Personal projects including Cowtown Rodeo in Woodstown, NJ, portraits made while traveling and filming in Uganda, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina two years after devastating communities in New Orleans, and images of Asbury Park, NJ before new development transformed the town to its former glory.
43 imagesStetsons, spurs, Brahma Bulls… not the typical images that come to mind when you think of New Jersey, but in Woodstown, Salem County, just a 45 min. drive from Philadelphia, you'll find Cowtown Rodeo - the longest running weekly rodeo in the country. Started in 1929 by Howard Harris and his son Howard "Stoney" Harris, Jr., Cowtown has been operating every Saturday night from May to September since 1955. Now owned by fourth generation Howard "Grant" Harris and his wife Betsy, the rodeo continues to draw big crowds and top athletes both locally and across the country. For some competitors, Cowtown is just another stop on the professional rodeo circuit - a chance to make some money and move up the ranks before heading out for the next event. For others, it's an opportunity to get together with friends and neighbors, test their skill and hopefully end the day with a little extra money in their pockets and bragging rights. But for everyone, it's a way of life. A life of hard, honest work and a genuine love for the animals they rely on and care for everyday. This series is about the men and women who risk life and limb for the ultimate 8 sec. of glory at a place where the sights, sounds and spirit of the Old West continue to thrive week in and week out.
42 imagesMuzungu, Muzungu! You hear that a lot when traveling through Uganda and East Africa followed by throngs of curious children eager to learn who you are and why you're there. Literally translated from Swahili it means "someone who roams around aimlessly" (which in my case may be quite fitting), but in general it's used to describe anyone of European or Caucasian dissent. From the capital city of Kampala to the remote rural villages throughout the countryside, you can't help but notice the sheer number of children playing and working at home, in the fields and along the roads. According to recent statistics, 50% of Uganda's population is under the age of 15 and only about 2% above the age of 65. Years of civil war and plagued by disease, the average age of Ugandans is now 15. Medical clinics are severely under stocked and under staffed to handle the large volume of patients. Cases of malaria, the number one cause of death, could be drastically reduced using simple mosquito bed netting but remains either too expensive or not accessible. AIDS awareness and education programs have been some of the most effective in the region, but the disease still causes about 1.2 million deaths every year. In many homes, children become the caregivers for their younger siblings. Despite the grim statistics, it appears the numbers are slowly improving, and in all my travels, I have never encountered a friendlier, more generous group of people. Everywhere I went, I was welcomed with opened arms, food from their table, and stories I will always remember. This collection of photos represents just some of the men, women, and children I met along the way.
32 imagesTwo years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans for the 2nd Anniversary of one of the deadliest storms in U.S. history. There were a number of public rallies, concerts and press conferences planned with inspired messages of solidarity and hope for the future. Parts of the city, specifically the French Quarter and Garden District, were making significant progress in the rebuilding effort, but other harder hit areas (Ninth Ward, New Orleans East) were visibly still suffering in the wake of Katrina. Remnants of the storm were littered across the city in the form of abandoned homes, FEMA housing trailers, and piles of rubble and debris where clean up work had begun. In the Lower Ninth Ward, entire streets lay barren with only foundations and vacant lots remaining where flood and wind damaged homes had been razed and bulldozed. Painted markings on houses still standing offered a glimpse into the search and rescue efforts in the days and weeks after the storm. In New Orleans East, storm survivors and community leaders gathered at the breeched levee of Lake Pontchartrain for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those who lost their lives. Having spent up to two years in various cities across the country, evacuees from the LaFitte housing project returned to New Orleans only to find that their homes were slated for demolition. In total, six of the city's housing projects were being shut down leaving hundreds of former residents homeless with nothing but the clothes on their backs. With all the tragedy and loss still fresh in everyone's mind, most people I spoke with wouldn't even consider living anywhere else but New Orleans.
23 imagesFrom the late 1800's to the 1960's, Asbury Park, NJ thrived as a major tourist destination along the Jersey Shore. Its grand hotels, amusement attractions, theaters, music venues, shops, and a mile long boardwalk packed in visitors year round, and made Asbury a cultural and music destination hot spot for almost a century. Many people reminisce fondly about riding on the carousel and Ferris wheel at the Palace or seeing performances by Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and more recently Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and Bon Jovi. But the 1970's brought a sharp decline to Asbury's prominent history. The convenience of new interstates, shopping malls, and Six Flags Great Adventure lured visitors away from the once thriving resort. Asbury was mired in corruption and police scandals, race riots, in crime, drugs, and prostitution, and real estate development deals gone sour. The once grand city became a ghost town. Decades of neglect led to rust and decay in the shadows of partially completed and abandoned housing projects. Historical landmarks like the Palace Amusements and the Metropolitan Hotel have been demolished. The iconic Howard Johnson restaurant remained a shell of its former glory. Today, Asbury Park is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. New restaurants, shops, condos, and a revived boardwalk scene are once again making Asbury a thriving destination along the Jersey Shore. Although many of the city's historical landmarks have since been dismantled or replaced, there's a renewed spirit and optimism in the area along with a growing arts and music scene attracting more visitors everyday. These photos look back at the not too distant past as a reminder of those bleak years and how far the city has turned around.