Saturday, December 12, 2009

Presentation on Haiti

This is a presentation I made about Haiti and my last two trips as well as my goals for this one. If you want to support me, buy a print at http://sandermartijn.etsy.com


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Selling prints to fund next trip to Haiti

I set up an etsy page at http://sandermartijn.etsy.com where I am selling prints of my work to help fund my next trip to Haiti in December 2010 to take part in the project "A week in the life of Haiti Cherie" where 20 photographers from around the world will go to Haiti for one week to document the country in all it's splendor and beauty along with the unavoidable squalor.

Many of the photos are from my past 2 trips to Haiti with a few art pieces as well from other projects. Archival signed prints (unframed) go for as little as $10 and nothing is above $60 (gallery framing). Please consider this as a christmas present for loved ones, and send it on to anyone you know that might be interested.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Haiti information session and auction

On December 7th at 7pm I will be holding a presentation on Haiti at the United Methodist Church in Stroudsburg PA. It will begin with an informational presentation about Haiti and the work I am doing there, followed by an auction of some of the photographs taken during my last two trips to Haiti. All proceeds from the auction will go towards funding my trip in February to work on the book "A week in the life of Haiti Cherie. The final piece of the auction will be a private viewing of the work I do in February after my return with the buyer's choice of any one photo from that trip.

"A week in the life of - Haiti Cherie" is a project of photographs and essays published about Haiti. Photographers from around the world will volunteer to document the various aspects of haitian life for a specific "one week" period capturing often-missed beauty and splendor of Haiti and squalor.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Epson talks about my work in Haiti

Epson posted an article today on my work in Haiti, naturally focusing on how I used their printer to accomplish my work.

http://epson.ipressroom.com/pr/epson/Sander-Martijns_PM_Zoom_Haitian_Case_Study.aspx

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mom writes about the risk of giving

With little news to post recently, I thought I'd give my readers something relevant to read written by my mom, regarding the family my parents support there. The son of the woman she speaks of is my and my mom's godson, to give you a point of reference.

http://mariannekmilks.blogspot.com/2009/05/money-honey.html

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Key


The Key
Originally uploaded by Sander-Martijn

At some past point in my life I realized that the keys on your keychain are a symbol of your current situation and responsibilities in life. Do you have keys to your home? Is it a house or an apartment, and do you own it? Are there car keys? Perhaps even keys to a boat - did you remember to take it out of the water in time this fall? Office keys? Are they for your business or do you have a boss? Keys to a girl/boyfriends place perhaps?

Well, as you can see here, this is my key. When I left Brooklyn I took off the 7 keys to my studio - that's 2 elevator keys, a front door, mailbox, hall door and 2 deadbolts on my door, and was surprised to see that there was only one left. The remaining key is to a small fireproof safe that guards my passports, my birth certificate and other important documents. an 8x10x5 box contains my responsibilities. Talk about freedom!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The girl of L'Escale


The girl of L'Escale
Originally uploaded by Sander-Martijn

I wrote about this girl in one of my first blog posts here: haiti.sander-martijn.com/2009/01/lescale.html - I thought I had lost the photo, but recovered it and close to 200 other lost photos from Haiti this morning.

Specifically, this is the passage:
"And then there was her. Something special about her - so beautiful, pure, simple. She was cooking in the kitchen, an outdoor pavilion probably powered by charcoal. I'm guessing she was 15. She was beautiful and looked into my camera with a power I rarely see. Not angry or mean, not seductive, not even confident - just looking. piercing. direct. unafraid. and beautiful."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A menagerie of dichotomies - Brooklyn to the Poconos

Today begins the next step in my adventure. I sold as much as I could, packed up the truck and headed out. I had a lot of help from some wonderful people - my parents, my sister Aiperi and her husband Ulan, my best friend Alina, and two other close friends Anatolli and Dan. I couldn't have done it without them. Oh yes, and I want to thank Debbie and Mike Cerra as well who loaned me the truck so I didn't have to pay for a rental. Leaving New York where I've been for 13 years, and my photo studio for the last 4 years was bittersweet of course. But Pennsylvania, the poconos specifically, will be a good place to get my head together and work out some of the details I need to before I can leave for Haiti. After a long drive and a late dinner I went out to look at the stars and process this major change in my life. Stars are one thing I've always missed living in New York, so it's the first thing I do when I go somewhere I can see them. They bring me peace, looking at this huge universe we live in and reminding myself how small my problems are, and how far reaching anything positive I do can be. Just as I looked up at the sky I saw a large bright orange falling star. I made a wish. I wished that this is the beginning of everything falling into place, and that things will move smoothly and swiftly from here on out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good night Brooklyn, Bonjou Ayiti!


Last night I had my goodbye party to see everyone in Brooklyn off. It was a lot of fun and good to see people, some of whom I hadn't seen in a long time. And tomorrow, I leave. Heading to PA where I grew up for a bit while I work out the details for my move to Haiti, which should be a kick in the butt since I can't really do much there other than plan my move. Hopefully it will all go smoothly. It feels very strange now, being finished with Brooklyn but not yet in Haiti, life is a bit in limbo for me at the moment. This makes it a good time to reflect on my life so far and my plans for the future. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My CV - in text and pretty pdf

Download the pdf

Sander-Martijn Milks
347.952.5236
sander@sander-martijn.com


Summary
I am a professional photographer whose main strengths are creativity, leadership, initiative and a strong inclination to view each situation as a unique set of circumstances and solutions. Prior to and during my work as a photographer I have led a successful career as a top level Software programmer, Internet Applications Engineer and Architect for more than twelve years. My objective is to find a position where my experience can be applied and I can continue to grow.


Work Experience

1996 – present
Independent Photographer sander-martijn.com
Photographer for various organizations and individuals as well as personal projects. Fields worked in include Fashion, Music, Art, Documentary, Film Stills, Events, Wedding, and Product photography.

Recent clients include Milly Magazine, Kite Mafia, Moonlight Entertainment, May 47 Ent., Alive Experience, NBAF, Brooklyn Fashion week, Casual Express, Vain Glorious, Corey Golden, Katherine Tanner


2006 – present
The Bridge Studio, Owner and Manager bridgestudionyc.com
Started The Bridge Studio, a photo rental studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Manage all aspects of the business including promoting, booking, equipment acquisition, upkeep and rental and assisting clients with their shoots. I also teach seminars on photography and studio usage from basic to advanced levels.


2001 - present
Java and interface developer and architect
Work closely with clients to help them identify which technologies were best suited to drive their business objectives. Working with a company at every stage of design and implementation enables me to build long term relationships based on the confidence that a product will be delivered that meets their requirements.

1999 - 2001
Organic, Inc, Senior Interface Engineer
Lead Interface Engineer and Architect. Responsibilities included leading projects, mentoring Interface Engineers, establishing and documenting template archtitecture and user interface requirements. This process required close collaboration with clients and other internal departments such as project managers and the creative team.

Project leads included bloomingdales.com, csfbdirect.com, uswest.com, prosperoconsulting.com, chase.com


1997 - 1999
Ogilvy & Mather, Macintosh Support Manager and Tech
Managed a team of technicians supporting 700 Macintosh users in a mixed PC/Mac environment of 1500 users. Responsible for ensuring that the team kept all computers operating smoothly, integrating with the network, setting up new computers and handling emergencies as they arose.



Education and Awards
1996 - 1997
New York University
Computer Science and Music History

1994 - 1996
Temple University
Music History and Voice

1991 – 1994
Manhattan School of Music Preparatory Division
Graduated with honors

1990 - 1994
Wallenpaupack area high school
Diploma

1993 Eagle Scout
Order of the Arrow. Eagle project was a bicycle safety rodeo and bike helmet promotion. Helped influence Pennsylvania law requiring children to wear bike helmets in 1994.

Solo exhibitions and Publications
Milly Magazine, Rokovoko, Soma and The Bushwick Arts Project.

Interviews
Muster Magazine, Resource Magazine and Epson.

Volunteer Photo projects
Hopital Albert Schweitzer for The Grant Foundation in Deschapelles, Haiti
Documenting police violence in anti-war protests for The National Lawyer’s Guild
Organizer and staff photographer of the Bushwick Arts Project

Sponsorships
Epson

Languages and Nationality
Fluent English; Medium French and Italian, Basic Haitian Creole, German, Dutch, Russian
Citizen of the United States and The Netherlands

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Eske mwen ka fe foto ou? Proud faces of Haiti - my attempt to explain what I am doing, why I am going.


I open my eyes and see a commotion of color—deep Orange sunsets—striking blue dresses—green, gold, purple..but most difficult to capture, the unmistakable glow of pride. I see the legacy of the only successful slave rebellion in history, the descendents of people strong enough to stand up to Napolean's army with farm tools - and win. Welcome to Haiti.

The name alone strikes fear in some, pity in others. Major media networks repeat the same quotes and statistics whenever there is any news from this tiny caribbean nation. Crime, AIDS, deforestation, disease, famine, hurricanes and political instability—is that really what Haiti is about? Having been there twice to photograph what I see, I don't believe so.

Haiti has become the forgotten child of the western hemisphere. The poorest nation in the western hemisphere ranks 146th of 177 in the United Nations Human Development Index. They have the highest number of HIV positive people in the west. Running water and electricity are scarce and there is no waste management to speak of. Malaria and dysentary create high mortality levels. The country is 99% deforested due to the charcoal industry resulting in widespread erosion and multiplying the damage that hurricanes cause. These facts are all realities for many. I am not attempting to counter them or make light of them; I am simply hoping to open your eyes to something more.

As the landing site of Christopher Columbus, Haiti is the legacy of the west. Haitians are descendents of the only successful slave rebellion in history, people which after defeating a Napoleonic army established the first recognized black republic. Since that time the country has been mired in conflict with one dictator after another taking power, many times supported by rich nations.

When the slaves revolted they were against all odds. Uneducated and without rights they had nothing they could call their own. They had no sense of property as they themselves were considered. Their weapons were machetes and field tools against a foe that had guns, cannons and other modern weaponry at their disposal. But the one thing that these people had that could not be taken away was their pride. They used their pride to obtain an astonsihing victory and to establish a free state.

This pride remains in the Hatiain people and has helped them survive a series of dictatorships, never losing hope for their true freedom and shows through in every person you encounter. They retain hope where there is none, they work even when there is no pay. These are who the people of Haiti are - not people to be afraid of and not people to look down upon but people to respect.

The first time I was asked to visit Haiti to take photographs was in November 2007. I chose to arrive with as few preconceived ideas as possible. I read up on the history and recent events but ended my research there. I wanted to avoid falling into the trap of going to a place with an idea of what I would find and inadvertently seeking that out. The one thing I was acutely aware of was that safety was an issue as people consistently warned me to be careful, including people of Hatian descent. What I discovered was that even such well intended warnings can create preconceived notions. I found those warnings to be misleading. What I found were people who were happy to meet me and help in any way possible. I found myself sitting with a fifteen year old boy over candlelight late into the evening learning creole one day and riding on a motorbike with three others the next. Complete strangers invited me into their house and offered me their only bottle of coke. What I saw was people that lacked the concept of selfishness because everyone shared whatever they had.

My time in Haiti was limited and mostly spent in the fertile Artibonite region. I created a series of portraits, accompanied by landscapes for context that portray the strength and beauty of these people under circumstances that would render most helpless. Unposed and unaltered, these portraits require neither as all that is needed shines through their entire personality.

On my second trip, in December 2008, I experienced a greater variety. I spent much of my time photographing Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, but also spent some time in Port au Prince and Jacmel. More importantly, I made many friends. Some of them Haitians, some ex-pats working with various organizations, they provided me with greater insight and exposed me to a far deeper experience of what daily life is like. This newfound support system gave me the confidence that I could live there and continue my project, and that I am on the right path. Furthermore, it showed me that I have only scratched the surface of what Haiti is and that I must do this if I am to claim that my work is in any way representative of Haiti.

My plan is to return to Haiti with more time and with the freedom to travel throughout Haiti to capture the soul of the people of this beautiful and unique country. This work will widen people's understanding of Hatians. With increased awareness of who these people are individuals and organizations will be more willing to invest in this nation that could so highly benefit from the opportunities that the international environment can provide.

Given clean water, waste management and political stability Haiti could flourish into a self sufficient and prosporous nation, but understanding and acceptance must come first. I have found that the people are ready for this. Now it is time for the international community to step forward and help them obtain the peace and prosperity they have worked for over their entire history.

At the end of this year I will have the photographs and writing to create a book and a traveling exhibit. When in Haiti, I see proud strong people determined to change their future. My goal is to show this to the world, change their view through my vision.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Maybe It's Not Corruption, If Everybody Says It's Okay

I don't have much to say today, other than I wish I were in Haiti this weekend for Carnival. Instead, I wanted to share this article, written by Richard Morse who leads RAM, one of the best known bands in Haiti. He also runs Hotel Oloffson where RAM plays every week.

"a band will be given a certain amount of money "officially" and then they give some of that money back, I've heard up to fifty percent, to the Ministry where they got the money from, and then, that kickback money will be given to the President's choice candidates."

Amazing - they even figure out a way to mix the artists up in the standard hand-washing that goes on.

And I'll end with a video of RAM playing Carnival last year:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One step forward, two steps back?

Some days I feel like I'm getting closer to my departure for Haiti because every day I do at least some things towards my goals. Other days I couldn't feel further away. Today is unfortunately one of those days. I have yet to find a job in Haiti and none of the people that have expressed interest in buying The Bridge Studio have come through with a firm offer yet. We're coming towards the end of the month and soon I'm going to have to make the difficult decision between staying another month in an expensive place during a hard economy so that I can keep trying to sell the business or giving up on said sale and saving on the expenses.

But, I try to stay positive and look at the bright side of things. I received some needed information on visas today and I updated my website with a new layout and a lot more images, including a section specifically of photos of Haiti and a prominent link to this blog. I still have bits and pieces of work trickling in while I look for a job in Haiti, which is more than a lot of people can say these days, and I have a great support network of people that are trying to help me how they can.

I think now I will go update my resume, as per recommendations by Mareile while I try to contemplate whether my glass is half empty or half full.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Domain, changing look

Sorry my blog was down off and on today, I had a spot of trouble migrating it to it's new and more appropriate name, haiti.sander-martijn.com

Also I will be slowly migrating the template to look more like my website. Made first changes today, will do some more changes a little later.

Shiver and Shake

We were walking along the north side of Champs de Mars, the big park in the center of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, around the presidential palace. It's also where everything happens, where the life is. Bikers, Roller Bladers, concerts, salesmen, beggars and thieves all congregate in Champs de Mars. We came across a cart, the kind that pulls behind a vehicle, is usually brushed chrome and has a generator attached to run various things inside. In New York the most common appearance of such vehicles is in the morning when you're half awake, wandering between the subway and your office and you see such a cart and stop for coffee. If you're adventurous you might just add a bagel with cream cheese to it.

There were a bunch of guys inside, each running two blenders. A lot of people waiting, so it was clearly a popular spot. Into the blenders they first threw crushed ice, then mango pulp, then a ladle full of chopped vegetables - potatoes, sweet potatoes, not sure what else, then salt, and milk. They blended it up for a while, then took a ladle full of it and shook a bit onto their forearm and licked it off. Then add more of one or more of the ingredients and repeat. This would go on for quite some time before they appeared satisfied with the result.

When this happened they would pour it into a styrofoam cup. The man who took it would pick it up and gulp it down as fast as he possibly could and then put it back down, at which point the man in the cart would refill it. Thus, they essentially got two for one.

It was finally my turn so I took and carefully tasted it, not sure what to expect. I already knew it was thick and basically looked like a milkshake, but with the vegetables and salt in it I wasn't so sure. It was actually sweet, but not too sweet, with a twist to it that could only be tasted, not described. I don't generally like particularly milky things, but this was quite good. So I tried my hand at guzzling the shake, but couldn't quite handle it. Partly just not used to drinking that fast, especially something so thick, and partly I began to get brain freeze. I made it through about 2/3 before he started to get impatient. I held out my cup and he filled it to the top again, and we headed into the park to enjoy it with a Barikad Crew concert - a story for another day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The real us


I received the following email from a stranger - sent through my website so this person had seen my work and perhaps read some of my opinions - below is my response. This may not be directly and exactly about Haiti, but as it exposes some of how I think about my work, I believe it relates.

-----------------

I have a question about the way others see us.
Nothing to do with the way we think of ourselves, just as an image. The way I see myself in the mirror is different to what I see in the pictures. This confuses me and makes me unsure of how I look on the outside as an image.
Which one is the real me?
Mirror or the picture?
Thank you

---------------------

There is no such thing as the real you - not in mirrors, or photos or anywhere else. Each person you encounter will interpret you differently. Your mother sees you differently than your lover, than your friend, than your enemy, or your child - the way they see you visually is more than what you actually look like because inexplicably mixed into this is their personal attachment to you and your history with them. A stranger sees you differently still, for they have no history.

When you look in the mirror you see your interpretation of yourself - a mix of how you want to be seen (idealism) and the things you see wrong about yourself (criticism) among other things. A photo, on the other hand is a moment in time - it is how you wanted to be seen at that moment, interpreted by the photographer and captured in time forever. This of course requires much trust in the photographer and their eye. In the hand of an amateur the results can be devastating, while in the hand of a master the result can be powerful, moving and beautiful. It is still not you. The id, the identity of a person is far more powerful than could possibly be captured in any way. In my work my goal is always not to simply capture what the person looks like but to bring out something about what's inside of them. This is not truly possible, but I think I do succeed to some extent.

Images have become incredibly important in our society, and the photographic image has been important almost immediately since it's invention. It is futile to fight it, therefore it will be easier if you embrace it. However, do not become a slave to your or anyone else's image. If you live your life as a good and beautiful person that will shine out to all others you encounter and will be far more powerful than whatever your actual appearance is. This is what I really speak of when I state that I photograph the beauty of people.

I hope this helps you along on your journey
Sander

Monday, February 9, 2009

News article


There was a news article published today - less about me than about my mother's work in Haiti, but they used my images, mentioned me and included another image of me as well. I'm not sure what they did to it, but I'm hoping it had to do with making it look good for newspaper print and used the same image for the web version... Hoping.

They also mentioned some of the work I was doing briefly and included an image of me working with people. At any rate, although I feel like the image quality is somewhat compromised, it is still good to have people taking notice of my work.

In other news, some of the job opportunities are starting to look good and make sense. I'll keep my mouth shut until things are a bit more solid, but they're looking fairly good at the moment.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Natural pool


We awoke to two tiny girls bringing us coconuts. The tops were chopped off by machetes so we could drink the milk. We pulled the wispy mosquito netting aside and accepted them graciously. Coconut milk is cool, almost clear and mild. The flavor is a mix of mild sweet and mild bitterness. When we had drank the coconut milk our friends chopped the coconut in half and gave us spoons to eat the meat. This to me was not as tasty as the milk, but was still an experience.

We then bathed in a natural pool at the edge of the ocean, carved out in the lava rock. Every time the waves came in the warm surf crashed over us, like a natural hot tub.

Friday, January 23, 2009

On top of the world

It was nearly dusk in the valley as we checked our harnesses. Everything secure, I jumped and grabbed hold of the bottom rung of the metal ladder and slowly pulled myself up until I could get my feet on it.

Click... Click... I latched two carabiners is far above my head as the ropes would reach. The other ends were attached - hopefully securely - to my harness. Up the ladder until the carabiners were by my feet. One off and attached above me, then the other. Click... Click... It was slow going but as I was going up 150 feet it was one of those better safe than sorry situations. When I got about 40 feet up I looked down and saw Jimmie jump up and start the climb - much faster than I was going. No wonder he waited a while. It was also around there that I reached the treeline and the valley opened up around me. That was nothing like from the top. When we got to the top of the water tower, with no rails, in the middle of the Artibonite valley it was absolutely breathtaking. And just in time for the sunset.


We sat up there, on top of the world talking and watching the tiny people coming and going until it was completely dark and the stars had come out. I went up two more times - in the middle of the day with Mareile and before sunrise with my dad.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

l'Escale

Children slowly creep around me, staring. Mothers look at me while nursing. Teens stop cooking, bathing, whatever they were doing. Some continue, purposely ignoring me as I wander around with my large camera, far more conspicuous than I wish I were. I want to know these people, understand them - so that I may share a real understanding with others... This is one of those times when I realize the impossibility of my self-assigned task.

In order to speak about l'Escale, I must first explain the man that brought me there, Jimmie. It's difficult to explain just exactly who Jimmie is or what he's about, but he gets Haiti in a way few other non-Haitians I've met do. He runs all the behind-the-scenes stuff at HAS. Maintenance, supplies, transportation, security - that's just the beginning. It's safe to say that he's both one of the most important people there and likely one of the least talked about - but not least appreciated - everyone knows who he is and has great respect and appreciation for his work.

Jimmie and I hit it off immediately. We just clicked - had a lot of similar ideas about Haiti, the people, what helps and works and what doesn't, and we are both adventurous and always looking for something new. Because of that I gained a friend for life and that's valuable no matter where in the world you are. The side benefit was that it gave me access to things I wouldn't have had otherwise. One example is l'Escale. Jimmie was going there to test and work on the water system there and invited me to join him.

L'Escale means "The staircase". L'Escale is a staircase. For most it only goes down. L'Escale is a gated village - in the U.S. this is often a good thing. In Haiti it can be as well, but in this case it is the opposite. The people that live in l'Escale are outcasts. L'Escale is an attempt to isolate Tuburculosis to stop it from spreading. Anyone in this town either has TB or has a family member with it - families stick together in Haiti with a dedication we don't see in the U.S.

So what did it feel like? It felt like a town, with good people cooking, washing, living. Aside from the fact that they were slightly more surprised by my presence than other places (everyone is surprised to see me with my big camera), there was really no difference. Even though they are isolated from the rest of society with a disease that's been largely eradicated from societies that can afford the necessary antibiotics, if no one had told me I was walking into a TB camp I wouldn't have known.

And then there was her. Something special about her - so beautiful, pure, simple. She was cooking in the kitchen, an outdoor pavilion probably powered by charcoal. I'm guessing she was 15. She was beautiful and looked into my camera with a power I rarely see. Not angry or mean, not seductive, not even confident - just looking. piercing. direct. unafraid. and beautiful.

That afternoon I printed off a bunch of the photos with the picturemate printer Epson gave me and I walked back to l'Escale. It wasn't a short walk and probably not particularly safe around sunset, but I felt it was important for me to do it this way. It may seem a little backwards to those that haven't been in a dangerous country, but my viewpoint is that by showing them that I trust them and I am not afraid I am actually in a much better position than someone that is shaking in their boots. So far it's worked out all right.

The ride

It's pitch dark out. The only lights to be seen are the stars, which are more numerous than imaginable. And one small yellow beam of light a few feet in front of me. The wind is cool in my face. The sound a steady hum. I hang onto the motorcycle Joel is driving, wondering if I'm more excited or scared. Neither emotion wins, they're about equal. It's a beautiful and exciting way to travel and it feels like we are the only people in the world at that moment. But I'm also putting a lot of trust in my friend. He's driving very fast and we have no helmets or jackets on. A goat wandering into the road is far from uncommon and something as simple as that could kill us. We're on our way back from a club where we were celebrating Joel's birthday. We're not drunk but we have been drinking. At least we're the only ones on the road. It's only about 11pm but in Haiti that's the middle of the night and everyone is asleep. I explain to Joel that in New York that's when the clubs open. All I can do is look up at the stars, so dense in the sky that it doesn't look real. I only need to focus on one part of the sky for a few moments to see a falling star. This, I think, is one of the most memorable rides of my life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Welcome

I have created this blog to document and share my experiences and photographs of Haiti. I have just returned from my second trip there and am preparing to return for an extended stay, probably a year. This first post will give you some background information and resources to refer to as I move forward. If you are not familiar with my photography you can start by visiting my website sander-martijn.com

To begin with I would like to thank my parents Carl and Marianne Milks, for without them none of this would be possible. They have been extremely supportive of my photography career and have helped me in times of need with financial support, equipment and most importantly their faith in my chosen career. More importantly they introduced me to Haiti and funded my first two trips there. My mother had been to Haiti several times with my father joining her on one of them. The trips varied from building a school to working at Hopital Albert Schweitzer Haiti (HAS), about which you will hear much more. Every trip they remarked how I could do beautiful work there, until a year ago when my mother invited me to join her. I agreed, not knowing at the time that it would change my life and direction. At this point I would like to point out that my mother has had a blog about Haiti for some time now and it would be helpful to read some of her thoughts about Haiti to gain some insight from another point of view. Her blog can be found at mariannekmilks.blogspot.com.

My first trip was a powerful eye opener. In November of 2007 my mother invited me to join her on her trip. Excited to see and capture something new I jumped at the opportunity. As I am an artist and not a journalist, I wanted to document what I saw rather than what I expected or hoped to see. Therefore I did little research on Haiti or what others had done there before my trip. I knew some things from my mother and read some of the history of Haiti so I wasn't going in blind but left it at that. What I discovered was a country of beautiful, proud, strong people. With next to nothing to call their own and facing a long history of political turmoil, deforestation and erosion, disease and a lack of education the people refuse to give up. It is not uncommon to meet someone without work that works for free with the hopes of it eventually turning into a paid position. What we hear in the news and from many aid organizations is pity, sadness, poverty, starvation, AIDS, hopelessness. While all of these things are true and I understand that pity is one way to encourage people to help in whatever way they can, it is not the feeling one gets when in this beautiful country. I left with a series of portraits and supporting material and the hope to use this to change people's perception of Haitian people. For while pity can be effective, so can pride and the understanding that these people need a helping hand so that they can help themselves, that if we give them the tools they need they will step up and continue the journey on their own.

It was my second trip that really changed me. In December I returned to Haiti with both of my parents. They were again working at HAS and I had two goals. One was to continue the portrait work I did on my first trip and the second was to document the work that is being done at HAS in order to help the Mellon Foundation continue their work there. In preparation for this trip I recalled how excited people were when I showed them their photo on the digital screen and thought it would be great if I could give them something permanent. I went to Photo Expo to look at battery operated portable printers. The battery option is important since there are many places and times where electricity is not available. When I spoke to Caroline Zubieta at the Epson booth about their printers I explained what I wanted to use it for. What I did not realize is that she works in Public Relations for Epson. She offered that Epson could give me a printer with all the things I need to do this project and do a story on my work when I return. This story will be coming out soon and I will post a link to it here when it is. I will write more about my trip in future posts, but for now I will simply say that while my first trip was more as an observer, on this trip I truly fell in love with Haiti and the people and made many lifelong friends. I also realized that in order to really capture Haiti in the way I want to I need to spend much more time there.

Because of these realizations, I am currently working on selling my business in New York and finding organizations I can work with. Hopefully by March I can return to Haiti where I intend to spend a year doing humanitarian work and photography throughout the country.