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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