Blight? Schmite! Leave El Barrio alone.

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Guadalupe(s), Segundo barrio, El Paso-Oct. 2008

El barrio is a community. Bruised. Not what it was. Sitting on the border and prime target of speculators, er…ah…read that as “Developers,” but still standing. Go back and ask anyone in any American city, for the past 60 years if “Urban Renewal,” was about construction or destruction. If you actually need to, go ahead.

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A Valentine (in Texas)

Cracked window in Valentine, Texas-Jan. 9, 2009

There I am, tooling through the vast landscape of West Texas, working for an English language newspaper working out of Abu Dubai, Arab Emirates. Don’t ask. I’m not sure I understand the assignment. Something about Bush returning to Texas and illustrating what two brothers, who were doing a road trip, saw (except, according to my editor, they were really bad photographers).  What that has to do with West Texas, I can’t figure.

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Two way island

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FBA#20-El Paso/Juarez-Dec. 2008

First block of America (FBA).

El Paso Street. La Frontera. I’d call it Texas but it ain’t. Everyone knows it if they’re from here. Texans hold their arms out, full length. Americans think it’s part of Mexico…or hell. New Mexicans…furgidaboutit! It’s all they have to really feel superior to.

El Paso, the nation-state of nowhere.

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Tender mercy

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LBI #7 Pano.series-Carlsbad, New Mexico/December2008

Been working on the Land Before the Interstate (LBI) series for a long time. Every chance I get to go there I grab. Time machine. No Interstate. No giant concrete suppository running right through your heart. The kinds of places Duvall would crash down in in Tender Mercies.

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Ciego Musico/Blind Music

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Calle Juarez, Ciego musico/Blind Music, Juarez – 1982

Juarez

This man played in the streets of Juarez for all my first years in La Frontera. He was blind. He was small. He made music like a special desert bird, joyful to bathe in just a drop of water, joyful to sing, even to the passing and witless American tourists.

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Immigration abuse never ends. Jacob Riis: Concerned Photographer

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“Slept In That Cellar Four Years,” 1890-92

“Slept in the cellar (of a Ludlow Street tenement)

where the water was ankle deep on the mud floor”

View more work -and hear an excellent NPR audio clip- by the great Danish-American documentary photojournalist. He was one of the first to use “flash,” (first introduced in Germany in 1887). Riis cast the mold for what a “Concerned Photographer,” is, and launched a century of relevant, motivating and society-changing “witnessing.”

Editor’s Note:

For more images and audio clip: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91981589

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Moving day ( a bad pun)

PHOTO OF THE WEEK (#1): May 16-23, 2008

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Moving the man, Uptown (upper Broadway Street), Chicago, 1969

I have moving on my mind. I don’t do it often. When I do it is a reincarnation for the better or worse. I am about to do it. In so doing, I came up with this image from the boyhood of my life as a photographer. One of the very first. I still like the street puns.

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El Patron de Las calles: Robert Frank

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from The Americans

Robert Frank

b. 1924

“I am always looking outside, trying to look inside.”

This is da man! King of the road. He saw what everyone saw but he saw it through a 35mm camera and with a critical eye. To look at it now -the Global Village which used to be just America- needs a new eye. The question has been out there for awhile: What have we become?

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Check the updated Blogroll/Photolinks. Great new sites!

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The mainstream of photography, from its inception, has been Documentary Photography, the straightforward act of visual description for distribution to an interested audience. Some would argue that its utility as a means of information has passed and that other media -video for example- serve that function in more effective ways.

Hog wash.

Still photography is the perfect abstraction of reality. It is based in reality, works best when trying to describe reality and becomes pure magic when used in the service of learning -usually beyond the control of the photographic practitioner.

Check out the new and updated Blogroll (right) and suck in the inspiration and knowledge that these documentary photographers provide. Nothing, for me, does information better than photography.

See and feel the work. That’s why it was created.

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Cool Sneaks And Artifacts That Matter

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Photograph of Dorothea Lange,

Resettlement Administration photographer,

in California, c. 1936

The car is a 1933 Ford Model B (AKA “V8”).

She is -as well as Russell Lee and the other FSA photographers- the spiritual “Godmother,” of this site.

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This is a picture of Dorothea Lange, at work. She was one of my earliest influences (the other was Weegee).

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