I more formally began living the life of an international journalist in 2007 while doing humanitarian work in Sarajevo, Bosnia. I delivered food to those living in poverty and crippled in every way (besides the spirit for living) from the 1990s war that ravaged their country. My remaining time was invested in walking Sarajevo’s streets, observing, taking photographs, writing and experiencing the culture while attempting to figure out what the heck went (and was going) on there.
While later living in Italy, I returned to Sarajevo in 2009 and independently created “Sarajevo Evolution: A Tribute to Survival,” addressing the human component (and after-effects) of one of the most atrocious wars in human history. This piece also addresses how media coverage affects world opinion in the short and long-term, and also the social responsibility that media professionals have to follow through.
While taking photographs of Bosnians, they sometimes reacted as though I was pointing a rifle at them, with my camera’s viewfinder representing the sights. Throughout the Bosnian War, worldwide media coverage often portrayed a not-always-pleasant depiction of Bosnians amid a propaganda induced civil war. Some fame-hungry journalists apparently even paid desperate citizens, children in particular, to scamper across sniper watched streets in hopes of a trophy kill shot.
Needless to say, over a decade later, Bosnians often weren’t offering me posed photographs and trusting smiles. I had to prove that my intentions were well-meaning. And I eventually earned the trust of people living amid a culture where nearly every facet remains functioning with the likings of post-traumatic stress.
Beyond greatly expanding my worldview, these experiences granted me a conceptual understanding of Bosnians’ past and present situations in conjunction with the socio-economic effects of war. Indeed, it was a humbling experience that later carried me through working as a newspaper journalist and photographer in the United States.
Currently based in Chiang Mai, Thailand as a writer, photographer and freelance journalist, I am creating “Life Amidst the Rubbish: Day of Reverence,” which uses photographs, poems and short writings to reveal a day-in-the-life of Burmese refugees living on a rubbish dump near Mae Sot, Thailand. The international development goal is bringing them world understanding and resources.
I’m learning that the Burmese are a resilient people adapting to environmental circumstances, as Bosnians are. The primary difference with the Burmese is not even their egos are allowed to breathe because they have nothing left to defend from an invading army, other than their spirits. I am working diligently while slowly earning their trust, which is as much a component of my “work” as the media I produce.
I have recently (June 2011) gained opportunity for working with Thailand’s Lahu tribes people, empowering them to empower themselves by using mass media (photographs; documentaries, etc.) for preserving their culture – being stomped out by the foot of capitalist globalization. A documentary project revealing (and preserving) the teachings of who is currently the last area village medicine man alive is under way. Over 80 years-old, he is diligently passing on his knowledge unto young villagers, even though another medicine man has not stepped up to the medicine man-plate to take over this essential role in preserving the tribes’ traditional culture.
Based in Chiang Mai, Thailand I am working for a publishing company – releasing three monthly magazines (Compass; Guidelines and Chiang Mai Tourist Guide), each respectively tailored toward Thai lifestyles, ex-pats living in Thailand and tourists – as a reporting editor, photographer, writer and consultant. Click here for samples.
I believe journalism is about heartfelt compassion, humility and being a non-threatening presence – especially for those in sensitive situations – while bringing forth healing and justice for all of Mankind via natural talent and learned skills.
Philosophies aside, this career for me boils down to entering a situation and making a valiant attempt at doing what needs doing, based on the needs of the people I am serving. Sometimes, this involves respectfully pushing boundaries, and true success happens when people willingly open up their lives. The resulting media will reveal what simply, is.
Please view the gallery above for a cross-section of photographs pertaining to my most recent photojournalism work in South-East Asia (click the icon located in the upper-right corner for full screen display, and hover cursor over the image for full cutlines). Many more images will soon be added.
Click any of the above-highlighted links for more photographs and information. Please review my biography, CV/resume or journalism philosophy for further details regarding my personal and professional background.