Saturday, October 31, 2009

Death Penalty Rally. Austin, TX.

Former death row inmate Shujaa Graham.

Former death row inmate Shujaa Graham carries a 6,000 signature petition asking for a moratorium on the death penalty to Gov. Rick Perry’s Office.

Shujaa Graham in the office of state representative Elliot Naishtat

Curtis McCarty, former death row inmate, joins protests to support a moratorium on the death penalty.

Anna Terrell weeps outside of the state capitol at the loss of her son, death row victim Reginald Blanton, moments before his execution in Huntsville, Texas. Blanton received a lethal injection Tuesday evening for the shooting of 22 year old Carlos Garza in April 2000.

This entire day of photographing may have been my most difficult yet. I was assigned to photograph an anti-death penalty rally at the capitol which is expected to be another hundred-man republican bash party. When I opened the door to the south mall of the Capitol, only four individuals awaited the media's attention. Two were exonerated inmates on death row, two worked for the Coalition Against the Death Penalty, an organization to abolish capital punishment nation wide. Rather than being able to hide behind my camera as I usually do during sensitive events, I was forced approach the former prisoners because there was no other picture. I wrestled with the extent to which I photographed because I always worry that I'm shooting for the wrong reasons. In situations like this, I convinced myself that it is no longer is about the moment, its about the impact the photo can have on its viewers.

In her essay about experience in Vietnam, Trip to Hanoi, writer Susan Sontag realizes that while she spent two weeks with Vietnamese citizens outside the context of war, she still could not relate to them on anything more than a basic human level. Her western perception of the Vietnamese was challenged and she found similar elements of the human experience to share even though she could never related to the Vietnamese people.

I felt like Sontag all day.

I never thought I would ever speak to and ex-convict, let alone a wrongly accused exonerated inmate. After getting permission to photograph from Shujaa Graham and taking multiple pictures I asked where he was from in an attempt to make small talk. What surprised me was that he grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and live in Tacoma part, my own home turf. We launched into a conversation about "home" and Maryland as I thought about how I could never even begin to understand what it was that he experienced.

I would never be able to relate to an individual like Shujaa or the Anna Terrell, the mother of the most recently executed death row inmate. With something as powerful as death row, I hope that my photographs help others to imagine and consider their experiences in order to continue the dialogue on capitol punishment. I feel that is my responsibility as a journalist. Its not about telling people what to think, its about giving them something to think about.


St. David's Hospital Medical staff perform a routine check up on Austin mayor the Lee Leffingwell, the first patient aboard the hospitals new mobile dental unit.

Japanese businessmen explore the state capitol.

Laundry day

The East Side Showroom. Austin, TX.

Bored? El Chilito. Austin, TX

Austin City Limits 2009

Crowds during Ghostland Observatory.

The Decemberists.

Dancing in the Rain

Mute Math

The Felice Brothers


Photographs from the Past Part Deux

6th St. Austin, TX. Thriller!

Ben Bergstein, friend and scholar.

Two more photos from before the fall of 2009.

Photographs from the Past

Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost of A Hawk and a Hacksaw in Prague, Czech Republic during the filming of Housle.

My eye. Budapest, Hungary..

Cafe Rybka, my favorite cafe. Prague, Czech Republic

I was going through some old photographs and thought these were worth putting up. All were taken in Prague, Czech Republic. The bottom three are from a Neo-Nazi rally on November 1o, 2007. Those pictured are anarchists who protested the Nazi presence.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


San Antonio resident Matthew Medina directs an anti-Obama protest outside of the Rudder Auditorium at Texas A&M University. Medina led the crowd in chants of "Tell the truth" and "Obama been lyin'."

President Barack Obama addresses Daily Point of Light recipients and civic leaders at Texas A&M on Friday. Obama joined with former President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to promote the idea that community service is essential to fulfilling national priorities.

I left Austin for Texas A&M without press credentials for the Presidential forum on community service and returned with photographs of Barack Obama, George H.W. Bush, angry protesters and two plastic badges labeled MEDIA. With a little bit of chuztpah, patience and blind luck, Daily Texan reporter and close friend, Lena Price and I were given access to the venue by the same A&M press officer that told us driving down would be futile. I think she was impressed with our determination because the first thing she said after we introduced ourselves was, "You young people! What are we going to do with you! I'll see what I can do." She came back with two press passes and walked us into the press booth at the back of the auditorium.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

ACL Double Exposed

What began as an accidental double exposure became a fascinating way of looking at the Austin City Limits crowd on October 3, 2009. Taken with a 4x5 Speed Graphlex from the Dell stage.

Portrait at ACL

Portrait taken of Miss Jackie Gilles at the Austin City Limits music festival with a 4x5 Speed Graphlex. Due to a rather unfortunate onslaught of rain and human error, this is the only negative out of 6 that came out properly.