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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EPA Meeting 
Thursday, October 18, 2007, 14:50 - Project News
Frankfurt

Sorry I haven’t 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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Little Help Please... 
Friday, September 7, 2007, 21:21 - Project News
Berlin

So what is it I do all day?

It’s hard to put into words, but don’t worry, I am keeping busy, mostly working on articles and looking glamorous at the Vanity Fair offices. Hard to believe that I am half way done but it’s true!

In any event, lest you think that my star has risen too high, Jimmie and I cannot for the life of us find a news organization to support our application to the Pulitzer Center to go to Kosovo. Hard to believe I know but it is starting to drive me a little nuts. As much as editors complain that they can’t find good stories here we are like the pretty girl at the bar, waiting for someone to notice us. So if you know some editors, feel free to pull some strings. Check out the proposal below…


Domestic Violence Survivor. Kosovo, 2005

The Legacy of Rape

In 1989, when the Serbian government revoked Kosovo's status as an autonomous province within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, political analysts and activists in that country and abroad anticipated deterioration. The danger became more apparent with each passing year, even though the wars that engulfed the other parts of the former Yugoslavia did not spill over into Kosovo. By late 1996, a previously unknown guerrilla group called the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began coordinating attacks against the Serbian police. Faced with limited options at that point, the West chose military action by NATO in 1999. Taking advantage of the NATO bombing, Serbian and Yugoslav forces "ethnically cleansed" more than 850,000 Kosovar Albanians, and killed thousands more. The NATO bombing eventually forced government troops out of the province, but not before serious war crimes had been committed-atrocities which continue to poison Kosovo's post-war environment, including rape and sexual violence.

Writer Jimmie Briggs and photojournalist Damaso Reyes are proposing a feature article on the post-war legacy of rape in Kosovo and the struggle for female survivors to achieve legal justice for their attacks. Of late, the overwhelming majority of media attention on Kosovo deals with the quest for independence from Serbia, but for Kosovar women there are more pressing issues. Many who survived attacks during the war do not want to report the rapes for a variety of reasons. Some women victims of rape expressed fear that they would never be able to marry. Others felt terrified that they would be shunned by society. Many women have expressed anger at their attackers and willingness to testify at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). That willingness to testify is tempered by fear that their attackers may still be at large in Kosovo, or that they may return.

The piece which we are proposing will be built around the personal struggles and professional efforts of those in the legal rights community working on behalf of justice for women survivors. For women willing to testify, issues of witness protection and support loom large. Once open conflict broke out, the jurisdiction of the ICTY over Kosovo began. As they tried to ethnically cleanse Kosovo, paramilitaries often aided by masked Serb neighbors systematically searched villages for girls of prime, child-bearing age. It is estimated by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control that as many as 20,000 Kosovar women (4.4 per cent of the population) were raped in the two years prior to NATO forces entering. Unlike Bosnia, where international organizations were located throughout the war, the Kosovar province was on its own. We hope that through this story we can begin to shed light on the challenges that Kosovo’s women face as the province moves towards independence.

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Christmas in August! 
Monday, August 27, 2007, 22:04 - Project News
Berlin

Once again I have updated The Wish List!

I am trying to make it as diverse as possible: something for every inclination and pocket book! As people who are trying to change the world it is not enough to have good intentions, we must also put our money where our mouths are, so to speak. This is one small way to do it. Of course you can always volunteer as well!

And I really need a new light meter; I managed to lose mine in New York last month!


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First Day, First Impressions 
Sunday, August 5, 2007, 18:01 - Project News
Berlin

So my first day of work was on Friday and I was very excited to get things started. I showed up bright and early and was introduced to the shiny, minimalist offices on Unter den Linden. White walls, white floors, white desks, white computers, pretty much white everything. The people were warm and friendly and didn’t even seem to mind my bad German, fortunately for me. There was even some openness to one or two of the story ideas I pitched, so we shall see what comes of it.


A moment in the Floh Markt. © Damaso Reyes

Yesterday and today I made my way to a few of Berlin’s famous flea markets. I picked up a few things here and there but that rare bargain Leica lens is still on the run, maybe one day I will get lucky. After spending the early afternoon in the sun (yes, it has finally warmed up here!) I met a few of the other Burns Fellows at the Beach Bar. While Berlin is not on the ocean we were still able to dig our toes in the sand and watch the tour boats wind their way along the Spree. Afterwards I met my friend Patricia, who I met at Solitude, for a quick bit to eat before she had to head back to her cell, er, I mean home in Hanover.

Back to work tomorrow but I am meeting a source later for a story I am working on, details to follow. The big question I have for you is whether I should go to Zürich this weekend. There is a big street party that I would like to photograph but I am a little on the fence, what do you guys think?

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Home Again.... 
Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 19:31 - Travel, Project News
New York City


© Damaso Reyes

I am sitting on a train at Pennsylvania Station waiting to go to Washington for an orientation for my Burns Fellowship. It has been an exciting twelve days here in the Big Apple, my only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer. I rode the Cyclone at Coney Island; I had sushi, Thai, and Indian food. I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. I went to the Museum of Modern Art.

I bought a Leica camera!

Yes, the dream has come true and special thanks to Ken Hanson for help making it happen. Even as we speak my two film SLR cameras are sitting back in Brooklyn, only the digital camera keeps me from fully being in the world of rangefinders. I have shot a few rolls and so far it looks great. What is perhaps truly amazing is the aura that the camera gives me. No, it is not that people are impressed by it, in fact I have concealed the camera’s true identity with black tape. No, there is some about the small German machine that eliminates anyone’s objections to me taking their photograph. Time and again I stood a meter away for someone and while they registered my presence, when they saw they camera they simply shrugged, as if to say “well it is just a little camera.” Never before have I felt such freedom of movement. I think I will have a very good time over the coming years.

Now of course I want more.

So now I am off to our nation’s capital for a few days before heading to the Federal Republic. Having spent six months there already I feel like I know something of what I am getting myself into but since I will actually be working during the day and speaking not a little German, it will be different. How, I am not sure but as you well know uncertainty has been my constant companion so why should I leave it behind now?

The night before I leave Stuttgart I was up late packing and cleaning my studio. I finally finished at close to 2 in the morning and I decided to walk around a bit outside. I circled the castle and made my way to the edge of the forest. The moon was nowhere to be found and only the light was the distant illumination provided by the city. I stood at the edge of the forest, at the threshold of a path that I had walked dozens of times before.

There was little that could be seen except the silhouette of the trees against the sky. I stood there for a time, staring into the forest and looking at the path which was all but invisible in the inky blackness of the quiet night. I continued my vigil and ever so slowly the dim outline of a path begun to revel itself to me.

I looked at the path, still dark, still mostly obscured and stared at the very same time at my own life. I stood at the edge and could not see very far at all but I knew the path was still there; I had walked it before, there was nothing to fear even if the exact shape of things to come could not be discerned. I smiled with that secret knowledge tucked safely away and returned for one last night in my studio before returning home.


And now I once again find myself leaving, heading down that darkened path, which I hope will eventually lead to a sunny glade…

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Objects of Desire 
Wednesday, June 27, 2007, 15:48 - Project News
Stuttgart

Recently I had a chance to update The Wish List, feel free to have a look!

I went through and thought about my current needs and since I am in the process of making the switch from SLRs to rangefinder cameras, there were several things on the list that I have deleted and a few things that I have added.


A Leica 35mm lens

There are lots of ways to support The Europeans and donating something from The Wish List is a great one!

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The Show... 
Monday, May 28, 2007, 15:05 - Project News, Events
Stuttgart

Well opening night was very much a success although some severe rain and hail but before 8 seems to have kept some people from making the drive up to the castle. The show was already up by Wednesday, thanks to the help of Herrs Horst and Ludwig and by lunchtime on Thursday everything was done, leaving me with several hours to kill. I took a walk in the woods and contemplated the long journey which has brought me here. As I walked down the forest paths my thoughts turned towards the future and just where it will take me. As happy as I am to see my work displayed up on the walls I know that this is just a beginning; as happy as I am with the quality of the work I know that it must, and will become much, much better.


Welcome! © Damaso Reyes

In many ways satisfaction for me is fleeting. I am proud of what I have accomplished thus far but I feel that I have so much further to go. This project is like chasing a ghost in some ways and I often wonder if at the end the accumulation of these years of photographs will become large enough or dense enough or meaningful enough to bring some kind of understand to the times in which we live. I suppose I can’t fixate on that too much since the ultimate judgment on this work will not belong to me in any event.


© Damaso Reyes

But I can enjoy looking at the walls and seeing the hard work of the past months!


© Damaso Reyes

I will be back with more images of the show at some point in the near future…


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes


© Damaso Reyes
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Opening NIght 
Thursday, May 24, 2007, 11:02 - Project News
Stuttgart

Well today is the big day, my exhibition here at Solitude opens tonight! It’s been a lot of work but I am very excited, it’s hard to believe that I am finally done with all the preparations. This show represents the first time I am showing work from The Europeans here in Europe as well as the largest number of images I have ever exhibited. I am very interested to find out what Germans and other Europeans think about the photographs I have taken over the past few months.


Touching the Void. Berlin © Damaso Reyes


Brain surgery in Hamburg. © Damaso Reyes

I have also updated my website with several new galleries including images of Hamburg, the Cardinal of Berlin, a brain surgery and the Port of Hamburg. Feel free to browse and don’t forget to tell me what you think!

I hope you all have a chance to stop by tonight, if not I will be posting some images from the opening night reception! Wish me luck…


Music in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
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Still Working... 
Monday, May 21, 2007, 11:28 - Project News
Stuttgart

I’m still here, working on the show which opens here at Solitude on Thursday. You’ll be happy to know that I have selected 33 images from my time here in Germany to display. It will be interesting to see what people think! I will be also adding galleries to the website in the coming days as well. Here’s a quick preview…


Art for Art's sake. © Damaso Reyes


Carnival in Koln. © Damaso Reyes


May 1st in Berlin. © Damaso Reyes


The loyal opposition in Stuttgart. © Damaso Reyes
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Getting Ready... 
Saturday, May 12, 2007, 13:35 - Project News
Stuttgart

Sorry I haven’t been around much but I am furiously preparing for my show which opens on May 24th. If you’re around, you should really stop by! In any event, life will get back to normal, whatever that means, after I am finished scanning and prepping the images to be printed. Wish me luck…


May Day 2007. © Damaso Reyes
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