getty’s lawn

Last week I went to Los Angeles with the other POYi graduate coordinators as part of my assistantship with Pictures of the Year International to help arrange the Awards and Education program at the Annenberg Space for Photography. We had a fabulous time there and it was a great opportunity to meet and chat with some of the most accomplished photojournalists of our time. After the daily programs, we usually hung out in the hotel lobby and grabbed a few drinks with photographers from all over the world. I truly believe there’s nothing more fun than a bunch of equally obsessed photo nerds perched together in the same place with a lot of beer. Thanks Craig Walker, Tomas van Houtryve, Paul Hansen, Tim Rasmussen and all the others who were there for an amazing week!

After our work was done, we had a day to relax and explore L.A. and decided to go to the Getty Center. Situated on a hill between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, the Center is one of the most impressive works of architecture I’ve ever seen. The breathtaking views, beautiful gardens and the spectacular all-white stone buildings all work perfectly together. Unfortunately, I’m not a very gifted architecture photographer and the shots I have of the museum aren’t really worth showing here. But to get an impression of the place, check out some of the pictures here.

After touring the museum, we took a break on the grass in the courtyard. Calin used the opportunity to roll himself down the hill so that he could tell people at home that he rolled down Mr. Getty’s very own lawn. It didn’t take long until the rest of us followed suit, and soon we were all tumbling down the hill in every possible position.

After the Getty, we went to the Hollywood Bowl to see a string of live concerts. One of the performing bands was the legendary Buena Vista Social Club. It was an amazing experience to hear them live. I didn’t even know that they were still playing, with Ibrahim Ferrer and Compay Segundo – two of the major figures of the Buena Vista Social Club – no longer alive. But here they were, and they sounded as great as ever…

My longest lens was a 90mm, so I really didn’t get a good shot of the actual members of the band, but I still like the feel of this one.

The British band Goldfrapp was the headliner of the evening, although I still don’t understand why. Nothing against Goldfrapp, but they definitely don’t compare to the Buena Vista Social Club. But, of course, that’s just my opinion…

June 29, 2010

professional project: on the other side

Two weeks ago, I finally received an answer from Jacqueline Lapine at the Missouri Department of Corrections regarding my request for an interview with Deandra Buchanan. She asked me to send sample questions, so I sent her a list with questions and a personal letter in which I introduced myself and my project. Ms. Lapine forwarded both to Buchanan and he agreed to speak to me on camera.

Yesterday I went to Jefferson City Correctional Center to finally meet Buchanan. Escorted by the activity director of the facility and D.O.C. staffer Jeananne Markway I went through the security check and set up my camera in the visitors’ room. Buchanan was supposed to arrive a few minutes later, but someone in the chain of command had not been informed about the interview and so we had to wait for about half an hour until they brought him from his cell. Unfortunately for me, this meant that my time with him was cut short significantly because he had to be back in his cell block for the next count.

For the first fifteen minutes, Deandra was negotiating the terms of the interview with me and by the time we got started talking, I had only about half an hour left. Thankfully, the prison staff was quite generous and gave me another ten minutes or so to finish up the interview. I did have to leave out a few questions, but I think the material I have is good enough to add another dimension to the project.

Here are some raw edits of the audio footage:

Buchanan recounts the night of the crime:

On his reaction to the death sentence:

On dealing with guilt and remorse:

On his reaction to Valeria Brown’s visit and forgiveness:

On his outlook on life:

Buchanan’s advice to someone in his situation:

About the criminal justice system:

June 19, 2010

professional project: angela’s grave

On Memorial Day, Valeria and some of her relatives went to the family graveyard near Armstrong, Mo., and asked me to come along. As it happens so often, I went there with all these preconceived pictures in my head of somber people standing at the headstones with their heads bowed. None of that happened. Valeria and her relatives hadn’t seen each other in a while and were excited to share the latest news and family talk. Here are two shots I really like from that day.

May 31, 2010

the big easy

My friend Tobi came to visit me in the U.S. for two weeks, and so we decided to take a road trip to New Orleans. Together with Beth we embarked on the 15-hour drive down to the Big Easy. To cut a long story short: We had a fantastic time. I always knew that New Orleans breathes music, but experiencing it live is a whole different thing. We only spent four days in the city, but I fell madly in love with it. Together with San Francisco, to me New Orleans is the most amazing city in this country.

On our way to New Orleans we got into a huge traffic jam just outside of Memphis. Everything was deadlocked for hours, and finally we found out that an anti-government activist and his son had shot and killed two police officers during a routine traffic control. Law enforcement had to close off the bridge across the Mississippi for the man hunt, causing a complete still-stand for several hours.

You haven’t been to New Orleans if you haven’t had a crawfish boil by the Mississippi river…

The cemeteries in New Orleans are all above ground because of the swampy soil the city is built on.

Outside the Bulldog bar where we watched the tragic Champions League finals of Bayern Munich against Inter Milan.


In New Orleans, music – good music – is everywhere. Even the musicians in the street are great. But this one here topped everything I had ever seen before. We were in the bar and heard the band playing, until one of us noticed that there were more instruments than people on the stage. At first we thought they were playing stuff off a loop. But when we took a closer look, we realized the he was playing a rhythm guitar in one hand, a lead guitar in the other, and a bass guitar with his feet. Go figure…

On our last day, we took a field trip to one of the many Bayous around New Orleans. The nature out there is incredible.

May 25, 2010

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