Monday, June 25, 2012

Second CNN iReport Awards: Once the Glitter Settles

Second CNN iReport Awards: Once the Glitter Settles


I missed the Pride Parade in NYC this year because I spent the weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, at the CNN i-Report Awards. As an i-reporter myself and as a guest of fellow i-reporter Kurt Weston--an award-winning photographer (and subject of Journeys Through Darkness), whose story was nominate (and won) the Personal Story category--I found myself, together with the others in our group, at the center of Central News Network...
Atlanta, Georgia. Photo Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald
Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald.


Thinking back at this experience, I try to figure out what part of it was the most fabulous, fantastic and phenomenal:
CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald


CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald

CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald

* Seeing Kurt, Terry and Kurt's guide dog, Ambrose, again?
* Meeting other i-reporters and i-report producers I sometimes come in touch with when my stories are about to be vetted by CNN?
* Learning more about CNN iReport's own backstory?
* Finding myself back in Atlanta after more than a decade?
* The phenomenal CNN tour?
* Having the unique chance to chat with CNN's Michael Holmes? I was humbled and honored to be able to say hello to the brave and phenomenal CNN international correspondent/anchor. It's not everyday that I get to talk to people I admire and whose shows I follow. The meeting was an enlightening experience, to say the least.
* Or maybe it was a sum of all the moments mentioned above...
CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald
CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald

CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald
CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald

CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald
CNN Tour: Inside CNN Headquarters Building, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Alina Oswald

But once the ceremony is over, everybody's gone to chase the next braking story. Once the lights are off and the room emptied, in the silence of darkness that follows, only the glitter remains, still sparkling, if only for a brief moment. It is during this last glow that it mingles with dust and settles almost quietly on the hardwood floor.

Ambrose, Kurt Weston's guide dog, during the CNN Tour. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Ambrose, Kurt Weston's guide dog, during the CNN Tour. Photo by Alina Oswald.

Lunch with Ambrose, Kurt Weston's guide dog. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Lunch with the iReporters and Ambrose, Kurt Weston's guide dog. Photo by Alina Oswald.


What's left is the memory of the event, a memory that lives on in a parallel physical dimension, and not only. Winners place their awards on pedestals, an everlasting reminded of their achievements (and for good reason). The others are left to remember the event through its memorable moments: Michael Holmes, Kurt Weston's acceptance speech or his interview with CNN's Fredericka Whitfield, etc.
The Ceremony: Kurt Weston won Personal Story. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
The Ceremony: Kurt Weston won Personal Story
CNN's Michael Holmes, hosting the 2nd CNN iReport Awards. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
CNN's Michael Holmes, hosting the 2nd CNN iReport Awards

Kurt Weston's acceptance speech and CNN's Michael Holmes

Kurt Weston showing off his award. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Kurt Weston showing off his award (almost all images in this post are iPhone images)


When all is said and done, once the glitter settles, these memorable moments remind us of the immense importance of the event, of the Second CNN iReport Awards... and allow us to continue counting.

Hope you enjoy the read and images, and that you the stories of CNN iReport Award winners will inspire you.

As always, thanks for stopping by,
Alina Oswald
Writer/Photographer
Author of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to Photograph Naked Boys Singing on a Non-Nude Beach: Part I

How to Photograph Naked Boys Singing on a Non-Nude Beach: Part I



How do you shoot naked people? (with the camera, I mean) How do you shoot naked people in non-nude public places?

The answer is... you have fun while at it. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do just that on a public Jersey beach, during a cover photo shoot for a publication. The assignment: to photograph the cast of Naked Boys Singing.

The short story: it was a delightful experience. The long story will take a few paragraphs (and an additional post) to tell. But first...

Naked Boys Singing on Jersey Beach. Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Letting Go: Naked Boys Singing on the Beach. Photo by Alina Oswald
Like with any photo shoot, this one also needed some prep time, which included:
* Writing down a list of potential poses for Naked Boys Singing cast members
* Studying cast portraits and individual portraits/headshots of the cast members
* Familiarizing myself with the show and its cast members over the years
* And, very important, printing out a map (and setting my GPS for) the photo shoot location. [I ended up getting lost, twice, (I always do, while driving in Jersey), but made it to my destination in the end.]

Once I arrived, we discussed best (and also possible) poses and much more. It was nice that, during the shoot, the directors offered new ideas, as did the cast members, and also yours truly. It was an... organic shoot, in that sense.

While we couldn't stay too long, I had to focus to finish the photo-shoot in half the time I usually take. But it had to be done and I had one shot at it. So, I had to be as creative as possible.

While I cannot share all the images from the photo-shoot, for now I can offer a sneak peak into the Naked Boys Singing beach photo-shoot. More images to come.

I'd like to thank the cast and the directors for making this a fun and exciting experience. Stay tune for updates and/or go see Naked Boys Singing performing live on stage. Now, that would be an unforgettable experience.

As always, thanks for stopping by,

Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS









Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shuttle Enterprise on the last leg of its trip to the Intrepid Museum

Photographing the Shuttle Enterprise on the last leg of its trip to the Intrepid Museum

Wed, June 6th, 2012




Shuttle Enterprise covered by watery curtain by fire boat. Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rigths Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise covered by watery curtain by fire boat. Photo by Alina Oswald
Today I spent almost my entire day photographing the shuttle Enterprise on the last leg of its trip. I spotted the barge carrying the shuttle sometime around 10.30 AM (15 minutes late) heading seemingly parallel to the Verrazano Bridge and slightly north. Traffic on the Hudson was... heavy, to say the least. The shuttle was flanked by fire boats, which were, on and off, literally showering it. Red coast guard helicopters were humming in the sky, watching over it.


Shuttle Enterprise with Verrazano Bridge in the background. Photo Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise with Verrazano Bridge in the background. Photo Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

 
Shuttle Enterprise with Verrazano Bridge in the background. Photo Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise with Verrazano Bridge in the background. Photo Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.


Shuttle Enterprise and Staten Island Ferry. With Verrazano Bridge in the background. Photo Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise & Staten Island Ferry. Verrazano Bridge in the background. Photo Copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

 One at a time, the barge sailed up the river, squeezing its way among ferries full of tourists, other barges, Staten Island ferries, police boats and many others. It first reached Lower Manhattan, than Winter Garden and the new construction at Ground Zero. It moved up north, reaching Midtown (Empire State Building and then Times Square).

All this time, the crane followed closely. After Midtown, the barge carrying the shuttle veered west and waited for the crane to catch up. While waiting, more fire boats showed off all they could do, turning into watery butterflies, welcoming the shuttle.
Barge with Shuttle Enterprise on the Hudson, at Empire State Building. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Barge with Shuttle Enterprise on the Hudson reaches Empire State Building. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise and Fire Boat. Close-Up. Photo by Alina Oswald. Copyright 2012. All Rights Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise and Fire Boat. Close-Up. Photo by Alina Oswald.
Barge with Shuttle Enterprise on the Hudson, at Empire State Building. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Barge with Shuttle Enterprise on the Hudson reaches Midtown. Photo  by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.


Once the crane reached the shuttle, approximately at 42nd Pier level (Intrepid Museum), the barge started to rotate, offering a 360 perspective of the shuttle. Then ever so slowly, it sailed the remaining few feet to the Intrepid.
Shuttle Enterprise feet away from its final destination: Intrepid Museum, NYC. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise feet away from its final destination: Intrepid Museum, NYC. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

Shuttle Enterprise feet away from its final destination: Intrepid Museum, NYC. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise feet away from its final destination: Intrepid Museum, NYC. Sign and Tail. Photo by Alina Oswald.

I was one of the few photographers and viewers standing and snapping pictures until the very end. One last photograph, the one I almost did not take, shows a partial tail (of the shuttle) passing by a sign saying "Shuttle Enterprise." I discovered the sign only when I got home and looked through the images.
Shuttle Enterprise reaches Winter Garden and Ground Zero. Photo copyright 2012 by Alina Oswald. All RIghts Reserved.
Shuttle Enterprise at Ground Zero. Photo by Alina Oswald

Here are a few samples of today's shuttle Enterprise photo-shoot. Hope you enjoy them!

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

For more Enterprise images, please visit my online portfolio at www.flickr.com/photos/ano07.

Thanks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Remembering the AIDS Pandemic in Books: Reviewing Caregiver, a Novel by Rick R. Reed

Remembering the AIDS Pandemic in Books: Reviewing Caregiver a Novel by Award-Winning Author Rick R. Reed


Today is June 5th. It stands for Enterprise's last trip to the Intrepid Museum (canceled until further notice), the Venus travels and partial lunar eclipse (that may or may not be seen from the East Coast). But for three decades and counting, June 5th has marked the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

The first cases of AIDS reached American shores on June 5th, 1981. Since then, tens of millions of people have died, tens more have been infected. Thirty years and counting, and the pandemic is still with us. The virus is still a killer virus, maybe tamed, but yet a killer. And the AIDS pandemic seems kinda... forgotten, at least in the United States. Mainstream media doesn't really talk about HIV/AIDS. Grassroots activists do, but their opinions often fall of deaf ears. Some artists, though, do not lose hope. They keep talking about HIV/AIDS, no matter what.

Why they do that, one may ask? Because, as surprisingly as it may sound to some, it is still important to talk about HIV/AIDS. Some individuals tackle the topic in their speeches, others in their artwork, because it is always important to remember, to not forget...

Writers, which are artists too, use their words to keep alive the darkest years of AIDS. One of these writers is Rick R. Reed. His book is Caregiver and my review of Caregiver was originally published in A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine.

Here it is, again, in case you missed it a few months ago, when it originally came out.

Hope you'll enjoy the read. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS




    Caregiver
    by Rick R. Reed
    Dreamspinner Press
   
    Review by Alina Oswald
   
   
    "There is a fine line between triumph and disaster. That line is hope," says long-term AIDS survivor and Hope--A Story of Triumph author, Joel Rothschild. As we step into the fourth decade of AIDS, we further distance ourselves from the disaster associated with the pandemic and become more used to the idea of triumph against the pandemic. And yet, staying on the path from disaster to triumph can be challenging, and may require a delicate balancing act between modern day AIDS complacency and awareness, between our strides towards a future free of AIDS and our responsibility to always remember the history of AIDS.
    Award-winning author Rick R. Reed takes on this responsibility. In Caregiver, a semi-autobiographical story of AIDS based on the his own experience as an AIDS buddy (volunteer companion) with an outreach organization, Reed takes us back to a time before the advent of life-extending medications, at the height of the epidemic, offering a chronicle of AIDS from the less expected perspective of a witness to (rather than victim of) AIDS.
    The enormity of the pandemic engulfs both its witnesses and victims, and comes through during the read. Yet, the Caregiver story is not one of human hopelessness, nor helplessness. Rather, it is a bold tale of self-doubt and regret, trust bruised by addiction and fear mixed in with the desire to carry on. Caregiver is a gentle story of compassion and friendship that become love, and of love and sacrifice that transcend realms. In Reed's story caregiver/patient roles reverse and evolve, making room for a lasting connection, one stronger than AIDS and death, a keepsake to guide us on the path through AIDS, from its years of disaster to those of triumph.
    In Caregiver Reed explores human nature as it is shaped by life, death and everything in between. The result is a heart-wrenching, outstanding and memorable read.