IMPACT | An Online Exhibition

Welcome to the inaugural IMPACT online exhibition, a project exploring the internet as a venue for insightful photographic work.

In an effort to remind viewers of the important role photographers play around the world, we invited an array of photographers to share galleries on their blogs that comprise 12 images representing an experience when they had an impact on or were impacted.

By clicking on the links below the IMPACT logo, you can move through the exhibition, viewing other galleries by different photographers. You can also click the IMPACT logo to be taken to a post on the liveBooks RESOLVE Blog where you can see an index of all participating photographers.

We hope that by linking different photographic visions of our first topic, “Outside Looking In,” we can provide a multifaceted view of the topic as well as the IMPACT individuals can have on the world around us.

-The IMPACT Team

The Mountain Kingdom

Text and Photographs by Jeremy Wade Shockley

I felt pride working alongside the Basotho, sharing in their labor. Their amusement was matched by my efforts. I watched these students accomplish and create. In contrast, many Basotho sat idle, unable to better their situation in a country where not everyone is afforded the same opportunities.

In Lesotho, working in economic development, I witnessed first hand how this developing country created jobs despite their limits in education and infrastructure. I helped train those seeking a trade, those who sought to embrace the economy that will eventually determine the fate of this small country.

I set foot on African soil for the first time knowing that Lesotho would be my home for the next two years. What I would gain was a deep understanding of culture, unparalleled in a short lifetime of travels.

My service as a Peace Corps volunteer not only afforded me the opportunity to explore the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, its culture and landscapes, but to ply my craft as a photographer, unaware of the impact that it would have on the course of my life.

Lesotho, one of the poorest countries in the world has its share of hardships: unemployment, loss of life through HIV/AIDS, new strains of drug resistant tuberculosis, and a critical lack of education needed to combat these problems.

Through my images I hope to convey that despite hardships and struggles facing the Basotho people the strength and fortitude of their culture enables them to embrace each day with optimism. Their faces carry the burdens of a hard life and are often stern, yet a smile is almost always inevitable.

Inspiration to photograph Basotho at work and collect these images into an essay came from what I saw as strong parallels to America in the 1930’s. A country hard at work, determined to survive, and able to produce against all odds.

To learn more about how you can help visit FRIENDS OF LESOTHO.

Creative Non-Fiction: Week Four.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

The creak of the wood under my worn boot brought back memories from so many summers past. The pine needles that always gather on the redwood steps remind me of all the times I have swept them away. There is a 90 degree bend in the staircase leading up to the deck, sheltered by tall pines, these trees are rich in sap and the pungent smell brings on another set of memories.

Passing across the weathered deck and into the half open barn door I am hit with an even stronger smell of dust, made more noticeable by the heat. Open rafters warm the loft by day, greedily sucking the heat back as night falls. This loft is the barn, as my cousins and I call it, and it only held hay for one or two summers as I recall. In our youth we set up camp first, slowly adding pieces of furniture and eventually beds and a TV. Here we could escape responsibility; there were fewer rules and no enforceable curfew. Youthful innocence at it’s very best.

A pair of ground squirrels play chase along the outside banister as I lightly set the record needle down on a favorite Bob Dylan track, the crackle immediately disturbing the silence of the room. Was it nine or ten summers that I spent up here, working alongside my grandfather, escaping to the barn at each day’s end? The best days were those shared with my cousins, each year remembered by the posters and odd things that we used to adorn the walls and open nooks. Now every corner of this once empty space holds memories, memories that are represented by the tangible things we collect, perhaps a bit dusty. I am cheered by the smell.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

Here I was on a ski mountain for the first time in over two years, and it had been almost four before that. My memories drifted back to college, working at the bike shop, heading to the mountains intent on maximizing the season pass. I was younger then, less confident I’m sure, but somehow I remember being more confident. These thoughts crossed my mind as I watched the ski crowd, young and old, bustle to and from the lifts, restrooms, and overpriced eateries. Those with too much gear were brightly colored and awkward, the other, local element on the mountain exuded arrogance and purpose- the two were intertwined there at the base of Wolf Creek- there was an almost insect like busyness to the untrained eye. I again found my thoughts drifting back to a time when I might have easily passed through without a second thought.

I was here to rekindle my love affair with the slopes, to share with Rachel a sport I had once so ambitiously pursued. A gust of wind stung my face, exposed from the nose down, in one quick motion the ski lift swooped me up in the air, almost surprisingly so. Only then did I leave the commotion behind, free to bring my thoughts to nature. A dead tree approached on my left, draped with various beads and other adornments. For a moment I felt sadness, which quickly passed. Perhaps nature feels honored by such gifts…I entertained this thought some more before dismissing it, after all those beads were never placed with such high intentions. The Rockies came into sight above the mountains, high, proud, and much the same as they have always been. A feeling of calm entered by mind and once again I was aware of the equipment and the impending dismount directly ahead of me.


Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

I look back at this image and consider much as I reminisce about my time in the so called underdeveloped countries of our world. The pace is slower, the day to day survival has a very tangible value, and while there are many worries, there is without question less stress.

I have devoted my weekend to looking back into the archive, and that journey has taken me into Lesotho, looking back on so many of the adventures I have had there, the love of culture and those who shared it with me.

This image evokes so much of that in a way that I find surreal and equally calming. Do you look back at an assignment, or through personal photographs and often find something that has taken on a new meaning, importance to you…but only after the passing of time?

Such is the nature and beauty of imagery, the love of people and places which have passed out of our lives, but not our memories.

Victoria Falls.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

Ever since picking up a camera it had been a dream of mine to capture the magnificence of Africa’s Victoria Falls on film. When the opportunity came, I did not miss it.

Spending almost a full five days in the border town of Livingston, Zambia. Waking each morning before light, and hazarding the taxi ranks to return well beyond sunset I photographed the falls each day for three consecutive days. I shot all the film I could spare, not yet knowing if I would be able to replace the rolls when I arrived in the capitol city of Lusaka.

The year was 2005, I had just hitchhiked across the deserts of Namibia and was en route for East Africa where I would finish out my last weeks on the continent shooting on Lake Malawi and eventually turn my lens to the Indian Ocean.

Creative Non-Fiction: Week Two.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

The soft spongy earth and high grass soaked my shoes immediately. A thick heavy mist hung over the landscape- I had come north to Cajas for the streams. Cuenca with its dense population and cobble stone streets was foreign to me, but the rhythm of casting a fly rod, reading the current, transcended time and place- taking me from the high Andes back to the Vallicito valley. My mind at ease in the new surroundings.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

They say change is inevitable, that tourism will be the new economy. I prefer to remember it as it was- the community that gave it’s self to my upbringing- following the cobblestone streets in the footsteps of my grandfather. Patiently listening as he spoke to the other fisherman in his daily routine.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

The extreme heat was inhospitable, the landscape thundered in my ears. Adrenalin coursed through my veins making the experience bearable, almost distant. I was assured that the high ridge was safe, running like a black spine above the sea of fire and fury below. My instinct was to flee – eyes fixed on the molten earth.

These excerpts are part of the in class writing assignments that seek to emulate creative non fiction, each excerpt written in under two minutes. Our instructor, the renowned William R. Gray, teaches various courses on the art of prose throughout the year. As a photojournalist, I feel that mastering the English language, and how it is written plays a very strong role in the field of photojournalism.

Primes: Cutting to the Chase.

Photograph © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2010.

There has been a lot of discussion lately in the photographic world about the advantages of Prime Lenses over the ever-popular telephoto (zoom) lenses commonly attached to Digital SLR cameras. I find myself both giving and gaining wisdom on the subject often enough that I feel compelled to say a few words on the subject.

Prime lenses, for those who are new to the craft of photography, are the old standard. They are small, compact lenses with a fixed focal length. With these lenses the photographer is forced to move in closer to a subject or change to another prime lens. The ease and versatility of zoom lenses has become the increasing favorite among enthusiast, while many ardent professionals still use and swear by their primes.

With that said, here is some personal background. When I began shooting in my early twenties I packed a Pentax K1000 around Ecuador with nothing more than a fast 50mm fixed lens. Two years later, I would add a 28mm and a very seldom-used 80-300 telephoto for my extended assignment in Africa. I had glamorized visions of capturing cheetahs in mid flight across the golden savannas, brandy in hand. I would have done better to leave the zoom, perhaps packing a few more Steinbeck novels in its stead. During those two years in Africa, I never wanted for any other lens, exploring the cultures and landscapes of that rich continent, shooting only my 28mm and 50mm.

I returned a year later with a basic Nikon DSLR setup, and again made some of my best images using prime lenses. The above image of a young schoolgirl was shot using a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 as the very last of Africa’s golden light reflected on Lesotho. The least expensive lens in Nikon’s fleet, exceptionally fast, and rendering a beautifully shallow depth of field when shot wide open. This lens works out to be roughly an 80mm when used on a digital camera with a DX Sensor- the conversion being a multiple of 1.6.

While the quality of prime lenses is often times superior, the cost is almost always low. These lenses are simple, lightweight, and razor sharp. Pictured below is an image taken from Nikon USA’s product site, the 35mm prime is considered by many to be the standard in focal length for street photography. Note: When shooting on a DX format camera, 24mm would be the closest equivalent prime lens.

Enough of the tech stuff, let’s talk practicality. When it comes to camera gear, I love to keep it simple and small. This equates to portability, and a presence that is less obtrusive. This style of photography is ideal for Photojournalism and travel photography. A large lens, no matter how inexpensive, is an attention getter. Prime lenses are less likely to get you mugged, easier to pack around in a day pack, messenger bag, and ultimately less expensive to replace if damaged, stolen.

I would say that a simple approach leaves you to focus on what matters, your photography, save the gear for the studio and those who enjoy using it. A solid camera, three prime lenses, and a sense of adventure will be all you need to create your best work- at home or abroad!

Cheers, Jeremy