WOW! It has been over 8 months since I posted a blog post. It has been an incredibly BUSY and wonderful year. Between my corporate, public relations and concert photography, I co-led my first International photo tour with my www.InFocusVisions.com partner Fredda Gordon and we went to CUBA! Fredda and I started our company 2 years ago teaching local workshops and took it international this year. We had an amazing time and our group photographed and experienced the people, culture, food and life of Cuba. We are planning another tour in February 2017-stay tuned to www.infocusvisions.com and Facebook for more info and registration soon.
In March I photographed the wedding of my Sorority sister Rebecca Hampton to her love, Richard. It was a wonderful wedding with great people.
Bruce Springsteen used 2 of my images as the cover shot of 2 live CDs he released this year. One found him going deep into my archives to pick anever before published photo. He then went out on tour as THERIVER2016. The River was my first tour in 1980 as a college Freshman, and the first time I ever shot him so I was very excited to see this tour. The timing wasn't supposed to work out since I was to head off to Peru on assignment for cmmb.org but luck was on my side-we had a major snowstorm which delayed my trip. The shows were excellent. When he came back to the area to play stadiums, I found myself going again and was thrilled to capture some images with fans he pulled up on stage.
In late September he released his autobiography "Born To Run" and was embarking on a "meet and greet" book tour where he was going to meet fans and have his photo taken with them. I was so skeptical at first and wondered "why is he doing this" but after shooting the first one at the Barnes and Noble on Rt 9 in his hometown of Freehold, NJ, I found myself saying "this is amazing. He is giving so much to his fans." He was engaging, he smiled, he spent time-and he posed for photos with his fans. When the book tour is over, he will have met and posed for photos with over 10,000 fans. Who does this? It's been quite some time since I have felt the total excitement others felt, but seeing and photographing this has brought back the excitement I have been missing for so long. THANK YOU BRUCE.
I hope you all enjoy an assortment of photos from the last few months...
Rebecca and Richard's wedding
Lorene Scafaria, Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne
Bannerman Castle Dave Navarro Mark Ruffalo sad day when we heard that Prince died The talented Linda Chorney Paul Ford--from my archives
Darren Criss at Elsie fest Karen Mansfield...a major talent Sting CUBA! It was amazing Bruce Springsteen used 2 of my photos on the cover of his Live CDs this year Bruce pulled up college student Matthew Aucoin to play "No Surrender" and Matthew was fantastic Bruce meets and greets fans...many of whom are friends
For the second time in less than 5 months, I packed my cameras and headed off on assignment for cmmb.org. In October, I shot for them in Haiti and it was life changing. CMMB helps women and children with healthcare, medicine and education. Needless to say, when I was asked again if I wanted to shoot for them-this time in Peru, I jumped on it. We were supposed to leave at the end of January and then the massive snow storm hit, grounding all flights. The only positive thing about that was I managed to shoot 2 Bruce Springsteen shows which was great-he is doing the entire "The River" album and that was the first tour I ever shot and attended in 1980.
In Peru, no matter where you head to, you start and end in Lima. We flew in and had a day to unwind, taking in the sights and meeting some great people.The Catacombs in Lima
Community Health Worker Sara administrating iron since anemia is a serious health problem for children under 3 in Huancayothe ecological toilet that members of CMMB's CHAMPS program learn how to build, and use Peusto de la Salud Clas La Esperanza....women and children waiting in line at the clinic in the hills of Huancayo
CMMB has several therapists who are really making a difference in the lives of women and children. The activities they have are just amazing, and to see so many kids who were once 100% dependent on someone else thrive is just remarkable. Above, Rayda and her daughter Daniela, 8 embrace. Daniela has a learning disability and before working with CMMB, Rayda told us that she viewed and treated Daniela more like a pet and now she realizes that Daniela can learn and feel just like others. She is very grateful that CMMB educated her.
Auria, 47, and her son Jordy, 15. He is the youngest of 5 children. Jordy has mental retardation. Since working with CMMB he has started to talk, learned his colors and is able to care for himself. These new abilities will now allow him to go to school.
Theresa, 45, with her son Kenji, who is 7 and he has Downs Syndrome. Theresa says thanks to the CMMB's therapists, he can now walk, and talk and is almost able to say complete sentences.
We then left Huancayo and I have to be honest-I was looking forward to it. I had a really bad case of altitude sickness and it was nothing like I expected. I thought it would be like a bad asthma attack but I was wrong. EVERY part of my body hurt...from my little toe to strands of hair. It was hard to imagine I would ever feel better but as soon as we landed back in Lima and then headed to Trujillo, I felt better. In fact, in Trujillo, I felt better than I can ever remember! We went up in the hills. The higher up one lives, the less they have. It always amazes me when I meet people that have basically nothing yet they are warm, inviting, and gracious. They would give you the shirt off their back if needed. If only those who "have it all" would always do the same.
The people of Peru are so loving. Everywhere we met, we were greeted with hugs, kisses on the cheeks...and the same when we left. The children were full of laughter and smiles. It breaks my heart to see how so many of them live and struggle, but warms my heart to see how loving and gracious and happy they are.Jherick, age 7, and his pigeon (above) and brotherly love-with is younger brother, Asher, age 5
Miranda, age 9, uses the hygiene station that her family learned how to build and use from CMMB
Elvira, a mother of 5 children wondered why she left her house in the mountains to come to Trujillo where life was just as difficult for her family. Then she became a participant of CMMB's healthy home program which had greatly improved her family's quality of life.
Betsy, age 18, with Leon, age 5 months. As a young single mother, Betsy appreciates the information and support she gets from CMMB. CMMB has been impressed with her positive mothering skills and interest in learning and improving her life.
Maria Elena, age 32 is the mother of 2 kids, Andy Lionel, age 3 and Miva Nicole, age 11. Below, she is cooking a healthy meal in her kitchen that CMMB taught her
Alejandrina, 35, and a mother of 4 children. Raul is 12 and has CP. When Raul started working with CMMB 5 years ago he was curled into a fetal position with his fists clenched. After many years of physical therapy, progress has been made bit by bit and he is able to sit, bend and open and close his hands.
8 year old Ericka was born with microcephaly, which means her brain and skull did not fully develop. She has been working with CMMB for close to 5 years and she can now open her fists, sit, and support her head. She lives with her Grandmother and both Grandmother and Granddaughter work hard to improve Ericka's quality of life
Jany, 45 and a mother of 4 children. The youngest is 4 year old Juan de Dios. Juan has CP (Cerebral Palsy) Three years ago he couldn't walk and when he began working with CMMB he has learned to walk and talk. At night he wears special braces on his feet to his shins to help properly position the muscles so he can walk and stand better
Grimaldina, 41, a mother of 5 children. Her youngest daughter Luz Pamela is 4 years old and has CP. Luz Pamela was born normal and at 5 months old she was playing with a plastic bag and partially swallowed it and cut off her oxygen supply. The lack of oxygen caused her disabilities including loss of muscle control and speech. CMMB started working with her 7 months ago and the improvement, while not typical, has been dramatic. She can walk and stand with assistance and she understands everything that is told to her. She is very determined to do things by herself and for herself.
Elvira, a mother of 5 children wondered why she left her house in the mountains to come to Trujillo where life was just as difficult for her family. Then she became a participant of CMMB's healthy home program which had greatly improved her family's quality of life. Elvira in her bedroom in front of the closet that built from wood they found to allow them to have more order in their homeMiranda, age 9, and her bunny rabbit (above) and learning photography (below) A 93 year old Grandfather in his home in Trujillo, Peru On the hill in Trujillo, Peru Building a house on the hill in Trujillo, Peru
My second assignment for CMMB was another life changing shoot for me. The workers with CMMB that I have met from all over the world are amazing and such a committed group who want to make a difference in the lives of others. I don't think I have ever taken anything for granted but when I come back to NYC and see so many people with the "me me me" attitude, it makes me sad and sick. The people I have met and photographed in both Haiti and Peru-people who basically have nothing by our standards, are happy, loving, and giving. I think they can teach us all something so important.
Thanks to CMMB for these assignments....hopefully there will be more to come...but not in high altitudes!
2 weeks ago today on October 11, I headed off on American Airlines for 2 weeks in Haiti, on assignment for cmmb.org.
CMMB is a global, faith based health organization helping women and children lead healthier lives.
We flew into Port Au Prince and stayed one night at the Marriot which was a beautiful luxury hotel.
The next day, October 12, we headed to the Daughters of Charity in Cite Soleil where there were about 150 mothers with their young babies who come every day for heath care services and about another 50 women who come daily for pre natal care. Cite Soleil has about 400,000 residents and it is one of the poorest and most dangerous places in the Western Hemisphere and one of the biggest slums in the Northern Hemisphere. They also have a school on site for the kids and they were adorable. CMMB provides medicine to the women here that is donated by pharmaceutical companies. There is no sewer system here so most of the kids suffer from worms. Recently, the facility was broken into and the thieves robbed the place and beat the Nuns.
So many of the kids really grabbed my heart. 4 year old Dayana was just the cutest little thing and this little boy kept wanting to dance with me. I am not a dancer but I did my best and he had a constant smile.
Tuesday October 13-we left Port Au Prince for a 4 hour plus ride to Cote de fer. I remember asking if we would be stopping along the way to use the bathroom to be told “there is no where to stop along the way.” That comment was correct-there was NOTHING. Some of the roads weren’t even pathed. Cote de Fer has the Caribbean on one side and a LARGE mountain on the other. Approx 40,000 people live here-with 6000 in the “town” part and the other 34,000 live on what I will call “on the hill.” This hill is not small..it is MASSIVE and spread out over A LOT of area with awful terrain. I have NEVER experienced heat like this is my life and started to question “what am I doing? I can’t wait to go home.” CMMB helps families in Cote de fer and their Community Health Workers make the daily trek up the mountain to help out families up there. They supply the families with nutrition and help teach them a trade so they can start their own business to support their familes. Such trades include making bread to sell in the market, giving them goats that can be used for food or to breed and they can sell the off spring to raise money and a new program where they supply families with rabbits for the same purpose. There has been a 3 year drought (no rain) so it is dusty, dry and beyond sad. There are no cars, no electricity, no bathrooms, no running water, no corner store. It is not uncommon for a woman to walk her child 2.5 hours to school. Walk back the 2.5 hours to take care of chores, and then walk the 2.5 hours to get her child and walk home for another 2.5 hours. This is 10 hours of walking a day. I had a hard time with some of the hills. I live on a hill in NYC and my friends here me complain about it-these people would laugh if they saw my “hill” which is paved.
The homes were 2 rooms at best and if they had one bed, they were fortunate. Some houses were the homes to 10 people. The floors were cement, they didn’t have doors (maybe a sheet). I found it very sad but the people had love in their eyes. They love their families and their community.
We stayed at the Coby Resort right on the Caribbean and when we returned that night-the room was over 100 degrees. The air conditioning didn’t work. I almost felt guilty complaining but it was brutal. After 2 room changes, we finally settled in.
Wednesday October 14-Today is my 14th Wedding Anniversary and my wonderful husband and I spoke via Whatsapp early.
We were picked up and brought to the nearby office of CMMB where we saw the moringa trees that would be given out to familes on the hill. We went by and saw the construction of the new hospital being built-the Bishop Joseph Sullivan Hospital.
We met a pregnant 24 year old woman who was grateful for the education CMMB is providing her with. We went up and down the hill today in an amazing Toyota vehicle that our driver “Frank” handled like a pro visiting families that CMMB helps. Along the way we passed women and kids going to school (the kids are all dressed in uniforms with their hair in bows) and each kid we passed had a huge smile. We also saw people with their donkeys carrying the goods they bought at the market (Wednesday is market day in Cote de Fer) and lots of goats along the way. We even saw a street sign and it made us all laugh.
I brought some candy over with me but wish I had known how bad Cote de fer is-I would have bought over rice or something more substansial. The hotel packed us a sandwich for lunch and I was not hungry so I asked if we could give them our sandwiches. I was thrilled when Cindy, our CMMB leader said “that would be great.” The look on the face of the women and the children enjoying a sandwich was so heartwarming. I think it may have been their best meal in along time.
After over 10 hours on the hill today, we headed back “home” to our hotel.
Thursday October 15. We met a woman who has a table garden that CMMB supplied her. A table garden needs less water to survive and since there is a severe drought in Cote de Fer, it is the best way to provide food faster. We went to a MUSO meeting. A MUSO is for the 20 women who have completed the CMMB Mother’s Club program and are now part of a micro loan program so they can start up their own small business. One women has a tiny “convenience” store where she sells items out of a large basket. Another woman sells her bread. Today, I had my first coconut water and it was delicious.
Friday October 16-up early for another 10 hour day and a lot of it was being bumped around in the Toyota as we made our way up and down the hill, and over some treacherous area. We passed an area with a river but it wasn’t a river like we are used to as it had very little water. We saw a woman washing laundry, a man washing his pig and another filling a container. We headed to a Mother’s Club meeting and I was already drenched with sweat. Their leader was a woman who obviously loved what she was doing and the women loved coming to these get togethers and learning and sharing. We were going to go to the home of one of the women and we were told she “doesn’t live far” from where the meeting place is. She got in the back of the Toyota and it took 9 minutes to drive her to her house. A 9 minute DRIVE and this is what she walks-and you know it takes WAY MORE than 9 minutes to walk it. Oh and did I mention the HEAT? Her house was small and 11 people lived there. We went to the home of another CMMB Mother’s Club participants who has 9 children and a small house and this ended our time in Cote de Fer. Before leaving, we had a delicious, authentic Haitian meal that was made for us at the CMMB office. As I left, I said “I will never come back to Cote de fer again.” I kept saying BUH BYE. Later, you will read how I have changed my mind.
Saturday October 17- 5 hour drive back to Port Au Prince and back at the Marriot
Sunday October 18-“Frank” picked us up and we started our 5 hour drive to Cap Haitien on the North Coast of Haiti. We went thru LOTS of small towns with beautiful scenery. Sunday in Haiti is Church and laundry day-laundry is done in the river, and they hang their laundry all over for it to dry. We stopped and bought rice along the way. We passed by LOTS of vehicles that are open trucks called “tap taps”-taxi’s! All over Haiti, you see thousands of motorcycles and it isn’t uncommon to see 3, 4 and even 5 people on a motorcyle. These are taxi’s as well.My favorite comment on one of my photos of 4 people on a motorcycle was “carpooling.”
Cap Haitien has a totally different feel than Cote de fer. It is Haiti’s second largest town, and felt very alive. Part of it is a slum but there is so much more available than in Cote de fer. Haiti doesn’t have a garbage disposal so there is garbage everywhere.
Monday October 19-We went to a hospital (Serepta) which was built by a Priest. We met Nurse randy Moore from Atlanta who travels to Haiti several times a year to help out. From there we went to Divine Mercy which is a Mobile clinic. There were so many people waiting and the heat was overwhelming. The pharmacy was out of the back of a van. CMMB works with both these hospitals supplying medicine for anything from arthritis to malaria, typhoid and diabetes.
Tuesday October 20-2 small private hospitals with waiting rooms that were packed with people. Unlike NYC where you would hear people talking and most likely complaining..the people all sat quietly waiting for their turn. One of the hospitals was in a very rural area and we had to cross a river to get there. I was a little nervous asking Frank “can we make it?” Frank is amazing-he can do anything with this Toyota! We did have to make sure we left before the tide came in raising the river, and we did.
Father Geordani is the founder of Hospital St. Bertin in Petit Bourg de Port-Margot. When he walked in, the 150 people all stood up and clapped and shouted-they love him. It was an arrival fit for a rock star and well deserved.
There is a school on the grounds of the hospital and all the kids came up to the truck with smiles, wanting to high five us. At this point, I had a Poloroid camera from CMMB and it was great to take a photo and see the faces on the kids (and some adults) as they saw the image appear. I am pretty sure they have never seen something like this before. Then I showed them the photo on the back of my camera and THE SMILES!!!
Wednesday October 21-we visited a few more hospitals, most very primitive and one more modern. All were packed. No one complained. CMMB is doing wonderful, amazing things helping out so many people who desperately need help.
So many life changes happened to me in the 2 weeks I was away. After my 2nd day in Cote de fer. I was wanting to go home, questioning if I could do this-emotionally, physically, photographically. It has been 19.5 years since I have done any serious documentary photography, and serious connecting with people on this level. I realized I have a way to connect with people and I know they feel comfortable with me, even when we can’t communicate verbally. I have my first real life Haitian Friend, Maelle Magliore as well as Dianne Francois, both with CMMB in Haiti. When I got back to Port Au Prince, my college sorority sister Kathy Schuler Nogueira (who left Haiti the day before I arrived) and I were Facebook chatting and she asked me how I was doing. I told her I was crying uncontrollably and I couldn’t stop thinking of the people “on the hill” in Cote de fer. I have now been home for a few days and I still can’t stop thinking about them. They have nothing…nothing but family and love but no air conditioning, no bathroom, no water, no electricity, no car, some live in a tent with 10 other people. Even my friends here who are worried over their finances have it 100x better than even the best family in Cote de Fer. I know I WILL be back there someday-and hopefully not to long in the distant future and I know what I can do to try and help them more. My friends have heard me complain about the money we give to other countries and they have heard me complain saying we need to take care of our own. Well..my thoughts about this have changed too. People here have the ability to always find electricity, a bathroom, water..even those who are homeless have the option of going someplace for a bathroom and water. A person with no job has an option of finding a job at a McDonalds, WalMart, etc The people on the hill have NO option.
Every person who wrote to me who has been to Haiti before has said how much they love it and the people and love going back. I now feel part of that family-I get it. I feel the same way.
What was another part of this past 2 weeks that was so special? Spending it with my sister in law, Diane Hoey, who was the journalist and how this all came about for me. She asked if I could give her a quick lesson in photography and I jokingly said “I can go shoot.” She passed on my website, and a few emails later CMMB gave me the job. Diane has been married to my brother Craig for 25 years next month and we never spent time together and it was great.
Haiti….you all are forever in my heart. The people “on the hill” in Cote de Fer…I can’t stop thinking of you all. Thank you to the wonderful women who opened their homes to me and my camera.
the waiting room-Daughters of Charity in Cite Soleilmy little dancing partner
4 year old Dayana-Daughters of Charity in Cite SoleilCote de Fer-"The Hill"
Marche Cabut section of Cote de Fer-Rose Laure Joseph-20-baby-Sadaika Joseph, 7 months in their house
Sainticile Nortilus, 28,5 year old-Rouzelene,3 year old-Guerdina,18 Month-Chaverline in front of their home-the hills of Cote de Fer
Left to right: Ogenie Dieujuste, 26 and her 3 children in Cote de Fer.
Nancy Monvil and her 9 month old son, Myson, in her home in Cote de Fer, Haiti.
She shares her house with 10 other people and she has a table top garden from CMMB that helps feed her family. She has a table top garden because it takes less water and the plants grow faster.
the Mother's Club of CMMB in Cote de Fer
Jameson Joseph, 2, plays by the tent he shares with his mother, Juslene Joseph who is 6 months pregnant, and sister in Cote de Fer, Haiti. He is eating bread that was made by a woman who received a micro loan from CMMB's MUSO program. The MUSO program is for graduates of the Mother's Club participants-a 16 week program that educates the woman on healthcare, nutrition, sanitation and other important topics to improve their lives.
Ainese Mondesir and her daughter Rachel, 11 months, at the Mother's Club in Cote de Fer, Haiti. Her mother made the matching outfitsdoing laundry, and hanging it out to dry in Cote de Fer
Gina Petion, and son Jamesley in Cote de Fer
the Chervil family-Cote de Fer
Nancy Monvil and her 9 month old son, Myson, in Cote de Ferour driver, "Frank" a street sign up on "the hill" market day on the hill
Lisda Alexandre and her new born baby girl who was born 2.5 hours before this photo was taken at Hospital Sarepta-Cap Haitien
the emergency room at Hospital Sarepta-Cap Haitien
the maternity room at Hospital Sarepta-Cap Haitien
the waiting room at Hospital Sarepta-Cap Haitien
Father Geordani at Hospital St. Bertin in Petit Bourg de Port-Margot. He is the founder of this hospital
waiting room Hospital St. Bertin in Petit Bourg de Port-Margotheading to school, Port Au Prince
Cap Haitien, Haiti. They have no garbage disposal service so there is garbage all over
Sans-Soucis Palace-Milot, HaitiSunrise in Cap Haitien, Haiti
I have been reading LOTS of posts on line asking why photographers watermark their images. Some are nasty but I will say these people are ignorant and uneducated. Some say "it's because the photographer wishes to be more famous than their subject," "the photographers 15 minutes of fame." I also see a lot of amateurs post "I only shoot for fun, what the fuck is a professional photographer anyway?" "why should anyone make any money from taking photos?"
I will take this opportunity to address these uneducated people. Some have stated they wished they were able to make a career in photography but for whatever reason, they never did. Some reasons they may never have done so: they didn't know how, they didn't have the drive, energy and passion, they were not willing to make the compromises. There is not one single full time photographer out there who hasn't sacrificed things for their craft. Depending on their specialty, their phone can ring at any time and they have to be ready to run out the door. But more on all this in a future post..for now-the WHY do photographer's watermark their images.
It is NOT because we want any fame or notoriety. If you work hard and value your work, you will watermark AND copyright it so it is not stolen and used without permission. (Too) Many photographers watermark their images small and in the corner where it can be cropped out. This can result in loss revenue. I see more people getting nasty about photographers watermarking their images yet I never see anyone question why a writer does this, why a musician's name is on their CD, why a real estate agent has their name on their listings or on a board outside a house that just sold. All these professions (and more) do the same thing-our name goes on our work.With photographers, another reason is because in this age of the internet and twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc..photos are shared. What would happen if a magazine saw it and wanted to run the image in their magazine (but images on line are too low in resolution to run in magazines.) Without the watermark, the publication will never be able to track down the photographer. I feel EVERYONE should watermark their images-not just professionals. WHY? For the same reason. Google "citizen journalist" and see how many people were the first on the scene of a disaster and took a photo..and how much some of those images earned. For everyone that thinks it is "cool" to see a photo or video go viral because you gave it away for free..just think about all those places using it (that could afford to pay) and that new lens or camera you could have purchased, or a nice donation a charity could have received.
Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" came to an end on Thursday August 6, 2015. It was a sad day for late night TV but Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band rocked out with "Land of Hope and Dreams" and "Born to Run." E Street Band members Patti Scialfa, Nils Lofgren, Roy Bittan, Garry Tallent, Max Weinberg, Little Steven Van Zandt, Jake Clemons, Soozie Tyrell and Charlie Giordano were all present and had Jon Stewart and his staff up on their feet and dancing. Late night tv will never be the same.