Time Travel Machine 
Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 09:11 - Commentary
What are photographs, what are portraits but a kind of time travel machine?



Through the image we can stare across time and space and be transported, however fleetingly, to a place and time we have never been. Yet through the image we do have at least a sense of having been there.


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The Photographer's Mirror 
Monday, January 26, 2015, 09:05 - Commentary
A portrait is many things but as one photographer once told me "every photograph is a self portrait."



This project has always been about people first and foremost. Through my images and especially my portraits, I try to connect the viewer to the subject so that they may understand something about the lives these people are leading and how the river of history runs through their experiences.



So what does this say about me? Well I leave that for you to decide...
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On Giving 
Tuesday, August 26, 2014, 10:58 - Commentary


Today Iím donating a kidney to my best friend, Jimmie Briggs. This process has given me a lot to think about and in response Iíve written this.

On Giving

Itís easier than receiving for most of us, letís just get that out of the way first. To give is to be lauded. To give is to have power. To receive, or rather more accurately to be in need, is to be weak and often powerless. When we give we feel generous. Afterall, they donít name buildings after those who have asked but rather after those who have, mostly after being asked, have given.

None of this makes giving any less important or necessary. Itís just to say that having to ask, as any of us who have been in that position can attest, is unpleasant. Who doesnít want to feel needed? Who doesnít want to feel as though the choice we make can save someone in however small a way?

This is a defense of receiving.

I have asked and I have received in my life. I have received without asking as well. And of course I have asked and not received. And for that I am a better person. To ask is to be weak. To ask is to be vulnerable. To ask is to acknowledge both to yourself and the person of whom you ask that you are in need.

To ask is to confront your own limitations. It is to accept your humanity because in fact we are only human in relation to one another. This means we, at some point, will be in need. No matter what the need is objectively, whatever that means, in that moment it is everything to the person who is asking.

To receive is to be delivered from the belief that we can live this life alone. It is a reaffirmation of who we are at our very core: interdependent.

It is a hard lesson to learn: that we exist not just for each other but because of one another. None of us would be here but for someone else. To understand this is one thing; to know this is quite another.

So we stand amongst each other. Giving and receiving in turn. Being grateful when we receive and feeling grateful to be able to give. We grow in the shade of one another and smile that we have had this time together.

And in the end we learn that all we have is the ability to give and take. Realizing in the end that they are, in fact, the very same thing.
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Why I Am Donating My Kidney On Tuesday 
Friday, August 22, 2014, 19:54 - Commentary
New York City


I've been back in New York for the past five weeks for an important reason.

Next week if all goes well Iíll be donating my kidney to my best friend, author and activist Jimmie Briggs. If you knew him as I do youíd want to give him your kidney too, heís that kinda of guy.

Itís not a decision Iíve come to lightly but when I found out three years ago that Jimmie and I were the same blood type I knew I had to get tested. He had advanced kidney disease and needed dialysis three times a week to stay alive.

A friend who had given me so much personal and done so much for so many others was in need. How could I stand by and simply watch?

To be human is to be in constant need. Sadly we spend so much of our lives denying this simple fact, denying the idea that not only do we from time to time need each otherís support but that on a fundamental level it is our very interconnectedness, our inescapable and fundamental need for one another than defines us. Our pride, vanity and ego get in the way of allowing us to be vulnerable, in fact to be truly who we are.
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Sunset on Barcelona's Knife Sharpeners 
Friday, September 6, 2013, 20:00 - Commentary
Barcelona

"Like it? No. But I have to eat," 77 year-old Erique, one of Barcelona's last knife sharpeners tells me when I ask why he continues to get up before dawn to ride his scooter around the city in search of customers. For more than forty years he has taken his mobile sharpening stand attached to his Vespa around Catalonia.



He says he continues to work because the pension available to him wouldn't support him. At the same time his customer base continues to shrink. Among the other knife sharpers all are well past retirement age. In an age of cheap knives from China that can be purchased at local stores it is hard to imagine that Enrique's profession will last much longer.



Unlike the tens of thousands of Spaniards who have fled the economic downturn fro greener, if not warmer pastures in Germany and Scandinavia men and woman like this knife sharpener are tied to their nation both by familial obligations as well as age.
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The Knife Sharper's Whistle 
Thursday, September 5, 2013, 10:59 - Shooting, Commentary
Barcelona

For months I had been hearing a peculiar whistle sound every few weeks. After some investigation it turned out that it was one of Barcelona's few remaining knife sharpeners.



Enrique started in his profession forty years ago at the urging of an uncle. At the time he worked in a factory earning the equivalent of five to seven euros a month. On a lark he went with his uncle one Sunday and earned a quarter of his monthly wage in just a day.

Riding his antique Vespa around Barcelona he says he has to get up earlier and drive farther for the few remaining customers he has which tend to be restaurants.

When you can buy a sharp knife from Ikea for five euros why spend two euros to have that same knife sharpened when it gets dull? Enrique is just one of many Spaniards being buffeted by the winds of economic change.
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Back to the Start 
Friday, May 11, 2012, 14:08 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
London


After a seven year absence I am back in London. When I began The Europeans my hope was not simply to capture Europe as it is but also as it changes over time. This week I returned to Parliament Square where I first met anti-war activist Brian Haw.


Brian Haw. London 2005

Sadly last year Brian died after more than ten years of spreading his message. I returned to the spot where I first met him and was pleasantly surprised to find that the movement has outlived the man.



Often I meet and photograph people having no idea of how important they are or will be to me or others. This project has been a real journey of discovery for me and perhaps more than anything has forced me to realize just how interconnected we are and the impact we have on each otherís lives.
Share


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The Boy is Back in Town 
Tuesday, April 12, 2011, 09:09 - Travel, Project News, Commentary, Photo of the Day
Barcelona



It took me 1 year, 5 months and 10 days to return to Barcelona.

But I have returned.

"Haven't you been saying that for a while now?" Doubters would ask when I told them I was moving here. Timetables shifted, plans were delayed.

But I have returned.

It has been my experience that plans are just that and that reality has a funny way of getting in the way of even the best laid plans. But when I say I'm going to do something I do it. It might take longer than I imagine and be more difficult than I can conceive but I get it done.

So doubters, continue to doubt but look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: "is this it? Is this what my life is about, how close I will ever come to my dream?"

The answer for me is always no.
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Auf Wiedersehen 
Sunday, November 7, 2010, 22:26 - Travel, Personal, Project News, Commentary


Well I'm off for NYC once again. While my time here is done you will be seeing more images from Vienna over the coming weeks. In the meantime don't forget to visit my other blog at damaso.com/blog which I update every weekday. Until I see you again, take care!
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Exhibition Opening in Vienna 
Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 10:26 - Project News, Commentary
Thanks to everyone who came out to my exhibition opening in Vienna last night!


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Guest Post on Leica Camera Blog 
Friday, October 29, 2010, 08:12 - Project News, Commentary
The work for my upcoming show, Vienna From The Shadows, was featured this week on the official Leica Camera blog. Take a look if you have a chance...



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The Seeker 
Tuesday, March 2, 2010, 09:04 - Commentary, Photo of the Day
As much as we might like them to be photographs are not answers, they are questions. When I began chasing the question of how Europe is changing as the European Union expands I never expected to encounter an answer. Instead I sought to challenge my own assumptions about this place and its diverse people.



Monument. Budapest 2009

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Since I've been gone 
Tuesday, February 2, 2010, 13:01 - Project News, Commentary
Long time no speak!


Singing the song. Brittany 2008.

So what have I been up to you ask? Well this and that is the real answer. Teaching, thinking and of course constantly applying for grants and fellowships not to mention plotting my return to Europe. Iím aiming for mid April, if not sooner. My goal is to make the transition as stable as possible and of course that takes resources so like a bear getting ready for winter Iím working hard and stocking up. Stay tunedÖ


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Freedom of Worship 
Tuesday, December 8, 2009, 09:30 - Travel, Shooting, Commentary
I had a chance to visit the Kephas church in Vienna during my stay in that fine city and here are some images. Unlike many other parts of Austria society the worshipers at Kephas really believe in a diverse society and the benefits that brings. The congregation is multinational and there are many mixed race couples there as well. Itís an interesting peek into what might be the future of EuropeÖ


Praising His name.



The power and the glory.



Jesus is the rock.



Music plays an integral role in services.



Lost in prayer.



Dancing for Jesus.



Looking upwards.




Hand to God.

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New Galleries from Brittany 
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 07:21 - Travel, Project News, Commentary
Vienna

But where are the photos? That is what people always ask. Working in film and in black and white means that I canít just show someone the photo Iíve taken five seconds later. It takes time. Days, weeks even months later I produce the ďresults.Ē While I certainly do enjoy the end product as an artist itís actually the action of taking the photograph, the experience of being in a place at a certain time that is even more interesting. The film will be there if I develop it the next day or the next year; it is the experience of living and working in a place that really makes this craft interesting, at least to me.


Foreign influences. © Damaso Reyes

The photograph is a document, a reminder of what has been but it is nothing but a shadow of what was, even if it is a lovely shadow. I would never trade the experience of making the photo for the actual photo itself because for me the act of creation is what is interesting. Walking down a city street, waiting in an office, simply being in a place or meeting a person you otherwise would never encounter is what appeals to me as a photographer. The camera imparts a freedom that as a young poor child in Brooklyn I could have scarcely imagined. Today the only limits I have are those I place upon myself, thanks to my camera cum passport.


Generations of song. © Damaso Reyes


To that end I make my images available (both to myself and others) when I damn well feel like it. The nice thing about not having a deadline is that you donít have to rush; you can reflect, relax and actually think. But eventually you do want to see what youíve done so here are links to images from Brittany that I took last year. While I rather like many of the images, of course Iíd like to go back and do more work; such is life. But there are some real stars in these galleries so take a lookÖ


Circus performer. © Damaso Reyes

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