Blogging: A Second Try + Love N Memory Revisited

So, I haven’t really posted on this here blog since it’s inception in December of last year. I was still trying to hold onto summer and threw up a few images from the preceeding couple of months. And while SF’s weather as of late might make one think otherwise, Summer is over. It’s been over, and I’m coming to that realization a few months earlier this year. The days are quickly shortening and it seems like a good time to regroup, refocus, reorganize, and get some stuff done. It kinda feels like January 2nd to me, probably because Halloween left my body in similar condition as New Years Eve is purported to (personally, I usually find NYE to be fairly disappointing), albeit with a few more bruises. I guess I just looked really punchable.

Anywho, the recent celebration of Dia De Los Muertos inspired me to revisit a project that I haven’t really thought about in a while and guess I never really finished – shooting murder. Not bullets and bodies, but it’s effects on the community and families of the slain. The project began by shooting altars and streetside memorials that appear shortly after a life is taken on our city’s streets, and my goal was to gain deeper access into affected communities and families in order to create more of a documentary project, rather than a series of still life photos, which is what the project turned out to be.
It began while I was working at an education non-profit in Richmond, CA. I wittnessed the aftermath of a double murder that took place across the street from our center – from the arrival of the police and ambulance, to distraught family members, the media, and the ensuing vigil that left in it’s wake an altar of candles, empty liquor bottles, stuffed animals, and grafitti, that stretched half a block.
Through the window of our conference room, I wittnessed the effects of death on the community that surrounded the slain, and it was intense. Way more intense than the frequently overlooked newspaper blurbs could ever hope (or care) to convey. The experience stuck with me and I decided to start this project for two reasons- to explore the the culture that surrounds death in communities that are forced to deal with it all too frequently, and to put a human face on victims and their families, whom I believe are often overlooked because of their class, color, circumstances, or choices.
I began by shooting the memorials as received news alerts of murders in Richmond, Oakland, and San Francisco. I hoped to visit nearly every site for an entire year, so that I could present a project that would be staggering by its size alone. However, this proved to be difficult, mainly because there were too many to keep up with. A social worker, Nic B. did a much better job than me and documented every site in Oakland in 2007 (126) . Also, I found myself experiencing the same desensitization that I was criticizing the greater community for. The trips to sites began to feel more like a task than an important project and it wasn’t worth it to me anymore to drive to murder sites in neighborhoods I was unfamiliar with and answer questions from people who were often, and rightfully, skeptical of my presence (there were plenty of welcoming, and even grateful people, too). In any case, I stopped. Some of the photos made it to my website, but many never even made it to my scanner.
In honor of Dia De Los Muertos and those whose lives were taken way too soon, I’m posting the shots from my site as well as some others that I dug up and scanned this week. I hope they make you think.
(Disclaimer: One of the sites was not a murder. It was a car accident, but I still found it to be pertinent to the project.)

Please stay tuned for shorter and less depressing posts.

About askreamer

This entry was posted in halloween, memorials, photos. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blogging: A Second Try + Love N Memory Revisited

  1. wow. i love this. thank you. -nata.

  2. yve says:

    Wow…thank you for sharing your work. You have a great eye and the images were moving. It is great to see how you have grown as a photographer. Please continue to follow your heart, while being true and honest to who you are as a person. I am honored to have met you back at Laney, and still have you in my life…even if we have not seen each other in a very long time. Keep doing what you are doing. yve

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