photojournalism consistently knocks my socks off

truth be told, i was in sandals this weekend (sorry east coasters) but you get the idea.

“sink or swim,” the photography exhibit i mentioned Friday, was fantastic.  through still photos, audio, and a short documentary film, it tells stories about communities’ reactions to natural disasters involving water. 

small but mighty, it covered everything from hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Haiyan to floating houses in the Netherlands and New Orleans.

my favorite story was how Bangladeshis are coping.  the country’s already flood-prone, but when a recent inundation turned some freshwater areas to saltwater ones, farmers changed their product line, going from harvesting rice to raising shrimp and crab. 

most impressive was how this community saved the local mosque.  flooded and listing to one side, the mosque was about to collapse.  

so the men dismantled it one morning (there’s a photo of about 20 guys carrying the corrugated metal roof) and reassembled it on higher ground in time for noon prayers.

there was no evidence of villagers grousing along the lines of,

“i’m covered in mud and hate everything,” “that’s not how we do things,” or “why’s there so much water?”  instead, adaptability, innovation, and cooperation reigned. 


the exhibit's program.  all photos courtesy of rick smolan and against all odds productions.

the exhibit's program.  all photos courtesy of rick smolan and against all odds productions.

this story has everything.

skylight studios is annenberg’s new exhibition space and also has an impressive show.

“inside tracks” follows Robyn Davidson, a woman who, at age 26 in 1977, crossed 1,700 miles of the Australian Outback to end at the Indian Ocean.  but that’s not all! 

National Geographic assigned Rick Smolan, a 28-year-old photographer with the maturity level of a 19-year-old (by his own admission, not my snark), to periodically drop in along the way to shoot. 

other cast members include Mr. Eddie, an elderly Aborigine, four camels, and a dog.  fact is stranger than fiction, my friends.

while the expedition lasted less than a year, she spent twice that amount of time learning wilderness survival and camel training.

i love these stories and want to know everything from “how did you maintain dental hygiene?” to “did the solitude ever drive you nuts?”

fortunately, Davidson wrote a memoir, Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback, which is being made into a movie.  i can’t wait until it’s available from my library.

here’s a quote from the book:

“As I look back on the trip now,…there is one clear fact that emerges from the quagmire. The trip was easy. It was no more dangerous than crossing the street, or driving to the beach, or eating peanuts.

The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.

And I knew even then that I would forget them time and time again and would have to go back and repeat those words that had become meaningless and try to remember. I knew even then that, instead of remembering the truth of it, I would lapse into a useless nostalgia.

Camel trips, as I suspected all a long, and as I was about to have confirmed, do not begin or end, they merely change form.”