NYC – Finding Passion

October 24th, 2005

Passion. That would be the one word I would use to describe the last four days. Passion for photography, for an issue, to communicate, to experience. I realized I can no longer discount my own passion; for me FEAR and photography in general have simply been the way things are. It’s what I do. But I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t have passion for it.

Standing in the Blue Earth Alliance booth at the Photo Plus Expo in NYC gave me a good frame of reference.

There is Florian Schulz (at left waiting for the PDN party–see more pics on the more ‘informal’ page) a nature photographer who just wrapped a 10 year project to document “Y2Y”, the Yellowstone to Yukon. Hugely in debt, but also hugely satisfied, Florian brought the only copy of his new book to the show–all the rest are in transit from the printer. (available at Amazon)

(at left: BEA’s Adam, Glazer’s Ernest)
While he was impressed with the content and emotional punch of the FEAR videos playing on the 26″ LCD TV on loan from Hewlett Packard , I was being transported westward by his panoramic imagery of the basin and range country, the sweeping vistas of national parks, and the environmental issues his work addresses. Having just been in Wyoming working on a story about the socio-economic and environmental impacts of gas mining–which only touched the periphery of his ten year journey–I have an immense appreciation for the passion in his work. You should see him when he argues!

In fact, if you’re in Seattle, you can see Florian speak on Nov. 2 in Kane Hall at the UW.

Another photographer who is not with Blue Earth (yet), but who knows Florian and spent a fair bit of time with us is Christian Ziegler (at right). A biologist by training, he spends a fair bit of time in Panama and explained to me how some things just *are* when it comes to National Geographic and contracts. My impression is that some of science is photography and there are very few places which can–or will–fund this kind of work. Geographic is one, and Christian partnered with them for his work on the Ocelot. See it online at National Geographic or pick up this month’s magazine. Another amazing person trying to make a living by pursuing his passion.

I also have a greater appreciation for the Blue Earth as a whole as it’s in its first generation of non-founding-member leadership. Many visitors were asking for Natalie Fobes, recognized Phil Borges’ books, and (to note) Malcolm Edwards recently stepped down as president, which leaves Adam Weintraub (at right) and Teri Boyd (who won’t let me photograph her) as co-presidents.

Having stepped into non-profit management with Rebecca Haas (at right) for FEAR, I now know how difficult it is to wrangle volunteers, develop the organization, and still do my ‘regular’ work. For Rebecca, it sounds like this was a chance for her to become even more engaged–find her place, if you will–in the project. I do, truly, credit her with the project becoming a non-profit. Adam was the only Blue Earth board member to make it to the show–in fact, he largely organized the whole thing. He also gave me the freedom to develop the FEAR presence at the booth, which with HP’s help was a show-stopper for many passing by.

Part of my reason for going was to explore partnerships with other businesses and organizations. To that end, I had the opportunity to meet with Canon, put faces and names together at HP, PDN, and IPN, my web host. Rebecca and I fielded a few rape disclosures, dined with the Glazer’s crew (THE camera store in Seattle), met with Zana Briski’s “Kids with Camera’s” (her story with “Born into Brothels” parallels ours…except I don’t have an Academy Award…yet), and–of course for me–some agency visits.

I’m excited by the opportunities for visual storytelling people like Brian Storm believe in. Visit and sign up for the newsletter–the launch will be cool. If I can get my act together, you’re likely to see a FEAR story there.

There are many other names, faces, stories and opportunities. But after stepping back, asking if the cost of the trip and the time away were worth it, I’d have to say yes. Besides simply having the experience (and sleep deprivation), I saw a kind of passion in others that has helped me realize and appreciate more what it has taken for me to get to the place I am. Professionally and, more specifically, with FEAR.

To view more informal pics and stories, go here:

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