The Big Night 
Thursday, February 2, 2006, 20:41 - Shooting, Personal, Project News, Events
New York City

Happy New Year!

Okay, itís a month late but itís the thought that counts, right? Tonight is the opening of the group show I am in at E3 gallery here in New York. After processing all my film and doing quite a bit of printing, the big day is here. I have selected a group of images from my two trips to Kosovo last year. I am pretty happy with the work that I am showing.


A very exciting invitation.

While the show is small it feels like a big step for me. This is the first time that I am showing work from The Europeans, one of what I hope will be many work in progress shows over the next few years. As an artist, I spend a great deal of time working in my own little bubble, not really interacting with people about my work. Tonight I will be presenting my vision to the public, or at least the friends who show up. Putting oneís work out there is always a little bit nerve racking but I believe deeply in this project, no matter how other people might react to the images I show tonight.

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Man about town... 
Sunday, November 13, 2005, 00:24 - Shooting, Personal, Project News
Barcelona, Spain

I have spent the past few days coming into town and wandering the streets, visiting museums and monuments including several of Gaudiís masterpieces including the park that he created.


The facade of one of Gaudi's chruches. ©Damaso Reyes

Barcelona is a lovely city. The beach is quite nice, even in November and the people are relatively friendly and there are quite a few expats around. Much like New York, Barcelona is a walking city. The subway is also very easy to navigate and reasonably priced, all things that I am looking for in a city to live in.


Staring at a masterpiece. ©Damaso Reyes

Even when I do settle down in one place, my goal is to spend the better part of each month traveling and shooting. Perhaps two to four weeks out and about shooting a particular story or in a city and then one to three weeks back at base processing, scanning, printing, researching the next shoot and relaxing when I can. This is the plan, anyway.


The top of a steeple. ©Damaso Reyes

In order to make this happen I will have to begin the process of securing more long term funding so I can have the flexibility to run off and shoot something Iím interested in when the mood strikes. Until then I will be applying for grants and artist in residency programs. While I knew there would be a lot of writing and applying involved in this project I donít think I knew just how much of my time would be spent in front of the computer doing research or sending emails. I suppose thatís why I enjoy being out in the field shooting so muchÖ


Looking out over the city. ©Damaso Reyes
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Huffing and Puffing 
Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 21:38 - Shooting, Personal
Camp Bondsteel

One of these days I am going to have to get into shape, I swear!

Today I spent the day on a very interesting mission. Over the past few years one of the things the United Nations has been doing is finding and identifying the bodies of people who went missing or were killed during the war. Today we got up early and went out on one of these missions which entailed hiking for a few kilometers up and down some hills to the sport where the body was discovered.


Clearing mines. ©Damaso Reyes

As one gets older, you often think that the ravages of time donít have an impact, well Iím not yet at 30 and I can say that whatever physical prowess I had seems to have left me. I guess I never considered how fit those gym classes in high school kept me. Oh well.


A UN worker places the remains in a body bag. ©Damaso Reyes

After all the huffing and puffing was done, we got to the site and unearthed the bodies, after some of the soldiers made sure there were no mines. I can say with some certainty that exhumations donít get easier to photograph over time. Still I feel I got some good photos.

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Back to New York 
Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 15:15 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Amsterdam

Well I am headed back home to New York after shooting in three different countries and traveling a few thousand miles. I have shot well over a hundred rolls of film and Iím very much looking forward to seeing the results.

I think I can begin to see how the narrative thread of this project will emerge, though I think it will become much clearer the more that I shoot. Thatís a relief because one of my major concerns going into all this was how it would all tie together to create something that made sense. I am always a bit nervous before a big trip but I think the past few months are a good indication that this project can be successful. It is still going to take a lot of work and elbow grease but I am having a great time shooting this and am looking forward to returning to Europe in the early fall to continue shooting. Now the only questions are where will I go and what will I do?

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New Amsterdam meets Old Amsterdam 
Saturday, June 4, 2005, 00:55 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Amsterdam

Having been born in New Amsterdam it is a nice treat to be able to spend some time in my cityís namesake. Weather aside, Amsterdam is a great town. It does remind me quite a bit of New York, and I really like the fact that you can walk and bike most places and the cafť culture has been very enjoyable. Premium Belgian beer in the states costs an arm and a leg but the supermarkets seem to be giving it away.


Some very special flowers. ©Damaso Reyes

I managed to visit a huge flower garden just outside of town called the Keukenhof. While I usually donít go in for nature photography, it was a nice change of pace.


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Goodbye Bondsteel! 
Friday, May 27, 2005, 13:24 - Travel, Personal
Well this wraps up my time in Kosovo.


A medivac helo at sunset. ©Damaso Reyes

The past few weeks have gone by pretty quickly but I feel like I have gotten some good photos and am ready for a little down time in Amsterdam, my next stop. Donít worry, I will manage to shoot while I am there but I think I will take a more relaxed approach to things. I really canít wait to process some film when I get back to the States!

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Riot Training 
Friday, May 20, 2005, 02:18 - Shooting, Personal
Camp Bondsteel

I have shot something like 30 rolls of film in the last ten days and I think that I have more than a few good images if the digital files are any indication. As time goes on I feel like I have gotten more of a sense, albeit an extremely limited one, of what life in Kosovo is like. One thing that is certain is that life on a dry Army base can be a little dull. On the plus side this is probably the most number of days I have gotten up before 7 a.m. in a long time.


American and Greek Soldiers train in riot control. ©Damaso Reyes

Today we went to one of the European bases to photograph the Crowd and Riot Control (CRC) training. They used simulated tear gas and some of the troops got to be angry Kosovars, giving the soldiers quiet a hard time. It was hot and dirty but a lot of fun, at least if you didnít have people attacking youÖ.


©Damaso Reyes
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In the Beginning.... 
Friday, April 15, 2005, 01:38 - Personal
New York City

Welcome to my blog and website! This is an exciting time for me and I am glad to be sharing it with you. I hope you take the time to view some of the images I will be taking over the next few years as I travel around Europe.

Iíd like to start by telling you a little about this project and how it came into being. It was about three years ago and I was lying in bed waiting for the electricity to come back on in Jakarta so it could power the fan and allow me to go to sleep, rather than just sweat, something I had become very good at in the year I had been living in Southeast Asia working as a photographer and writer.

I was trying to decide if I should stay in Indonesia for another two years and cover the elections or move on to something else. While I was enjoying my time there I wasnít working on any one project per se, I was simply covering different breaking news events which while exciting was less than fulfilling. In my time in Indonesia, I learned that I could indeed work and live abroad but life is more than just work and I had discovered that I wanted something more.

So as I laid in bed, waiting for one of the cityís frequent rolling blackouts to subside, I thought about what I could work on for a few years. I knew it had to be big, interesting and compelling. With four years of History of Photography classes under my belt my mind inevitably wandered to the work of photographers that I held in high esteem. After a while I thought of Robert Frank and his seminal book The Americans. How daunting it must have been as a young Swiss photographer to come to American and try to capture the gestalt of a people and time. With the changes going on in Europe, most notably in my mind the adoption of the Euro, I pondered how interesting it would be to try to document those vast historical changes now moving through the continent. As an American, I could do the reverse of what Frank had done and travel to Europe.

Not long after the power came back on and my room thankfully began to cool but the seed had been planted. Over the coming months both in Indonesia and after I had returned to New York in the spring of 2003 I began thinking more and more about Europe and this project. Assignments, including one to cover the tenth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, came and went but working on this project was never too far from my mind. I was excited about the possibility but the more I thought about what it would take, the more daunted I became. The scale of the changes going on would necessitate a project of similar scope: several years, visiting dozens of countries, tens of thousands of dollars and an unflagging commitment. It took me several months but by the fall of 2004 I decided that if there was ever a project that I needed to work on, this was it.

And so The Europeans was born.

While it had taken me a long time to make the commitment, I knew early on making the decision would be the easy part. The hard part would be the project itself. The logistics, the focus needed, and of course actually taking the images. I had never worked on anything even approaching the scale of this massive endeavor but I had made up my mind and nothing was going to change it. Of course with something so big there is a long lead time in terms of preparations and I took the winter of 2004 to write a proposal and think more deeply about what I was trying to accomplish.

I settled on a few major themes through which to look at what was happening in Europe: Politics, Economics, Immigration and National Identity were my touchstones. Having sorted it all out in my head I have chosen our cousins in the United Kingdom to visit first. Tony Blair is running for reelection and what better way to delve into the issue of politics than to cover an election. It should be an exciting trip, I will be there for about three weeks, mainly in London and afterwards I plan on heading to Kosovo where I will embed with KFOR and document the peace keeping and stabilization efforts the American led multi-national forces are conducting. After a few weeks there I hope to spend some time in Holland where I have no idea what I will be photographing.

I hope this entry gives you some perspective on this project as well and myself. You can view more of my other work at my personal website www.damaso.com

-D



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