Documentary Photographer David Katzenstein is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this travel/documentary photography. These images are from his project ‘50/50‘. To see David’s collections and projects click on any image.
Bar Sur is a great traditional bar in the San Telmo section of Buenos Aires where a troupe of musicians and dancers have performed for years. When I visited the pianist had barely missed a night in 50 years.
I was traveling on a rural near the town of Carrickfergus, about 15 miles northeast of Belfast, when I came across a shepherd and his flock of beautiful sheep slowly heading down the road. Since they were blocking my way I stopped the car, jumped out and began to photograph the trip back to the farm where they lived. My introductions to the shepherd went well, and he invited me to come back in a couple of nights to join him at the local barn dance being hosted by his employer for the workers and nearby neighbors. Traditional Irish music filled the barn and the festive scene was enhanced by the addition of the bucking bronco.
A number of years ago I was fortunate to have been sent on assignment for Conde Nast Traveler to the Pantanal, one of the world’s largest tropical wetland areas, located mostly in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. On one part of the journey I was flown by seaplane to a ranch with 20,000 Brahman cattle, 100 cowboys and rivers teaming with crocodiles. Rare birds populated the canopy and I thought I was at the edge of something special.
Documenting social responsibility projects has been an important part of my assignment work over the years. These students in blue-checkered smocks were partaking in a special after school science program in Santiago, Chile created just for young women. After spending the session with them I asked them to line up for a group portrait, and after a series of serous poses I told them in my passable Spanish that I had a special friend who wanted to be in the photograph with them. When I rolled over the skeleton that was lurking in the corner of the classroom and placed his arms around the girls in the front row, the group exploded in spontaneous laughter and I got my shot.
Every year during the latter half of the month of June several major festivals are held in the Otavalo region of the country. I planned a trip to coincide with these events to work on my long-term project about ritual, and one afternoon I was traveling in a remote region of the district in search of festivities when I came across this scene. The entire small village was in the midst of a raucous ceremony that included music, dance and copious amounts of local brew in preparation for the ritual sacrifice of this hanging fowl.
In 2006, while continuing my project for the worldwide company AES, my travels took me to Sri Lanka. I managed to talk my host into including a trip to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, located about two hours northeast of Colombo, the capital. The orphanage is the largest of its kind in the world, hosting over 75 elephants in a natural setting, and is a major eco-tourist destination. As we arrived late afternoon just in time for the feeding hour I jumped out of the jeep and with the help of two workers was transported inside the fences and the anxious crowds and planted right in front of a baby elephant who was being guarded by some protective adult elephants. What majestic creatures!
While traveling through Southern Spain I was taken as a guest to a bullfight at the Plaza de Toros de Murcia, in the capital of the state of La Manga. The packed crowd of 15,000 spectators waited with anticipation for the festivities to begin. At the conclusion of the main event the victorious Matadors paraded around the ring carrying large loaves of decorative bread and bouquets of flowers, as they tipped their Monteras (hats) to the crowd. One feisty bull actually survived the duel and was spared his life. The rest of the carcasses were carted off out of the stadium to nearby butcher shops eagerly awaiting the prized animals.
While on assignment in Tokyo for Hewlett Packard I had some time off over a weekend and decided to visit Senso-ji, an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It’s the oldest temple in the city and one of the most famous. What I did not realize is the breadth of the shopping arcades surrounding the sacred buildings and also that this was the center for the celebration of Brazilian Samba in Tokyo. So picture a scantily clad Japanese dancer followed by drummers and surrounded by police, local tourists and the wayward monk as she wended her way through the Buddhist bazaar.
On my way from New York to Bhutan I had a stopover in Kathmandu for two days while waiting for the connecting flight to Thimphu. Nepal is rich in Buddhist history and culture and I was able to make good use of my short stay visiting numerous temples, stupas and ancient shrines. The Boudhanath Stupa was amazing, and nearby I ventured into a monastery and caught this young monk taking a break playing a simple computer game.
When I arrived in Panama City I was struck by how much it reminded me of other up and coming Central American metropolises, with touches of Miami thrown in. I was on assignment for AES, the electric company, and the next phase of my project would be far from traffic and lights. I made plans to visit one of their social responsibility projects upstream from their hydroelectric plant located on the Bayano River in the eastern part of the country. We traveled by motored canoe on a tributary of the Bayano from the plant for 40 minutes to reach a settlement of the Embera people, an indigenous group that AES was working with through their local social responsibility program. We spent the afternoon with the elders and children as they danced ceremoniously for us, shared their local food and hosted us in their thatched homes. As dusk approached we boarded the canoes and began our trip back down the river to our jeeps.
A number of years ago while on assignment in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia I was fortunate to come across this scene of a group of young fishermen who were rounding up their large nets in a remote cove in the late afternoon. It turns out that this was a successful day’s catch with fresh fish for everyone. Perspective was important in order to convey the energy and movement of the scene. The combination of fish, strong bodies and surf framed by the circularity of the scene made for a energized composition. And I did have grilled fish in the evening.