Sunday, April 6, 2014

Border Reunions

Decided to get out of doing some weekend chores around the house and make a run for the border. I figure some people like to go to the beach, others to the mall, maybe some to a movie or a picnic, I love going down as far South as I can until my native country ends. It's such a place unto its self. The smells, the language, the scenery(man-made and natural), the politics, are all such a study in contrasts. I've been in San Diego for over 20 years now and the border area still baffles, inspires, excites, intrigues and angers me at the same time. I've seen the wall transform from rutty old pieces of WW11 air landing mat, with holes where you could buy tacos or Helados from vendors in Mexico, or see people passing their kids through to family members on the other side, usually for a quick hug, to today, Post 911, where we now have these new high tech fences, sometimes 3 across, to keep any possible "terrorists" from entering from the South. No matter what position you take on Illegal immigration, there is a new found(last 10 years) display of absurd, over-the -top security measures that reeks of a country that has become overly paranoid and has succumbed to big money contracts for the folks who make and install all this stuff. I mean, as our wars in the Middle East have been winding down, the companies who were making the bombs, artillary, tanks and spy stuff need to keep making that shit to stay alive.
Anyhoo, sorry for the rant. The above photos are of these groups of family and friends who come to the wall, on both sides of the border, to meet-up, and spend some face to face time with each other. Usually they have been separated by one of the members being deported(I.E.Dad was at work in a factory in Riverside, INS came in, caught and sent him back to Mexico. Mom and kids are still here. Dad is trying to figure out a way to get home) The stories are endless and usually heartbreaking. In true Latin fashion though, they all seem very upbeat, smiling, laughing, taking cell phone pix and sticking their fingers through a tiny mesh fence to touch their loved ones. You can feel an under-riding pain in the air, but they seem to just make the most of it and enjoy what precious time they have with each other. It's truly inspiring

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Faces of Immigration

Been covering several stories related to immigration issues over the last few weeks. I went out to the Imperial Valley for NBC Newsto cover Mexican Nationals who cross the border from Mexicali each morning to go work in the fields. It sounds pretty routine until you realize the wait each day can be up to 4 1/2 hours since Customs Agents are grossly short staffed. Most times, there only about 3 agents checking literally thousands of workers in who have to catch buses in Calexico. I was talking to a worker named Miguel who gets up at 2 every morning, waits in line for about 4 hours, then catches his bus around 7, works til 4, comes home, eats, then off to bed at 8 and then off again at 2. Now, you'd think he and the thousands of other folks who cross each morning would seem bitter, maybe angry and somewhat grouchy. I found it to be quite the contrary. With a kind, very easy smile on his face, Miguel had no qualms or second thoughts or resentment about his daily routine. For him it was a job and he seemed happy to do it. In fact, after I waited the 4 hours,and screaming and cursing in my head about the wait, I got over to Calexico and to my surprise, the scene was quite festive. It was pitch dark, you could faintly see hourdes of people waiting in dark parking lots for their rides and hear all kinds of chatter, laughing, whistling, eating, music blaring. It felt like a huge picnic or family reunion. It really adds perspective to the World I come from where we(myself included) bitch about having to get up at 7 and are sometimes asked to put in a little extra time on the job. I wouldn't last a week doing what they do. Here is a link to the story
The other set of images are from a few Dreamer protest marches in Tijuana and San Diego. There was a group of deportees and "Dreamers" who were protesting President Obama's deportation policy. Several groups over a week's span, turned themselves in at the border crossing, seeking asylum in an attempt to bring light to this issue. It just seems wrong if you are say, a 13 year old kid, born in the U.S., never been to Mexico, and Mom, who is illegal, gets caught at work,and the family gets deported. I do hope we can come up with a bi-partisan solution

Monday, February 17, 2014

Agua Caliente Pix

Took a mid-winter, mini vacation out to the Desert on a camping trip over President's weekend. I went out one night and played with some long exposures around the campsite. We had a full moon which made for some interesting light except not as many stars. The exposures, for any photo buffs out there, were 30 seconds at ASA 400 at f/8. It was a good time with temps in the 90's and dry. Did lots of hiking, running, eating, sittin in Jacuzzi, playing way to much Flappy Birds, and relaxing with the fam.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

SD Sheriff's Recruitment Campaign

Spent a few days documenting different departments for the San Diego County Sheriff's Office for their recruitment division. We basically covered all departments, from bailiffs to deputies working at a women's Prison, the County Jail, the screeners at the courthouse and some other divisions.
There were many challenges trying to do corporate-style photos in real life situations, especially with unruly prisoners and camera shy judges who reluctantly let me in to take photos while in session. I had to somehow show the Sheriff's enjoying their jobs while not getting the convicts faces in the shots and make it look somewhat appealing to folks who might want to join the department. If you've ever been in or visited a county jail, this is no easy task. It was dark and dank with lots of graffiti and that terrible Green florescent lighting. The smells were quite pleasant as well, especially near the drunk tank. In any event, I couldn't have been more happy and absolutely love the challenge. Some people thrive in the studio, some shooting portraits on the beach, some on the Red Carpet, I love unpredictable situations where you have to make sense and beauty out of dirty, treacherous, unhospitable situations. I also dig doing it for corporations.