Previous month:
September 2008
Next month:
November 2008

Digital Railroad is Now Dead

Here's the email floating around...

Digital Railroad Suspending Operations – Added Oct. 28, 2008

To our valued Members:

We're sorry to inform you that Digital Railroad (DRR) has shut down.

On October 15th we reported that the company had reduced its staff and was aggressively pursuing additional financing and/or a strategic partner. Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore Digital Railroad has been forced to suspend all operations.

This archive may only be accessible for the next 24 hours.

Digital Railroad has attracted a loyal set of members. Thank you for allowing us to serve the photographic community these past few years.

All questions pertaining to claims should be addressed to:

Digital Railroad, Inc.
c/o Diablo Management Group
1452 N. Vasco Road, #301
Livermore, CA 94551

I just went to the site and they look like they are still operating. At least the registration and sign-up pages were working.

Twenty-four hours is showing pretty poor form, in my opinion. Specially when many users have just recently paid for a full year of service.

The Five Stages of Grief

It seems so obvious now. I guess that's how it always works.

Every so often, someone will comment on the fact that I sure seem grumpy today. Which of course kind of pisses me off. I deny it. Make excuses. Get a little more grumpy. Feel misunderstood.

Anyway, last Friday I was talking with a friend who asked if I'd heard about the five stages of grief and things started to click into place.

Denial - CHECK

Anger - YEP

Bargaining - CONSTANTLY

Depression - BINGO

Acceptance - YEAH, FINALLY

I'm not sure if the first four are supposed to happen all at the same time or rotate or whatnot, but I've covered all of those bases. It took the realization of what was happening to get to the final stage.

So here's the deal, photojournalism is alive and well (I'm not going to give that up). The delivery system however, the one that in the past (more or less) paid the bills is broken, and it won't get fixed.

This isn't my fault, more importantly it isn't my responsibility to figure out the new way to make it work.

So that's a major load off.

You see, I didn't work my way into being the best agency/magazine photojournalist I could be, it was just how I was built. Everything about my work fit perfectly into that format. It was never about books, long term projects, gallery/museum shows or any certain subject. I don't have the patience for any of those things. I just wanted to hop around doing different things week after week, with the goal of seeing my work published now and then and satisfying my curiosity about how the world works.

Watching this system slowly fall apart and die triggered the whole grief thing.

I'm not going to promise that I'm over the grumpiness yet. That might just be how I'm built also. I will tell you that within thirty minutes of making this realization on Friday that I came up with two (what I think are) really great projects AND a way to fund them.

So that's some good news.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is the researcher that first introduced the grief model in her book ON DEATH AND DYING. Which, ironically was one of the few books I actually read in college.

Go figure.

Street Photography 105

Kenneth Jarecke, Crow Sweat Lodge, 1991

Technically this wouldn't be classified as "street photography",  in fact there isn't anything that could be rightly called a street within forty miles of here. This image was made on assignment for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED of all places. Yes, its a sports story.

To the left is Gordon Real Bird, the coach of the Lodge Grass High School boy's basketball team (three straight state championships in the '80's). In the middle is his father and to the right in the family's medicine man. The Real Birds are a very well-known family both on the reservation and around the state.

It was kind of difficult photographing anything that could be described as personal or telling on this story. When the Real Birds invited me to join them for a sweat and to make some pictures it was a very special invitation. They gave me a peek into their lives, which was a real gift.

I spent about three weeks (or so) on this story about basketball on the Crow Reservation in Montana and the affect it has on the community and the players. Karen Mullarkey was the director of photography who asked me to do it, and the writer was Gary Smith, so I was working with some incredibly talented people.

Here's Gary's story. He works like a good photographer, which means he watches and listens and doesn't try to be in the middle of things all of the time.

He starts the story with a quote'

I have not told you half that happened when I was young. I can think back and tell you much more of war and horse stealing. But when the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground, and they could not lift them up again. After this nothing happened. There was little singing anywhere.
Chief of the Crows, 1930

I think you could say this story changed the direction of my life to some degree, being I live less than twenty miles from Chief Plenty Coups home now.

Technically, you're not going to be changing lens in a sweat lodge. The conditions are too rough and extreme. So pick your lens carefully. This was shot on film, needless to say, you wouldn't be changing film inside either, which isn't a big problem now, but at the time I made sure I had a fresh roll before going inside.

There are three sets of prayers at the start of a sweat, at least in the Crow tradition. Between each set the door is opened to allow a little air and light to enter. The light allows you to make some pictures and the air allows you to survive.

Yes, everybody including me was naked at the time. Proving that you don't have to be Terry Richardson or Helmut Newton to make good photos in the nude, although those guys probably have (had) a lot more fun while doing it.

I think there were only three ladles of water thrown onto the hot rocks to create the steam for the first set of prayers, which was plenty hot. The third set of prayers got twelve, almost unbearable. They kicked me out (for my own good) after that, because they were planning to really crank it up.

At that point, I was happy to go. My lens was unusable due to internally fogging and I was worried that the film emulsion was going to start to swell (which would make it impossible to get out of the camera).