Category: From the Road

Purgatory Chasm, Massachusetts

Vacation was wrapping up and I realized my camera hadn’t seen much daylight.  I opted for an impromptu trip to Purgatory Chasm in central Massachusetts since it was close to our host.  Bruised ribs didn’t stop me from clamoring up and down Devil’s Canyon and capturing a few HDR images from within the chasm.

[Click any image to begin slideshow]

Slumber comes and goes as the dog decides.  Five-thirty on a Saturday morning was not the plan, but Conan (all 90 pounds of him) decided otherwise; might as well get going.  Today’s plan to get behind the lens is to visit Occupy Atlanta at the AT&T building downtown.  Not sure what to expect, an open heart and open mind are the play of the day.  The job of a quality photographer requires more than a great photo, but also to interact and find understanding so that the images presented represent a true story.  I believe I’ve done that here.

Occupy Atlanta outside AT&T

People are the substance.  Whether a large corporation or a movement, people make the difference between success and failure.  Sustainable profits and losses are determined by people, not products.  The ability to drive change by social movements is fueled by the passion of its people.  My biggest struggle with the Occupy crowd has been the inability to communicate exactly what they are trying to achieve and at the same time, completely repelled by some of the worst human behavior possible during highly visible protests.  Months after the Occupy movement reached its crescendo, a few remain determined to keep the focus on unfair profiteering by mega-corporations.

Chiara and Cooper

“I think we all want the same thing, we just disagree how to get there.”  These words resonated with me as Cooper tried to explain why he remains with Occupy Atlanta.  Cooper had all the appearances of anyone’s son.  With little to lose he just spent the night sleeping in a tent on a concrete sidewalk in downtown Atlanta.  Nursing a cup of coffee with Chiara, he shared that ultimately he’d like to live somewhere remote and maybe have a farm.  Life, he concluded, had become too complicated.

The scent of the Varsity hung close to the punishing cold concrete as they prepared for their lunch crowd.  The spires of the Fox Theater blocked much needed sun and the provision of warmth.  Tents were set up for over a week along West Peachtree directly in front of the towering AT&T building.  Sandwiched between the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Occupy Atlanta tents were largely unoccupied save for but just a few.  Set up in hopes of occupiers, a handful of die-hards labored through the frigid night in a select few tents, the remainder merely symbolic.

Unoccupied Tents

Among the die-hards the most active was Copper Man tinkering and repairing tents blown down during the night.  From Harlem, New York, Barry “Copper Man” Roggers is no stranger to publicity.  Known primarily for his copper jewelry and art, Roggers proudly boasted about his God-given talent and ability to work with copper.  Profiled by Creative Loafing, Copper Man has a loyal following both human and canine.  Little Copper, which may be the friendliest dog I’ve ever met, accompanies Big Copper everywhere he goes.

Copper Man repairing tents blown down during the night.

Known as the Do-Nothings, division seems apparent as active occupiers make reference to those not present or those not willing to go the extra mile.  The weather the evening before was a strong deterrent for the do-nothings to sleep in their own beds and leave the occupying die-hards little option but to remain on site.

Johnny Money

Nearly completely dependent on the goodwill of others, the die-hard occupants have no complaints about the food and provisions supplied by donations.  Clothing, food and money for coffee is often supplied by those fortunate to be employed.  A functioning community, the combined group appears to share little in common aside from a desire to see something change.  What that change is continues to be a muddled message depending on who is speaking.

The primary message.

As my time came to an end visiting with some new friends, I wished them well but felt grateful that my bed this evening is in a heated house and on a mattress.  My fingers had enough of the cold and adjusting camera settings had become nearly impossible.  Admittedly I’ve been outspoken against much of the Occupy movement, my beef is less with the individual people and their views, but with those do-nothings who transform into the do-anythings wreaking havoc and chaos for the mere joy of the turmoil.  There appears to be a stark difference between those seeking change for the well-being of others, and those tolerated among the occupiers demanding change for the sake of, well, who really knows?

We most likely want the same thing, as Cooper stated, and we most definately do not agree on how to get there.  What we can agree is that the people are the substance.  Corporations and movements aside, we all crave the human touch that validates us.  We all desire that substance that comes from relationship with each other making us feel whole and secure.  When that trust is violated and we find ourselves victims to the inconsideration of others our perspective becomes jaded and the causes become increasingly polarized.  I don’t pretend to fully understand what this group of occupying protesters hope to gain by camping in from of AT&T’s Atlanta tower, but the few that remain and maintain the vigil all share the same common desire to help their fellow man.

Eric inspecting supplies and providing for Little Copper.

I invite anyone from Occupy Atlanta to comment or contact me with regards to this post and help foster a dialogue that has contribution to all sides.


More photos are available in my Picasaweb or Flickr albums.


Washington Monument in HDR