Four Years On... 
Monday, April 20, 2009, 10:45 - Personal, Commentary
Last week I let the 4th anniversary of The Europeans pass without so much as a note. Personally I am not much of a birthday or anniversary type of person but it is important to recognize the passage of time. It is also a useful opportunity to think about where weíve been and where we are going.


One photograph at a time. Vienna 2008 © Damaso Reyes


As Iíve said any number of times, when I first boarded that plane at JFK international Airport in New York I had no idea of what kind of images I would be taking. All I knew was that something was happening in Europe and I wanted to try to capture it. Back then it was a tall order and it still very much is. This project has challenged the way I see the world as well as the way in which I document it.


Waiting. Berlin 2006 © Damaso Reyes

The Europeans began without a clear plan and in many ways it is still quite open, something which I feel is an asset. Many of the images I have taken have been happy accidents, the kind that could never be planned. The more I work on the project the more I feel that the changes which are happening in Europe are so subtle that they deserve to be found not by research or planning but by organically experiencing life.


The beauty of Art. Paris 2007 © Damaso Reyes

Sometimes I feel that people expect too much form these images. I have always said that this project is not an academic exploration of history. Personally I hope these images raise far more questions than they answer since the real change that is happening in Europe is not one of economics or politics but a change in mindset and self perception. As an artist and documentarian I try to hold up the mirror as well as draw back the curtain in front of the window. My work is to simply begin a conversation or at least to make it more interesting.


Going home. Kosovo 2005 © Damaso Reyes

And where will the future take us? Of course I donít have those kinds of answers but I will say that I hope to continue the work that I have begun and delve even more deeply in the waters in which I swim. I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel but that light is still so very far awayÖ


Utopia Planitia. Amsterdam 2005 © Damaso Reyes

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A Winter Walk 
Tuesday, February 24, 2009, 08:28 - Travel, Shooting, Personal
Esztergom, Hungary

Winter has been visiting us quite a bit here in Eastern Europe. Now those who know me well understand I am not really in favor of this whole business of cold and snow but sadly until I get that villa in southern Spain I will no doubt be seeing a lot more snow. In the best spirit of adventure I recently crossed the Danube and took a little walk around. Come along for the ride!


One moment. © Damaso Reyes



Footsteps. © Damaso Reyes



The dividing line. © Damaso Reyes


The shore. © Damaso Reyes


Trapped. © Damaso Reyes


A new path. © Damaso Reyes


Reflections. © Damaso Reyes


Sunset. © Damaso Reyes

Wasnít that a lovely walk?


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February 2009 Isuue of Outdoor Photographer 
Tuesday, January 6, 2009, 12:38 - Personal, Project News
If you happen to stop by your local newsstand you can see my photograph advertising Kodakís new Ektar 100 film on the back cover of Outdoor Photographer!




Special thanks to Audrey for making it possible!

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Damaso: 30 Death: 0 
Thursday, December 11, 2008, 13:08 - Personal, Commentary
Happy Birthday to ME!


MmmmmÖcakeÖ. © Damaso Reyes


Today is my 30th birthday!
I know it is hard for some of you to believe, but itís true! If you feel like giving me a present, feel free to consult my Amazon.com wish list. Even better, you can help my project by making a tax deductible donation.

It feels odd to no longer be the youngest person in the room. Of course this hasnít been the case for a long time but psychologically turning 30 is a big deal for someone who has always thought of themselves as being very young. Of course I still am very young but I think people start to treat you differently one you start your third decade.

Fortunately all of my friends have told me that they enjoy their 30ís much more than their 20ís so I have something to look forward to! For me the next decade is really about finishing this project and reaching a level of success that allows me to do the work that is most important to me. I feel like I spent the last ten years trying to prove myself; the next ten will be about satisfying myselfÖ

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In Memoriam: Mark Ferguson 1959-2008 
Monday, November 17, 2008, 14:17 - Personal, Commentary
Sorry that I havenít been around for the past week but my very good friend Mark Ferguson died last week after a battle with cancer. He will be greatly missed and my thoughts are with his family.


Mark in Action! Wheaton Village 2006 © Damaso Reyes


We met ten years ago when I was still a student at NYU. Needing to complete some elective credits I decided to try my hand at glass blowing and fell in love. After taking a few classes I was offered the chance to become a teaching assistant and one of the instructors I helped was Mark. I helped teach a number of classes with him and we became good friends over the years. His sense of humor and endless curiosity about the world are the things I will miss the most. His kindness and humility are the traits I will most try to emulate.


Mark at Sleepy Hollow 2008 © Damaso Reyes


I have very few close friends and Mark was one of the oldest and dearest. I will miss going with him to the Russian and Turkish Baths on a cold Sunday morning. I will miss having Thai food with his wife and children. I will miss his smile and how he never failed to play Devilís advocate. He was patient and kind, two qualities the world needs more of.


Hayden and Mark Brooklyn 2007 © Damaso Reyes


During his illness he never gave up; never complained about his lot in life and even accepted help, something difficult for such a strong and independent man. If we could all live the way that he died we would be remembered well.

During the past few months I had a chance to spend a lot of time with Mark. Every other week I would pick him up from chemotherapy and when he was feeling up to it we hung out watching movies or even going for a walk. I remember wandering very slowly through the Village looking for a store that sold walking sticks. We never found what we were looking for but I remember his determination even in the face of death. As hard as it was to see him weaken over the past few months I was so happy that I got to spend the time with him that I did. I only wish it had been more.


Mark, Leah, Eleanor and Hayden in Brooklyn 2008 © Damaso Reyes


Mark, I love you and will think about you often. Take careÖ

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Hard Times... 
Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 11:09 - Personal, Commentary
Yesterday I got yet another form letter in the mail thanking me for my application but due to the large numbers of excellent proposals mine was not selected. Itís not like I am new to this game but you get enough rejections in a row and you start to get frustrated, even discouraged.


The numbers donít lie.

On my desk I keep a list of all the different grants, fellowships and residencies that Iíve applied for during the current year. As you can see, green is for ones which Iíve gotten, red for ones that Iíve been rejected and black are ones that I havenít heard back from yet. Out o the seventeen that I have heard from I have been rejected by all but one. Those are some harsh odds.

I had hoped that the longer I do this and the better a body of work I produce the more success I would have but so far this year it seems not to be the case, which is really too bad since these grants and fellowships make up a large part of the funding for this project.

I try to keep it all in perspective and not let the rejections get to me but I have to say that lately it ainít easyÖ.

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Film is Dead! Long LIve Film! 
Monday, October 6, 2008, 11:22 - Personal, Commentary
People have been saying that film is dead since the start of the century. With each successive generation of digital camera the shouts grow louder. Now you digicam can shoot movies if you so choose. How long will it be before people are saying the still image is dead?


The king is dead, long live the king. Vienna 2008 © Damaso Reyes


All that having been said, Kodak just released another new film, the ultra fine grained Ektar 100, and is using one of my images to promote it! There is a reason I chose film when I decided to work on The Europeans. I liked the idea of consistency, of films archival properties and timelessness. Increasingly we see the world digitally but the job of a photographer is not to show us what we already see; it is to show us the world in a new way. Increasingly film is the tool that allows us to stand apart.

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A visit to the Brooklyn Navy Yard 
Sunday, October 5, 2008, 14:41 - Personal
I know today is the Sabbath and all but I just wanted to share some non-European images. Yesterday I took a trip over to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where many of the artists there were having open studios. While the Navy Yard has been transforming over the past decade from its shipbuilding past to a more diverse future there were still signs everywhere of its heritage. Enjoy the images!


FaÁade.



Through a window, darkly.



Out of context.



Remains of the day.



A closed door.



Up and down.


Power and nature.


Fast forward.

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Dinner with Madame Klots 
Thursday, September 18, 2008, 14:24 - Personal
Rochefort-en-Terre


All is well here in Western France and as my time here dwindles I am shooting more and more. But that does not mean that I do not have time to, as we say, have a good time. Last week Madam Isabel Klots invited several of the American artists in town for dinner and we had a great time. Mrs. Klots is the wife and daughter-in-law of Trafford and Alfred Klots, the American painters who brought the chateau here in Rochefort. Nineteen years ago Mrs. Klots, in cooperation with MICA, started the residency program here to honor the memory of her husband and father-in-law. She missed all the artists who used to stay here in Rochefort when her husband was alive and because of her generosity for nearly twenty years artists have had the opportunity to come here.


The Madame receives us. © Damaso Reyes


And what a reception it was! © Damaso Reyes


We had all we desired. © Damaso Reyes


And I mean everything! © Damaso Reyes


It was hard to keep upÖ © Damaso Reyes



But we tried our best! © Damaso Reyes



Dinner was excellent! © Damaso Reyes


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Photo of the Day #5 
Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 12:02 - Personal, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

So when I was younger, much younger, I wanted to be an illustrator. More specifically I just wanted to be able to draw accurately. Sadly this was a skill that I never developed but fortunately I discovered photography which we all know is drawing with light. While I left behind my ambitions to draw, I am still interested in graphic representations of the world around me. Because I am a photojournalist I donít have as many opportunities to indulge this proclivity as I would like but every once in a while I can.


Sign of the times. Berlin, 2007 © Damaso Reyes

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Internet Poll 
Sunday, June 8, 2008, 17:08 - Personal
Brooklyn

So the question is: Beard or no beard?

I am thinking about shaving but when I do I look like a teenage girl. Seriously, people call me miss and maíam. But as you can see, I donít really grow a ZZ Top type beard. What other people grow in a day takes me a month. So summer is here and I am thinking about shaving but what do you think?


More than two months of growth, kinda sad huh? © Damaso Reyes

Click on this link and vote, I will post the results next weekÖ


So smoothÖ. © Damaso Reyes

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Bridging the Gap 
Tuesday, May 27, 2008, 15:33 - Personal, Commentary
Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Bridge just turned 125!

And you donít look a day over 100Ö

This was a beautiful and warm Memorial Day weekend here in New York. I was a bit under the weather for some of it but by Sunday I was smiling and sitting in the sun like thousands of other New Yorkers.


The view from below. © Damaso Reyes

The anniversary of the opening of the bridge serves as a reminder of what we can accomplish when we work together for something greater than ourselves. It is a testament that the space between us can be bridged both literally and metaphorically and that is what we should strive for as a society.


Shadows. © Damaso Reyes

For me that is what The Europeans is: a bridge. Images can serve that function in our society and I hope that this project can serve as a bridge both among Europeans as well as a link between the present and the future. Time, as it always does, will tellÖ


We canít leave out the Manhattan Bridge! © Damaso Reyes

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Searching & Finding 
Wednesday, May 14, 2008, 14:31 - Personal, Project News
Brooklyn

Sometimes you just have to listen to the photographs.


The writing is on the wall. © Damaso Reyes

All photographs speak, the question is how well do you listen? Since I have been back in New York I have started doing yoga twice a week. I had wanted to do yoga for a couple of years now but I had always found an excuse. Now that I am cooling my heels in NYC for a while, I figured it was a good time to start.

More than anything I just want to increase my strength and flexibility. Sitting in front of the computer for hours and hours and then walking around with a heavy camera is not so good for you body, especially when you arenít 18 years old anymore. Of course yoga also gives me time to clear my mind, which can be pretty hard at times. If you havenít tried it I highly recommend it!

Meanwhile I finally finished editing about an hour ago! So over the next few days you will be seeing some new galleries as well as new photographs in existing galleries. You can already visit a gallery from my trip to the DKFZ here. I feel really good about this latest round of images, I hope you do tooÖ

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Nursing Home Haiku 
Wednesday, January 16, 2008, 10:39 - Personal
Vienna

Some of you may remember my good friend Albert Somma. While I was back in New York last month I took the train out to visit him in New Jersey at the rehabilitation center he has been living at. Two and a half years ago he was riding his bike through Riverside Park after work and had an accident in which he suffered a severe neck injury. To say the least it has changed his life. He has regained a lot of his movement and mobility over the past two years but it has been a long road full of struggle for him.

I have to admit it was tough seeing him in a wheelchair at first. He was among the most fit and active people I knew, biking or rollerblading nearly every day. And of course he was an incredible singer. Thatís actually how we met; he was performing at a club I used to frequent downtown called Torch (which ironically burnt down). He sang the very jazz standards that I loved so much and I ended up shooting the cover photograph for his CD.

In addition to being a great singer Al is also quite a poet. We have been talking for years about doing a poetry/photography collaboration and recently he sent me several haikus. I present them below, matched with some images from the Schomberg Kinder Klinik I shot last year. Let me know what you thinkÖ.

Nursing Home Haiku
By Al Somma

A caretaker washes my hair
I assent, head
cradled in her hands



© Damaso Reyes

I resent the intrusion
Of the nurses, yet call
When I need them



© Damaso Reyes

Help and helplessness
Living side by side,
Bedfellows in the
Yin, yang



© Damaso Reyes
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Sketches of Wien 
Thursday, January 10, 2008, 14:37 - Personal
Vienna

So I have spent the last three days or so finally checking out a bit of the city. I havenít gotten that far but I have liked what I have seen. It has finally warmed up a bit here, the bitter wind which filled the streets last week has died down and even our friend Mr. Sun has made a few appearances through the clouds.


I bet it's warm inside... © Damaso Reyes

Now some of you may wonder why I am so sensitive to the cold, after all, didnít I grow up in New York, not exactly known for its balmy winters (although it did get up to something like 15 degrees Celsius yesterday)? I usually reply that I didnít like the winters there either! The two winters I spent living in Indonesia were wonderful and I didnít miss the changing seasons at all. But there is a deeper reason for my dislike of the cold, one that has its roots in my childhood.

I grew up poor. Not lower middle class or working class but honestly poor. There were times when I couldnít get new clothes for school, times when there wasnít enough to eat, we ate government cheese and living in subsidized housing with thin, single paned windows and heating that we couldnít control. All that meant that in winter the apartment was cold. We piled up blankets when we slept, which was fine at night but during the day there wasnít much we could do.

I remember actually sitting on the radiator cover when I was a child whenever the heat would come on in an attempt to let it soak in to help keep me warm for the hours when the temperature would drop while the heat was off. I remember sitting with my grandmother in front of an open stove, our hands up against a huge pot of water that we used to try to keep things a little more bearable. I remember taking long, hot showers and baths and dreading the minute that I had to go back into the cold of my own home. I suppose this is where my love of saunas comes from.

So for me being cold isnít simply about being uncomfortable, it is a reminder of hunger, of poverty and not being in control of the most basic parts of your life. So when the wind howls and the temperature drops I prefer to stay indoors, thank you very much.


Sketches of Wien... © Damaso Reyes

But as of late I have gone outside and today I took some photos. More like sketches really, which is how I think of the digital camera. I also took along my Leica and a new 75mm lens I brought just before I left (thanks Fulbright money, thanks!) you will see those photos as soon as I can find a darkroom to work in. So here are the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of impressions of the cityÖ


Store cows. © Damaso Reyes


Lights and Wires. © Damaso Reyes


The Museums Quartier, where I live. © Damaso Reyes


Around the Bend. © Damaso Reyes


Crazy like a Fox. © Damaso Reyes


Down the steps and into the MQ. © Damaso Reyes
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