Happy New Year!

I decided to start the year off with a trip to Cadillac Mountain in Maine to catch the first the sunrise on the continental U.S. of 2015.

We did a dry run the day before to check out the trail and see the sunset.

On the morning of the first, we were joined by many other people who hunkered down in between the rocks to wait for the sunrise.

With temperatures around 15 degrees Fahrenheit and a windchill of 18 below it was a long wait...

Newburyport Documentary Film Festival

I was really fortunate to be able to screen a short clip from my Plum Island documentary (which is still a work in progress) at the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival this past weekend. The screening was part of a special section of the festival for works in progress and was screened alongside a film on Henry Beston. It was great to be able to show something to an audience and receive feedback and after a year and a half of working on this project it's definitely given me an extra boost of motivation to see the project through to the end.

Earth Port Film Festival

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to have a film screened at the Earth Port Film Festival in Newburyport, MA. The film, Rise and Fall, is one that I produced along with Lindsey Topham and Sarah Ganzhorn for the International Documentary Challenge about a year ago and it deals with the erosion issues on Plum Island, MA. It was great to be able to participate in the festival and meet other filmmakers who were also interested in highlighting environmental issues. You can watch interviews with me and some of the other filmmakers here: http://www.earthportfilm.org/ (start at 7:18 for my interview).

Our film 'Showered' will be screened at Hot Docs!

A few weeks ago I was on a team that participated in the International Documentary Challenge, a film competition where participants have to research, shoot and edit a short film within five days. This year's theme was "behind the curtain" which lead us to choose an interesting topic: we decided to interview people in the shower. Recently, we found out that our film made it into the top 12 for the competition and will be screened at the Hot Docs documentary film festival in Toronto on May 1st!

Unfortunately, it's not possible for us to publish the film online until it premieres at Hot Docs but you can watch the behind the scenes video and vote for our film in the Audience Awards!

Weekend Warrior

I'm excited to finally be able to post a video that I've been working on for BU Law since last summer. Most of the video was completed months ago, but unfortunately, there were a couple shots I needed that had to wait until this semester. This piece is part of a larger series that I'm working on for BU Law about professors and their passions outside the law. I love doing these kinds of pieces and am really looking forward to the rest of the series. Next up we have a classical guitarist, a figure skater and maybe a little league umpire...

 

Weekend Warrior: Gerry Leonard on life, liberty and the pushing the limit

BU Law professor Gerry Leonard loves cycling. Actually, he’s obsessed with cycling. In the summers, he’ll bike 17 miles from his home in Natick to come into work at BU Law, and his infatuation with European cycling is such that the topic has been known to come up in class or even make appearances on final exams...

German Privacy Laws

While visiting Berlin over New Years I was excited to embark on a project that I had had in mind for some time. The idea was to photograph people on the subway with my iPhone as I travelled across the city to show the change in demographics as one goes from west to east. Having grown up partially in Germany, I don't really think of it as a foreign country and didn't expect privacy laws to differ greatly from those in the U.S. However, I was surprised to encounter hostility and suspicion not only while taking photos on the subway but also when doing general street photography. I realized I needed to inform myself better about the local laws and also about the general mentality of the people regarding photography.

An internet search revealed that German privacy laws are much stricter than those in the U.S. Simply put, you are not allowed to publish a photo of anyone without their permission. Okay, but what about general street photography and photos taken with my phone not obviously intended for publication? In the U.S., when shooting for a newspaper, I've often had people ask me not to use photos I've taken of them, which I'm happy to accommodate, but why were people in Germany so concerned not only that I not use the images for anything but that I show them that I had deleted them from my memory card? After speaking with a few friends in the city I began to get a better idea of what was going on. 

Berlin is a city, which not all that long ago was located right in the middle of communist East Germany. If you lived in the east, you pretty much assumed you were under surveillance; your phone could easily be tapped. Many people in Germany today remember this all to well and are still very suspicious of being photographed. Another photographer I emailed also had this to add: "People in Germany seem especially sensitive right now about having their photos taken -- especially by an American -- since all of the NSA surveillance stuff and recent controversies about Google's unauthorized photos of peoples homes for Google Earth. I think they see it as even more than a civil rights issue; it smacks of colonialism, and as you have probably already noticed, American culture and language have already made big inroads here. Many people greatly resent this American invasion of their cultural space."

The problem I then faced was how to continue with my project while still being respectful. In the end decided that I would continue to take photos of people in the subway without their knowledge but that I would then let them know I had done so and ask whether that was ok with them. If not I would offer to delete the photo immediately. This way I could still get the candid images I was after while being respectful of people who didn't want to be photographed. This slowed me down somewhat but worked surprisingly well. Most people didn't mind having their picture used for my project and the few who did seemed happy enough when I offered to delete the images.

Looking at new work

One of the best pieces of advice I received from a professor at BU was to always remember to keep looking at new work, to constantly be looking at work other people are creating as a means to inspire yourself. As I continue my career as a photographer this is a piece of advice I keep coming back to over and over and find that it always helps if I feel like I'm in a slump. There's nothing like looking at an amazing photograph or other work of art to inspire you to get out there and make your own. This past spring I took a trip to DC with my roommate and we spent the entire time wandering through art museums. It was incredibly refreshing and reminded me once again how important it is to take time for these things.

Subway Project

I started working on an iPhone subway project over the past couple months. I love people watching when I'm on the train and the iPhone makes it so much easier to capture moments unobtrusively.