The Congregation of Hameln 
Sunday, October 21, 2007, 14:44 - Shooting

Well it certainly has been a long week! From Paris to Hameln in just five days, funny huh? As exciting as the life of an international photojournalist can be it can also get a little tiring, next week should be a bit quieter with only one shoot scheduled, but of course there is no shortage of editing, processing and research to do, I wonder how much of it I will actually get to?

My Israel is... © Damaso Reyes

So I arrived in Hameln, which is about 30 kilometers from Hannover, in the mid afternoon and made my way to the synagogue, which is housed in a non-descript building near the main train station. There I found Adrian, who was already hard at work tutoring a young boy who was preparing for his bar mitzvah. I quickly got down to work, photographing them as they worked together on reading and writing in Hebrew. Before too long members of the congregation began to trickle in, each one with a warm Shabbat Shalom on his or her lips.

Adrian. © Damaso Reyes

Teaching. © Damaso Reyes

When I returned to Solitude yesterday I was asked at least half a dozen times why I went all the way to Hameln to photograph. Well if there is anything which exemplifies the changes that Europe is experience perhaps it is the congregation here. Made up primarily of Russian Jews who came to Germany in the past decade after the country opened its doors the congregation embodies the issues of immigration and identity perfectly. Adrian, a convert to Judaism himself, is another great example of the changing face of Europe.

Candles. © Damaso Reyes

Father and Daughter. © Damaso Reyes

The service was filled with German, Hebrew and Russian, songs and fellowship. Afterwards the congregation came together and shared a meal. Yesterday morning found me there once again and I continued my work, some of which you see here. I also managed to record some of Friday nightís service, at some point I think I will experiment with creating an audio slideshow since song and music is such an important part of Shabbat.

Torah reading. © Damaso Reyes

I hope to have the chance to return next month and continue my work, the more time I spend with Adrian the more interesting I find his journey.

© Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #7 
Saturday, October 20, 2007, 13:52 - Commentary

Greetings from Hameln, here is your HCB Quote of the week!

To take photographs means to recognize -- simultaneously and within a fraction of a second -- both the fact itself and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that give it meaning. It is putting one's head, one's eye and one's heart on the same axis. -Henri Cartier-Bresson

Holy hand© Damaso Reyes
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EPA Meeting 
Thursday, October 18, 2007, 14:50 - Project News

Sorry I havenít been around much, after recovering from my trip to Paris and hitting the sauna I had to prepare for a meeting I had today at the European Pressphoto Agency. I went there with Philippe, a former fellow here at solitude and expert in copyright issues who is an adviser to EPA. He mentioned my project once or twice and managed to set up a meeting. So we drove from Stuttgart to Frankfurt today for what could be a life changing meeting.

© Damaso Reyes

I met with the editor in chief and the managing editor for over an hour. I talked about the background of the project, what I was trying to accomplish and the potential for collaboration with the EPA. It was a very good meeting and they were both very receptive to the project. It went as well as I could have hoped, now of course the devil is and in the details and the next few months we will see if something can be worked out. But I am very positive; it is always refreshing to meet people in the industry who are actually forward thinking and who believe in the power of images to change the world.

Tomorrow I head to Hameln where I will photograph a small Jewish congregation there. The fun never stops!

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Goodbye Paris! 
Monday, October 15, 2007, 15:07 - Travel

Well my adventure here comes to an end! I am making my way back to Stuttgart this morning after an incredible six days here in Paris. I saw so much art, ate so much good food and yes, met so many nice people! Special thanks to Marie, Gregoire and Matthias for putting me up and showing me around town. I really feel a connection to this city and I am looking forward to coming back soon and often!

Cloud series. © Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of Week #6 
Saturday, October 13, 2007, 14:02 - Commentary

A greeting from Paris, here is your HCB Quote of the Week!

Paris at sunset. © Damaso Reyes

Photography appears to be an easy activity; in fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is in the instrument. -Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Paris Je t'aime 
Thursday, October 11, 2007, 14:58 - Travel

The River Seine. © Damaso Reyes

Itís hard to know where to start! First, I completely understand why so many American artists have fallen in love with this city, it truly is beautiful. You can tell the difference between Germany and France as soon as you step on board the TGV. A little nicer, a little more stylish, a little more comfortable, it was a smooth and pleasant three and a half hour ride. I was staying with some friends in the 13th Arrondissement, a very pleasant part of town. Yesterday the jury of the photo festival met and we spent much of the morning arguing about photos. We managed to narrow it down to about ten but we will come together again on Friday to pick the winners. This is the second jury I have been a part of an each time I feel like I understand the process a bit better. While it is great to have a diverse jury; on our panel we had photographers, gallerists and industry executives, it can also be frustrating. Most of the time the winners are more compromises than anything else although I think that we have agreed on the first place winner, which is very strong indeed.

Stained Glass. © Damaso Reyes

Cross. © Damaso Reyes

Candles. © Damaso Reyes

Brought to you by the letter H. © Damaso Reyes

I spent the rest of the day wandering about. I walked along the Seine, visited Notre Dame and just took in the place. One thing I love about Paris is that it truly is a walking city, much like New York.

Facade. © Damaso Reyes

Today I spent the day hitting several museums including the Louvre and the Pompidou, which left me exhausted. You could spend weeks just going to all the museums and galleries in this city. The more time I spend here the more I think it would be a nice place to live for a little while, assuming I could find a way to pay for it!

I also saw that big tower they have hereÖ

© Damaso Reyes
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Paris Bound! 
Tuesday, October 9, 2007, 06:57 - Travel

I am off to Paris for the first time this afternoon! I will be on the jury of the Aella Foto Latino festival as well as taking some time to explore and photograph the city. I look forward to telling you all about my adventures; have fun while I am gone!

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HCB Quote of the Week #5 
Saturday, October 6, 2007, 16:29 - Commentary

Well I am almost done processing film! Today I think I will go into town and do a little shooting, maybe hit the local flea market; you never know what you will find after all! I hope you are ready for another pearl of wisdom!

Marine Corps training. © Damaso Reyes

The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt. -Henri Cartier-Bresson, "Photography Year 1980, LIFE Library of Photograph,Ē page 27

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Reel Fun 
Thursday, October 4, 2007, 14:28 - Commentary
October 4, 2007

Itís hard not to emphasize what a big change it is to be back here. In a few hours I went from Germanyís largest city to a small community of artists. I just got back from a nice walk in the woods that surround us here and the air was fresh and the light was beautiful. The past few days I have seen the sun, something that didnít happen too much in Berlin and enjoyed sleeping in, something else I didnít get to do too much of.

Mmmm..chemicals.... © Damaso Reyes

I also got back into the darkroom today, getting a start on the more than forty rolls of film that I have shot over the previous few months. As you might know, processing is one of my least favorite parts of the photographic experience, it seems no matter how careful I am or if I wear gloves I always smell like developer. Loading sixteen rolls of film at a time, in the dark, can be pretty boring but I have a good music collection to help keep me entertained. The reward is of course seeing the film once it is done, trying to remember where and why I took certain shots and always being a bit surprised by the results. I still have another day or so in the lab before I am caught up and then of course I have to edit, then scan then edit some more before posting it all on the website. Fun, fun, fun!

So I think I am going to Paris for a few days next week, feel free to send me your suggestions on places to eat, things to see, etc. Itís my first time so I am very much looking forward to doing a lot of walking and hopefully shooting!

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Return to Solitude 
Tuesday, October 2, 2007, 15:55 - Travel

So I arrived back in Solitude yesterday after a nice train ride from Berlin. Some of the faces have changed since July but the house remains as I left it, warm and inviting and I have already managed a short walk in the woods! I am very happy to be back in this environment after a busy two months in Berlin. I hope the next two months will be productive, if a bit slower. I am still debating whether or not to head over to Munich later this week to catch the end of Oktoberfest, let me know what you think I should do. Tomorrow I will head to the sauna for some much needed rest and relaxation!

Back to basics. © Damaso Reyes
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HCB Quote of the Week #4 
Saturday, September 29, 2007, 12:37 - Commentary

Just two more days in the Hauptstadt! I will try to make the most of them and see a few galleries and museums, hopefully the weather will cooperate. Here is our latest quote of the week, enjoy!

Remains of the war, Kosovo 2005. © Damaso Reyes

ďAs photojournalists we supply information to a world that is overwhelmed with preoccupations and full of people who need the company of images....We pass judgment on what we see, and this involves an enormous responsibility,Ē Henri Cartier-Bresson, "American Photo", September/October 1997, page: 77

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Fast Fertig! 
Thursday, September 27, 2007, 14:52 - Commentary

One more day left at Vanity Fair! It is amazing how quickly these last two months have gone by. The past few weeks I have been slaving away, trying to wrap up two articles for the magazine before I head back down to Stuttgart. You will be happy to know that I am indeed all done, letís keep our fingers crossed that they survive the editing process.

The Gate. © Damaso Reyes

Now my attention is beginning to focus on the next two months, and they will be quite busy indeed. I am pondering a quick trip down to Munich for Oktoberfest. Next month will also see my first trip to Paris where I will serve on the jury of a small photography festival. I also have plans to head to Heidelberg and spend some time at the National Cancer Institute. And somewhere in there I have to find some time to process and scan all the film I shot these past two months not to mention update my website! So donít be surprised if I am only blogging once or twice a week, I will be busy making the most of my remaining time here in the Federal Republic.

I am a bit sad to be leaving Berlin, I feel like I barely had much time to explore the city, but I am looking forward to returning whenever I can over the next few years. Even as much as I have traveling around Germany I still feel there is a lot more to discover, especially in the east, but then again I feel that way about Europe in general. The next two months should be very productive but I also want to carve out some time towards the end for some reflection on the past year.

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Geiger College 
Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 15:49 - Shooting

Yesterday I went back to Abraham Geiger College, the only Rabbinical School in German and met with Adrian Michael Schell, who is training to be a rabbi there. Last year the school graduated its first class of rabbis, something very special considering Germanyís history. After reading about it last year I thought that it would be interesting to do a story on it and over the past few weeks I met with the rector of the College as well as a few students including Adrian.

Adrian. © Damaso Reyes

The face of Judaism in Germany since the Holocaust is a very interesting and I am looking forward to learning more about it. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, a large number of Russian Jews have come to German, changing the demographics of Judaism here while at the same time growing the community. Adrian is a convert himself, someone who came to the religion after research and intense soul searching. Next month he will deliver a sermon for the first time and I will hopefully join him and document it. Stay tuned for more developmentsÖ

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HCB Quote of the Week #3 
Saturday, September 22, 2007, 15:55 - Commentary

'Manufactured' or staged photography does not concern me. And if I make a judgment, it can only be on a psychological or sociological level. There are those who take photographs arranged beforehand and those who go out to discover the image and seize it. For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which - in visual terms - questions and decides simultaneously. In order to "give a meaning" to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what he frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, a discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by great economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression. One must always take photos with the greatest respect for the subject and for oneself. -Henri Cartier-Bresson

Kosovo 2005 © Damaso Reyes
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Why Can't we, I Mean, You Know, Just Get Along? 
Wednesday, September 19, 2007, 15:47 - Commentary

I had no idea but it seems that Belgium is having some problems. The Walloons and the Flemish are not happy with each other at all. Apparently the Dutch speakers have had enough and want to break up the marriage. The French speaking Walloons say non.

Hard to believe that they are still fighting about the divisions in a nation created in 1830! I mean that is longer than Italy has existed, you would think that at a certain point they would get it together and say ďsure weíre different but weíre Belgian.Ē Apparently not. You can read all about it at the New York Times.

This is exactly why I am working on this project. If the Belgians canít get along in their tiny country what hopes are there of building something resembling a European Identity? I can only hope that somehow photographs can bring people togetherÖ.

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