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Film Trailer: “The Long Night” Coming Soon from MediaStorm, Tim Matsui, and The Alexia Foundation

November 3rd, 2013

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View the original post at the Alexia Foundation’s blog on 9/04/2013.

The Long Night, a feature film by Tim Matsui and MediaStorm, gives voice and meaning to the crisis of minors who are forced and coerced into the American sex trade. See the project at http://mediastorm.com/publication/the-long-night

From the Alexia Foundation’s blog:

“Tim’s honesty and belief in the importance of the story allowed him access to these difficult scenes and emotions. Carey Wagner worked with Tim to provide additional footage and encouragement. The Long Night is a testimony to the lives of those who have lived, and survived, the crisis of domestic minor sex trafficking.

“This isn’t a film with an agenda,” explains Tim Matsui. “It’s a story about people facing circumstances that I cannot imagine having to deal with myself.”

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Posted in behind the scenes, Canon 5D Mark II, documentary, human trafficking, journalism, Leaving the Life, movies, multimedia, photography, pimp, prostitution Comments Off on Film Trailer: “The Long Night” Coming Soon from MediaStorm, Tim Matsui, and The Alexia Foundation

ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “The Motel, Part 2” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

October 20th, 2013

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This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 10/15/2013.

(Caption: Lisa in an interview room while in jail. She was arrested for prostitution and spent a week in jail, just long enough to suffer through the physical effects of heroin detox.)

I happened to drop in one evening when Lisa wanted to do a movie and dinner in Jane’s motel room. Lisa wasn’t there yet, so I accompanied Jane to the grocery store across the street.

Jane left home at 13, spent the last of her teenage years in Mexico, and has four children with an abusive husband. She has another child with a boyfriend who spends more time in jail than not. She’s got a crack habit. And she’s got a soft spot for Lisa.

This wasn’t always the case. As we walked through the produce aisles, picking avocados for fresh guacamole, Jane confessed she’d been pretty mean to Lisa. I don’t remember the details, but it seems that on the street, especially with drugs, you don’t have much more than your reputation.
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ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “The Motel, Part 1” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

October 15th, 2013

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This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 10/11/2013.

There’s a series of low-slung motels along Pacific Highway South. They sit side-by-side, their balcony-style hallways shouting distance apart. Every day, thousands of cars stream along the median-split thoroughfare, passing weathered signs and week-long specials.
I visited one motel regularly, looking for Lisa, the girl in the robe. Since she hung out in the area, I did too.

In August, hundreds of cops descended on the motels. They drove up with armored vehicles, wore black tactical gear, and shut the motels down. The cops said the motels were “crime dens.” The owners allowed residents to sell drugs and prostitution – the phrase needs reworking, another work to make it clearer – to sell drugs and to commit prostitution, something like that, taking a fee for each visitor, each transaction.

I’d heard complaints about the owners and their fees. But the people living there, many who were self-admitted addicts, didn’t see much choice. It was part of the lifestyle.

What follows are a series of vignettes from the place I frequented while filming “The Long Night.”
Some names have been changed.

Jane waiting at the motel, her room busy.

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ALEXIA FOUNDATION: “Tom, A Father’s Search for His Daughter” A Women’s Initiative Grant Update

June 29th, 2013

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This was originally posted to the: Alexia Foundation’s blog on 6/27/2013.

He’s a big man, tall and broad in the shoulder, with large hands. They are no longer rough and calloused, like I imagine they were when he was a trucker. The deep huskiness of his voice, a smoker’s, lends itself to the cadence of his speech. Deliberate, thoughtful, and paced so a drag on the cigarette feels natural.

Tom, along Pacific Highway South, also known as "the track."

Except that night.

Tom was speaking fast, a fluid stream-of-consciousness monologue. The window to the rental car was cracked, drawing his smoke out into the evening air. Rap played loudly on the satellite radio.

“To be a hunter,” he said, “you need to think like your prey.”

“I hate this music,” he gestured toward the dash, “But I used to listen to it. It’s what they listen to.”

Tom was showing me what he used to do, every day, while his daughter was missing. He would start in Tacoma, amongst the seedy motels and clubs, then drive Highway 99 north until Everett. The old highway changes names along the way; Pacific Highway South, International Boulevard, Aurora. But for many it is just one thing: The Track. It’s where one goes to find prostitutes, and Tom knew his daughter was one.

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

June 17th, 2013

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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.

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

June 17th, 2013

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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.

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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

2011 CLIENT REVIEW: WHY RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

March 13th, 2012

When I was in school and working as a photographer for the University of Washington Daily, the publisher (our adviser) introduced some of us to the communications department of the Everett School District.

We would shoot hand-rolled Tri-X film, process it in the Daily’s darkroom, make contact sheets on paper we bought, edit it, and submit for client review. Once the images were chosen, we’d scan the negatives and work the images in Photoshop. It was a great arrangement; given our experience we were reasonably paid, but what we learned was invaluable. It was an introduction to contracts and corporate communications, with a reliance on our growing journalistic skill.

Last year, I received an email from Karri Matau, one of the people from the Everett School District’s communications team. She now works for the Greater Everett Community Foundation. It’s a great job: give money away to partner non profits in Snohomish County, north of Seattle. (above: Inside a juvenile detention facility where the foundation supports an art program. They are my first client to use iPhone images in an annual report)

Reintroducing herself by email, she said:

“I googled you to see if you stayed in the field. I am breathless by your portfolio and work to date!!!”

“We have a story to tell and a need to help our community celebrate and rebuild hope for the future,” she continued. “Interested in helping do some photo shoots with our grantees to “capture” our story for our annual publication and for our breakfast celebration in Sept?”

“I have hired a lot of photographer for day shoots and I’m just not pleased with the lack of emotion and energy in the shots.”
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Posted in advocacy, client, clients, community, inspiration, NGO, non profit, photography Comments Off on 2011 CLIENT REVIEW: WHY RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

2011 CLIENT REVIEW: CONTINUUM OF CARE FOR HOMELESS YOUTH

March 9th, 2012

YouthCare. I remember a background interview I did with its executive director, Melinda Giovengo, in 2010, when I wanted to learn more about their work with prostituted juveniles. (below: Giovengo at YouthCare’s Orion Center)

Not one to mince words Giovengo said, and I’m paraphrasing, that in her 20 plus years in the aftercare industry, she found the busiest time for Seattle’s street kids engaging in sex work during the 1980’s was the lunch hour. That was when the Bellevue businessmen drove to the city for a quickie. Today the business isn’t much different, but its been redefined as human trafficking, opening the issue up to different resources.

Flash forward to 2011; an introduction from a mutual acquaintance put me in touch with Deborah Edison, Director of Development and Marketing. She doesn’t mince words either.

While the YouthCare’s human trafficking program is important, Edison is less interested in talking about prostituted juveniles than she is in promoting the YouthCare’s continuum of care. Since I see human trafficking as a symptom of greater issues, with homelessness and its lack of opportunity one of the root causes, I was immediately on board. Edison wanted me to help her update YouthCare’s image library, some of which was over 10 years old, so they could showcase their work in a new website.
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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.

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RELIVING THE SUMMER: HELLY HANSEN ALPINE SHOOT

November 15th, 2011


Just a short note from a lengthy backlog of blog posts:

As the first snows of the season descend upon the Cascades, I’m toning images from this summer’s photo shoot for Helly Hansen’s Spring 2012 Alpine Clothing Line. I had a great crew from Mountain Madness to work with, stunning weather, and one of my favorite locations: the Liberty Bell group at Washington Pass.

In my summer-reverie, I had to share an outtake the client didn’t choose.

If you’ve been to the Liberty Bell group, see if you can name this line!

Now…on to ski season, please.

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