Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

A day in a life…literally

August 5th, 2011
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A 12-week-old pup I christened Lennon looks out from her enclosure on Thursday, July 28, 2011 in Kaneohe.

By now you’ve already read the news story that ran last week on the Hawaii Humane Society’s ceaseless efforts to prevent animal cruelty and promote animal wellness and health.  It has taken me nearly a week and a half to muster up the courage to write about this story I photographed, as it was such a heartbreaker.  Yet the people at HHS have to do this on a daily basis–I truly admire and respect their steadfastness and courage after seeing and following along for this story.

I followed HHS Humane investigator Vernon Ling on this Thursday to check out several different cases reported of neglected, abused, or ill-fated animals.  Most, as it turned out, were total duds, reported by ill-willed neighbors or passers-by.  But there are some animals, even those that are taken care of, that just break your heart when you come in contact with them.

This blog is about that one animal.  A 12-week-old pup who I will name Lennon for the rest of this blog.

Lennon, right, regards Hawaii Humane Society humane investigator Vernon Ling as he performs an inspection at a pet store on Thursday, July 28, 2011 in Kaneohe. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Vernon and I encountered Lennon during a routine check at a pet store in Kaneohe.  She was in a separated enclosure with two other pups, including one that was her sibling.

Lennon's sibling sniffs at the camera

Vernon then checked out the rest of the shop, making sure each animal was adequately fed and hydrated in a clean environment.

After the inspection, Vernon went back to Lennon, who had concerned him from the get-go.  Lennon was lethargic and meek, unlike the other pups who were just right up to the cage whenever you’d pass by their space.  After a very thorough examination and evaluation, Vernon decided that Lennon needed veterinary care.

Lennon stays back in her cage as Vernon Ling evaluates her situation.

Lennon is examined by Vernon Ling before being sent to the Humane Society's veterinarian.

Soon after Vernon’s assessment, another HHS truck came to take Lennon to their veterinary care center.  Meanwhile Vernon and I were off to our next case investigation.

…….

So why, you may ask, was this a heartbreaking story?  Well, if you are a pet owner or animal lover, seeing any animal, whether it’s a dog or rabbit, or deer, or alligator for that matter, is not a pleasant thing.  It was clear that Lennon wasn’t in the best shape, which is why the decision was made to take her to the vet.

The heartbreaker came after we had arrived back at the operations center.

Lennon had to be put down.

She had a very contagious disease known as parvo, which attacks the canine’s nervous and circulatory system.  Essentially, Lennon was dying by dehydration, and she was in her final stages when we encountered her that day.

After hearing the news and saying farewell to Vernon and the HHS crew, I walked to my car, got in, and wept for about 10 minutes.  She was 12 weeks old.  She didn’t know enough to deserve that fate.  It was hard to come to grips with it, but that fate was ultimately what was best for Lennon and the rest of the canines who were around her.

In the end, I felt like I was one of the last parts of her short life–I photographed and preserved these moments and am immortalizing them in this blog post.  A day in Lennon’s life–the last day of Lennon’s life.

I’ll leave you with perhaps my favorite image, and the one that tells the story of my short encounter with Lennon.  Live like you mean it.

Lennon is silhouetted with an uncertain fate as Vernon Ling makes the call to request veterinary care for the pup.

Dino

July 23rd, 2010
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Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo and girlfriend Christie Kealoha do not know where their next move will take them. "I was born and raised on the beach, and we aren't homeless, we are HOUSEless" Palisbo says. Residents of Maili Beach Park as well as other beach parks along the Leeward coast of Oahu are alarmed and in a state of panic, leaving some with no where to relocate to. Honolulu Star-Bulletin photo by Jamm Aquino. Shot August 27, 2006.

This past Monday, I had to photograph the eviction of the residents who live along a stretch of coast in Maili known as “Guardrails.”  It’s always a sensitive subject for me to photograph the homeless because you have to earn their trust to be able to make an honest picture.  I learned this from meeting Dino Palisbo, pictured above, in 2006.  Palisbo was living past Guardrails on a stretch of Maili Beach then.  When I initially approached him, he was apprehensive, guarded, and stand-offish.  Anyone would be if you step into their home with a camera wanting to take their picture.  He told me to beat it.  As I walked away, defeated and dejected, I wondered what I was going to do, and who I was going to be able to photograph.  I was surprised to hear “Brah, you like talk” from behind me.  Dino led me back to his tent site.  He was testing me, he said later, because a lot of television news were so insensitive about the situation, just wanting to get their shots and quotes.  Palisbo went back for me because I respected his space and walked away when he said no.  That was a valuable lesson I learned from him that day.  There’s no going in motordrive ablazing.

I always take that lesson with me whenever I’m in a situation such as this past Monday.

As I made my way into Guardrails, the bulldozer had already begun making its rounds–the inevitable for many residents.  The smell of diesel fuel mixed with sea air was all too familiar and synonymous with the constant battle between the residents of the beach and the authorities.

Residents gesture at a bulldozer at Guardrails Beach on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

A bulldozer symbolizes the eviction of residents at Guardrails Beach on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

I ran into some residents who I talked to for a while and did not want to be photographed nor identified.  I asked if I could use their tent–their home–in a photograph that I thought was a telling image of the situation.  I waited for the bulldozer to pass by and framed it with the tent in the foreground.  I shook hands in appreciation with the woman who allowed me to photograph her tent and set off down the beach.  Coming around a corner of dilapidated drywall and makeshift chainlink fence, I see a longhaired man, from behind, lifting his belongings. I approach him and was about to speak when he turned around and looked at me.

It was Dino.

I stopped dead in my tracks and let out an audible gasp.

“Dino,” I quipped.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“You remember me?” I asked.  I removed my sunglasses.  We made eye contact.

Almost four years.  1,425 days to be exact.

Dino dropped what was in his hands.  A smile had formed on his face, and almost instantaneously, I was embracing the man who taught me such a valuable lesson as a photojournalist years ago.

“Brah, HOW YOU!?” he asked, still smiling despite the gravity of the situation–he was getting evicted too.  I told him that I wish we’d seen each other under different circumstances, and he laughed.  He took me around his home, which was already almost completely packed up and ready to move because of the eviction.

Dino Palisbo packs up his belongings.

Palisbo helps a neighbor with her things.

Palisbo is photographed seen through the links on his front "porch" fence.

Palisbo said in 2006 and again this past Monday that as long as he had his throw net, spear, fishing poles, and bike, he'd get through anything. Here, he takes his poles and bike.

Dino’s cousin, Bob, lived next door.  He was breaking down his belongings as well.

Guardrails resident Bob (no last name given) breaks down his tent at Guardrails Beach on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

After a few more frames, I put my cameras down and helped the two men load their belongings into their trucks. When we were done, the bulldozer was no where to be found.  City and State workers were also no where to be found.  The police had gone.  But in protest, a man burned his tent.

****NOTE: Resident mentioned in caption is NOT the one in this photograph**** A resident of Guardrails Beach who didn't want to be identified or approached burned his tent in protest on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

I stayed with Dino, Bob, and an anthropologist named David from Taiwan who’d come to know everyone in this Guardrails community, for another hour and a half, just chatting, helping with little things.  But it had come time to part ways, as the threat of rain was in the air.  I gave Dino my contact info, telling him thank you for allowing me to tell his story with my camera.  He laughed and said when he was back on his feet again, he’d teach me to “holoholo” for tako, something I’d love to photograph him doing someday.  With a warm handshake and a smile, he packed himself in the back of his friend’s truck and was off.  I also wished Bob a farewell.  I walked towards my car, happy to see this man, but heavyhearted for the ordeal he must go through yet again.  To know where you’ll sleep tonight–a roof over your head, warm clean covers, a bathroom–that’s an aspect that so many of us take for granted.  Yet as I chimped through my frames when I got into my car, I found a frame that really tells the story of Dino:

Dino Palisbo smiles amidst City workers and a bulldozer evicting him and fellow residents.

I’ll leave you with a few frames from 2006, my first meeting with Dino.

August 27, 2006--Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo, left, and Cory Chevalier spent Sunday brainstorming their next move. "Today we're legal, tommorrow, we're illegal," Chevalier said. Palisbo, who was born and raised in Waianae, remarked that "we aren't homeless, we're HOUSEless." Residents of Maili Beach Park as well as other beach parks along the Leeward coast of Oahu are alarmed and in a state of panic, leaving some with no where to relocate to. Honolulu Star-Bulletin photo by Jamm Aquino.

August 27, 2006--Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo, left, and Christie Kealoha play with puppies Bula, right, and Kolohe. "We're not homeless, we're HOUSEless," says boyfriend Dino Palisbo, left. Residents of Maili Beach Park as well as other beach parks along the Leeward coast of Oahu are alarmed and in a state of panic, leaving some with no where to relocate to. Honolulu Star-Bulletin photo by Jamm Aquino.

August 27, 2006-- Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo, left, and Christie Kealoha play with puppies Bula, right, and Kolohe.

Posted in ethics, news | 1 Comment »

adDRESSing the issue

June 21st, 2010
By



“May I ask why you chose the picture you did of Alina Ching?  You know that picture was awful and yet still printed it.  I have been photographed hundreds of times and I know just as well as you do that a photographer takes teens if not hundreds of pictures in order to find a good photo to use.  This is the best you could find?  Or did you purposely sabotage a girl’s article by posting a poorly chosen picture?  Great job in taking away from the intent of the article.

Not only should you be ashamed of your choice of photograph, you owe that young girl a public apology.  For obvious reasons!!”

–email from one of many alarmed and spiteful readers–one prominent in the golf world.

First off, let me say this:

I DID NOT choose the photograph of Alina Ching to run in that Tuesday edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.  I DID file the photograph, however, because it was a different, peak-action sports photograph that showcased the power and precision in a swing that only Alina Ching can deliver.

I had photographed Alina Ching a few months ago at Waialae Country Club for the ILH golf tourney, and she’s a nice, well-mannered, and talented kid.  It grieved me to see all of the hateful comments on our website which ultimately came back to the photograph that ran taken by me.  But here is the bottom line:

The photograph is only as alarming or offensive as the viewer makes it to be.  There are no body parts showing.  I was in full view of the players when I pressed the shutter button, so they were aware that I was photographing them.

I am a photojournalist.  Like others in my field, I cover news, and news happens the way it happens.  There’s no sugar-coating, no cushioning the fall, no second chances.

With this in mind, I am firmly going to stand by my decision to file the photograph of Alina Ching teeing off from the 14th teebox.  To give the alarmed readers some perspective, here’s another photograph from the exact same spot, albeit a different golfer.

Max Bonk watches his drive off the tee box on the 14th hole of the first round of the 2010 Manoa Cup on Monday, June 14, 2010 at Oahu Country Club in Nuuanu. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Here’s another shot of Alina from a different teebox:

Alina Ching of Punahou hits from the teebox on the 10th hole of the first round of the 2010 Manoa Cup on Monday, June 14, 2010 at Oahu Country Club in Nuuanu. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

As you can see, no matter where the shot was taken from, the power of Alina’s swing always made her shirt rise when she extended.

Like I said,

I am a photojournalist.

I shoot what’s in front of me.  No more.  No less.  This has been the long-standing ethic of thousands of other photojournalists around the globe, and a big reason why viewers are still able to see the people, places, things, and events that they see today.