Under the Pier

I realized yesterday evening that nobody has ever photographed surfers OR the San Clemente Pier so I set out yesterday to be the first photographer to ever photograph a surfer walking down the beach in San Clemente.  My result:

Surfer at the San Clemente Pier


The Long Way to California

More photos from our drive out to California.  We could have gone the shorter way through West Texas, New Mexico, etc, but we wanted to go through Colorado and Utah which made it a bit longer.  In turn, we got to see Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Southwestern Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park Navajo Loop


Waiting for Superman

Superman on the Las Vegas Strip.  One of many characters I saw that night (and definitely the most tame…)

Superman on the Las Vegas Strip

Well That Was Unexpected

While driving out to California for our internship in San Clemente this summer, Chelsea and I passed through Colorado via I-70 (which has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of interstate in this country…).  I expected the scenic views.  What I didn’t expect was how much snow was still around this late in May.  We went over Loveland Pass and were welcomed with 15-foot snowbanks, snow showers, and freezing temperatures.  A few ski resorts are still open and they look like they have pretty good snow conditions.  I drove through Colorado around the same time 2 years ago and there was nowhere near this amount of snow.  All the more fun for the picture taking though.

Lovedland Pass Snow


I had a freelance assignment Saturday night to photograph students as they arrived at the Mehlville High School’s senior prom. Oh, the high school memories…

Caught In the Gap: Aboriginal Kidney Disease In Rural Australia

I have finally completed my Master’s project, defended (passed!), and turned everything in to be bound into the final product that I turn into the J-School. So, that means I will be graduating with an M.A. in Photojournalism from Mizzou on May 13th.

Below is the current edit from many months of work in Australia and Laverton. It will always be an ongoing editing process, but my professors and I have settled on this edit for now. In the coming months, I am sure it will change as I get feedback; but for now, I am happy with it.

And thank you to everyone who made this project possible!

The small town of Laverton is nestled on the edge of the Great Victorian Desert in a remote area of Western Australia known as the Goldfields. Surrounded by red dirt, sprawling vistas, and the ever-present kangaroo, Laverton could easily fit a tourist’s stereotype of a typical Australian Outback town. Like many Outback towns, Laverton has seen its ups and downs since its establishment in 1900. These rises and falls usually coincide with the successes or failures of the multiple gold, nickel, and rare earth mineral mines that pockmark the landscape surrounding the town.

As the starting point of the ‘Outback Way’—a 3,600 kilometer, mostly unpaved road that runs through the heart of Australia—Laverton sees plenty of tourists pass through town on their way to Alice Springs and Uluru, one of Australia’s most iconic natural landmarks. However, amongst such beauty also lies a growing problem that isn’t nearly as visible as the surrounding idyllic landscape these visitors will soon pass through.

Indigenous Australians living in remote Outback regions like Laverton are currently suffering from what is known as the “Aboriginal Health Gap”—an ever increasing health disparity between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians. From higher mortality rates to high instances of cancer and other diseases, Aboriginal Australians are falling behind their non-aboriginal counterparts in a range of health criteria. As a result, Aboriginal males are expected to live around 11.5 years less than non-indigenous males and Aboriginal females are expected to live almost 10 years less.

One of the bigger contributors to this health gap is also one of the most preventable— Type II diabetes. The Australian Government estimates that diabetes prevalence amongst Aboriginal Australians is more than double that of Non-Indigenous Australians. In more remote areas like Laverton, the rate of aboriginal diabetes is between 5 and 10 times higher than the general community. This has resulted in Indigenous Australians having the fourth highest rate of diabetes in the world.

The diabetes epidemic is an all-encompassing issue with no one specific cause and no specific solution. A host of issues are blamed for the high rates of kidney disease including genetics, access to fresh fruit and vegetables in the desert, education levels, poverty, and the loss of traditional ways of life. However, the solution to these problems doesn’t require a small change; it requires an entire change of habit and lifestyle on the part of the individual. One fact does remains clear though—the problem is not getting better.

Laverton, like many remote communities, is not immune to this growing national issue. Of the town’s 300 residents, over a third are Aboriginal and among this Indigenous population, it is estimated that one in three have diabetes or some form of kidney disease. In one doctor’s words, health conditions amongst aboriginal people in the western desert are, at times, “third world.”

Faced with these inequalities, Indigenous Australians living in Laverton and other remote parts of the country are increasingly finding themselves “caught in the gap.”