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My friend has died of AIDS

Andrew Sullivan posted last week about How to Survive a Plague, a documentary about the AIDS epidemic in America. Then a follow-up post with reader comments caught my attention. They were reflecting on a terrible crisis that’s largely passed. One person wrote about his daily dose of Complera: “One pill. Every morning. Forever. And I’ll be fine.”

How wonderful for him.

I typed this response:

My friend died of AIDS on April 25 this year. Unlike your reader, he wasn’t taking Complera but a combination of outdated drugs every morning and evening. The drugs themselves were attacking his organs over time. He was only nine. He’s survived by his older sister and many friends who are also living with HIV.

The long term survival of all my young friends living with HIV is very much in question today, because they are poor. A decade ago life saving ARV’s were finally produced for the poor, and today they are still taking the same drugs. There are only two levels of treatment available for them. I hate to think what will happen when the kids on second level treatment start failing, and the time will come. They are dying because their

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Customizing your tuk-tuk

Written by on June 13, 2012 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

 

These are the guys who can help make your tuk-tuk as good as new again. See the black and white version below.

I’ve been busy lately doing things that I hope will have a positive impact here in Cambodia. I’m working on a video project that will educate people about alternative care strategies for orphans and vulnerable children beyond orphanages and children’s centers. There is a rising call in the developing world to move away from institutions toward family based care, and I want to help educate people about the options. I hope to have the video ready by the end of the summer.

I took this shot while I was out gathering scenes of life in Phnom Penh. For some time I have wanted to photograph Cambodians at work at all levels. Cambodia has been cast as a country of endless corruption and poverty, but my overall impression is one of hard work and honesty.

 

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Small Shadow Puppets Performance

Written by on April 13, 2012 in Photo Posts, Photos and Stories in Progress with 0 Comments

[portfolio_slideshow]
Sovanna Phum, in Phnom Penh, is one of the venues keeping the traditional art of shadow puppets alive and well in Cambodia. As you can see in my portfolio and other posts, the artists at Sovanna Phum make their own small and large shadow puppets. In fact, Kosal, the director, is perhaps the leading master of this art in the country. I took all these photographs at a recent performance of small shadow puppets.

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Under the brooding tree

Past the pond and brooding tree

cross the sand and clay muck

where oxen wander

boys hide

in brush caverns

and gather sticks

from a paddy, baked

lash bundled heaps and enter

water brown as skin

cool as coffee

on a long morning

and float under a brooding tree

and Cambodian sun

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Sebastiao Salgado shoots digital, keeps it real

Written by on March 3, 2012 in Notes By The Way with 1 Comment

I just found out that Sebastiao Salgado shoots digital.

Salgado captures life in photographs without succumbing to nihilism and expressionism. He is subjective, as any artist must be, but each of his subjects and places have an authentic breath and voice. They aren’t co-opted merely to serve an agenda, although his work has a strong point of view. I don’t want to compare myself with Salgado, but he encourages me to take photographs that communicate truth in life, and not to worry so much about being fashionable.

The fact that he has moved from film to digital, despite reservations, proves again that photography is not about equipment, and the best documentary photography doesn’t have to be done on a Leica (he currently uses a Canon and converts the best images to film negatives before printing).

I would love to sit down for coffee together and learn more about what he sees in pictures. We have lots of good coffee shops here in Phnom Penh…

Shadow Puppets: Last night behind the screen at Sovannna Phum

 

 

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Shadow puppets in action

Written by on November 28, 2011 in Photo Posts with 0 Comments

New shadow puppets in action for the first time at Sovanna Phum

I hardly took out my camera last month. I needed the break, and my other work takes priority. But a few days ago, I stopped by Sovanna Phum and learned they had a special event that evening–a ceremony and special performance to launch their new set of shadow puppets.  The event was attended by many of the regular artists plus people from the community, a couple of donors or their representatives, and others who straggled in like myself.

Eating in a quiet spot backstage

I’m interested in the families of performers. This boy’s father and mother are traditional arts performers. He is studying to become a drummer and his younger sister is studying dance.

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