Photo of the Day #1 
Wednesday, June 11, 2008, 14:25 - Project News, Photo of the Day
Brooklyn

If you don't already know I have started a Facebook group for The Europeans. So even if you don't want to be my friend (I know it is hard to even imagine) you can still join the group and engage in the conversation!


One more monument. Berlin, 2007 © Damaso Reyes

So I have decided to add another category to the blog: Photo of the Day. It struck me a few days ago as I was going through some images while looking for one in particular that I have a whole lot of photos. So why not share them? It is part of my goal of posting on a near daily basis and it give you the chance to post your thoughts and comments!


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Which Way Forward? 
Thursday, June 5, 2008, 12:24 - Project News, Commentary
Brooklyn

“Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it.”
- Barack Obama


Hope. © Damaso Reyes

There was a time when those who managed our newspapers and television news divisions saw what they were doing as a public service. Today almost every major media source in America, and many in Europe, is part of a larger, multinational corporation. These companies rarely have media, let alone journalism as their primary focus. Last year I tried in vain to get a major newspaper to support a trip to Kosovo, one that would be paid for entirely by a journalism foundation. The response was unanimous: “We’re not interested.” So to address a comment on Tuesday’s post it’s not that a few commercial stories won’t help it’s A.) selling stories that do not focus on the media obsession of the moment is very difficult and B.) this approach is not a long term strategy for funding a project like mine.

So, which way forward? What is to be done? These are the questions I have spent the last few weeks and months thinking about…

What I have learned while embarking on this journey, besides that the commercial world isn’t interested, is that there is only so much you can do on your own. Often people would ask if I was the only photographer on the project and I would always say yes. There are many good reasons for this, the most important of which is that I think that seeing one person’s view through space and time can help bring together the disparate elements of a visual narrative that is as broad as The Europeans.

So I always thought of this as a one man show. But early on I had a desire to engage other people with my work. In fact that lies at the very heart of what I am trying to do: to bring people together and inspire dialogue through photography. But as a solitary artist it is very difficult to do that.

What I never wanted to do is have a cult of personality. It’s one of the reasons I don’t promote my work as fully as I should; I never wanted to make it about me. But how to bring people into this project was a question I wrestled with. So I started a blog. But this is not enough because it again only offers passive participation. As much fun as it is to read about my adventures it doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities to involve yourself other than posting comments.

So, what is to be done?


I have decided to form a non-profit corporation. In Europe and elsewhere you would be more familiar with the term NGO. For me this offers not only the opportunity to raise funds that I wouldn’t be able to as an individual it offers the chance to expand the scope of the project to include the participation of more of the public.

At the heart of this organization I envision a website, a kind of European Forum where visitors can come together and discuss the changes that are happening in Europe and the challenges it faces on a daily basis. Photographs would be the starting point, both mine and others that I, and the moderators would find. I also would like users to post their own images and even have their own galleries on the site. The idea is to give people a space that they can reshape as they see fit.

The organization would also be active not just in presenting exhibitions but organizing panels, debates and discussions around the topics that matter most to Europe: immigration, EU expansion, foreign relations and more. The idea is to engage the public on many different planes: through art, through conversation, through the internet and thereby expand the reach of the project.

It is an ambitious goal and I will spend a good part of this year settling up the organization and launching the website in addition to my duties as a photographer. To be honest it is all a bit daunting. As when I began my journey in Europe more than three years ago I can’t tell you all the twists and turns it will take but I do have a clear vision and as always I ask for your support.

Your advice, your expertise and yes, even your money will help me bring this idea to fruition. I look forward to taking this trip with you!

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Fine, So I Caved... 
Wednesday, May 21, 2008, 13:47 - Project News, Commentary
Brooklyn

I am not what they would call a “first adopter.” For me the worth of technology must be proved, it is not tacitly accepted. I remember when mobile phone first became affordable enough that everyone was getting them. I held out. I didn’t see the value. After all, I had a pager so people could get in touch with me, or at least let me know that they wanted to get in touch with me, and I was fine with that. After a while I began to see the value of having a mobile communications device and I relented.

Last week I finally set up a Facebook page.

Now many of you probably already have one but for a long time I didn’t see the point, after all, if people want to know what I am doing they could read my blog I argued. Well after reading an insightful piece in the Atlantic about the Obama campaign’s use of the internet to bring people together I decided there was value in this idea. I realized much like the value of having a mobile phone it is not just about being accessible; it is about lowering the bar of accessibility and making it as easy as possible for people to get in touch with you and to know what you are doing.

So I signed up and found a lot of people from high school and college and my work life that I have been out of touch with. I can also share with those very same people what I have been up to. So it’s all good as the young people say…


Three Women in Vienna. © Damaso Reyes

I almost forgot to tell you that I have added images to my gallery on asylum seekers in Austria as well as a gallery on the Ute Bock Center. This work took up the second half of my Fulbright Fellowship and I think there are some really great images there, please let me know what you think!

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HCB Quote of the Week #37 
Saturday, May 17, 2008, 15:29 - Project News, Commentary
Brooklyn


I’m done!


Berlin by night. © Damaso Reyes

And it feels good!


Dancing in Vienna. © Damaso Reyes

So I have finished updating my website. If you go online you can see brand new galleries including images from Vienna’s traditional balls, Berlin at night, the Ute Bock Center for asylum seekers as well as from the German Cancer Research Center and one of Vienna’s oldest Jewish cemeteries.


Remembering the past © Damaso Reyes

You can also see updated galleries with additional images from Vienna and Berlin. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, until then here is your HCB Quote of the Week!

I went to Marseille. A small allowance enabled me to get along, and I worked with enjoyment. I had just discovered the Leica. It became the extension of my eye, and I have never been separated from it since I found it. I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, determined to "trap" life - to preserve life in the act of living. Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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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 aren’t 18 years old anymore. Of course yoga also gives me time to clear my mind, which can be pretty hard at times. If you haven’t 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 too…

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HCB Quote of the Week #36 
Saturday, May 10, 2008, 19:13 - Project News, Commentary
Brooklyn

So the scanning is done! Hold your applause because there is still editing to do but that will fly by but for no other reason than there aren’t that many images to go through. So this time next week there should be some new galleries for you to check out. In the meantime here is an image from Vienna to tide you over.


Freedom of Speech. © Damaso Reyes

So right now I am in limbo. When I was in Vienna I met someone who said that they were interested in doing some fundraising for The Europeans. Promises were made, hopes were raised and of course, much to my dismay, things didn’t work out. Perhaps it is because of my childhood on the mean streets of Brooklyn but I am not the most trusting of people. I did however make an exception in this case and my worst instincts were perversely proven correct.

Now I didn’t lose anything except some time and a little faith in my fellow human beings. But the past few weeks did reinforce something I already knew: I need money.

Now this seems obvious. But it has become increasingly clear that in order to do my project properly I need the kind of financial freedom that does not come from small grants or fellowship. I need enough money to be able to plan months in advance without having to worry if I can afford to go to point A or rent a hotel in point B.

So over the next few weeks I will be asking various people in the world of high finance and with experience in fundraising for their advice. I clearly need to take things to the next level in terms of raising money so I can buy the equipment I need as well as set up a base of operations and have just a little piece of mind. Feel free to contribute some concrete suggestions or ideas!

Until the money starts pouring in here is your HCB Quote of the Week!

There’s a particular kind of painting that is no longer practiced, that of portraiture, and there are those who say that the discovery of photography is the cause. It does seem apt to credit photography with the abandonment by painters of this painterly form. A subject wearing a military coat, a cap, and sitting on a horse can discourage even the most well-schooled painter, who feels overwhelmed by all the details of the costume. We, as photographers, are not bothered by all these details. Rather, we enjoy ourselves, because we can easily capture life in all its reality through our camera. - Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Three Years Later 
Tuesday, April 15, 2008, 17:13 - Project News, Events, Commentary
Brooklyn

So it was three years ago today that I boarded a plane form John F. Kennedy international airport here in New York and started on the long road that has become The Europeans. Three years later it is hard to believe all the people I have met and the places I have been.

What began as a dream is now reality.

As I have mentioned to some of you in private, when I began this project, when I conceived of it and when I boarded that plane I had absolutely no idea of what the images that I would take would look like. All I had was a few hundred dollars, a one way ticket, and an idea that somehow I could photograph the ways in which Europe was changing. Honestly I wasn’t even sure that my skills would be up to that task. After all, as a photojournalist my job up until then was to impart information, not make the abstract real. I wasn’t a philosopher or a historian, just a man with a camera and an idea.

The past few years have been filled with adversity. Mostly it has been a struggle with myself to live up to my own ideals and the possibilities that only hope can provide. I feel like I have taken a few good images here and there. I have certainly managed to travel, though not as much as I would have liked.

I’ve seen a new nation beginning to form in Kosovo.


© Damaso Reyes

I photographed the powerful in The Netherlands.


© Damaso Reyes

I spent most of last year in Germany.


© Damaso Reyes

I found my future home in Spain.


© Damaso Reyes

I documented passion in the United Kingdom.


© Damaso Reyes

I found beauty in France and science in Switzerland.


© Damaso Reyes

I saw how the other half lives in Austria.


© Damaso Reyes

I’ve made good friends and had good times. As I prepare to return in the coming weeks it is with the knowledge that I am on the right road, though I still don’t know where it will lead or exactly when it will end. Right now I feel like I am just starting to hit my stride…


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HCB Quote of the Week #28 
Saturday, March 15, 2008, 19:55 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

So, finally!

As you can now see for yourself, I have updated my website with several new galleries. You can see photographs from Vienna, as well as more images of Stuttgart and Paris. You can look at more images of our friend the shepherd as well as asylum seekers in Vienna. There is still more to come but you can view much of what has been keeping me busy over the past few months. I look forward to hearing your impressions! Until then, here is your HCB Quote of the Week.


Seeking Asylum in Vienna. © Damaso Reyes

Photography is, for me, a spontaneous impulse coming from an ever attentive eye which captures the moment and its eternity. - Henri Cartier-Bresson
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HCB Quote of the Week #27 
Saturday, March 8, 2008, 13:42 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

Well you will be happy to know that I finally finished scanning yesterday! Next week I will get to work editing and uploading the images from my stay in Vienna. From what little I’ve seen I am pretty happy with the results. Of course there is still more film to process, scan and edit but far less than what I have already done. The more I do this the more I recognize the need for an assistant. Of course that requires money, unless you know someone who is really good and wants to work for free. In any event, here is your HCB Quote of the Week and a photo from Vienna…


Mirror image. © Damaso Reyes


This recognition, in real life, of a rhythm of surfaces, lines, and values is for me the essence of photography; composition should be a constant of preoccupation, being a simultaneous coalition – an organic coordination of visual elements.
- Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Hear Ye, Hear Me.... 
Sunday, January 6, 2008, 15:13 - Project News
Vienna



So before I left the States I did an interview with Inside Digital Photo Radio. I know, I mostly shoot film but I got a chance to talk about how digital and analogue systems can complement each other. Click on this link to go to the page with my interview (you can hear me in the second half) and click the play icon to hear yours truly!

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New Galleries! 
Tuesday, November 27, 2007, 13:31 - Project News
Stuttgart

I know that you have been waiting patiently, in some cases for months, for me to upload some nice new galleries to my website. Well the wait is over! I have already posted some new galleries including of the Congregation of Hameln, Berlin, CERN and from Leipzig. I still have more coming but enjoy these images in the meantime.


Let us now praise famous men. Switzerland 2007. ©Damaso Reyes

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The One Percent Doctrine 
Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 13:13 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

It’s true, I hate editing.

Now you might wonder why, after all, this is the real first chance that I get to sit and look at my new images. Editing also takes a lot less time than scanning and is at least more interesting. So why do I hate it so much?

I blame the one percent rule.

More on that in a moment. The first reason is that when you look at a rough scan, or a rough print for that matter, you are basically looking at a naked photograph. No adjustments, contrast all out of whack and it doesn’t help that the editing program I use tends to make all my black and white images look super grainy. So even if I am looking at a good image they all too often look like some of our better known celebrities when they go to the store for some milk without makeup: ugly.

Of course I know all this but the one percent rule makes it damn hard to remember. The one percent rule is basically my own rough editing guide that I have developed over the years. It states that only about one percent of all the images that I shoot end up being really good and what I would consider usable. What does this mean? Well let’s do some simple math.

Say I go out on a shoot and take about 12 rolls of film, not uncommon for a day or two of shooting. Now each roll of film has 36 images so multiply that times 12.

12 rolls x 36 exposures = 432 images

Now when I process my film and then look at it on the light table I usually end up selecting roughly ten to fifteen percent of these images to scan, or if I have a darkroom to make test prints from to see how they look when they are enlarged. That equals about 45 images.

Now once I get them into the computer or for that matter have the test prints made, only about 10% of these images will have any interest for me. Often when an image is enlarged you see some small flaw or it turns out the photo just wasn’t as interesting as I thought it was.

So from the initial 432 images I would select 4-6 as being up to my own standards, roughly one percent.


This is the good photo. Berlin summer 2007. © Damaso Reyes

Let’s have a rare glimpse into my editing process! Here you can see that I scanned four frames of the same scene before deciding on this fifth frame as the one I liked the best. Of course there are several other images of this scene that I didn’t scan but this example gives you an idea of what I go through to deliver what you see on the screen.


Nope, not this one. © Damaso Reyes


Not this one either. © Damaso Reyes


Are you kidding me? © Damaso Reyes


Close but no cigar! © Damaso Reyes

Of course our friend Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that you need a lot of milk to make a little cream. Truer words have never been spoken!

Now I just got through editing nearly 700 “selects” from over sixty rolls of film. The vast majority of these images are crap and when you look at one bad image after another it does something to your pride. I am constantly seeing my mistakes, which of course is a very good thing since I can apply it to the next shoot but unlike shooting digital where you can instantly see if there is a problem, there are no “do overs” in film. Which makes it more challenging and more frustrating.

So this is what I did yesterday and today: wade through the crap to find the pearls. Now of course I have to tidy them up in Photoshop and put them online, which will take another few days.

And people ask me why I dislike post-production…

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Scanning in the snow 
Thursday, November 15, 2007, 12:45 - Project News
Stuttgart

Almost done scanning, the end is in sight! By tonight I should be done, thank goodness. Tomorrow and over the weekend I will edit and start the process of putting some new images on my website, can you believe it?


Lovely, dark and deep... © Damaso Reyes

The snow has continued off and on, here is the view from my window…

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Scanning 
Tuesday, November 13, 2007, 15:17 - Project News
Stuttgart

So after a nice relaxing day at the sauna, it is finally time to get down to work! I have started to scan my negatives, ten down, a whole bunch to go! Just so you know how exciting my upcoming days will be, here is a blow by blow of my day.


© Damaso Reyes

9:30 I woke up and decided that I needed to think a little more about my life.

10:10 I finally get myself up and down into the studio.

10:40 After emailing and chatting with some folks I start setting up the scanner.

11:15 First scans look good!

12:30
Start writing this blog entry!

13:00
Break for lunch, after all, man cannot live on scanning alone…

14:05 Back from lunch, back to scanning.

14:45 While scanning watched clips of Barack Obama’s speech last weekend on YouTube.

16:02 75th scan completed, God only knows how many left…

17:00 Scan number 100! Woohoo!

17:03 One of the other fellows has a birthday today so time to take a break for cake. Mmmm…cake….

18:37 Got sucked into a massive ping-pong game, of course I was victorious… back to scanning ;(

20:42 Time for a dinner break. On the menu tonight rice and Asian stir fry.

21:48 Ate dinner. It started snowing heavily and I had a snowball fight with some of the fellows. It was a draw. Going to do a little more scanning…

23:35 Calling it a day. I scanned 193 images. Sounds good but I have around 240 left to go. Pray for me…
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Dollar Decline... 
Thursday, October 25, 2007, 02:11 - Project News, Commentary
Stuttgart

In case you were still wondering, the American dollar is still heading downward. Even the Indian Rupee is kicking our butt. Everyone is bailing on the Greenback. Not so bad if you are earning Euros and buying in dollars. Not so much fun if you make dollars and have to spend Euros. That’s why I have to change things from dollars to Euros on my contributions page, but don’t worry, you can still get the cheap dollar advantage at The Wish List.


Down, Down, Down...

Tomorrow I head off to the Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (German Cancer Research Center) to photograph. I certainly do love my science labs, don’t I? It should be an interesting experience to check out a little more of the pure research side of science, I look forward to sharing photos with you soon!

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