Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Road to Copenhagen and the Quest for Brundtland

After being granted press accreditation for the UN COP15 (Climate Change Conference) in Copenhagen, I have begun my travel plans. I have already booked a the bus to arrive there on 7 December, which will take all night and should be a blast because it drives up onto a ferry for part of the way! Once there at 07.25, I will have to hit the ground running on the first day of the conference. I really don't know what to expect. I'm sure there will be a schedule provided when I check in and collect my press badge. I hope to be very busy!
Just being in the midst of this internationally historical event should be impressive. I'm sure many people will gather for demonstrations, protests and performances. There will undoubtedly be a plethora of "decisive moments" just waiting to be captured. Funny, as my professor Doug Manchee from RIT just reminded me: Photojournalism was the only concentration within the BFA Photo program that I was not enrolled in at any point.

Last weekend I met with an environmentalist activist group for kids called EcoAgents at Maridalen Skole, in Nordmarka east of where I live. It was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL setting. As I rode the bus up there, the sun was golden and falling sublimely on the sprawling, grassy landscape. Enchanting vistas of the fjord and the city of Oslo creeping up the scooping, glacial hills have almost lost their novelty as they are so common. In fact, every day as I ride my bike to school I catch a post-card-picture glimpse of the view. Three things I saw on my way to Maridalen skole, which were just unbelievably perfect:
A pasture with 9 white sheep, and one black one.
A herd of Clydesdales. Yes, Clydesdales. I am not making this up.
A woman sitting in the grass in a pasture next to a fence with a dog beside her. A colt and his mother grazing on the other side of the fence, golden light illuminating their coats in an almost melodramatically resplendent way.

No, I did not catch a photo of any of these scenes. Yes, I regret it. But it could have served as little more than proof that I actually was there and saw these things. The scratches on the bus window and the swift movement of our passing would have prohibited me from truly capturing the magnificence of the scene. I will just have to hope that you believe me.
Honestly, I'm fairly sure that my humble hands could not have done justice to what I saw anyway. I'm glad that I just sat back and enjoyed.

On Tuesday I had a very successful interview with the Minister for Environment and Development, Erik Solheim. I was impressed with his eloquent responses to my questions. He had some borderline-yogiesque insights about balance and compromise that I cannot wait to include in the book.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, that most inspiring of historic leaders, that woman of wisdom, power and grace, continues to allude me. I have tried almost every tactic I can think of to find her contact info online. I have contacted groups she is or has been involved in (with the exception of the illustrious Elders, whom I think are far too wise to publish a contact address on the net). I have tried to go through Arbeiderpartiet, though somewhat half-heartedly. I do plan to photograph a representative from that group as soon as I can. Perhaps they will have some information for me as to how to get in touch with my hero. I will fly to France to meet her!!

And now for some totally random photos:

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Productive Week

Next Tuesday I have an appointment to meet and photograph Erik Solheim, the Minister of Environment and International Development. A very nice Norwegian from my Research Methods class has offered to assist for the photo shoot so we can make the most of our scheduled half hour with Mr. Solheim. I'm really looking forward to this and having a hard time narrowing down which questions to ask him.

This week I touched base with a representative from a local children's environmentalist organization called Miljøagentene (or EcoAgents) and tomorrow I will attend their annual conference. I look forward to getting these well-informed childrens' perspectives on a range of environmental issues. Last Sunday I photographed Malin Jacob, a vice president of Natur og Ungdom (Nature and Youth), a youth environmentalist group based in Oslo that has connections in many European cities. Those pictures came out very well (below).

Last week I met with Lars Andreas Lunde of the Høyre party. He currently serves as a parliamentary adviser on the committee for energy and the environment. The interview went extremely well and I had an opportunity to photograph him in the main parliamentary chamber. Lars is the second political representative I have photographed, the first being Chris Olsen of Venstre (the Liberal Party). I also found out Chris is an excellent cook and a fellow Stan Getz fan.

I met with Pal Larsen, owner of a local apple juice business. It is very common for Norwegians to have apple trees in their yards, often bearing more fruit than one family can consume. The fallen apples can become a nuisance if not collected as they will attract a variety of animals (most unwelcome of which are the rodents). Pal's customers pick their apples and bring them by the bagful to his collection facility. They are then turned into apple juice and can be sold back to the customer at a significantly discounted rate (less than a quarter of what they would pay in the store). Below is a portrait from that shoot.

Of course there is more, but if I told about all of these fascinating individuals here then nobody would want a copy of the book!!

Press Cred

My latest article in the Exeter Newsletter: