Show animals and their proud handlers

Every year, animal handlers travel throughout England and Wales to compete at agricultural shows. Jooney Woodward’s “Best in Show” is a documentation of those competitions, with photos that place a spotlight on the handlers and their animals. “When you go to (the shows), they tend to be all about the animals — people photographing the … Continue reading “Show animals and their proud handlers”

Every year, animal handlers travel throughout England and Wales to compete at agricultural shows.

Jooney Woodward’s “Best in Show” is a documentation of those competitions, with photos that place a spotlight on the handlers and their animals.

    “When you go to (the shows), they tend to be all about the animals — people photographing the animals,” Woodward said. “I just wanted to turn my attention onto the people because they’re so committed to what they do. They’re really devoted and hardworking.”While those involved with the competitions are the focus of many press photographers, Woodward’s work stands out for its distinctive portraiture style. “My work is a bit more composed. I use a medium-format camera and a tripod, so it is a bit more static in a way,” she said. “I think everybody is so proud of their animals that when I said to them that, ‘I’d love a portrait of you and your cow,’ everyone was more than willing to give up their time and help because they’re so passionate about what they do.”Read MorePhotographer Jooney WoodwardThe “Best in Show” portraits lead viewers down a winding pathway to ponder those inexplicable yet noticeable connections and bonds that exist between the handlers and their animals. Woodward’s photos also contain subtle details. For example, the symbols and signs on the wall behind Wendy and her Hereford yearling heifer Mandalay Juliette are just as significant as the handler and her animal. “It’s just the way (Wendy) had gone through the effort of decorating the pen (with Union Jacks) where the cows were being kept,” Woodward said. “There’s also a sign behind (her) … and there’s a picture of a gentleman with a cow, who is actually her husband who had died a few years ago. … I just thought that was nice, something quite sentimental about that.” There are not only sentimental subtleties within “Best in Show,” but also fun and interesting ones as well. This is especially evident in the photo of the traditional Welsh pigs being judged, as Woodward points out there is an advertisement for sausages behind the pigs.

    I just wanted to turn my attention onto the people because they're so committed to what they do. They're really devoted and hardworking.

    Photographer Jooney Woodward

    Regardless of what elements make up Woodward’s photos, the emotions and aesthetics remain particularly important.Woodward said that when photographing Jamie and his Jersey cow, his happiness and smile made her want to “share that sense of enjoyment” that handlers have when competing with their animals in the shows. What drew Woodward to Harriet and her guinea pig Gentleman Jack were the similar colors radiating from both of them. Her photo of the pair won the National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2011. “(Harriet) was like a steward, she was sort of judging the guinea pigs. And she also had her own guinea pig with her, which had red as well,” Woodward said. “I just thought that was incredibly striking. I thought, ‘I’ve got to get a shot of that.’ “The dynamics of the competitions foster a community atmosphere in which everybody becomes acquainted with one another after having traveled to different shows for so many years. Woodward said this was an enjoyable aspect of her work because “you get to see lots of familiar faces.”

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    She has learned about the pride the handlers have toward their animals, and many of her presumptions about the competitions have now changed after having worked on “Best in Show.””I think when I first started going, I was sort of thinking the shows would be more novelty, fun things for these people,” she said. “But, actually, it isn’t really; it’s quite a serious thing, because they can make money from breeding.”In addition to handlers earning significant money from breeding, they are also able to achieve recognition for their livestock. Those competing have a lot at stake when they make the decision to travel and compete, because the shows are just as much business events as they are social gatherings.

      The competitions are also rather family-oriented, and Woodward said that while adults compete, their sons, daughters and grandchildren are involved as well. The younger generations are likely to one day take over the responsibility of running the family farms, and everyone that participates seems to have a strong sense of pride and passion for agriculture.”I think it’s something I will always document for the rest of my life, and see how things change,” Woodward said. “It was challenging, insightful and fun.”

A glimpse of life on the reservation

Growing up in Germany, everything Felix von der Osten learned about Native Americans came from the books of 19th-century German writer Karl May.

May’s most beloved characters, a noble Apache leader named Winnetou and his cowboy blood brother Old Shatterhand, are said to be more popular today in Germany than the works of Thomas Mann, the 20th-century Nobel Prize-winning author of “Death in Venice.”

    It wasn’t until von der Osten drove through South Dakota last year, bearing witness to modest homes and trailers on tribal land in the majestic Black Hills, that he realized how one-dimensional his perceptions were.Intrigued, the 25-year-old photographer began researching Native American history. What he learned about its brutal conquest and fraught modern existence inspired him to return to Indian Country to capture the good, the bad and the ugly.”I wanted to show a slice of life (through) the beauty and richness of the culture,” he said. “I didn’t want to do reportage. I wanted to do slow and thoughtful photographs, like historical documents.”Read MorePhotographer Felix von der OstenBy chance he landed in Montana’s Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, home to 7,000 members of the Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) and the Assiniboine (Nakoda) tribes on 675,147 acres of land near the Canadian border. His American girlfriend had distant relatives living there who supported his idea and invited him to stay in their home.His first stop upon arriving in October was to present his idea to the Fort Belknap tribal leadership. With their approval, he spent his first week walking around without his camera, introducing himself to tribal members and building relationships. “The most important thing was I sat down, listened and learned,” he said. “I opened my ears and let them talk so they could teach me.”Over time, they opened their homes to him and his camera. His choice of a Pentax 67 medium-format roll film camera forced him to carefully consider each shot, to “create images” in his head before taking them. It left him with a focused body of work.

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    He captured sacred tribal rituals and ceremonies along with the more mundane, familiar aspects of life: the tribal basketball team, a horse grazing in a field, a girl sitting on a bunk bed with a stuffed pony, the inside of a casino.Through conversations with tribal members, he also learned of the harsh realities of life on the reservation, from the difficulties youths face in pursuing educational opportunities to the drug and alcohol addiction killing some members.He put the camera away for some of his most memorable experiences — a sit in the sweat lodge, dinner with his host family — the ones that formed lasting relationships and earned him the nickname “the man who crossed the ocean.”

      By revealing just a slice, he hopes to arouse curiosity in viewers and inspire them to learn more “to connect the dots.” It’s something he plans to continue doing by returning this summer to learn and experience more.”The story’s not finished,” he said. “It’s a big sensitive topic and you have to be very careful, and I want to be careful.”

Making a ‘squat’ a home

Home means many different things to different people.

It’s an idea that intrigues German-born photographer Corinna Kern, who moved into a squatted commercial building for several months in order to document the uncommon lifestyle unfolding behind its walls.

    She first visited a squat — a building occupied by people who don’t own it or pay rent — out of personal interest in April 2013, while she was in London studying for her master’s degree. The notion that this interest could be developed into a wider concept only came along a month or two later, she said. The result is a striking collection of photographs and text titled “A Place Called Home,” in which she seeks to challenge common preconceptions about squatters — and explore the idea that home is more a feeling than a physical place.Photographer Corinna KernHaving moved into her new home in a squat in Kentish Town, north London, Kern had to figure out how to coexist in one building with 30 people and three dogs. She also found herself part of a wider alternative community that’s both transient and close-knit.Read MoreThrough the connections she made, she visited six other squats in north and south London. One was in a former fabric warehouse, another in an abandoned garden center, a third in a white-walled former design studio.”As the squatting scene is very interconnected, I came to discover how diverse squats can be, both in their visual appearance and emotional vibe,” she said. “The unusualness of the different places, which may not comply with the idea of home in the common sense, intrigued me and shaped my project.”All the squats Kern visited were in former commercial premises. A law enacted in September 2012 made it illegal to squat in residential properties.

    I came to discover how diverse squats can be, both in their visual appearance and emotional vibe.

    Corinna Kern

    With housing costs high in London and affordable options in short supply, squatting can seem an appealing option to some people — although, as Kern points out, it’s not a lifestyle chosen simply because of homelessness or poverty. “What might commonly be perceived as a shelter for the homeless or poor is often a conscious choice of an alternative and communal way of living,” she writes in the text accompanying her images. “The squatting lifestyle attracts many individuals on their search for adventure, freedom, friendship and self-discovery. Yet, it demands sacrifices and the ability to change and adapt.”The squatters’ campaign group SQUASH (Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes) says no one knows how many squatters there are nationwide at any one time. But it is clear that tens of thousands of people in the UK have squatted at one time or another, it says.

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    The Empty Homes Agency, an independent charity group that campaigns for empty homes to be used for those in need, estimates that there are currently 610,000 empty homes in England. About one-third of these homes have been empty for six or more months, it says.But since it’s now illegal to squat in residential properties, empty or not, squatters have turned to London’s disused commercial buildings, many of which have been left empty long-term.When squatters move in, they bring a new life to the space, often surprising in its incongruity. In one of Kern’s photographs, taken inside the disused fabric warehouse, a man rests on a shelf used for storing rolls of cloth. He’s hard to spot at first among the jumble of multicolored fabric.Other images show “The Castle,” a former five-story office block in central London that is now a home for more than 100 squatters — and a site for raves. Graffiti covers the walls, and party detritus is scattered across the floor where office workers once walked.Another of Kern’s photographs, taken in a squat in a former cabaret restaurant, shows a young man and woman, semi-clothed and hard at work to repair and alter their surroundings using cloth and wood.For her project, Kern says, she used only a wide-angle lens to reflect the closeness of her subjects. “The use of natural light adds to a candid feel,” she said, adding to the authenticity of the images.”I visually tried to convey the very different vibes of the squats that became homes, according to both their residents and the nature of the occupied spaces. Especially for the squat that I stayed at, I focused largely on the communal lifestyle in order to convey a sense of home.”Far from encountering resistance as she ventured into people’s intimate space, Kern says she made many friends. This was in part because she won people’s trust by living among them — but also because her project aimed to celebrate the positive aspects of their lifestyle rather than reinforce the negative stereotypes of squatters as wasters, tax dodgers or down-and-outs.”My fellow squatters knew that I was a photographer documenting the squatting lifestyle, since I was always carrying my camera with me,” she said. “The squatters were very welcoming when I first met them, became my friends, hence the majority reacted positively towards me taking photographs.”Despite the privations that come with squatting in buildings that often have no electricity or running water, Kern says she would do it again — although she wants to try out the many other alternative lifestyles out there first.

      From her images and her words, it’s clear she found her time in a squat an overwhelmingly rewarding experience.”You may not have a shower, but you may gain the most amazing rooftop views,” she writes. “You may have to share your room with seven other people, but you may share your happiest moments with them. You may have to move 10 times a year, but the diverse places and people you meet become an integral part of your journey through life, turning it into anything but ordinary.”

Dads cherish Sweden’s parental leave

When photographer Johan Bavman became a father for the first time, he took more than a passing wonder about how his native Sweden is said to be the most generous nation on Earth for parental leave.

He immersed himself in fatherhood — twice over, you might say.

    He used his photography to document the real-life experience of other fathers taking full advantage of Sweden’s extraordinary program, which allows mothers and fathers to take long, long leaves from their careers so they can care for their newborns.Get this: Sweden grants a total of 480 calendar days of parental leave, with 390 of them paid at 80% of income, with a maximum of 3,160 euros a month or $3,474. The remaining 90 days are paid at a flat-rate benefit of 20 euros a day, or $22.But there’s a catch. Fathers have to share that leave with mothers.Read MorePhotographer Johan BavmanSo to promote both parents to raise their children, Sweden has mandated that 60 of the 480 days be “daddy months” or “partner months.” If the 60 daddy days aren’t used, they are lost, reducing the maximum leave to 420 days.The country also created a “gender equality bonus”: the more days that parents share the leave equally, they get a bonus that could total up to 1,500 euros, or $1,649.The idea is for both parents to share the joys and struggles of raising infants.In reality, only 12% of Swedish couples equally share the 480 days of leave, Bavman said, with women continuing to lead the way as the stay-at-home parent and men as the careerist.Still, Bavman mused last summer about how the policy impacts those men who use the full measure of their parental leave.

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    At first, Bavman had difficulty finding such men.But the fathers he did find and photograph, he captured their devotion in realistic imagery.”I realized while I was talking to these dads, these dads are struck by how important the bonding is between you and the children,” said Bavman, who now has a 3-year-old son, Viggo, with partner Linda Stark, a freelance journalist.”I didn’t want to bring out fathers as superdads,” Bavman said. “I wanted to bring out these role models which people can connect to.”I want to have those dads who can also show their tiredness … which comes with being home with your children. It’s a hard full-time job. This is something that we have been taking for granted for hundreds of years. This is something that mothers have never been recognized for.”

    I didn't want to bring out fathers as superdads. I wanted to bring out these role models which people can connect to.

    Johan Bavman

    He also found moments of humor, with one child nearly ripping apart the shirt of his busy father.The fathers have become more understanding of their wives and even their own mothers, Bavman said. Some are now considering a career change to accommodate their parenthood.”Being home nine months, they get time to think about their life,” the photographer said.

      Bavman is looking for a total of 60 fathers to photograph, to culminate in an exhibition and a book.So far he’s found 35 worthy of his lens.

Making a ‘squat’ a home

Home means many different things to different people.

It’s an idea that intrigues German-born photographer Corinna Kern, who moved into a squatted commercial building for several months in order to document the uncommon lifestyle unfolding behind its walls.

    She first visited a squat — a building occupied by people who don’t own it or pay rent — out of personal interest in April 2013, while she was in London studying for her master’s degree. The notion that this interest could be developed into a wider concept only came along a month or two later, she said. The result is a striking collection of photographs and text titled “A Place Called Home,” in which she seeks to challenge common preconceptions about squatters — and explore the idea that home is more a feeling than a physical place.Photographer Corinna KernHaving moved into her new home in a squat in Kentish Town, north London, Kern had to figure out how to coexist in one building with 30 people and three dogs. She also found herself part of a wider alternative community that’s both transient and close-knit.Read MoreThrough the connections she made, she visited six other squats in north and south London. One was in a former fabric warehouse, another in an abandoned garden center, a third in a white-walled former design studio.”As the squatting scene is very interconnected, I came to discover how diverse squats can be, both in their visual appearance and emotional vibe,” she said. “The unusualness of the different places, which may not comply with the idea of home in the common sense, intrigued me and shaped my project.”All the squats Kern visited were in former commercial premises. A law enacted in September 2012 made it illegal to squat in residential properties.

    I came to discover how diverse squats can be, both in their visual appearance and emotional vibe.

    Corinna Kern

    With housing costs high in London and affordable options in short supply, squatting can seem an appealing option to some people — although, as Kern points out, it’s not a lifestyle chosen simply because of homelessness or poverty. “What might commonly be perceived as a shelter for the homeless or poor is often a conscious choice of an alternative and communal way of living,” she writes in the text accompanying her images. “The squatting lifestyle attracts many individuals on their search for adventure, freedom, friendship and self-discovery. Yet, it demands sacrifices and the ability to change and adapt.”The squatters’ campaign group SQUASH (Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes) says no one knows how many squatters there are nationwide at any one time. But it is clear that tens of thousands of people in the UK have squatted at one time or another, it says.

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    The Empty Homes Agency, an independent charity group that campaigns for empty homes to be used for those in need, estimates that there are currently 610,000 empty homes in England. About one-third of these homes have been empty for six or more months, it says.But since it’s now illegal to squat in residential properties, empty or not, squatters have turned to London’s disused commercial buildings, many of which have been left empty long-term.When squatters move in, they bring a new life to the space, often surprising in its incongruity. In one of Kern’s photographs, taken inside the disused fabric warehouse, a man rests on a shelf used for storing rolls of cloth. He’s hard to spot at first among the jumble of multicolored fabric.Other images show “The Castle,” a former five-story office block in central London that is now a home for more than 100 squatters — and a site for raves. Graffiti covers the walls, and party detritus is scattered across the floor where office workers once walked.Another of Kern’s photographs, taken in a squat in a former cabaret restaurant, shows a young man and woman, semi-clothed and hard at work to repair and alter their surroundings using cloth and wood.For her project, Kern says, she used only a wide-angle lens to reflect the closeness of her subjects. “The use of natural light adds to a candid feel,” she said, adding to the authenticity of the images.”I visually tried to convey the very different vibes of the squats that became homes, according to both their residents and the nature of the occupied spaces. Especially for the squat that I stayed at, I focused largely on the communal lifestyle in order to convey a sense of home.”Far from encountering resistance as she ventured into people’s intimate space, Kern says she made many friends. This was in part because she won people’s trust by living among them — but also because her project aimed to celebrate the positive aspects of their lifestyle rather than reinforce the negative stereotypes of squatters as wasters, tax dodgers or down-and-outs.”My fellow squatters knew that I was a photographer documenting the squatting lifestyle, since I was always carrying my camera with me,” she said. “The squatters were very welcoming when I first met them, became my friends, hence the majority reacted positively towards me taking photographs.”Despite the privations that come with squatting in buildings that often have no electricity or running water, Kern says she would do it again — although she wants to try out the many other alternative lifestyles out there first.

      From her images and her words, it’s clear she found her time in a squat an overwhelmingly rewarding experience.”You may not have a shower, but you may gain the most amazing rooftop views,” she writes. “You may have to share your room with seven other people, but you may share your happiest moments with them. You may have to move 10 times a year, but the diverse places and people you meet become an integral part of your journey through life, turning it into anything but ordinary.”

Dads cherish Sweden’s parental leave

When photographer Johan Bavman became a father for the first time, he took more than a passing wonder about how his native Sweden is said to be the most generous nation on Earth for parental leave.

He immersed himself in fatherhood — twice over, you might say.

    He used his photography to document the real-life experience of other fathers taking full advantage of Sweden’s extraordinary program, which allows mothers and fathers to take long, long leaves from their careers so they can care for their newborns.Get this: Sweden grants a total of 480 calendar days of parental leave, with 390 of them paid at 80% of income, with a maximum of 3,160 euros a month or $3,474. The remaining 90 days are paid at a flat-rate benefit of 20 euros a day, or $22.But there’s a catch. Fathers have to share that leave with mothers.Read MorePhotographer Johan BavmanSo to promote both parents to raise their children, Sweden has mandated that 60 of the 480 days be “daddy months” or “partner months.” If the 60 daddy days aren’t used, they are lost, reducing the maximum leave to 420 days.The country also created a “gender equality bonus”: the more days that parents share the leave equally, they get a bonus that could total up to 1,500 euros, or $1,649.The idea is for both parents to share the joys and struggles of raising infants.In reality, only 12% of Swedish couples equally share the 480 days of leave, Bavman said, with women continuing to lead the way as the stay-at-home parent and men as the careerist.Still, Bavman mused last summer about how the policy impacts those men who use the full measure of their parental leave.

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    At first, Bavman had difficulty finding such men.But the fathers he did find and photograph, he captured their devotion in realistic imagery.”I realized while I was talking to these dads, these dads are struck by how important the bonding is between you and the children,” said Bavman, who now has a 3-year-old son, Viggo, with partner Linda Stark, a freelance journalist.”I didn’t want to bring out fathers as superdads,” Bavman said. “I wanted to bring out these role models which people can connect to.”I want to have those dads who can also show their tiredness … which comes with being home with your children. It’s a hard full-time job. This is something that we have been taking for granted for hundreds of years. This is something that mothers have never been recognized for.”

    I didn't want to bring out fathers as superdads. I wanted to bring out these role models which people can connect to.

    Johan Bavman

    He also found moments of humor, with one child nearly ripping apart the shirt of his busy father.The fathers have become more understanding of their wives and even their own mothers, Bavman said. Some are now considering a career change to accommodate their parenthood.”Being home nine months, they get time to think about their life,” the photographer said.

      Bavman is looking for a total of 60 fathers to photograph, to culminate in an exhibition and a book.So far he’s found 35 worthy of his lens.

Show animals and their proud handlers

Every year, animal handlers travel throughout England and Wales to compete at agricultural shows.

Jooney Woodward’s “Best in Show” is a documentation of those competitions, with photos that place a spotlight on the handlers and their animals.

    “When you go to (the shows), they tend to be all about the animals — people photographing the animals,” Woodward said. “I just wanted to turn my attention onto the people because they’re so committed to what they do. They’re really devoted and hardworking.”While those involved with the competitions are the focus of many press photographers, Woodward’s work stands out for its distinctive portraiture style. “My work is a bit more composed. I use a medium-format camera and a tripod, so it is a bit more static in a way,” she said. “I think everybody is so proud of their animals that when I said to them that, ‘I’d love a portrait of you and your cow,’ everyone was more than willing to give up their time and help because they’re so passionate about what they do.”Read MorePhotographer Jooney WoodwardThe “Best in Show” portraits lead viewers down a winding pathway to ponder those inexplicable yet noticeable connections and bonds that exist between the handlers and their animals. Woodward’s photos also contain subtle details. For example, the symbols and signs on the wall behind Wendy and her Hereford yearling heifer Mandalay Juliette are just as significant as the handler and her animal. “It’s just the way (Wendy) had gone through the effort of decorating the pen (with Union Jacks) where the cows were being kept,” Woodward said. “There’s also a sign behind (her) … and there’s a picture of a gentleman with a cow, who is actually her husband who had died a few years ago. … I just thought that was nice, something quite sentimental about that.” There are not only sentimental subtleties within “Best in Show,” but also fun and interesting ones as well. This is especially evident in the photo of the traditional Welsh pigs being judged, as Woodward points out there is an advertisement for sausages behind the pigs.

    I just wanted to turn my attention onto the people because they're so committed to what they do. They're really devoted and hardworking.

    Photographer Jooney Woodward

    Regardless of what elements make up Woodward’s photos, the emotions and aesthetics remain particularly important.Woodward said that when photographing Jamie and his Jersey cow, his happiness and smile made her want to “share that sense of enjoyment” that handlers have when competing with their animals in the shows. What drew Woodward to Harriet and her guinea pig Gentleman Jack were the similar colors radiating from both of them. Her photo of the pair won the National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize in 2011. “(Harriet) was like a steward, she was sort of judging the guinea pigs. And she also had her own guinea pig with her, which had red as well,” Woodward said. “I just thought that was incredibly striking. I thought, ‘I’ve got to get a shot of that.’ “The dynamics of the competitions foster a community atmosphere in which everybody becomes acquainted with one another after having traveled to different shows for so many years. Woodward said this was an enjoyable aspect of her work because “you get to see lots of familiar faces.”

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    She has learned about the pride the handlers have toward their animals, and many of her presumptions about the competitions have now changed after having worked on “Best in Show.””I think when I first started going, I was sort of thinking the shows would be more novelty, fun things for these people,” she said. “But, actually, it isn’t really; it’s quite a serious thing, because they can make money from breeding.”In addition to handlers earning significant money from breeding, they are also able to achieve recognition for their livestock. Those competing have a lot at stake when they make the decision to travel and compete, because the shows are just as much business events as they are social gatherings.

      The competitions are also rather family-oriented, and Woodward said that while adults compete, their sons, daughters and grandchildren are involved as well. The younger generations are likely to one day take over the responsibility of running the family farms, and everyone that participates seems to have a strong sense of pride and passion for agriculture.”I think it’s something I will always document for the rest of my life, and see how things change,” Woodward said. “It was challenging, insightful and fun.”

A glimpse of life on the reservation

Growing up in Germany, everything Felix von der Osten learned about Native Americans came from the books of 19th-century German writer Karl May.

May’s most beloved characters, a noble Apache leader named Winnetou and his cowboy blood brother Old Shatterhand, are said to be more popular today in Germany than the works of Thomas Mann, the 20th-century Nobel Prize-winning author of “Death in Venice.”

    It wasn’t until von der Osten drove through South Dakota last year, bearing witness to modest homes and trailers on tribal land in the majestic Black Hills, that he realized how one-dimensional his perceptions were.Intrigued, the 25-year-old photographer began researching Native American history. What he learned about its brutal conquest and fraught modern existence inspired him to return to Indian Country to capture the good, the bad and the ugly.”I wanted to show a slice of life (through) the beauty and richness of the culture,” he said. “I didn’t want to do reportage. I wanted to do slow and thoughtful photographs, like historical documents.”Read MorePhotographer Felix von der OstenBy chance he landed in Montana’s Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, home to 7,000 members of the Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) and the Assiniboine (Nakoda) tribes on 675,147 acres of land near the Canadian border. His American girlfriend had distant relatives living there who supported his idea and invited him to stay in their home.His first stop upon arriving in October was to present his idea to the Fort Belknap tribal leadership. With their approval, he spent his first week walking around without his camera, introducing himself to tribal members and building relationships. “The most important thing was I sat down, listened and learned,” he said. “I opened my ears and let them talk so they could teach me.”Over time, they opened their homes to him and his camera. His choice of a Pentax 67 medium-format roll film camera forced him to carefully consider each shot, to “create images” in his head before taking them. It left him with a focused body of work.

    Social media

    Follow @CNNPhotos on Twitter to join the conversation about photography.

    He captured sacred tribal rituals and ceremonies along with the more mundane, familiar aspects of life: the tribal basketball team, a horse grazing in a field, a girl sitting on a bunk bed with a stuffed pony, the inside of a casino.Through conversations with tribal members, he also learned of the harsh realities of life on the reservation, from the difficulties youths face in pursuing educational opportunities to the drug and alcohol addiction killing some members.He put the camera away for some of his most memorable experiences — a sit in the sweat lodge, dinner with his host family — the ones that formed lasting relationships and earned him the nickname “the man who crossed the ocean.”

      By revealing just a slice, he hopes to arouse curiosity in viewers and inspire them to learn more “to connect the dots.” It’s something he plans to continue doing by returning this summer to learn and experience more.”The story’s not finished,” he said. “It’s a big sensitive topic and you have to be very careful, and I want to be careful.”