Did a nice little shoot last month for a super cool gal named Audrey Wells who, with impeccable taste, runs Fringe, a Downtown Sacramento vintage store.
Location: Rock City, South Sudan 4.844720, 31.555762
My Gear: Nikon D4, Nikon 35mm f/2 w/ 2 stop ND Grad
Camera Settings: ISO 320, 1/800 at f/13
Getting There: I planned on visiting a remote cattle camp village that I'd last visited in 2007. I had tried to get back to this place multiple times since. . Getting to South Sudan is never easy or cheap. Once I finally arrived to Juba, South Sudan my logistics quickly fell through. I was basically stuck in the capital with out an easy way to get 'up-country'. Easter weekend didn't help planning matters either.
I also utilized connections to get a free flight from Kenya up to Juba with a large aid organization, which meant I was on the schedule of their flight mandate in and out of South Sudan. So I could have forced it to get up to the village I needed to be in, but it would have cost a lot of cash and potentially bumped me from my return flight. In reality, it was a very small window to do a lot in a remote area.
Instead, Juba - the World's newest capital - was flourishing and I shifted my plans to capture the changes there. So I dumped my plans and tried to capitalize my time while revisiting Juba markets and construction sites (to see and hear about economic growth) and seeing old friends.
On the outskirts of Juba, is an area called "Rock City". I headed out there, where this photo was taken. It's a little micro-economy where families gather large boulders and break them down, by hand with a hammer and chisel, into very small pieces, that will eventually be bought by local cement manufacturers and local contractors. The smaller the rock the better the pay. About $1.80 per day at best.
What the photo doesn't show you: It was shot from riding on the back of a moving motorcycle. I spent the whole afternoon riding around on the back of a friends motorcycle as he and I explored the rapid growth.
Once the amazing light faded away, we headed to a nearby shisha and tea house to catch up with some friends.
My Gear: Nikon D3, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8,
Camera Settings: ISO 400, 1/160 at f/16
Getting There: On this trip to Yemen, I went to cover specifically a segment of global food security. Yemen, being the poorest nation in the Middle East, and at that time, one of the most under-reported places in the World, I wanted to dig deep into this story and travel through as much of Yemen as possible to better understand the issue. With the great help of World Food Programme, I ended up all over the nation covering a surprisingly diverse population; migrant urban outcasts in urban centers of Sanaa and Taiz, fringe Jewish population's in active war zones, and Somali refugee's spilling across and risking life in the Gulf of Aden to land on the bleak shores of Yemen to somehow find a better life.
In this photo, I wanted to better understand what life was like in hard-to-live fishing villages that dotted along the monochromatic landscape. How was food scarcity and security affecting these very remote places. Did access to fishing offset their lack of agrarian life? Did overfishing challenge their livelihood? Did increased commercial maritime traffic change how they fished? Did Somali piracy radically change fisherman routes?
I drove over 4 hours from Yemen's second city, Taiz, to several bleak, remote and windswept fishing villages on the Red Sea coast. With just me and a local friend from Taiz, who the night before, family cooked me an incredible dinner, we set off to this coast line.
One part I remember most was cruising through the desert and out of nowhere, 5 MiG 21's hugged the north desert horizon and eventually buzzed our little Land Cruiser.
Eventually, I arrived in a very very small village and met a little girl outside her simple home. I asked her where her parents were and what they did for a living and ultimately found her dad at a local seaport, as she said, "my dad catches fish."
We made arrangements and he agreed to take me out fishing for a few days in what turned out to be Somali pirate-controlled waters.
Because fishing was so unproductive, and he had to risk going farther off-shore (into pirate waters) the cost-benefit was simply not there.
Instead, he had offset his fishing losses and make it up by being a Somali refugee smuggler. This part I cannot show.
What the photo doesn't show you: I dropped a 50mm lens off the boat. It's home now lives at the bottom of the Red Sea. It's way more humid that you would imagine. The salinity of the Sea is intense which made it really tough to keep lens elements clean. I essentially left Yemen space. I traveled to an undisclosed area that made my travel very illegal. Lastly, Western drones circled overhead - monitoring my movement.
Lindsey and I haven't had a chance to have an overnighter just us two since Ethan was born. Needless to say, we were stoked to spend a few days just us, exploring and eating in the coastal Sonoma County.
We made it a point to visit Russian River Brewery, but outside of that, the weekend was filled with incredible serendipitous finds. Hog Island Oyster Co. was by far an incredible place and find. We will be going back soon.