‘The Unwanted’ : Photographing The Homeless In Vegas

Over the past year, Thilde Jensen has made 3 trips to Vegas to work on her project ‘The Unwanted‘. The first trip she did alone and spent a month living out of a tiny RAV4 with all the seats ripped out and a small bed built so she could sleep on the passenger side of her car. The second trip I went with her and we lived out of a much larger and more luxurious Toyota Sienna minivan for about 3.5 weeks. This spring Thilde was one of twelve people awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography. We talked about it and decided that it made sense to make another trip back to Vegas to photograph the homeless again. Every trip she has made has opened more doors for her and the pictures she has gotten has been better and better. Our last trip spanned almost a month and it was by far the most intense trip yet.

Thilde’s work captures the raw intensity of street life in large format film. Rain and Lost in Syracuse.

When I think about our trips across the country and the time Thilde has spent pounding the pavement for pictures the word that comes to mind is ‘Hard’. I think there is a lot of people who think that anyone can take good photographs and that getting out there and doing the work is somehow easy. Thilde and I woke up every morning at 5 AM so that she could drive into town and be ready to photograph as soon as the sun came up. After dropping me off in Red Rock canyon to hike & freeclimb for several hours, Thilde would drive into Vegas and take pictures until the sun would be too high in the sky, and then we would break for lunch for a few hours. Every evening we would head back into Vegas to catch the late afternoon light for a second session. Our photography routine caused one day to blur into another. Our lack of hygiene and access to showers made both of us feel like we were essentially homeless and living out of our car. People in Vegas would start to make an effort not to look at us and give us a wider berth when walking by us and soon we began to understand how a lot of the people living on the street felt. The most shocking part of our journey was to experience first hand what I can only describe as the accelerated deterioration of our nation.

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In Dust We Trust : Burning Man 2016

Returning to Reno from the Playa this year Doug and I were high on life. This year had been the best burn yet and the desert had left us feeling raw to the bone. We had a bunch of food left over that we wanted to give to a homeless person. The first homeless guy we found could not accept any food as he had just had his last supper. He was dying of cancer and was headed to the hospital to be fitted with a feeding tube. Oh yeah, this is reality. Full of pain and suffering and death. Somehow after 10 days at Burning Man we had completely forgotten about the real world.

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It hit us like a ton of bricks.

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Kite Hydrofoiling :My Healthiest Addiction Yet

About 5 years ago I was first introduced to Hydrofoiling with a kite by my good friend Norman McGuire (forum name kiterider) from Montreal, Quebec. He didn’t know me well enough to know what a risk he was taking to let me use his fancy carbon fiber Carafino hydrofoils as I pretty much destroy everything I touch. I first tried it at the Magdalen Islands which is about 15 hours of driving and then a very long 6-hour ferry ride that costs more than most plane tickets I’ve bought. Over the years, I have been to the Magdalen Islands for about 2 weeks in the summer at least 5 times, and each time Norman would show up with a new hydrofoil to try. One year he told me it was time to go strapless. I thought he was nuts, no one is riding these things strapless. After a few hours of flailing around in the water like a Noob, I finally figured it out. I was hooked.

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When kiting with a hydrofoil you ride several feet above the surface of the water. It’s a unique feeling that is nearly silent, somewhat eerie and incredibly addicting.

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Turning 44 – How The Hell Did I Make It This Far?

As I laid in bed meditating this morning in the arms of my beautiful partner staring out into the surreal snow covered landscape I was left with this incredible feeling of gratitude.

How did I get here, how could my life possibly be so good?

Was it luck, hard work, did the universe finally reward me for decades of suffering? It’s really hard to tell.

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I’ve decided to take a different path than my father before me. I’ve decided to do what I love to do and nothing else. It has paid off big time in quality of life.

I consider myself a depression survivor. In many ways it’s kind of like being a survivor of something more like cancer, but for people who struggle with depression most of American’s attitude is ‘just get over it’. Not only is this incredibly unfair, it’s also unrealistic to judge others harshly for a condition that they really have little or no control over. I read a statistic online that said 50% of Americans will struggle with mental illness at some point during their life. If so many people suffer from it then why is there so little support and compassion for it?

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In Banks We Trust : How Private Banks Create New Capital Out Of Nothing Making Your Money Worth Less

Normally in this blog I focus on writing stories about quality of life and love, but there is something that has been deeply troubling to me since the financial crisis that has been literally keeping me up at night. When the financial crisis hit I spent a lot of time doing research to understand the root of what caused it. In the end, I discovered some deeply disturbing facts that NO ONE is talking about. There is a belief that people hold that the US government is the one creating the capital in this country, but most of the capital is created by private banks. If Bernie Sanders wanted to become president he would just focus on one simple fact;

That private banks are creating capital in the US monetary system out of thin air causing everyone else’s money to be worth less. For ever $1 that a bank takes in for deposits they can loan out $10 to someone else who then takes that newly created $10 and deposits it in their bank who can then loan out $100 to someone else that then gets deposited … ad infinitum.

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Kiting With Dolphins And Stand Up Paddleboarding With Manatees – 2 Weeks On Florida’s NE Coast

Thilde and I were ready for vacation in early October until her car got hit in Syracuse. After months of hell fighting with the insurance company, we finally got a settlement and got her RAV4 fixed and hit the road. By the time we were able to leave it was December so we decided to drive down to Florida since Thilde had never been there and we knew it would be warm. We ended up having one of my best trips yet and found lots of great spots to SUP, hike, bike and kite at. It was a trip to remember and gave me a new appreciation for our southern flat land state.

We were able to drive the sprinter for miles on the beach which made the kiting really nice.
We were able to drive the Sprinter for miles on the beach which made the kiting really nice. The sand control was a nightmare.

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Will Body Cameras On Police Help To Quell Abuse Or Will It Lead To A Police State?

When I read Orwell’s 1984 30 years ago I never felt like it was that unrealistic. When Edward Snowden released information on the spying that the NSA was doing on American Citizens I wasn’t particularly surprised by that either. As more and more police brutality is caught on camera and published on youtube, well that was to be expected as well. In modern times, almost every US citizen has the ability to record anything they are seeing and with only a press of a button can upload it for the world to see. Within minutes, it can go viral and if the abuse is serious enough then the world can raise its voice in outrage. This is honestly a very good thing.

Just because you don't have anything to hide doesn't mean you shouldn't be interested in your privacy.
Just because you don’t have anything to hide doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be interested in your privacy.

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