Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trouble brewing... or not.

People often ask me, "What is Haiti really like?" It is an impossibly broad question which many people have dedicated their life's work trying to answer, and still come up short.

I usually just say, "It's never boring."

Currently, the president is out of the country for medical reasons, leaving a very unstable government in his absence. A group of citizens are protesting the recent murder of a policeman by blocking off a main road that leads to the south of the country with burning tires and parked trucks. A rather large group of former military personnel are forming a new military on their own accord, and all of the police are on strike. It would seem then, that all hell should be breaking loose, yet somehow order is maintained and work goes on.
The next few days/weeks/months should be interesting no doubt, and whatever happens, I'm sure it won't be boring.

A Haitian boy stands next to burning tires placed in the street to block traffic. The demonstration was in response to a local police officer who was murdered on the job.



Filming a "Meet the Journalists" segment for the pulitzer foundation in connection with a recent investigation that was just completed by Ayiti Kale Je.   Photo by Alexis Erkert

Nora_CandleBNo matter what chaos the days bring, there is always solitude at night.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the earthquake that shook Port-au-Prince and left over 200,000 people dead. For me, it was only a headline in the newspaper, but for many people here in Haiti it was the anniversary of the day that they survived, and many of their loved ones did not. I couldn't imagine living here when it happened. Nor could I imagine living through the 2 years that have passed waiting for the aid money to trickle down to the people and turn things around. Yesterday gave me an intimate view of just how far reaching the destruction was, and just how resilient and faithful the people that lived through it are.

 Additionally, I am wholly impressed with my colleagues who found the strength to not only pull through it, but go to work and report about it.

Here are a few photos of people taking to the streets to remember.







Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anti-MINUSTAH Protest- Port-au-Prince, Haiti

It is with a slight hesitation that I make my first post since arriving in Port-au-Prince two months ago with images of a protest. Before coming here I, like the rest of the world, had only seen images of Haiti in the news only in moments of extreme disorder. It would seem that is all this small country has to offer the rest of the world is tragedy. Something sad happening in a distant land, to distant people. Something to discuss at the watercolor, but then quickly forget. If there is one thing I have learned from my short time here so far, it is that the image of Haiti that I knew before is nothing of the intriguing and complex reality that exists here.

In the next two years during my work with local press agency Groupe Medialternatif, I am looking forward to seeing that complex reality unfold. My list of ideas for feature stories grows everyday as I am constantly surprised by how much joy and life this country holds. I hope that the more of the language I learn and the more people I meet, the more I can explore not just the shouting in the streets, but the quite moments that make up the daily lives of Haitians. 

This protest, which took place on Friday, September 23rd was in response to the ongoing UN occupation in Haiti. It is one of several protests that have occured in the last few weeks against the UN's mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and I am certain they will continue in the weeks to come. This particular protest was relatively calm, with no rock throwing of tear gas shooting. It began at a UN compound and wound through the city ending at the back entrance to the National Palace. The organization that I work for wrote an article about it, which can be found here. 




UN officers photographing the protest from their guard tower. 


The protest, which was lead by a police truck, included several people spray painting anti-UN slogans on the walls of buildings. Interestingly, this is not illegal and therefore was ignored by the police.



UN troops photographing the protest from the top wall of their compound. 


Monday, April 4, 2011

Musicians of Market Square

I spent Sunday working on a story for the Knoxville News Sentinel about the street musicians on Market Square in Knoxville. Some live on the streets by choice, others out of necessity. Some are joyful and some are bitter. Some play for money and others for passion. Whatever their story, all of them were very talented.



Whole lotta kids

What else better to do while mom signs you up for your first season of Tee ball than goof off in the back of a pick up truck. At least this photographer really appreciates it. On another note, this was the hardest caption I have ever had to write. I will include it under the photo so you can see why.


Trinity Johnson, 9, foreground, waits with her family and friends as her parents sign them up for the "Smart Start" tee ball program at Inskip Ballpark on Tuesday evening. From left, Joshua Howell, 9, shows Jeremiah Johnson, 1, his glasses as Gavin Johnson, 8, plays with his brother Aaron Johnson, 5, while their cousin Isaiah Johnson waits on top of the truck. Teira Johnson, mother of Trinity, Isaiah and Jeremiah watches the children as they play.

Velo Coffee Roasters

I thought I was picky about my coffee, until I met this guy. Andrew Gage is the owner of Velo Coffee Roasters in Chattanooga, Tn. and when it comes to coffee he makes me look like a 80-year old grandma sippin on 6-month old stale Folgers with my buddies at the senior center (no offense grandma). Working on this project with Andrew definitely added a few notches in my "coffee snob" belt. But, in all seriousness, I had a blast working on this project and I really feel like it helped push me in the direction that I want to be going with my work. My goal with this piece was yes, to make a commercial. (gasp!). Yes, I know this is the most dreaded word in photojournalism, but damn it, it was fun. I have always prided myself in being ethical to a fault while on assignment, and for once the rules didn't apply. And I must admit it felt a little nice. However, all the creative freedom in the world can't make up for honest, genuine emotion so I approached this just like any other story. I simply wanted to get at the soul of what drives Andrew to make really, REALLY, damn good coffee. Hey, who says there can't be truth in advertising?

Hope you enjoy.

Timber Ridge Horse Campground

A few weeks ago I spent the better part of a Saturday bouncing around on the back of an ATV with a huge German Shepherd and wading shoeless in a creek while on an assignment at the Timber Ridge Horse Campground in Jamestown, Tn. for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Before I arrived I had never heard of a horse campground, so naturally I was clueless as to what to expect. It was definitely a unique experience for several reasons. First and foremost were the passionate owners, Lee and Dee, and their awesome German Shepherds. Like me, Lee and Dee had never been to a horse campground either before they bought this place as a bank repossession.

When I first got there Lee told me that "horse people is good people," and he was right. Lee had done a great job making my job as absolutely as easy as possible by notifying every last one of his guests that I would be coming, and every single one was excited and receptive to being photographed. That level of acceptance is not something you experience on very many assignments as a photojournalist. Makes me want to get a horse and go back. Here are a few of the images I liked.

Read more about how Lee and Dee brought the campground from a rundown mess, to the highest rated horse campground in the country.