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: - 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

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
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
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,,,,

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

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.

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


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.