Saturday, October 14, 2006

Next week, I will be in Kampala, mingling with "real" photographers all meeting for the first time. Well, some of them anyway. I will already know one of the best photographers there: an amazing architectural photographer whom I work with in the states quite often, a mentor in travel photography, and a great friend... Dan Ham. ( )

Last year in one of many conversations with him on great photojournalist projects, websites, and the like, I mentioned the Uganda workshop I had discovered on the Maine Photographic Workshop site. His curiosity was piqued, and he signed up. After months of thinking and praying and thinking and scheduling, I decided to sign up as well. At first, I was waitlisted as the slots had filled up. It was quite a surprise when I got the call saying a space had opened up. I had one night to decide.

Dan's going was a big factor in Dave's support and in my decision. With the tenuous political situation, and the unknown areas we would be working in, having Dan along just seemed comforting somehow. (I've promised to resist the urge to art direct his shots :-) Besides, anytime I feel lost, I know I can go to him and get some sage advice on the sly!

For now though, I'm consumed with the horrors of packing: airline weight restrictions, which of my shoes are truly sensible, and how many pairs of pants should I pack. I know our friend Fabien would tell me to bring a pair of sandals and a pair of hiking shoes with two outfits. Good advice which I may follow, except I'll throw in sneakers, two more outfits or maybe three... Will I really find time for laundry?

Did I mention I'm currently on a shoot in Atlanta? (With Dan, Marc and Damon). I arrive home late Monday night and leave less than 24-hours later for Uganda.

Aside from the logistical mayhem, I've been trying to hone my area of focus while I'm there. Thatcher Cooke, our project coordinator, has secured an opportunity for me to work with micro-credit organizations. These groups lend small amounts of money to women, enabling them to embark on businesses that will help them achieve economic independence. In many instances, these are women whose children have died from aids and left several grandchildren to be cared for. Another project will be following a family in the community of Rakai. It's the location where the first AIDS case in the world was identified. It's population has borne the most devastation from the disease. I'm not sure exactly what the assignment will be, but nonetheless, it is certain to be challenging. Wherever I find myself, I hope to capture the positive results of relief efforts. If people can see that aid actually brings results, then individuals and governments may be incited to continue, even increase, their support for these programs.


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