Well here we are in 2014. I haven’t really been into the blogging much these last few months, however, I have a really good reason: I’ve been insanely busy.
The irony though is I actually have less to show for it than I normally would… The latter half of this past semester was focused on writing, multimedia and longer form photo pieces. Meaning while I was busy it was doing things, like calling sources, conducting interviews and video editing as opposed to just taking pictures.
I am feeling a little more refreshed after the winter break and upon my return to Belleville my roommate and I and stumbled onto some news. This morning after breakfast we noticed a huge plume of smoke rising about eight blocks away and decided to check it out.
Frankly Chris (my roommate) and I hesitated to leave, it was minus 30 today and we’re still on vacation. However, we ended up trekking out. By the time we got there the fire department had already cordoned off the block.
I spoke with some neighbors who were huddling in the cold, they speculated on the cause of the fire. They also told me everyone made it out safe, with the possible exception of one of the neighbors cats.
We didn’t stay long because of the cold. However, sitting at my kitchen table editing I was able to watch as the smoke plume dwindled over the course of an hour or two from the comfort of my own home.
Now, rolling back the clock a bit to early October, we had a news video assignment due for multimedia class. We had to find a community event and shoot and edit a short news video about the event. So I did some research and found a small concert series that was kicking off an eight-month season of monthly shows featuring local musicians. It was a really fun assignment and good chance to further improve my video skills, which is a medium I am growing to love more and more.
As October wore on I dove into one of our major, and cross-platform, assignments. It was called Sense of Place and we had to visually connect a Belleville resident with a significant place in their life in town.
I found Lois Foster, a wonderful lady who has become one of the cities best known archivists (which is important in a small town with a big past). Her home was once a veterinary hospital staffed by her and her husband, they ran the clinic for 40 years before her husband died nine years ago. She still occupies the house that they shared and worked out of.
At the time I thought it was a really touching story about love, commitment and devotion and their story reminded me of my own maternal grandparents.
Underscoring this whole term has been a news photo assignment we needed complete. The spot news assignment requires you to get a photo of an unplanned news event. Really the only challenge is in finding the event, after you show up just get a good angle/vantage point and wait for the decisive moment.
I had a big telephoto on that, to give you an idea of what I mean here is a photo from my Instagram that I took showing the view I had without a telephoto.
In addition to videos and stories, I’ve been working on a documentary project about the issue of gender dysphoria, which in a nutshell, is a disorder where someone is born the wrong sex. The story is a work in progress and I have more images here. Below is a portrait of the subject of this story, a trans-man named Martin.
That project sprang from one I started working on last year, also for class, on a drag queen in Ottawa named Savannah Couture. I have a written profile and photo story here. However, when it came time for us to do our final video this semester I thought it would be interesting to go and check out one of her performances with my camera, below is the result.
Also please check out this group project I had the pleasure of collaborating on, it’s a sweet story about a former CN brake man who now runs the Belleville model train society.
Finally with the passing of 2013 I feel it’s time to declare a theme, for me, it was the year of the car. In January 2013 I bought my first ever car, a 1996 Mazda 626 DX. It was a gutless, featureless, rust-bucket that cost less than most of my lenses. But she bore me safely across 50 000km (Largely from trips to Ottawa) and through my summer in Toronto. In October the problems started. First a leaky tranny line, then the exhaust rusted off then I was told the engine sub-frame was rotten and needed replacing (about $1000…) however, when they took it apart I was informed the rust had spread further than they knew, in short, it was terminal. We went for a final ride, and then I stripped her of her logos and useful components before dropping her off to be scrapped.
It took a month of concerted effort, but it was worth it, for the same price I paid for my 5D mkII I found a 1996 Acura (Honda) Integra RS, so for you Honda nerds that means there’s no Vtec, although I don’t care because I don’t wanna burn oil, use premium fuel or need to drive at 5500 rpm with any regularity. That being said, the previous owner added a short ram air intake, heders, custom exhaust and three strut bars. The car has a lot of power for a 1.8L and literally floats on air around corners and because it’s a hatchback, I still have the same cargo space I had in my 626. It’s also the first manual transmission I’ve ever driven, and I am hooked, I never want to drive automatic again.
So last semester was a tough one, but standing on the edge of 2014 with a bad ass new car, and a confident set of skills I’m pretty excited for what 2014 has in store.
I spent the last Thursday to Sunday with the Red Cross unit here in Nosara. Here is some key background about healthcare in Nosara: Healthcare in Costa Rica is universal, provided by the state. Doctors and hospital services are allocated based on population size and density. In Nosara, a town with a fluctuating population (due to tourism) health service are few. The Red Cross (a non-governmental organization) set up to provide basic, essential, paramedic and emergency services. However, due to the lack of adequate healthcare in the region they have slowly become the main providers of health services in Nosara and surrounding areas. They cover everything from pregnancy, injuries, illness, even hospice services. The government only reimburses the Red Cross for emergency services and the organization itself survives on donations and volunteers. As a result, the Red Cross in Nosara has had to cut back on non-essential services in recent years. The people of Nosara put the blame on the Red Cross, in reality the government has failed to provide adequate healthcare to the people of Nosara and are content to let the Red Cross shoulder their blame.
Thursday: A simple affair, I followed Victor Hugo, a full-time paramedic, as he went about his evening shift. Thursday’s are typically slow. He dealt with a dog bite and a sick infant then made dinner and relaxed.
Friday: A quiet day for most of it. In the evening I hoped in the back of a local’s SUV with Hugo. The Red Cross has limited ambulances and on Friday they were all out (one was in repair, two were making trips to the nearest hospital, 60km away and the fourth was on a call). The SUV took us to a house in Santa Marta, a neighborhood outside Nosara, inside a family’s matriarch was dying of emphysema. Hugo told me after she had a week, maybe less. He hooked her up to an oxygen tank, explained its use to the family and left. I didn’t shoot a single frame, something about it seemed wrong, as there were 15 members of the family standing around me watching. Although I had permission to take Hugo’s picture, I did not have the matriarch’s permission, I chose to respect her privacy.
Saturday: Another slow day, the crew at the office busied themselves with maintenance and cleaning. At dusk I followed David Perez Montiel, a volunteer paramedic, to the Nosara soccer field. The Red Cross sponsor’s a kids soccer team as part of a community outreach effort, he brought pop to give out to the kids at the end of the game. That night the Red Cross had six different calls and had to make two trips to the hospital in Nicoya, 60km away.
Sunday Morning: I was offered breakfast, consisting of fried pork and fried cheese in a tortilla, as well as a trip home to Guiones beach in the ambulance. On our way back, as we rounded the second to last corner, the road was filled with police and firefighters. I realized this was the fire my boss had texted me about earlier that morning. Because there hadn’t been any injuries the Red Cross wasn’t called, I asked them to stop and I hopped out and started shooting. Unfortunately, I missed the flames, which had been doused by 8-8:30, I arrived at 10:30 and was only able to catch firefighters dousing hotspots.
This one was my favourite because of the faces.
I also saw the paper copy for this month; I have about 90% of the photo credits in it… Now its back to work.