As I am working on getting new promos done, and making new contacts and rebuilding and starting my photography business again, I find that I don’t have many new photos to post. So I decided that I would start a new feature on the blog, a look at my past lives in the photography world. A blast from the past. This feature will pop up every now and again. I am proud of the work I have done through out my career and am glad to showcase some of the locations and people and events I have been fortunate enough to meet and witness.
These photos are from a trip I made to Somalia in Dec of 1992. I also worked in Somalia in march and April of 1993. In Dec of 1992, I got a call from Dover AFB telling me that there was an extra seat on a plane as part of the Hometown news program the military ran back then. It basically was a program where local media could fly on aircraft that are part of the mission to provide coverage of their local residents who have been deployed. I heard about it and made a call and caught the ear of a sympathetic SGT. Jones who understood my predicament, which was this, I was young, right of of school, trying to make my name in photojournalism circles and had no money and no assignments and no backing. So, of course I was thrilled when he called, but the timing was awful. We lived in Manasquan, NJ then, on the beach and 2 days before we got hit with a Nor’ Easter storm that they still talk about today. We lost all our cars and had had 3-4 feet of water in the house. Crazy. But here was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I couldn’t say no. So off I was on a big C5 heading to Africa 2 days after the US Marines made thier televised beach landing. So I land in Mogidishu and try to figure out what to do next. I have no idea. But I meet some other photogs and tag along on a food run to the town of Xuddur. Once there I meet up and hit it off with a photographer named Manny Garcia ( who has become quite well known in recent months as he is the one who took the photograph of Barrack Obama that was used by Shepard Fairy in the now famous and iconic ‘HOPE’ poster ) Manny said I should come with him and he knew a place I could crash that some bad ass seals used and were out in the field. So i left my group, having read the orders I had, that permitted me to fly on any mission associated aircraft, space permitting. We went to the hotel and I crashed then we had some beer and watched the Indian Ocean, we were in the town of Mombosa, Kenya, at a resort the air force had leased out for the mission. We talked about Xuddur and how it was a great story, a town that was not yet invaded by the Marines, was still seeing trouble with fighting and starvation, and it had more than a few aid groups and NGO’s looking over it. So we decided to go back the next day and see if we could hang out there for a few days. With a quick stop at the PX to secure bribes gifts for the NGO’s of smokes and cokes and our last cold water, we were off. Then we were landed in Xuddur, watching men unload tons of food from the plane. We knew planes came at least once a day so we could get out anytime we needed so off we went searching for a contact of Manny’s named Patrick who worked with CONCERN. while Patrick liked the gifts, he was not happy to have 2 photogs dropped in his lap, he was a busy man getting food and medicine to the sick and needy. He arranged for us to follow him around for the day and a room with a dirt floor that they called the hotel in town that was 4 bux a night. After our day, my first time seeing real poverty and the costs of war, we went to the hotel and were there less than an hour when Patrick came pounding on the door for us to pack up and get out now. Bandits and rebels had heard about us and our gear and were coming to get it. Patrick had gotten the tip from one of his security men. So he took us in at the Concern compound which had high walls and armed guards. The next few days Manny and I roamed the city and the refugee camps, the MSF camp, the outlying villages, etc,etc. It was crazy and exhilarating and scary all at the same time. At night we ate whatever was served and I slept on the porch of the house on a piece of cardboard. On Christmas day we had dinner with the MSF crew and had a little party. We had Dik Dik omelets and what ever other food we could all scrounge up. I got so sick I spent the next day within 1 step of what passes as a bathroom in Somalia. The Marines were due any second and I was so upset that I couldn’t leave when Manny popped over with some pills from MSF that stopped me up for the next 4 days! The Marines arrived, we took some pix. We stayed a day or two longer, then headed back to Mombasa to regroup. I decided to take off and see if I could sell any of my pix. While I didn’t sell any, I did catch the attention of quite a few editors and the AP. It was a trip that I hoped would be the start of a career. I spent the next couple of months looking for work and finding….. none. I then called SGT. Jones again and headed back to Somalia. That time I spent a couple of months in Mogidishu, but that story will have to wait until the next Blast from the Past.
On a technical note, all these images were shot on film and scanned at least 10 years ago. Some of the better ones are due for an updated scan as you can see the lack of sharpness and depth in these scans.