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Behind the Image - Ben Bradlee

February 4th, 2018

Behind the Image - Ben Bradlee

On November 2nd, 2011, a photo agency summoned me to a cover a book launch for Chris Matthews’ new book entitled Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero

The event took place at the Hay-Adams Luxury Hotel located off 16th Street Northwest in Washington D.C.

Traveling by Metrorail was rather uneventful. Only a block away from my stop, Hay-Adams was already bustling with activity as limousines and SUVs with black tinted windows made their way to valet parking area. Guests exited their vehicles.

Once I entered the hotel, a couple of observations stood out to me as a photographer - the dim lighting and the rich architectural history associated with the hotel. One could sense that notable socialites and politicians have made influential decisions between its walls.

As described on the Hay-Adams web site, “In 1927, Washington, DC, developer Harry Wardman bought and razed both homes, replacing them with the Hay-Adams House, an Italian Renaissance-style, 138-room apartment-hotel design by the architect Mirhan Mesrobian. Opened in 1928, the $900,000 structure featured impressive architectural embellishments such as Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders, walnut wainscoting, and intricate ceiling treatments featuring Elizabethan and Tudor motifs. Wood paneling from the Hay residence was repurposed in the public space now known as the Hay-Adams Room. Many historic details have been carefully preserved to this day.”

As I prepared my camera equipment for the evening, the libations where flowing and you could feel the energy in the room as attendees conversed. There were many politicians and career journalists in attendance as the room began to fill up.

Notable faces such as Politician John Kerry, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan and his wife Andrea Mitchell were in-attendance.

However, it was this image of Ben Bradlee that stood out to me. His portrait in the image certainly show a man that has presence. Little did I know that seven years later Steven Spielberg would direct a movie, The Post, about Bradlee’s life starring Tom Hanks.

As the Executive Editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991, he had such a strong influence on freedom of speech and news stories that polarized America such as the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. I was sad to learn of his passing in 2014.

Behind the Image - Oromo Unity

January 29th, 2018

Behind the Image - Oromo Unity

Washington, D.C. is an indelible backdrop for tourists that wish to create amazing images of the district's historical and architectural landmarks.

However, being at the political center of the United States can attract an impassioned crowd of activists and protesters that congregate outside of the White House or the United States Capitol.

Serendipity revealed itself back in April 2016. As I was walking by the Rayburn House Office Building at high noon with my camera, by all appearances, a protest was forming over at the U.S. Capitol. A large group of well-dressed people with signs began to congregate across the street on the U.S. Capitol grounds. They began staging their march to the West lawn.

Rather than be an observer, I immersed myself into the crowd of Oromo people as they began to organize their wayward march, signs raised and a megaphone in hand. The group began to move.

As you can imagine, I didn't exactly blend in with the crowd of Ethiopians as I created portraits of them but I didn't let that deter me from walking with my fellow human-beings. A kind Ethiopian gentleman approached me with a smile and asked me if I understood the meaning of the protest at which point I replied, "No, what are you protesting?" He was under the impression I was a journalist assigned to cover the march.

This gentleman went onto to explain to me that the Oromo people have been subjected to a regime that's politically and religiously oppressing their people by torturing and killing their citizens, jailing innocent activists and stealing their land. He stated that the financing and support for those regimes comes from the United States taxpayers under the Obama Administration.

Earlier that day, select leaders from the group met with Senators on Capitol Hill to discourage such financing and they marched on the West lawn to signify their unity. The end result was my composition and featured photograph entitled Oromo Unity.