ARCHIVES

ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “Leslie” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 17th, 2013

Alexia Foundation Logo
This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 12/07/2012.

She offered me tea when I arrived. I accepted; a mug of green. While she prepared it, I looked around her office, an interior room in the building. Her desk was far cleaner than mine, and her book shelf held what you’d expect of someone working with homeless youth. I turned to the wall.

Affixed beside a white board were two large sheets of paper from an easel pad. All were covered in multicolored handwriting. A lot of it I recognized from my work in trauma. I looked closer; it was specific to prostitution trauma.

Leslie Briner, who works for YouthCare, a Seattle non profit serving homeless youth, did a lot of direct services client work but found her interest drawn back to policy. That was what I was looking at on the wall. Policy development for addressing domestic minor sex trafficking.

Leslie Briner Portrait

A lot of it related to the marginalizing of women, creating a space where they are vulnerable, decreasing their options, and, once they’ve been subordinated, using them as objects.

The idea is that we all do this, whether we are aware of it or not. It is ingrained in our culture.

I was reading Leslie’s thought stream, laid out on the wall. She was framing the issue, but the view she was revealing pointed toward solutions. Toward resiliency and hope.

I was seated when she returned with the tea, after which we fell into an easy conversation. My being the journalist and her being in social services, I had expected some conflict. I realized I had been afraid of her and had felt I needed to prove to her my intentions weren’t exploitive. Instead, I was surprised to find how similar some of our thoughts and approaches to the issue are.

And she got it, she saw what I am trying to do with stories and how this can help her with the work she is doing. While she’s researching and authoring policy, at the heart of what she’s doing is trying to change our cultural norms.

Youthcare is one of the agencies in Seattle at the heart of the response to domestic minor sex trafficking. They were also a client of mine, as I helped them update their entire image library last year. Some of what I learned was touching, difficult, and can’t be talked about. It’s one of the reasons Leslie shifted from direct services to policy development.

At the end of our conversation I felt heartened, more confident and hopeful. Leslie is a wealth of knowledge, an incredible resource, and is driven in her work.

Asking if I could take an iPhone snap of her for social media, I pointed to the white board.

“Tell me about that note you’ve highlighted,” I asked.

Written in large letters, separated from her notes on the stigma prostitutes face were these words:

“You Never Know the End of the Story”

“That’s my reminder to keep moving forward every day,” she said.

Indeed.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in behind the scenes, documentary, human trafficking, journalism, Leaving the Life, multimedia, photography, prostitution, Uncategorized Comments Off on ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “Leslie” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “Organization for Prostitution Survivors” a Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 17th, 2013

Alexia Foundation Logo
This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 12/05/2012.

I sat, on the end of the row of chairs, feeling like the journalist. The outsider, the observer, the untrusted. Not because my intention is exploitive, but because I don’t directly help people. I tell stories, hoping the people who see them will learn something and want to act on their new knowledge.

I was at a training meeting for the Organization of Prostitution Survivors (OPS); the intention of the series was to get volunteers and board members on the same page, although most already were.

The room was split fairly evenly between survivors of prostitution and social services providers, though to categorize so simply is unjust. Many fit both roles and, it seemed, all had some kind of a story.

This evening’s training was on trauma. Single event, vicarious; there are many forms. The evidence of trauma manifests itself in many ways too. While I observed, I was beginning to remember.Meeting Space for the Organization for Prostitution Survivors

Like the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting next door, whose cheers and clapping I could hear through the wall, this group thrived on sharing. On honesty and vulnerability. Some were talking about horrific experiences they owned; to do this meant trusting the people in the room.

The only reason I was in the room is I have been researching the story of domestic minor sex trafficking in Seattle for four years, hunting for funding and trying to do this without repeating earlier mistakes; the kind where I overextend myself financially and personally.

And that’s when it clicked. Sitting in that chair I remembered, and my own story became clearer.
Read the rest of this entry »

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in behind the scenes, documentary, human trafficking, iPhone, journalism, Leaving the Life, multimedia, prostitution Comments Off on ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “Organization for Prostitution Survivors” a Women’s Initiative Grant Update

ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “JP” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 17th, 2013

Alexia Foundation Logo
This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 11/30/2012.

I met James on a cold, clear night. There was a rally for the homeless in Westlake Park, in downtown Seattle.

James was clean and sober and in search of housing. He’s been in and out of prison over the last ten years. He doesn’t want to give “the DOC,” the department of corrections, any more of his life; he says he’s old enough now that every year counts. He shows a self awareness and intent that just may keep him out. We both knew, as a formerly incarcerated person, the odds are stacked against him. Even in his search for housing.

His body was in continuous motion, physically filling space as he filled the silence with stories of prison. Clallam Bay, aka Gladiator School, where they put the young gang bangers. The penitentiary, in Walla Walla, where the guards ask, when you arrive, where you’re from. It’s so they know where to put you. Meaning, you better have a group to belong to or, for your own safety, they’ll put you in the hole. Isolation. JP a former pimp and hustler

Then I asked him what he knew of the Life. Of pimping and prostituting. He laughed; he used to pimp, he had a few girls. They came to him, he said. They wanted to be taken care of. I asked if they gave him all their money. Yes, he replied, but they were expensive. Getting their hair and nails done and everything. One time he had two girls with a crack habit and a heroin habit. It was tough, he said, hustling for those two habits.

As a journalist, I’m looking for stories that will illustrate the theme I am pursuing. Sometimes I don’t feel this is a fair way to be in a conversation, in a relationship with someone, however brief. James wasn’t the story I was looking for, but he had some history, something I could learn from. And I relaxed; I let him lead the conversation again.

What struck me most is how he saw himself; the provider for these women who went out to have sex with anonymous men, and then turned all their earnings over to him. I had the sense that in this transaction there was a kind of intimacy, however skewed in my opinion, where it wasn’t just business. That there was some kind of love. After all, he said, the girls came to him.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in behind the scenes, documentary, human trafficking, iPhone, journalism, Leaving the Life, multimedia, prostitution Comments Off on ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “JP” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “On Aurora” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 17th, 2013

Alexia Foundation Logo
This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 11/28/2012.

It happened one evening in early August. We saw a woman sprawled beside the road, holding her head. We looked, drove past, then my wife asked if we should stop. We did.

I rolled down the window and asked if she was ok. She said she was in pain and everyone was driving by. She said all she needed was a ride. It was crushing, but I quickly understood what she was doing and probably why she was in pain. I asked where she wanted to go.
Just off Aurora Avenue
“Aurora,” she replied. We were 200 feet from the highway. I asked where.

“Anywhere,” she replied. “By the donut place.”

“Near 125th?” I asked. She replied yes. That was not a go; we had a nine year old in the back and I didn’t want him any closer to her. In the driver’s seat, my wife asked if I’d get out and talk with her. I did, and she drove up the block and waited.

Kneeling down, I asked the woman if she was “working.” She replied, softly, that she was. She identified as a prostitute.

I asked if she wanted me to call someone, that I knew of a safe place she could go. It wasn’t what she wanted to hear, because she started screaming at me for not giving her a ride, for wanting to take care of my family, not her. She got up and walked off.

She was an adult, she wore a short black skirt, black tank top, and had a rather large black hand bag. Her hair looked to be bleached, she wore heavy makeup, and she moved erratically.

North of 125th is where the older prostitutes tend to work. It is likely that a john or a pimp hurt her then dropped her beside the highway, leaving her to find her way back to where she would earn the night’s money; for the pimp, for the drugs, for whatever.

For us? She walked away; you can’t force help on people who don’t want out of “the life.”

But I, we, wanted to do something, to help. We didn’t want to turn away but, in the end, we did. And now our son is scared of the bad people who hurt her.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in behind the scenes, documentary, human rights, human trafficking, iPhone, journalism, Leaving the Life, multimedia, photography, prostitution Comments Off on ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “On Aurora” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

WINNING THE ALEXIA FOUNDATION WOMEN’S INITIATIVE GRANT

October 17th, 2012

I was speechless when I heard over the phone, “You’re going to be busy for the next six months. You just won the Alexia grant.”

It took a moment to recover, to say thank you, but it’s taken a little while to realize the significance. Alexia is a well respected photojournalism foundation and they have supported some incredible work. To win one of their grants is a great honor.

That recognition is confidence-building, but it’s also four years of research, grant writing, and relationship building. It’s four years of reporting on human trafficking in southeast Asia. It’s another ten years of documenting the impacts of sexual violence on individuals and communities. And starting a non profit. It’s years of photography and developing my multimedia skills. It’s hands on experience with education, advocacy, and audience engagement.

All of this went into writing the grant application.

I recently gave a talk to local journalists at a monthly meet up. It was casual; a bunch of photographers and beers and a projector. My kind of thing. They asked me about the grant, looking for tips on how to get one. I picked apart my grant proposal, analyzed the application, and found that I had to go back to those moments over the years where I tried, failed, or succeeded, but each time I learned something. Something that applies to today.

Writing a successful grant isn’t just about the vision of what the end product will be or the budget required. It’s about knowing your subject inside and out, then crafting a strong story to carry it.

I won the grant. I’m still a little speechless. And excited about the work ahead.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in advocacy, award, human trafficking, journalism, recognition Comments Off on WINNING THE ALEXIA FOUNDATION WOMEN’S INITIATIVE GRANT

ON STORYTELLING: IT’S NOT THE GEAR, IT’S YOUR SKILL

April 6th, 2012

With the release of the new Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D Mark III, both amateur and professional photographers have new tools at their disposal. Questions abound: Which camera is better? Should I upgrade? What will it let me do? Should I go pure-video like a Canon C300 or a Sony NEX-FS700?

I am appreciative of the Canon 5D Mark II; I own two, and these compact DSLR’s have allowed me to shoot more video for my clients and for my personal projects. I’m enjoying the medium and how the combination of video, audio, and stills gives me more tools for storytelling, in spite of the increased complexity and greater workload. Will I upgrade? In due time, when it makes financial sense and there’s a need. For me, my main concerns are better ergonomics, audio capture, rolling shutter and moire.

The thing is, it’s just gear, and without story you’ve got nothing.
Read the rest of this entry »

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in Canon 5D Mark II, coolness, editing, gear, human rights, inspiration, iPhone, journalism, media, technique, technology, video, war, work of others Comments Off on ON STORYTELLING: IT’S NOT THE GEAR, IT’S YOUR SKILL

DOCUMENTING “PRISON PHOTOGRAPHY ON THE ROAD” WITH PETE BROOK

December 10th, 2011

With an eye toward prison reform, writer and academic Pete Brook analyzes prison photography from behind his desk. After three years, he decided it was time to get out, on the road, and meet the people he’d written about. Especially the prisoners.

Pete is clear that he isn’t a photographer. Instead, he writes for Wired.com’s RAW File and runs his own blog where he dissects photography about the prison system in America. I knew him peripherally through the photo community and through introduction several years ago by a mutual friend. I like what he does, so when he put out an ask to help make a Kickstarter video, I offered to shoot it and Seattle Times staffer Erica Schultz edited it with Pete in an 11 hour binge.

Prison Photography has built a community over the years. There’s no money involved, so for Pete to get on the road, he had to ask for help. The Kickstarter campaign began. By using social media and crowd-sourced funding, he successfully raised more than he thought it would cost to make the grand American tour, meeting photographers in person, visiting prisons, and seeing education programs at work.

Click here or below to read more and see a scene cut from the video.

Read the rest of this entry »

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

KIVALINA WORK FEATURED IN WINk MAGAZINE

August 26th, 2011

My Kivalina work was recently included in a grant to the Open Society Institute by film maker Jenni Monet as part of her distribution plan. Subsequently, the photo agency Worldwide Image Navigation (WIN-Initiative), which holds an “image collection from the independent minds and unique creative perspectives of gifted photographers worldwide,” featured my work with a joint interview in their WINk Magazine, an online publication with a very attractive presentation. Click through to Page 75 to read the article.

The slow creep of things like climate change means stories created a few years ago are still extremely relevant. In 2008 I went to the remote Alaskan village of Kivalina on assignment for Germany’s Spiegel Magazine. My five days in Alaska was an amazing experience; having grown up in the northwest and having a librarian for a mother, I was exposed to many stories about native cultures. Reading about whale hunting is one thing, actually going out on the sea ice for a whale hunt is something I’d never imagined actually doing.

Read the rest of this entry »

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

FROM AFGHANISTAN

March 4th, 2011

This is a series of shorts that I feel tells a story about a place I’ve never been, through the eyes of a military that I do not know. However, as a viewer, I found these shorts had impact and provided me with a sense of what it is like to be a foreign soldier in what is now the longest war fought by the United States. Sadly, it is just one of many wars the Afghans have fought over the decades.

I don’t have a real comment nor a proposed solution. Staying the course means more lives, more money, and more trouble with our relationships to Pakistan and India. To withdraw will likely mean more Afghan lives–especially those of women–and, again, Pakistan and India. Much smarter people than myself have run the scenarios. They know the players and possible outcomes, so I’ll let them speak about it. Either way, we’re there.

I compiled these clips is because I believe we cannot forget what our country is doing and we cannot forget the people who are doing it. In our name. Regardless of how you or I feel about the war itself. I have also compiled these clips because of the journalists who are there, and the risks they face to bring this war home to their viewers.

This first clip is in French. I don’t speak French, but in a way that makes me pay more attention to what is happening. I think the film crew did a good job of capturing some of the life on base, but the reason I’ve put this in here is because of what happens at roughly 06:15. It’s news video, not multimedia, but make the time to watch it. Let the moments build.

There are six more clips in this post. See them after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in afghanistan, articles, conflict, journalism, media, video, war Comments Off on FROM AFGHANISTAN

PRESS PHOTO CONTEST AWARDS

February 25th, 2011

This year’s photo contests, at least the major press photography ones, are wrapping up and I wanted to share some of my favorites. Definitely, there is a lot of strong stuff, and definitely, there are a lot of similarities to previous years and styles. One criticism I heard, and can’t really argue with, is that there must be a dead body in the image for it to win. While there are a lot of dead bodies, I do think it’s both gratuitous and representative of a reality, and necessary to show.

You could certainly spend a good chunk of time this weekend looking at the winning images and multimedia at World Press Photo and Pictures of the Year International.

There was also some discussion around the use of cell phone images, and the “apps” used to process the images; another discussion was about the unorthodox use of images captured by that Google mapping car–you know, the one with the cameras on top that creates the “Street View” images we use in Google maps?

Read the rest of this entry »

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Posted in award, coolness, journalism, photography, Uncategorized, work of others Comments Off on PRESS PHOTO CONTEST AWARDS

TIM MATSUI CONTACT INFO

VIEW PROFILE
US mobile: 1.206.409.3069
skype: timmatsui
e: tim(at)timmatsui.com

PO Box 17941
Seattle, WA 98127 USA