i had an assignment earlier today to take photographs of drug dealers hanging outside of a liquor store in west oakland. naturally, stuff like this really excites me. on a surface level, going into the unknown that gets me going...on a deeper level its about putting myself in a situation where i normally wouldn't put myself in, to see "the other side."
personally speaking, i felt like my editors threw me under the bus on this one...our contact wasn't there, no one knew i was coming and i was met with general hostility but still had to come up with photographs in a location where taking pictures of people is, as said by the liquor store guy "met with violence." i had decided to snipe a few photos of the place before I went in and as i was taking photos in my car, i was instantly spotted by the liquor store owner. he came out, pointed straight at me, told all the drug deals on the block to scatter, and walked back inside. already caught and really very nervous, i decided to walk into the store and chop it up with the guy, telling him who i was and what i was doing. i made friends with him and went back to shooting, this time on the street... but had to worry about giving him a bad rep since a news guy was talking to him, i also had to worry about talking to too many people since no one wants a photographer around, and i also had to worry about my own safety since im packing major $$$ camera wise. in the 20min i was on the street, i saw 4 drug deals...im still at the point where i can count how many drug deals ive seen on my fingers, but its something thats soo default to life in parts of our cities, that im amazed as to how we turn our eyes away from it so much. 4 in 20 minutes! its easy to see the good in the world, but boy we really got to go and see the bad too, first hand...with our own eyes and learn about it. know whats really going on, and then either form opinions or do something about it.
i am a huge advocate of looking at both sides of any story...especially when that story is your reality.