I'm working on an ongoing photo project titled "COMPETE!" where I explore how sports help define a culture. I want to show the social and psychological aspects of games, what they mean to their respective communities, and the inner drive within man to compete.
I believe this project is unique because it incorporates the concept of publicly funded independent photojournalism. When I worked for newspapers, the publications assigned and funded the projects. Now that I'm no longer affiliated with a newspaper, I hope to utilize social networking to help find like-minded people with an interest in supporting projects I feel are important.
The FIFA World Cup is one of the biggest single sporting events in the world. At once, it unifies the world in a common event while creating competitive divisions between countries.
Some people will spend thousands of dollars to travel halfway around the globe to see the games live. In some countries, locals will pack town squares to watch games at public viewings. In other parts of the world, crowds will form in and around neighborhood homes, barber shops, or anywhere else a communal television can be found - no matter how fuzzy the picture may be. The United States, pre-occupied with their "Big Three" sports and seemingly disinterested in soccer, will send the largest contingent of foreign fans to the World Cup. An estimated cumulative worldwide television audience of 25+ billion is expected.
What does this all mean to the host country?
In South Africa locals hope these games are the impetus the country needs to rise up out of the endless violence, racism and crime that plagues the country. South Africa, the so-called "rape capital of the world," is consistently listed as one of the most dangerous place on earth. There are huge - if not unrealistic - expectations for the World Cup in South Africa. Billions of dollars have been invested in the World Cup, with the hope that the payout will be much greater in the decades to come.
I plan to show contrasting South Africa — a country of crime and poverty against a country of hope and progress using the the World Cup as a backdrop.
Part 1: South Africa's World Cup Hope
I plan to document the first ever World Cup on the African continent from the local's perspective. I will NOT be attending any World Cup matches. All my reporting is slated to be done outside the stadiums. I will look at race, poverty and security in relation to the World Cup. I want to show how the locals are approaching the games, and the expectations they have. I will arrive a week before the games begin in order to do local reporting in the community.
As the games approach, I will shift my photography to showing the global culture of football (soccer) and how South Africans are welcoming people from around the world brought together in a feeling of community. A common interest unites them. For South Africans, are the games a celebration of sport, or something greater? How are they showing off their country? Will their image in the world's eye improve after the games? How is the money invested for the World Cup manifesting itself in real-world payback to the people?
Funding for this project will help pay for in-country travel, security and insurance. I have already purchased air travel to South Africa.
Even though I am not attending any World Cup matches, being in the host cities will be expensive. With the influx of visitors, prices for just about everything are at a premium. South Africa is not a safe place. Traveling alone with camera gear makes it more dangerous. I plan to employ fixers - locals with knowledge of the area who can help me with my stories and add a layer of safety. Their services are integral, but don't come cheap (~$350 per day).
Successful funding will ensure the project is completed safely.
Until now, this project has been self-funded.
Upon my return, my plans include publishing a photo book of my reporting from South Africa as well as creating a traveling photo gallery. During the event I will post daily updates on my blog.
- (43 days)