, but this was a different challenge.

I started by photographing the personal objects that were carried out of the towers and also the items that were salvaged during the clean-up process from the rubble. A pair of men’s loafers worn during the escape from a crumbling tower, a framed family picture carried by a woman whose thoughts were of surviving for her children, a crushed fireman’s helmet discovered buried under debris, all speak of the personal experiences that keep the memory of history vivid and fresh, even as the immediacy of tragedy fades.

Taking these pictures was a very emotional experience for me, knowing that some of the items I was shooting belonged to people who had perished. I had access to Hangar 17 at Kennedy International Airport, where some of the large pieces of the Twin Towers were being stored. Photographing what were once the two tallest buildings in the world, now reduced to fragments of metal was unnerving. I began to realize that documenting personal items and pieces of the Towers was not giving me the mood I wanted to achieve. It was too somber, too devastating. Ten years after the tragedy, my goal was to focus on the positive. To achieve this, I shifted my perspective to the living.

If these photos have a mission, it if this: to capture the images of the survivors, those who have moved forward anchored by faith, fortitude or family and those who still struggle with a healing process that remains painful, drawn out and elusive. Each has a story to tell.

Following the 10 year anniversary of the attacks, these photos were exhibited at Fotocare in New York City.

 

 

Bio

Ira Block is an internationally renowned photojournalist, teacher, and workshop leader who has produced over 30 stories for the National Geographic Magazine and its affiliates N.G. Traveler and Adventure.

He began his career as a newspaper photographer, earning numerous press club awards. As an expert in lighting, Ira is sought after for assignments ranging from shooting ancient artifacts in Greece to photographing dinosaur fossils in the Gobi desert and documenting Moche mummies in Peru. His momentous coffee table book “Saving America’s Treasures” was a collaborative effort among the Clinton White House, National Geographic Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Ira’s unique vision and outstanding lighting skills have made him the “go to photographer” for complex assignments.

He taught the first creative, digital photography class at the School for Visual Arts in New York City and is frequently called upon to review and critique the latest digital cameras and lenses. He works closely with National Geographic Expeditions lecturing and teaching photography around the world. Ira has also taught workshops in Bangkok and Maine, Abu Dhabi and San Diego, Boston, Seattle and New York City.

In addition to his editorial work Ira shoots commercial and corporate images, portraits, promotional materials and advertising for leading institutions. He also produces corporate digital webcast videos. His photographic exhibit “Faces of Hope”, portraits of survivors and images of objects retrieved from the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy, are part of the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

His most recent story in the October National Geographic “Earth Before the Ice”, investigates a prehistoric global warming. Ira lives in New York City with his wife and is a frequent blogger on the latest digital camera equipment and gear, lighting techniques, and creative vision in photography.

 

Related links

Ira Block

 

Liberty sunrise..

From my archives. I managed to get  permission to get my helicopter in close to the statue for a story I was doing on National Parks special edition  for NatGeo. A spectacular morning as I recall.

On 9/11 I was in New York having breakfast with photographer Ira Block. See his essay on the survivors of the Twin Towers tomorrow here on Burn.

OFF FOR A FAMILY DRIVE…

Too bad I just can’t sit still. Nobody likes more than do I to relax and party and play games and just enjoy life. No matter where I am in the world, images of my  cats sitting on the front porch will pop in my head while I am walking down the Champs-Élysées. I have on several occasions literally turned my car around on the way to the airport and just gone back home and “called in sick” so to speak. Yup, I am a homebody. I never did like the idea of leaving wherever I was at the time. So if home, I hate to leave, and if anywhere else , I hate to leave there too.

A dichotomy? Not really. I tend to make a “home” and a “family” wherever I am. My mother, pictured above in my 1958 family album, always told me that I would always be late coming home as a kid and never never come back even now from wherever when I say I will. Something always keeps me. Yet to be home is my favorite thing. So no wonder I confuse everyone, including myself, when I come up with some idea that is going to take me away. Now is such a time.

For sure the presses only stopped about 4 months ago on my (based on a true story) and anyone in their right mind would be running around doing promo stuff for their recent book. Yet once I am finished with the creative part of anything, I quickly yearn for the next. Need my fix. Just one more time. Please let me have just one more time.

So off we go. Yes “we”. The family that is with me now on my front porch at home. Not my blood family as above, but an integral part of my extended family which includes half the readers here on Burn, my Magnum colleagues, NatGeo friends, my ex wife, ex girlfriends, workshop students, a whole bunch of people I met in a wide variety of ways and of course my loving and super patient blood family. Whew! Yea, it really does get out of hand. Not my fault. My mother in the photograph above, now almost 93, just this week fixed lunch at her home in Colorado for her dentist and his assistants. So, it runs in the family.

In three weeks Candy Pilar Godoy and Lawrence Sumulong and Mr. Tony “Skater” and Panos Skoulidas and I will leave New York City in a 23 foot camper van and in the traditional American way, head west. To Los Angeles. A 4-6week odyssey. Exact route unknown. Exact schedule non-existent. Number of folks who follow either here on Burn or down the highway literally is a number to be guessed. We got the van. I am in the mood. I have a team. So, isn’t that enough to go in search of more for my Off For A Family Drive book to be?

How can I get anything done if I have an entire entourage? Easy. The group with me IS my family. IS my subject. Yes I will be shooting various types of families all across the country for the book and possible film yet having many around me in this case will only help my work. Be a part of the work. Candy for example was my digi assistant in Rio for the online saga we did there and ended up as a muse and cover of the book. So she is on her second project inside a year. Lawrence , twice my student at workshops, is now assisting me in getting my archive up to date for Magnum. Mr. Skater is a pro skateboarder and art dealer and my bodyguard sometimes in Rio and well, just a great old buddy. Panos Skoulidas I met here as a commentator for Burn and is the most unlikely person and yet the most likely person to somehow end up on a cross country jaunt that will have us end up at Venice Beach where his essay still rules.

I always liked those movies where two characters wanted to rob a bank and they needed three more to help with the heist. So they had to go find the others. Each one had a speciality. This is THAT kind of movie. An unlikely cast of characters, yet good vibes all around. And it is ONLY good vibes which provide any kind of environment where I can do my thing. The only thing I really know how to do.

Has the plot been written? What do you think? Will others join? What do you think?

So I am off on this road trip to photograph and interview American families. All kinds. If  a group of any kind “thinks” they are a family, then I think they are a family. Do you know a family that’s interesting? Has a story to tell? Let us know at dahontheroad@gmail.com.

For sure Off For A Family Drive will be a moveable feast. It was the first time when I was 14 and shot the original album with my used Leica IIIF as a Christmas gift for my grandparents. It will be this time as well.  To close the circle . To open the door.

Join us here on Burn. We promise to give you a great ride.

-dah-