Eat The Darkness

by matthew ratajczak

Archive for July 2008

Just Floating Through The Week

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Copyright © 2008 Matthew Ratajczak All Rights Reserved


Written by eatthedarkness

July 30, 2008 at 4:29 PM

Posted in About Me, Photography

Gary Monroe

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When some friends told me about a photographer and writer speaking at the library about his work from Haiti, I was a bit apprehensive. I had never heard of Gary Monroe, and I’m a little partial to Alex Webb’s work from Haiti, who I later learned is a friend of Mr. Monroe’s. I was worried that it was going to be a selection of amateurish snapshots put together by some retiree with time and extra money to travel and buy all the latest photo gear. I almost didn’t go. But I didn’t have anything else to do at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon in this small south Florida town. So I went. And glad I did.

Instead of my cynical, preconceived vision of who my local library would bring in to help celebrate the rich culture of Haiti for the day, I was introduced to a true documentary photographer with a discerning compassionate eye who has traveled through, and lived in Haiti on and off since 1984. In addition to wandering the island photographing daily life in this mysterious and fascinating country, he has documented the mass Haitian migration to south Florida and consequently life at the Krome detention camp near Miami. He followed all this up with seeking out life in the various cities across the state where Haitian immigrants have settled over the years. The result is an exceptional body of work spanning almost 25 years that he is now compiling into a book with the help of the University of North Carolina Press.

I think people throw around the word “documentary photographer” a lot. To me, it has always been a title that few can truly call their own. Some might create documentary-style work, but it’s not their way of life. Monroe doesn’t do a lot, if any, editorial or commercial work. He admits he’s not really equipped for it. And I feel he’s completely fine with it, happy to work only on the projects he wants to work on, teaching full-time, giving talks, selling prints and using grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Humanities Council, and the Fulbright Foundation to pay the bills and fund his work.


The presentation was capped off with a brief conversation with him after the event. He is not only a photographer, but a writer as well, with several published books, including some about the highly regarded Highwaymen, a group of African American artists known for their paintings of the old natural Florida.

Meeting Mr. Monroe and seeing his work was inspiring and a great way to spend a couple hours on a hot lazy Saturday afternoon. I hope to meet him again someday.

All Photographs Copyright © Gary Monroe, All Rights Reserved.

Written by eatthedarkness

July 29, 2008 at 1:07 PM

I’m Back. Barely.

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For the small handful of loyal patrons who visit the blog, I apologize for the gap in postings. I’ve been sick and a little uninspired to be honest. I still have this awful cough that just won’t go away. It’s really starting to irritate me. I might have to actually go see a doctor. Although I’m now functioning, able to go to work, etc…I think maybe I have something worse than the common cold.

Enough about that. I had a surprise waiting for me in my mailbox this evening. I received my copy of Jonathan Saunders’ new self-published magazine one, a paper version of his blog I Like To Tell Stories. Unfortunately, it didn’t like my mailbox too much. There is a big crease across the middle where the mail person bent it to fit in the box. Makes it difficult to flip through, and, I’m very particular I guess you could say, about the condition of photo books and related items I purchase. Just ask the people at Amazon’s return center. So, you can imagine, I was not happy at all, but doubt there is anything I can do other than order another and camp out by the mailbox every day until a new one arrives. Not going to happen. My luck Jonathan will blow up one of these days and these little mags will become collectible. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, right? That’s what I keep telling myself. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a well designed best-of that includes a variety of self-portraits, personal and commissioned portrait work, landscapes and more. Although I have seen most of the photographs and read most of the words online, it was still nice to receive.  

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July 29, 2008 at 12:33 AM

The Drive Home

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I passed this on my way home Thursday night. Had to do a u-turn and hang out for a while before the rain came.


Copyright © 2008 Matthew Ratajczak All Rights Reserved 

Written by eatthedarkness

July 18, 2008 at 12:35 AM

Posted in Photography


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Got a call from Romain tonight. We bullshitted for a while about different things as my leftover chicken fried rice got cold. No big deal, tasted good anyway. As we continued to talk, he asked me if I knew Jonathan was self-publishing a new magazine inspired by his handmade journals and his blog I Like To Tell Stories. I said I didn’t, but thought it was a great idea and couldn’t wait to visit ILTTS to learn more about what he’s up to.

So it turns out, he’s hoping to publish four issues a year, either quarterly or randomly, using MagCloud, a company that enables individuals to publish their own magazines. Every issue is custom printed when it’s ordered using HP Indigo technology (whatever that is) on 80-lb paper. Sounds good, right? We shall see. The magazine’s content comes from the blog, great stuff, but I’m hoping there will be new or unseen work mixed in as well, either in the first issue or future issues. The description on the MagCloud site says it is “A touchable, quarterly version of randomly selected entries from: Photographs and stories by Jonathan Saunders.”

I’ve admired Jonathan’s photographs for a long time. And although I really like visiting his blog, and other photographer’s blogs as well, It’s so exciting that more and more people are taking risks and control of their work and experimenting with new tangible or “touchable” self-publishing technology. I’ve already ordered my copy of one, get it here, and can’t wait to pull it from my mailbox, kick back in my hammock with a cold brew, bask in the fading light of a warm, south Florida evening instead of the cold glow of my monitor, and flip through the pages.

Copyright © 2008 Jonthan Saunders All Rights Reserved.

Jonathan writes “…it also just feels really good to make something you can touch and share it with others that enjoy the types of things that i do.”

Thanks for sharing.

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July 16, 2008 at 11:56 PM

Convergence Part 3

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A few new photographs from my “Convergence” project.

All Photographs © 2008 Matthew Ratajczak All Rights Reserved 

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July 15, 2008 at 1:15 AM

Don’t Forget About This House of Cards

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Rachel Hulin over at Photoshelter’s Shoot! The Blog posted this great piece about Radiohead’s “House of Cards” video. They’re one of my all-time favorite bands and one of the few bands I can think of that would be open to creating a music video like this. Incredible technology and an incredible band. Check out Rachel’s post to see the video and learn more about the techniques used or just watch the video below. Enjoy!

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July 15, 2008 at 12:28 AM

Posted in Music