documentary and photojournalism

Before
Fatih, Istanbul
The boy on the left has no parents because they died in Syria. He is fortunate to have surviving grandparents, and lives with them on the street in a makeshift shelter somewhere in Fatih. The boy on the right is sleeping on the street as well, along with the two girls in these most recent posts. If only I could have spoken with them in Arabic, or been blessed with the funds to hire an interpreter to accompany me while in Istanbul….what a story they must have to tell. It was difficult but I was able to learn just enough from two kind hearted women who stopped to help me understand, a mother and daughter on their way into the mosque who spoke a tiny bit of English and a bit more Arabic. The boy on the left, whose name I never learned, really grabbed my attention with his open, candid expressions and truly engaging mannerisms….a captivating boy in early middle childhood that makes some of us wonder about the nature of good luck, and what force lies behind its seemingly arbitrary and meritless distribution among all of us living in the world.

10

The Muslim community is mourning the passing of Nabra, a 17 year old young woman from Sterling, VA. Nabra was beaten to death with a baseball bat and left in a pond after going missing while walking to a mosque with her friends. Hate crime against Muslim Americans is at its highest point with more than 67% increase since 2016. Nabra is another example of the escalating violence towards Muslims Americans. Activists gathered at Union Square to hold a vigil for Nabra and her family and to stand against violence against Muslim Americans. 

7

March for the Gurlz: Stop Killing Black Trans Women

Since the beginning of 2017, 7 Black transwomen have been murdered. Living at the intersections of race, gender and sexuality, transwomen in Atlanta and nationwide are demanding an end to this violence.

On March 26th Atlanta came together to take over the streets led by Black transwomen to celebrate their lives and mourn the ones we’ve lost.

For more information visit: IG @snap4freedom

Follow my photography: IG @ tifthephotographer

Finally
Fatih, Istanbul
Tissue Sellers The boys arrived and lightened the mood considerably. When I first came upon the two little girls by the side of the mosque, dressed for a cool day on what was a blisteringly hot weekday, I was struck by how alone and cast off they seemed. No one paid them a bit of attention until I stood with them, the obviously foreign looking lady with a camera. There was an odd way of relating with me as an adult initially, an awkwardness that I think came from spending entire days apart from any kind of adult supervision, loving or otherwise. Kids left completely to their own devices for prolonged periods without any kind of intervention or support from adults form their own kind of lawless abandon when it comes to behavior. It’s an adaptation that winds up being maladaptive when compared with what’s considered normal occurence in childhood and when observed during the normal course of basic interaction with the rest of the world. The behaviors just don’t work, and morph into strangely unsettling and nearly impossible to resurrect adolescent habits based on a lack of education and structure. What I’m really saying is that the lives these kids lead can result in the strange and impossible to empathize with emptiness that I see in the faces of beggars and street hustlers/thieves….they’ve stopped seeing “us” as anything other than targets to rob or get something from. They’re so far removed, having been apart from any established social mainstream that they are nearly impossible to connect with, and as they get older it just gets worse. At this age, they still wear their emotions visibly, and still feel the spectrum of feelings, and haven’t yet become the hardened adolescents that I have become accustomed to seeing on the streets during my travels. Hard and unable to relate or function in the mainstream….like the young boy who mugged my son in broad daylight on a busy sidewalk in downtown Uskudar.

Camarín de circo. Circo de las Américas. Córdoba. 2017

Other People’s Kids
I now realize how clean these girls were, although at the time, just over a week ago, it seemed to me that they were anything but….I now realize this, because, as I look more closely at the superficial appearance of the lives of the kids on the street, I am feeling an almost personal sense of loss as I behold my first absolutes. In the world that many people from the USA are familiar with, a westernized, suburban/urban place of the internet, CNN, Netflix, and The Cheesecake Factory, where we remember Andy Rooney, get Anderson Cooper’s references, read the Huff Post, and mommy blogs….in this world, I feel that true absolutes are a rarity. At times it’s a place of racism and prejudices on every side that we all fall victim to no matter which side of the fence we’re born on, or choose to truthfully acknowledge. There are most certainly trespasses, some harsh enough to be labeled sinful, and I use this strong term with no religious insinuation. But absolutes? Never, not really. Not until I saw the hands and feet of the children here in Istanbul. And when I stumbled on an unforgettable young girl of about twelve in Place De Clichy in Paris.
A common callousness in our lives which is equal to a social irresponsibility that I feel guilty of every time I walk past one of these kids. A kind of disregard, a socially irresponsible everyday act….the seeds of which are in all of us…..especially when it’s somebody else’s kid.

10

Friday 24th March 2017. 06:00 Kyoto Japan.

I have been super lazy with taking photographs and blogging this week so I promised myself that I would wake up at 04:30 this morning and cycle to Fushimi Inari and I did just that. 

The first and last time I came here with Apo Chan there was people everywhere and it was super hard to get any decent, empty looking pictures, hence the reason for getting here so early. I left my house at 5am and got to the bottom of the shrine around 05:40. I checked the weather yesterday and this morning before I left and it said clear skies, I got here only to be greeted by the biggest, blackest raincloud right over the shrine gate lol, typical. 

I was here super early, the lights were still on, lighting the empty tori gate tunnels all the way to the top of the mountain. 

Battle Scars
Fatih, Istanbul
The girl on the left is the one in my previous post, minus the tears. These kids didn’t ask me for anything and after these photos were taken we had a group hug or two that was an entertaining spectacle for the conservative people in and around the mosque whose shade we stood in. This hug was one that I will never forget and made all of the difficulties I’ve encountered over the past months worth the few moments I had with these children. It was very clear to me that they had great affection for each other, knew each other very well and were much more tightly knitted and bonded than the classmates or best friends usually encountered in an average elementary school in the United States. My only regret is that the extreme backlighting here prevented me from an image of stunning clarity, possible perhaps with a full frame camera but not with my beloved Fujifilm XT-2….flash was not an option, and, although I had one with me, it would’ve been just too artificial under these circumstances. These seconds are ephemeral and must be grabbed as best as possible when they occur.

A desolate neighborhood, rain clouds above and feeling abandoned and colorless in some ways, but full of life when you open yourself up to other perspectives. I learn through listening carefully for the first time that Leanne has been in two movies, Lost Angels and The Soloist. I also realize that her claim of having an apartment was not a hallucination, and that she uses it as a repository for mountains of found items that she lovingly collects, masquerading to the rest of us as putrid, rotting garbage infested with thousands upon thousands of cockroaches.
I also realized for the first time in my life that I’m guilty of being an extremely poor listener, attributing far too much to excessive illogically occurring, disparate rambles, and not understanding that there’s a great deal of truth interwoven in the words of those that we all routinely dismiss as “crazy”, even those of us that have the best of intentions. And I learned that we’re all capable of blowing past those that are in dire need of urgent care or intervention when we don’t listen to what sounds like a crazed, irrational fairy tale….it could in fact be the relatively sequential relation of actual, hard to believe but nevertheless true, events occurring daily in Skid Row and in the lives of disabled homeless people all over the world.