When I came on board at the Open Society Foundations, there were a bunch of projects in the works that I sort of had to dive right into. One of those is a series on stop and search and its many iterations throughout Europe, which we recently published.
Stop and search is like our stop-and-frisk here in New York. It means that a police officer can basically come up to you and search your bags and your person with little cause. They are supposed to have “reasonable suspicion” that you are holding or doing something illegal, but often it comes down to racial profiling. They hassle young men of color the most.
The video interviews and portraits were shot by the great Ed Kashi last year: 10 interviews in all from the UK, about an hour long each. My job was to whittle all of this down into a quick-paced video trailer type of film to accompany the report about stop and search in England and Whales. It was a tough undertaking because it was all interviews with no b-roll except for portraits of each person, but I think it ends up painting an interesting portrait of the impact of stop and search. See the whole project on the Open Society website
As many of you who follow me on various social media platforms might have noticed, Jessey and I went on vacation to California in late November. We did an epic roadtrip from San Francisco, up through Napa Valley, over to Lake Tahoe, down highway 395, over to Big Sur, and then back up to San Francisco. Altogether, ten days of beauty and majesty and largess.
And — arguably one of the neatest aspects of it — I basically took my friends and family with us through the viewfinder of Instagram. When we returned to the east coast, our friends didn’t need a digest of our adventures, they could just comment freely on the epic images we brought them over the previous week and a half. It was great. Nobody asked “Oh, how was your vacation?” Everyone already knew: IT WAS AWESOME.
Then I had this great idea: Since I had accumulated all of these easy-to-access images, already uploaded to the interwebs, and since many services exist now that connect directly to Instagram and boast their skills at printing high-quality versions of those digital artifacts, why not make a book of it?
So I did.
I highly recommend blurb.com for all of your self-publishing needs. For around $70 with shipping, I was able to design, print, give and adore this high-quality keepsake of our journey. It took me a couple of hours to figure it out and get everything just right. I received the book in under two weeks (even though it was only a couple weeks before Christmas). And it was perfect. Such good quality, the prints look so nice, and it was so easy that I actually just did it and I am not still just talking about doing it.
And you can embed your photobook or share it via social networks. Here’s mine. Feel free to vicariously enjoy our California roadtrip vacation!
We lucked out in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Hurricane Sandy’s raucous winds and flooding barely affected us. Aside from being kind of stuck in Brooklyn for a week while the transit system was repaired, the direct impact on us was minimal. And Jessey and I definitely appreciate all the friends and family who checked in on us throughout it all.
The damage elsewhere was, and still is, debilitating. Friends in the East Village were displaced due to flooding in their buildings and an extended loss of power, water, heat and other utilities, half of the island of Manhattan was without power for days, some of our friends in New Jersey and outer areas of New York still don’t have access to transit, electricity or heat. Most of all, many of the coastal communities were all but destroyed.
This includes my Aunt Betty and Uncle Artie’s town, Broad Channel, a tiny sliver of land that connects Howard Beach and the Rockaways, with the bay on one side and the ocean on the other, both of which surged to heights never seen before.
My aunt and uncle are okay. Their house is raised above the ground and so it got about one and a half or two feet of water. They will have to gut the downstairs, but most of their possessions besides furniture and appliances are salvageable. A boat slammed into their back deck, destroying much of the backyard, but they are safe and sound, and that is all that matters.
Their backyard, post-hurricane.
The edge of their backyard, covered with debris.
Aunty Betty and Uncle Artie talk with neighbors as they pass by in front of their house, which sustained minimal damage comparatively.
Aunt Betty looks through damaged keepsakes.
My cousin’s high school diploma, damaged by floodwaters.
Some of their neighbors were not so lucky. When I arrived there on Friday afternoon with my brother and our friend Brian, people were busy throwing everything they owned onto the street. It was like a war zone in Broad Channel, boats strewn all over the road, flooded out cars piled up on the median where people thought they would be safe from the floodwaters. City trucks and earth movers collected the refuse, people picked through coats and other warm clothing that had been donated to their community, some people walked around in disbelief at the havoc that had been wrought on their small, tight-knit community, several days after the flood.
All of the boats from the yacht club piled up in someone’s front yard.
My aunt and a neighbor check out the local yacht club, whose boats piled up in the yard next door.
My aunt and her friend, who lives a few houses down the block, look out at the damage from her ruined house.
A neighbor who is helping my aunt and uncle clean out their house takes a break to eat pizza and gaze out at the damage through the back door.
It will take a long time to rebuild, both the houses and infrastructure, but also people’s whole lives. Everyone seems confident, though, that the community will eventually be back to way it was.
If you have anything clothing or supplies you would like to donate to the people in Broad Channel, let me know and I can arrange a pick-up, or connect you with people who definitely need it.
It’s been a while since I last updated, and a lot has happened and changed in the life of Lauren.
First, I travelled to Haiti back in April/beginning of May to cover a story for The Boston Globe. We were in a little town called Kenscoff, up on a mountain, near the city of Petion-Ville. It was my first time visiting the country and it was an amazing experience. And I had the opportunity to travel with veteran Globe photographer Suzanne Kreiter to shoot this story, and while the story was difficult and emotional, I think we both learned a lot from working with each other.
A truck travels up the mountain in Petion-Ville on the way to Kenscoff
Check out the video story I produced below. These kids have been through a lot in their little lives, and they are still full of joy and excitement, although life is often punctuated with utter boredom, lack of a suitable education and not enough interaction with caring adults. But watch the story, and you’ll see what the future might hold for the kids.
I feel content with how the story turned out. Shooting it posed a lot of challenges, mostly because — as is typical with places like Haiti — the story wasn’t exactly what we thought it would be when we got there. But I think we made it work. It doesn’t have a tidy storyline, but I think it successfully sets you down into their lives and makes you see their situation in a personal way.
Country side and farm land seen from a vista off the road up to Kenscoff
Haiti is a tough place to exist in. The daily things we tend to take for granted — running water, electricity and waste management — are either nonexistent (which is the case for most people) or unreliable for those lucky few with access to such luxuries. It really offers some perspective on these constant debates we have about taxes and big government here in the U.S. Go to a place like Haiti, and you’ll better understand the impact of your tax dollars, the safety nets we have in place, and the role of government when you return home.
Okay, off my soapbox…
The other major thing that’s happened is that I left my position at The Boston Globe at the end of May for a post at the Open Society Foundations. It’s nonprofit that advocates for human rights around the globe. My job is to produce and commission multimedia projects and films that tell the story of issues we are working in and work that our programs are doing all over the world. I’m excited to take on this challenge and see what happens.
So that also means that I’ve moved from Boston to New York. I was born here, lived here for 9 months of my life, and now I’ve returned 26 years later. I love New York, I have people that I love in New York, and I’m excited to see what I can do here.
The view of Manhattan from a rooftop on Wall Street
That’s all the updates for now. I’ll be posting new work soon, hopefully, so check back!
Before this assignment, I haven’t found myself transcoding video in the backseat of my car while driving a long distance since grad school. A lesson in how a light feature can quickly turn into ‘breaking news’…
I started shooting this story a few weeks ago by visiting a class at MassArt called “Toys for Elephants.” It’s a semester-long course in which this class of about 15 students research elephant behavior, get to know the two elephants at the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, and then design, pitch and fabricate large toys for these two elephants. I visited them while they were working on their toys in the metalworking and woodworking studios at MassArt.
Fast forward to the morning of the hand-off day — the day at the end of the semester in which they bring the toys to the zoo, install them, and let the elephants have at them. The reporter and I arrive to find several other local news outlets also in attendance, unexpectedly. Of course, we had to sound the alarm to our editors and they decide that the story I thought I would have most of the next week to work on for a Sunday feature, was going to run the next day (so as to beat our competitors).
With about five interviews and a lot of footage, plus the delayed installation of the toys, time contraints of ingesting and transcoding the video, traffic, editing time, compressing and uploading, I realized that finishing this particular video story for the next day would be pretty much impossible.
I told them I would try my best not to stay up all night and still have it ready. I ended up processing the video as I drove to New York (which was previously planned weekend trip), slept when I got to New York, then woke up at 6am, edited until noon, compressed, uploaded and had it ready by 1pm for a centerpiece on BostonGlobe.com. Oh, the adventures of newspaper video!
I would say it was near-record time for producing this story. It has a couple of bumpy parts that I would have taken time to smooth out if I had more time, but I’m happy how it turned out considering the circumstances.
My task was to shoot b-roll of the goings-on, interview some runners and — because it was so hot — talk someone about the tips they were giving the runners for dealing with temperatures in the 80′s. Then, I had to edit and file it by around 10am. The best part was that I put my new 5D MarkIII to use for the first time on assignment! Here’s the outcome…
The audio editing is a bit rough, but I was on a mega deadline with my editor checking in every 20 minutes or so. Needless to say, perfection was not an option. The 5DMIII did really well with the audio. I was traveling light so I just had the Rode Videomic in the hot shoe and got close to my subjects. The lack of auto-gain alone made the audio infinitely better. The only major mistake I made was first plugging the mic into the headphone jack instead of the mic jack. It’s in the same place that the mic jack is on the 7D!
By the end of the day, my colleague Scott LaPierre combined my footage with video from our other staffers along the course and at the finish (shooting with lots of different kinds of cameras, including iPhones) and it turned out to be a really fun montage of the day:
Shooting video for a newspaper can be really exciting. You never know what the next day has in store for you, and I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that I always need to be prepared to drop what I’m doing or react to news that is happening right in front of me, even outside of work hours.
One thing, though, that is and always will be a challenge is parachuting into a story for a couple of hours, hoping the person its about wants to share the intimate details of his or her life with you… in front of a camera, no less…. and after he’s already told his story to a reporter and photographer. That was the case for this story I shot for the Globe a couple of weeks ago: “Wounded But Winning”.
Mike, a retired Army staff sergeant, has an incredible story, although if you ask him about it, he’ll probably tell you it’s old news. He lost both of his legs during his second tour in Afghanistan when his vehicle was hit with an IED. However, on that particular Tuesday evening when I met up with him before his sled hockey practice in Dover, N.H., he didn’t really feel like talking about it so much. This is definitely understandable; we were in a public space, surrounded by friends and strangers, he was gearing up to have fun. But it can be a bit frustrating as a reporter who is sent to capture that information for a day-turn video. I only had that evening to gather all the content I would need to edit together a short, compelling, complete video story for the next day.
Luckily, though, the action of the sled hockey practice and the insight Mike offered about the benefits of sled hockey, particularly to amputees, worked on its own. While I felt a bit disappointed in myself that I failed at collecting those dramatic details, I realized in the edit that the details about how he was disabled were less relevant in this piece, which focused on the present instead of the past. You can only do your best with the time and resources you have. Don’t make excuses, just be resourceful.
Last week I was assigned to shoot with Olympic Judo athlete Kayla Harrison. This girl is amazing. She’s been doing Judo since she was a little kid and quickly became a national and international contender. She’s 21 now, and has two world medals, winning gold and bronze in consecutive World Judo Championships. This was my first glimpse of the sport of Judo and it’s really interesting visually. It’s really a full-contact sport, almost more like wrestling than martial arts. Also, she can throw full-grown men over her shoulder.
But her story, while inspiring, is complicated. She’s dealt with challenges that are becoming more and more familiar in youth sports: sexual abuse by a coach. She is not just physically strong, but also emotionally and mentally. Now, having left all that pain behind, she is looking forward to the 2012 Olympic games in London, and on August 2, plans to be the first American to ever win the gold medal in Judo.
Check out her story here….
I shot this with the Canon 7D. The only lenses available to me were a 16-35mm and a 55mm (old Nikon with a Canon mount). I definitely wish I had had a longer lens because shooting details of such intense physical action was difficult. Getting too close proved to be dangerous several times. Having never shot martial arts of any kind, it was a steep learning curve. My strategy ended up being to just let the match unfold, rather than think in sequences. Greater shot variety and more voices would have made this piece better all-around.
Last week, I got a day-turn assignment to shoot with a 9-year-old girl at Children’s Hospital who had six organs transplanted at once. After a rare, non-malignant tumor encased her esophagus and abdominal organs, this major transplant — and first esophagus transplant ever in the region — was the only way to save her life. They waited more than a year for donor organs. She has been sick, in and out of hospitals, since she was 4-years-old.
I shot and edited this video with Alannah and her grandmother the day before they were heading home after three months in the hospital recovering. The doctors say she will have a normal life, which is really incredible.
I had the privilege of working on this story for The Boston Globe with writer Billy Baker and photographer Yoon S. Byun. These kids are amazing. They’ve had every obstacle thrown in their path — poverty, familial language barriers, abuse, their father’s suicide, living in a rough neighborhood, and much more than you could ever imagine — and yet they are top students at one of the best exam high schools in Boston.
Please, take some time to watch this video and then go read the article to go more in depth. The boys, their family, their mentor and their teen center have received an outpouring of support from the school, friends, and strangers. It’s an amazing experience as a journalist to see a story make such an impact…
After Occupy Boston lost a court hearing on Wednesday that removed the temporary restraining order barring their eviction, the Mayor strongly urged the protestors to leave Dewey Square. On Thursday morning, December 8, the city issued a mandate that all occupiers leave the park, which is part of the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston’s financial district, by midnight.
The movement’s newest slogan was emblazoned on the wall of a building adjacent to Dewey Square around 10 p.m. Thursday.
Instead, thousands of supporters showed up. When the police announced just before 3 a.m. on Friday morning that they would not clear the park, the crowd swelled into Atlantic Avenue shutting down the street. The protestors even moved tents and lawn chairs into the street. Eventually, around 3:30 a.m., two protestors were arrested for refusing to move their tent (with them in it) out of the street.
As midnight approached, a protestor held his ground in the park.
Protestors took over Atlantic Avenue in downtown Boston early Friday morning.
Throughout the day on Friday, protestors and supporters trickled from the park, and by early Saturday morning only approximately 75 remained, despite reports that police would clear the park in the early morning hours. A few exhausted protestors were even seen holding signs asking to just be evicted already.
At exactly 5 a.m., police vans arrived swiftly and the park was soon surrounded by 250 Boston Police officers. They were not dressed in riot gear, and they began to quickly dismantle the remaining tents and structures in the park. Afterward, around 5:45 a.m. Saturday, the remaining protestors were arrested in the park without violence. Few images of the arrests exist because police pushed all the credentialed media into a small space on the sidewalk, threatening arrest to anyone who moved from the area, and blocked the view of what was going in the park with police vans and about two dozen officers.
Within a half hour, police had cleared most of the tents from the park and piled the refuse onto the sidewalk, ready to be placed in garbage trucks waiting at the curb on Atlantic Ave.
A small group of approximately 40 protestors waited to be arrested as police pushed media back to the sidewalk and later obstructed the media’s view with police vehicles and officers.
A sign at an entrance to the park remained as police began to arrest protestors and police officers filled the newly emptied park.
After clearing the park, police moved protestors, and media alike, away from the park to the sidewalk in front of South Station and remained in formation for several hours.
The remaining protestors taunted police, asking them why they became police officers and how they sleep at night. Some officers responded but did not engage the protestors.
It was a long couple of days for everyone at Occupy Boston — protestors, media and police. By the time police arrived, it seemed that many of the protestors were relieved that the eviction was finally happening and were ready to be either arrested peacefully or to the leave the park willingly. And although it was sad and frustrating (and maybe infuriating) for some of the occupiers, many seemed ready to move on to the next phase of their movement — whatever that may be.
Media, protestors and police stayed through the morning and the “re-beautification” of Dewey Square began swiftly after garbage and other refuse was removed from the park.
My final picture, taken (with Instagram) from the 12th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel on Atlantic Ave. at around 7:30 a.m.
The Globe has been covering Whitey Bulger for more than a decade — from his time as a petty criminal in the Southie projects to the discovery of his role as an FBI informant and alleged murderer, charged with 19 murders, and beyond.
When he was caught in Santa Monica after 16 years on the run in June, Globe reporters Shelley Murphy and Maria Cramer began the gruesome task of piecing together what his life with his girlfriend Catherine Greig was like through the years. Three photographers shot video along the way, many people were interviewed, and lots of b-roll was gathered.
At the beginning of October, I was given all of this content in order to make a video story with it. I interviewed the reporters in a documentary style, transcribed everything, built a script, and eventually came out with this:
A hefty undertaking, but with the inspiration of hundreds of documentaries that address events and people in the past, I’m stoked with how it came out.
I made my way down to Occupy Wall Street this past Saturday. They were participating in a day of worldwide action protesting the state of the global economic system, and marched from Wall Street to Washington Square Park.
Later that night, I watched the General Assembly debate the possibility of expanding their occupation to Washington Square. It was pretty incredible to watch thousands of people have a rational conversation — using the people’s microphone — about the costs and benefits of staying in the park after it closed at midnight. Police had already begun to gather and threatened the arrest of anyone who stayed past close. Some people gave good reasons for beginning the expanded occupation, despite the possibility of arrest, while other believed they didn’t have the numbers on that particular night. At around 11:45 P.M. the assembly decided to table the discussion for the next day and left the park peacefully. I guess that’s what they call ‘direct democracy’.
I think what struck me the most was the diversity — racial, ethnic, age, socio-economic, gender, everything. Like a seemingly grungy young kid in a tie-dyed tank top linked arms with a mother pushing a stroller. It was incredible.
Here are some pictures from the march:
The evening’s General Assembly in the drained fountain in Washington Square Park.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sent out to Brockton, Mass., to shoot the installation of photographer Mary Beth Meehan‘s work from her project “City of Champions.” The project looks deeply into the character of Brockton — where Meehan grew up — which has changed drastically in the past 20 years from a suburban haven to a town plagued by drugs, crime, and unemployment.
Her images have been blown up and printed on banners — some of which are up to 20-feet wide — and hung on buildings in downtown Brockton. It was a cool sight to see the installation, and the images are intricate and thoughtful.
September 11th has a special meaning to Boston because two of those fatal flights left from Boston Logan Airport. Personally, before moving here and working at the Globe, I didn’t give much thought to that because of my own personal ties to New York City. We have some really compelling stories in the works from people who have experienced a lot of change or who have never told their story before.
In the meanwhile, we’ve been running other related stories leading up to our big 9/11 package that runs for 8 days beginning next Sunday, Sept. 4.
This story, which was shot by staff photographer Joanne Rathe (while also shooting beautiful stills) and I edited, offers a look into America’s Camp, a youth summer camp in Massachusetts that caters to kids who lost their parents on September 11, 2001. This is the 10th and last year for the camp, so the kids — many of whom were only about 5 or 8 years old at the time — are dealing with the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 and the end of the camp that helped them through so much emotional duress. These kids are so articulate and reflective about what they’ve gone through and how they’ve coped with their tragic losses at such young ages, it was really tough to whittle down.
In the Globe video department, we’ve been pretty deeply immersed in preparing stories for our 9/11 10th anniversary package that launches next week. But, I was able to take a lighthearted break from some solemn storytelling to shoot this awesome Red Bull event at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
World-renowned cliff divers competing in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series dove off the rood of the ICA building into the Boston Harbor. Pretty epic, to say the least!
I went to Spain at the end of April to visit my dear friend Emily Yount. She has been living in southern Spain since September, teaching English in a small farming community outside of Sevilla. I chose the week before Easter because, more than anything, I wanted to photograph Semana Santa in Sevilla:
“During Holy Week, the city is crowded with residents and visitors, drawn by the spectacle and atmosphere. The impact is particularly strong for the Catholic community. The processions are organized by hermandades and cofradías, religious brotherhoods. During the processions, members precede the pasos (of which there are up to three in each procession) dressed in penitential robes, and, with few exceptions, hoods. They may also be accompanied by brass bands.”
Unfortunately, it rained throughout the week. According to this article, no one can remember a year when this many pasos have been canceled in one Easter week.
A sad sight: chairs all set up and no paso to watch.
We spent a lot of the week hunting Nazarenos — the hermanos from the brotherhoods who act as the penitents wearing robes and masks — and documenting how they are “just like us”!
They find safety in numbers.
They wait for the bus.
They wait out the rain under a bridge.
But, with Easter Sunday also came the sun — if I were a religious person, I might say it was appropriate, or make some kind of pun (Son/sun?) — and we were able to watch a pretty epic, and crowed, paso. You could tell that everyone had a bit of “paso fever” since they had waited all week to attend one!
You can check out the whole set of images from the Domingo de Resurreccíon paso HERE!.