photography, random thought, travel

thoughts swirling of africa

we landed in Africa a few days ago and it is unlike anything I have ever experienced. needless to say, my words feel incomplete and somewhat insecure at this point.

but a day or so before we left for south sudan, a friend of mine shared some thoughts she had while living in Africa some years ago. i found it really poignant and thought it worth sharing…. thank you Prisca.
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“Before I came to Tanzania I thought extreme poverty and destitution were equivalent. My image of poverty in Africa came from ‘starving children’ commercials and glossy magazine ads showing dirty, distraught looking faces. Perhaps the fallacy of that image did not fully strike me until an African friend asked me not to photograph dirty children for show in America. He objected because he believed Americans would misinterpret their dirtiness as a sign of neglect, degradation, and want. Although children in the village near where I live are poor and often dirty, neither they nor their parents are destitute.

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Destitution is living without the things necessary for human dignity. When Americans see people who lack things we think we (and by extension they) need to maintain self-respect, we see destitution. But the American concept of what comprises a dignified life has been formed with little knowledge of life in the developing world.

The poor in Tanzania live without excess, but not without dignity. Homes are small and constructed of mud bricks and straw. Clothes are few and well-worn. Ugali, a dough-like substance of maize flour and water, makes up the bulk of almost every meal. Yet Tanzanian villagers living on pennies a day practice generosity and hospitality. They maintain codes of interpersonal courtesy as intricate as those of the British court. They are individuals with complicated personalities, intelligence and humor. The poor have dignity proceeding not from their lifestyles or material possessions but from their humanity.”

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all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013

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photography, random thought, travel

south sudan | seed effect

i shot this image a few years ago in beirut, lebanon.

it is a simple a detail of a wall, but for me it says a whole lot more.

the middle east is full of faceless, nameless people.  the forgotten.

but it’s not just this part of the world that the forgotten call home…

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which brings me to my point; Elle and i have been invited by Seed Effect to use our photography to help give faces and names to the forgotten in South Sudan, Africa.

The Seed Effect from Seed Effect on Vimeo.

we are giving our time and talents to Seed Effect because we believe in what they are doing, and we want to keep as much money in the hands of the Sudanese people as possible.

because of this, Elle and i are raising support to help pay for our travel expenses.

if you appreciate what Seed Effect does, and what we will be doing for them, please consider supporting our efforts with a tax deductible donation.

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we also are holding a pre-sale for the Africa prints we’ll produce after the trip to benefit Seed Effect.

the proceeds from the¬†print pre-sale will help with our out of pocket expenses, and will also go towards Seed Effect’s general fund.

visit the link below for more information.

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please consider helping Seed Effect bring us along in january to give greater exposure to their cause through photography.

and please check back regularly throughout the weeks and months to come to follow along with us on our journey!

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2012

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photography, random thought, travel, writing

journal: montana

6-18-09

my car is facing away from the mountain. ¬†i wake to the cold and rain. ¬†it’s 5:30 a.m.

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behind me, the mountain is covered in a thin fog, like a bride under her fine lace veil.  she thought she was hiding from me, but how could i not notice her?

cooke city, montana has always treated me well, but this morning, i feel lost.

i rolled in late last night. ¬†weary from the road and rain. ¬†the miner’s saloon, as inviting as it always is, seemed distant. ¬†they only take cash, and the big city man i am, i only had plastic. ¬†no problem, i thought. ¬†this always happens. ¬†luckily, they have the only atm in town. ¬†i slid the blue card in nice and easy, and yanked it back in a forceful, but fluid motion. ¬†“out of order.” ¬†!?!? ¬†but i had already started drinking my beer!

i apologized.  the bartendress seemed annoyed at my genuine apology.

“well, i guess this one’s on me,” she said angrily.

i finished my free scapegoat pale ale and left.

my usual “free” campsite at the edge of town was closed with no explanation. ¬†i put “free” in quotes because i believe you’re supposed to pay. ¬†but i always seem to pull into cooke city after dark… so, i never have.

i decided to park at the old city dump, on the other edge of town.  it only takes about two minutes to walk from one end of town to the other.

i reclined the driver seat of my chevy aveo rental, wrapped myself haphazardly in a sleeping bag, and called it a day.

now here i am; seven hours of restless sleep later.

the sun rose somewhere already, but not here. ¬†the cloud cover is thick, and there’s a light drizzle. ¬†35 degrees. ¬†massive lodgepole pines in front of me absorb the rain like thirsty sailors imbibe on the first day of fleet week.

lately my heart’s been heavy like a sandbag.

this morning is no different. ¬†in fact, today it’s worse.

it feels like someone tied a cinder block, or a dozen, to my chest, and dropped it in the deepest ocean.

if it felt possible to cry, i would. ¬†but i wouldn’t know what for. ¬†after all, i’m in one of my favorite places in the world.

so i decided to start my day.

i made a cup of coffee and rolled a cigarette. ¬†yeah i know, i quit smoking three years ago. ¬†it was three years ago almost to the day when i started again in spain. ¬†then it continued on into lebanon…

you can smoke anywhere in lebanon. ¬†just walk into the airport in beirut with a lit cigarette, and see if i’m exaggerating.

so, unfortunately, for a time, i’m smoking again.

slowly my mind and body, cold and slightly wet from the night before, begin to wake up.

the lamar valley of yellowstone anxiously awaited my arrival. ¬†but the sun still hides it’s precious rays.

in spite of my thoughts, behind the clouds, the light is there just waiting for me to remember it still exists.

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all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

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photography, random thought, travel, writing

lebanon… the book

i am excited to announce the creation of my first photo book, with words and photography on the subject of lebanon. ¬†here’s a preview.

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lebanon will be a mixture of color and black and white photographs, paired with selected journal entries, stories, and poetry.

i hope this small taste will whet your appetite for the book. ¬†i expect to have it finished before the fall of ’09… reserve your copy now for a discounted rate!

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009


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music, random thought, travel, writing

la rade

as i sit silent, i reflect on my recent experiences in lebanon. ¬†and though my thoughts remain dimmed and disoriented, in some sort of schizophrenic fervor, my senses heighten and align when yann tiersen’s la rade floats to my ears.

a rough translation of the french lyrics reveals what i already felt through the universal language of music. ¬†it’s not far off from what i felt, walking the streets of beirut, saida, sour, trablous.

la rade (listen)

the bay

by yann tiersen

i see us all sitting in front
but the shoulders fell within
with all eyes in tears before
and it cracks and it crève boredom
i see us all in limbo
and escaping the cold , we feel
as immobile in bed, sleeping
and life slowly ebbs away

i dream we all stand before
descending into the city, walking
you take, you see inside
in the heart, the anger of the people
there standing in front of the bay
once before, the wind coming from the west
you take, you see it now
in the heart, the anger of the people

standing there, and the sea front
in front and the waves coming
you’ll take it, inside you cry
in the body, the revolt of the people

standing there, and the sea front
in front and the waves coming
you’ll take it, inside you cry
in the body, the revolt of the people

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