Some of you, who have followed me for a time, may know that I have this ongoing, unpretentious photo project. It’s as simple as photographing my backyard. There is no prestige or any achievements associated with the project. I do it in order to have a project I can turn to whenever I have a spare moment and don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort to get started. It’s as easy as can be to just pick up a camera and step outside into the backyard.
What more is, I want to have a project in which I can experiment to my heart’s desire, throw myself off the usual rut, do anything differently just to do something different. On assignments, I can’t take chances, not to the same extent at least. Neither do I want to when I am working on one of my “serious” projects. Therefore the backyard project.
It’s really not a photo project about the backyard, I am not trying to make a story about it or convey some of its mood or the feeling it can evoke. The pictures don’t have to say “backyard”. The only condition I have set to myself is that all pictures will have to have been captured in the backyard. Furthermore, I have imposed onto myself to not photograph the way I usually do, but rather break anything and do opposite of whatever I do when I am in my usual flow. Everything is allowed and nothing is ruled out.
My first post of the backyard projects goes back to July 2011. If you want to look up previous posts and photos, you’ll find them here: Experimental Backyard, My Photographic Retreat, My Backyard Project, My Personal Challenge, The World from the Backyard, Instagram my Backyard, Out of Comfort Zone and Challenge and Expand.
Facts about the photo: The photo was taken a Canon Eos 1D with either a 16-35 or a 24-105 mm lens. The photos were processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik Color Efex.
On a different note. If you would like to have a photo critiqued—almost like I do in my workshops—remember I only keep this offer open a couple of more days. By the end of the month I will again close the picture critique. If you have a picture you would like to have feedback on, post a link to it on my Picture Critique-page.
My colleague, Øystein, and I arrived in Addis Ababa yesterday without knowing it was on the Ethiopian Christmas eve. Today we have continued on to Gambela close to the border of South Sudan, but not before we were able to spend the morning at a Coptic church in Addis were people gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For our full report look up our Verdensglimt
Last week I wrote about the new photo workshop I am teaching in Cuba in the autumn coming up. As a celebratory, little teaser for the workshop itself I thought I’ll show a handful of pictures from one of my longest running photo projects, which incidentally happens to take place in Cuba.
I travelled to Cuba first time in 1991 – after which I have returned for maybe a month every year over the first ten years or so. After the initial ten years or so I have ventured back to Cuba a little less often, maybe every second or third year. But I still enjoy every time I go to Cuba, it’s simply a marvellous place for a photographer. People are open; they like to play along and are generally very hospital. And then there are the colours of Cuba – vibrant, intense and saturated.
The project, which has been my longest running, is a story about a family of farmers living in the beautiful valley of Viñales. I first met Catarina and Miguel, the lovely old couple who were the heads of the family, in 1996. And since then I have follow the life on the farm – seen new members of the family come into being, and seen them pass away, such as Miguel in 2008. Miguel was very dear to me, always smiling and always welcoming me whenever I visited his farm. You see him in the first picture of this post. Catarina on the other hand is a little shyer, but equally friendly – and makes the best food in the valley. She is still alive, but unfortunately becoming quite feeble. Catarina is seen in the second picture. When I first visited Miguel and Catarina’s farm there was neither electricity nor running water, they were poor, but still happy and always positive. Today it’s their sons who have taken over the little farm. A new generation of farmers is now running the farm, situated beautifully on a brink of a lake overlooking the valley.
I still feel like coming to a second family when I visit them in Viñales – as I wrote in the post My Second Family two years ago. And even though the workshops later this year won’t go to Viñales, I hope to be able to spend some time with the family when I go back. The workshop by the way takes place from October 25th to November 2nd.
Do you remember Eric Dooh in our first post The Heir from Nigeria? He had inherited a fish farm, a bakery, a school and acres of farmland from his father. But in the end of last century the whole area was polluted by oil production and thousands and thousands of barrels of oil were spread out in the whole Niger Delta. Eric lost everything. When Shell did a so-called cleaning of Eric’s land, they handed him two boxes of Omo, washing detergent, telling he could spread it over his fish ponds. In this video Eric Dooh tells how has life has been completely changed.
Bestman Nakura does what fishermen do. He goes fishing every day. Except; in the river and the waters where he used to catch massive amounts of fish, nowadays he hardly gets anything. He still keeps trying because he needs to feed his family. Bestman has a wife and two kids. The whole family along with all other families in the Niger delta in Nigeria are victims of a thriving oil industry. Thriving that is for the big money and the corporate world, as well as corrupt authorities. Over the last decades the oil industry has destroyed and polluted the Niger delta with unfathomable amounts of oil spill. The result: Dead waters – and no fish left for fishermen like Bestman. In the video Bestman Nakura tells his own story.
Abdullah Muhamed lost the ability to walk when he was seven. But he didn’t give in. Instead he pursued his own business career and today he is a self-made man on his way up. Abdullah represents a shining story in all its sadness, particularly since so many people like Abdullah is struggling to survive in Nigeria.
For the whole story about Abdullah Muhamed, please look up the blog I run together with my friend and colleague Øystein Mikalsen: Untold Stories.
Two women try to make a livelihood by catching oil polluted shells in the Niger delta. That is all they can offer their starving children. The two women and all the rest of the people living in this area has lost basically all their natural environment they used to harvest and make a living of due to oil spill caused by Shell – the Dutch oil giant.
For the complete story and more pictures, please look up Untold Stories.