BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE

Bridge to Somewhere, El Paso, Texas. ©2015 Bruce Berman
Bridge to Somewhere, El Paso, Texas. ©2015 Bruce Berman
Text and Words by Bruce Berman

 

The meteorologists call this a “High Pressure system being pushed out by a Low Pressure system.”

Photographers will admit “every once in a while things come together and you get a lucky.”

What do I call it? What does one get for being out there, every evening and every day, always with your “axe (camera)at the ready, often coming home with nothing but the pleasure of having been out there trying?”

The funny thing is, as usual, I was in a part for town I’d never been in before (there are few left). It is a very unusual ‘hood for El Paso. In another city one would call it the “ghetto.” Here, no one thinks there is a ghetto. Being a predominantly latino city (82%), if you have a neighborhood that is lower income, the natural thing is to call it a barrio. This neighborhood was definitely “low income,” and of the three people I conversed with, two had been drinking alcohol to the point of inebriation. It is a mostly Black neighborhood, unusual in El Paso that is only 4% African-American.

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HAPPY HOUR EL PASO

Text and photograph by Bruce Berman

 

El Paso is in transition. It was always complicated. There was the whole “Southwest” thing and then again, there was the whole Chicanismo thing, and then again there was the cowboy thing, and then again there was a certain ex Pat vibe for 60s and 70s refugees who never went home.

And there was the growing suburban thing, the Ohio is too cold and El Paso is affordable tilt.

Viva complication!

Now El Paso is getting more simple. It is trying to spruce itself up and become a destination. They have a baseball team downtown now, and a restored fancy movie theater within walking distance of it and there are bicycle riders and bicycle lanes everywhere ( a sure sign that the “texture days” are done).

It’s still El Paso but some (real estate developers and those that are young that can’t quite make it out) hunger for it to be Cincinnati. Good luck.

For those who have known El Paso for many decades, to see court jester-dressed bicyclists pedaling through downtown is jarring. It is a pure contrast to the bruised authenticity that has been El Paso’s greatest strength (for me), for those of us who have been hiding here.

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Little House on Wheels In New Mexico

Van and palms, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2015
Van and palms, Las Cruces, New Mexico, 2015

Text and Photograph by Bruce Berman

Funk.

There’s a little left.

The era of funk is passing.

What’s left is either pure decay or rot from an era of plastic, synthetics and lack of design distinction.

What would you rather see, a decaying car from the 40s, 50’s or 60s or a decaying anything from afterwards? Afterwards it’s just junk that was of little endearment before it fell into disuse.

Besides, the stuff from the post war era is almost gone, all hung up in bars in places like Austin, Portland, Cincinnati, Boca Raton and Chicago.

Authentic ruin is hard to come by. It’s a good investment for those who aspire to never ever actually live with it.

The “backlands” of the USA are either redeveloped or falling into unlivable ruin.

There are people in there, by choice or circumstance.

My next era of work will be an exploration of Authentic Ruin in the Backlands.

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Street Guys and Old Glory

Kimball the American, El Paso, Texas, by Bruce Berman

Commentary by Bruce Berman, Editor

Why is it the street guys not only aren’t shy about flying “Old Glory,” but are vigorous in telling you why they love it? Compare this to any college campus. Not only can you not find a glimpse of the Stars and Stripes, there are numerous organizations that want it -or anything it represents….like the military- anywhere near it.

Is a puzzlement or is it an insight?

Perhaps, as we look at the condition of the country and the rumors of its demise, we need to start looking to the streets for some answers, not to the walls of academe.

Viva Kimball.

 

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Susan Meiselas on The Engaged Photographer

Editor’s note: Susan Meiselas, Magnum Photographer and long time great documentarian, discusses documentary photography, motivations, uses, intentions and hopes for the work’s impact on subjects and society.

This project, funded by the Open Society Foundations (Meiselas Co-Curated the project’s exhibition), shows the work of some of the world’s best contemporary photographers working in this discipline.

 

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Looking Back At Portugal At Night

Restoration Square, Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Horácio Novais Studio

A beautiful set of photos of Portugal at night, through the years, shot on Portugal Day.
Officially observed only in Portugal, Portuguese citizens and emigrants throughout the world celebrate this holiday. The date commemorates the death of national literary icon Luís de Camões on 10 June 1580.

SEE: http://www.photography-news.com/2010/06/lisbon-10-night-views.html?goback=%2Egde_1641777_member_123023198

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Phonera

Images from NIGHT TREK series. I take strolls. I shot whatever I see. Like the old days before I was supposed to “be relevant.” The phonier is dumb, There’s always fingerprints (which one forgets to wipe off) because it’s in my pocket with change, keys, debris. I’m not caring because the point isn’t to be a photographer but to stroll. I think Cartier-Bresson said something about a photographer needs to be a good “stroller.”

I’m a good stroller anyway.

All these were shot on the mobile phone camera three days ago, Monday, May 21, in the Segundo barrio, the place that I stroll often and for years.

 

The quality of the  “tech” is marginal.

Admittedly.

BUT, the liberation of just being another idiot with a cell phone, priceless!

The mobile phone returns one (especially one who no longer looks like a Spring Chicken) to the roots, invisibility, just another vato in the ‘hood. I hate bad technique, but, I love being FOW again (fly on the wall).

What do you think? Lower technique but higher involvement? Or go for higher technique and be the outsider jamming that thing into people’s lives?

Are Phonera’s a democratizing Good Thing?

 

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Altaf Qadri

Altaf Qadri, 35, is an award winning photographer.

Qadri, 35, won a World Press Photo award this year for his poignant photograph of relatives mourning over the body of a man killed in a shooting by Indian police in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

 

photography Altaf Qadri

Qadri, an Indian citizen, is a native of the Kashmiri city of Srinagar. He studied science at Kashmir University and worked as a computer engineer before taking a job as a staff photographer at a local Kashmiri newspaper in 2001.

CLICK ON THIS IMAGE FOR MORE Altaf Qadri:  

In 2003, he joined the European Press Photo Agency and covered the conflict in Kashmir. In 2008, he began working for The Associated Press in the Indian city of Amritsar. His work has appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world and has been exhibited in the United States, China, France and India.

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André Cypriano Shoots The Other Venezuela

From Shantytown by André Cypriano-©2011

André Cypriano takes us into the forbidden hills of Caracas Venezuela. He takes us into a strange land of oddly shaped houses, winding streets carved out of the hills, into a land so odd and so foreign that it must be myth but can only be reality. He notices, as all greart documnentarey phtography does, that ordinary reality, in some cases, is always more intense and mind-boggling than any fiction can be,

Cypriano takes us to Rochinha.

How he got there, who gave him access and what he encounters is worth serious viewing time. In the New York times Lens Blog post, below, wander with André.

He will take you on a journey you well not forget.

For more from André Cypriano, see:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/in-brazil-finding-dignity-in-horror/

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