Shadow of the south tower, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. It is a little-known fact, even here in the home of the most famous bridge of the modern era, that one of the Golden Gate's main designers went uncredited. Had Joseph Strauss' original designs been constructed, it is highly unlikely the bridge's constructions would've resulted in anything but an expensive mess of metal and mashed dreams. It turns out that one of his "assistants," Charles Ellis from the University of Illinois, was heavily involved in the technical and theoretical work that built the bridge. History has now been righted in his favor. Though Strauss' reasons for purging Ellis from the record is ostensibly obvious - greed, glory, the unending gratitude of a plurality of humanity - why the bridge authority refused to acknowledge Ellis for so long remains unknown.
Zombies discussing a hard day at the office as Critical Massers bike past, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. By request, here is a photo from the recent zombie flash mob that descended on downtown San Francisco. I didn't realize that zombies were supposed to look so cheerful and conversational, but hey, this is S.F. Anything goes, right?
The Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. The Ferry Building of San Francisco dominates the skyline when approaching from the Bay. It doesn't rule by height, but by importance. Situated at the head of Market Street, the east-facing herald is the fulcrum on which all downtown bustle and buildings balance. Other skyscrapers tower over it, while newer ones flash their gaudy, modern architecture. And although the Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower woo the eye with their unique silhouettes, the 1898 structure - once the second busiest terminal in the world - creates a subtle but just as unique gateway to the City by the Bay.
The Leper King, Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. The statue of the Leper King is somewhat anomalous. In the middle of a now-empty field, atop a stone terrace and completely exposed to the elements is this nearly-unharmed statue of Yama, the Hindu god of death. Apparently, when it was discovered in the 15th century the arrangement of moss on the statue was reminiscent of leprosy, and that dovetailed nicely with an ancient Khmer king who was also afflicted with the disease.
A young girl selling guide books outside Ta Som, Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. This photo is terribly heart-breaking. The short story behind the photos is: the girl, and others like her, sell tourist books about Angkor Wat on the grounds of the ruins in hopes of contributing to their parents' daily income. They keep little profit, if any, and generally they start as young as four or five. They often work 10 hour days, sometimes longer. At no point did I have any regrets about clicking the shutter. This may not be the best photo of children working in Cambodia, but it's one that I took. Before I shot it I had to make a snap decision: How would I feel about this image, about the young girl? What kind of responsibility do I owe her if I profit from it? It is not impossible to assume, were she from an industrialized country, that she could track me down and claim financial retribution. Isn't it immoral to make money off of another's perceived suffering? Even if I could ask her for permission, how could it happen without a translator? So, I am left with an ethical question: At what point does visiting a poor country become "Poverism," poverty tourism? If I can sell more photos by promising a percentage of the profits to charity, should I? Would I want somebody to profit off an image of me crying, or even picking my nose, simply because I didn't know the image existed? Or does that even matter against the ethical weight of spreading the word of conditions in Cambodia? These questions are arguably irrelevant until I start selling photos, but that doesn't mean I'm not considering their implications.
A Critical Mass participant finds his way through the crowd, Justin Herman Plaza, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Critical Mass is a monthly cross between Halloween and a pro-pedal protest, if you're bike friendly. If you get a bit aggro at any impediment to your city-street cruising, then it's more likely you consider it Critical Mess. In a city like San Francisco, though, there are very few reasons to not bike or take public transportation to work. The day of this particular Critical Mass, there was also a zombie flash mob marching up Market St., a flash pillow fight at Justin Herman Plaza that only attracted a handful of people, Memorial Day traffic heading out on the Bay Bridge and a baseball game at the downtown Giants stadium. It was a glorious time to be on foot.
Parasols for sale at the Thanon Phothisalat night market, Luang Prabang, Laos. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2006. Walking around the night market in Luang Prabang, I found it impossible to avoid the accidental artistry of selling crafted goods. Most were for tourists, although questions regarding the origins of those tourists - were they Thai, Chinese or Western - seemed less important than the fact that they were there and ready to buy. Even with a nightly crowd that pulsated with visitors far outweighing the locals, I could pick out so many different sounds from the susurrus that in the end all that mattered was the slow evaporation of the day's humidity.