Hello friend –
By the time you are reading this I will be in Arles. I know! Hence, bon jour from Arles – Looking forward to a week of photo inspiration and tribalism. I’ll be brief:
I worked on an update of my east of the Anacostia River project, The Invisible Wall, that was thoughtfully edited by the good people at Politico Magazine: here.
Star Myles, who with her three girls, makes a new life which includes advocacy work for domestic violence survivors after she was shot in the head by her husband for Cosmopolitan. You can read hers and other survivors’ stories here. I was honored to share a part of this great initiative with Cosmo Magazine. It’s not Helen Gurley Brown’s Cosmo anymore!
My work is on exhibit at the Annenberg Center for Photography along with a number of other talented photographers whose work is included in the group show “Not an Ostrich: Selections from America’s Library.” The wonderful Anne Wilkes Tucker curated this selection from the holdings at the Library of Congress. Please check it out if you are in LA.
If you have any Paris recommendations- I’ll be there after Arles – please send my way. Looking forward to a productive and joyful summer when I return from this brief continental sojourn. Wishing you the same!
The path of love is not the path the comfort, Creina Alcock wrote. And so we begin this year in a state of extreme discomfort, most of us, it seems to me.
I am thinking of my intentions this year, more acutely knowing that which I have taken for granted was not, in fact, guaranteed, and that time is the devil lulling me into a false sense of security, to linger at the party and sleep the days away, because tomorrow always comes.
Until it doesn’t. In 2017 I want to learn how to live every day like it was my last, which I have to thank the current administration here in town for helping me to visualize more viscerally. So there’s that.
I’m going to try to slow down and pay better attention this year. Conquer the egoic anxiety that is always telling me I am not doing or being enough. I would like less shallow and more meaningful engagements. Less electricity and more papyrus. Embrace the troglodyte within unapologetically.
I also went down to the National Mall on Inauguration Day and for the Women’s March on Washington and made some photographs with my old crown graphic because I think that is how its going to roll this year and I better start now. I have big plans for this year and I hope you’ll follow along, or we’ll meet in the offline world and have a great conversation.
Back to Creina Alcock, she lived among the Zulu in South Africa, and she had this to say about rupture and reconciliation, words which might serve us now:
“The path of love is not a path of comfort. It means going forward into the unknown with no guarantee of safety, even though you’re afraid. Trusting is dangerous, but without trust there is no hope for love, and love is all we ever have to hold against the dark.”
Untitled, Natchez, Mississippi © Susana Raab 2015
Untitled, Natchez, Mississippi
I have been remiss in sharing the news that I had a couple of images chosen for AP31. The first is a new project I have been working on intermittently in Natchez, Mississippi and involves a lot of fine Paris china. The South is such loaded territory for photographers. On one hand, there is this sort of fetishization of its gothic past lingering in the present, of which I am guilty of exploiting. I am drawn to the place, since first reading Faulkner, O’Connor, Welty, Percy, Larry Brown, in that order. The loving in-spite-of not because-of; the past reaching into the future, silently undulating in co-centric circles to your present; the unacknowledged shadow looming over everything – all resonate with me, and I suspect with many who pursue the Southern route – we cultural carpet-baggers seeking redemption.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this project, but I don’t feel under the same constraints I did when I was younger to have it all tied-up neatly at this stage. My projects ferment for a long time. And while I am sure this is partially due to procrastination, it is also due to my need for reflection. Also I like to work on a lot of projects at once. And I’m sure part of it is that it is extremely painful for me to finish these things – to say goodbye.
A prime example of this, is my project Cholita. An image from which was also honored in AP31 (it was first published last year in EnFoco’s Nueva Luz):
- Familia, Huanchaco, Peru © Susana Raab 2015
I am probably done shooting it, but to sit down with the work and properly examine and mediate it, sort the text etc, feels like more than I can possibly bear. So I am holding myself accountable here, that I am using this month of my birthday to sit with the work and frame my narrative, to close that door and every possibility it contained. It is time.
I had the great pleasure of photographing a great American a few months ago for People Magazine. Former NFL Player banked $2 million dollars which gave him the financial freedom to sign up for Teach of America when he was let go from his NFL team. For me the story is great on so many levels: turning adversity into opportunity (being cut from your NFL team), saving money to have financial freedom instead of embracing an opulent lifestyle; giving back to a community where one can lead by example; and lastly at Southeast DC’s Ballou High School! Go Silva and Go Ballou!
Former NFL Player Ricardo Silva in his math classroom at Ballou High School where he is a Teach for America recruit. © Susana Raab for People Magazine
From the article:
In his three years in the NFL – first with the Detroit Lions and then, briefly, the Carolina Panthers – safety Ricardo Silva banked $2 million, along with bragging rights to having intercepted two Super Bowl quarterbacks. But besting Tom Brady and Russell Wilson is a “closed chapter,” says Silva. It’s a 10th-grade geometry book he’s opening now, finding new rewards as a Teach for America recruit at Washington, D.C.’s Ballou High School. It’s not easy, the Baltimore, Maryland, native, 26, tells PEOPLE: “Football, all you got to do is wake up and work out and do what you’re told. With teaching, a student might come in and just say, ‘I don’t want to do it,’ and you have to find a way to teach this kid, get him motivated.” So far, so good. In just his first month at the head of the classroom – for which Teach for America provides training and Silva is paid a $51,000 salary in exchange for a two-year commitment to a disadvantaged school like Ballou – Silva has broken through with at least one of his 10th-graders, Alexus Wilson.
As for Silva, who was cut last year by the Panthers, he has turned down a lucrative college coaching offer and rejected his agent’s plea to play in Canada. He was drawn to teaching, he says, because “I would love to see kids go to college. And I feel like I can show them the way.”
Got to photograph a very cool woman and use one of my favorite colors: orange! Thanks Mortgage Observer, PE Emily Assiran & Damian Ghigliotty .
Jovenes, Huanchaco, Peru, 2011'
Really one of the nicest things about being a lady fotografa is that you have a bit more latitude to take photographs of little children and lurk amongst impassioned teenagers without rousing alarm. Even when you are carrying a large flash instrument in one hand and a shiny silver camera in the other. This situation was fantastic, just like watching a double-feature or something.
BTW I think the color converts a bit odd in the browser.
Day's End, Playa Agua Dulce, Lima, Peru 2011
This is definitely one of those images where 7″ is not doing it any favors. You miss details like the world domination of Paris Hilton (the woman in the yellow t-shirt is sporting the Hilton visage upon her chest), and all the complexity and detail.