Monday, January 23, 2017

Women's March: A photo essay

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." A. Nin

Sitting in this Copenhagen apartment is no place to hide - just steps away from the US Embassy, surrounded by very cosmopolitan and well-educated globally politically savvy Danes... 

I often feel disoriented here... not quite lost perhaps - but set in motion to a yet to be realized location and the anchor long since lifted from solid earth... My passport has fallen into the dirty laundry and put through the spin cycle, now barely recognizable. A blessing or a curse? When can I return? And to what?

This past month I have swum daily with thumb and fingers through a miasma of purported facts, alternate facts, powerful images filled with emotion, well-edited video clips - and an un-stilled echoing of competing and familiar voices the international media constantly thrusts upon us. Alt Right, Left, Centrist, Nationalistic... An overdue education in geo political "science" and innate biological animal instinct... Am I a silent witness to a desperate splashing across this contemporary world stage before going under?

In the US politicians and celebrities, non profit groups continue to collide with incredible energy. Endless social media blitzes, email blasts in this nexus and crucible of ideas and intent. Using fear, using money, using influence, using electrons and our Pavlovian reflex, finding and engaging the consumer in us all. 

So much external stimuli I can imagine it a blade in a descending guillotine. So much impact of "news" and imagery that our heads, our brains, leave the corporeal... Within a few seconds from severance we grasp for comprehension. Eyes blinking as the brain struggles to comprehend and associate this separation. Do we, are we becoming sensitized, numb? Are we losing our collective discernment for what is light and what may be darkness through exposure and forced acceptance to the unacceptable? 

I found a bit of grounding on the 21st of this month. I found and heard a human voice again. Witness to smiles, witness to the venting and peaceful expression of what we stand to lose through silence, through our de-sensitivity to what is human and worth honoring and maintaining. 

Have we arrived at the edge... If so, it is an exciting place to be, a place to feel incredibly alive... A place to hope, to have vision, to act.  A place to awaken. To listen, discern, and act conscionably. As we should be. 

Saturday was a very good start. Perhaps because women were behind it? It felt very peaceful, non-threatening, but forceful from where I stood and from where I marched with my camera... And for a moment I felt the specter of anxiety slipping away... Now we must keep this birthed spark, nurture it, feed it... 

"As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance and equality of all citizens before the law prevail." A. Einstein

words and images ©Bennett Barthelemy January 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Face in the Crowd: Photo Essay

I wandered through crowds at the Glyptoteket Tuesday... Not surprising we are selfie obsessed today. It is in our evolution, our genes. Cast back a few millennia into art and you can fish out a crazy array of Egyptian, Greek and Roman busts... And some more recent ones as well from the last couple centuries... Idol/ideal, legacy and posterity. 

We have changed quickly in terms of immediacy - and I suspect the legacy part will change too. Curious what will happen with all these photo portraits, silver halide and electrons and the turnover of technology from CD-rom to portable hard drives, clouds - from magazine to e-zine, slide to digital... Losing touch with the tangible, embracing the ephemeral. Impermanence the only permanence. Perhaps it's a good thing...

all images ©Bennett Barthelemy January 2017

Monday, January 9, 2017

Evasive Embrace: a winter photo essay

Winter has a different palette...
Spectrum, hue, shade, feeling.

The slow bleed, the limp, this oblique softness...
My pace subdued, heartbeat slowed.

The crunch, this slip through shadows.
Hot vapor breath collide with opaque ice, 

Crystalline whispers from the past
Biting down, this painfully silent future.

This evasive embrace. Splinted season,
Blurs into focus...

"When the sun turns traitor cold and shivering trees are standing in a naked row..." JM

words and images ©Bennett Barthelemy January 2017

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: A photo essay and thanks...

Some years seem longer than others... 2016 might be the most full and intense year I have ever had. It was a year of very deep lows and very high highs. Both wandering and serial re-anchoring - and perhaps covering more physical miles then any year previous.

Residency in Denmark, then Colorado, then California... Travel on three continents... I worked in 5 different US states chasing guiding and photo contracts. I slept in the front seat of my car too many times to count.

Managed some sweet alpine climbing ticks in the Rockies and the Sierra. With two new camera lenses I got some new visual perspectives and tried to learn how to "see" again. I got to test/play/shoot a lot of great outdoor gear from Osprey Packs, Camelbak, Blue Water Ropes, Grand Trunk, Mpowher Apparel, Optic Nerve sunglasses, inflatable kayaks from Innova etc.... 

I finally got to work with my sister, a dedicated activist - we spent time on a national project together helping a non profit realize and then document The Concert Across America To End Gun Violence in Santa Barbara meeting Ozomatli etc, shooting alongside long time Nat Geo editor/photographer and hero Bill...

Many amazing rainbows, sunrises and sunsets and unbelievably starry nights. 

It was a gift reconnecting with the magic of the Southwest again after a five year hiatus - Wandering deep into the Navajo and Hopi reservations and the Grand Canyon.

Rediscovering my hometown - the rugged chapparal Coast Range backpacking, mountain biking, bouldering and trail running, the coastline surf and reconnecting with family was awesome.

The turbulence was certainly there, (working through injuries and the fitness curve to guide again in the Rockies and in the Grand Canyon etc) but the pain also provided much welcomed illumination. 

What I recollect most however are the moments spent with friends both old and new - moments of connection with strangers - laughter as well as harsh perspective. Through mirrors offered and the hard-realized illuminations, life was lived in 2016... Thank you.

These are a few of my favorite images from the year...

All images ©Bennett Barthelemy/Tandem Stills + Motion