Richard Latham has a late-night drink in his home in Solihull, England. When Richard's wife left him four years ago, she left behind a £400 energy bill that he is unable to pay off. He has not used heat in his home since then, and very rarely turns on light or electrical appliances, for fear of increasing his debt. "I'm a bit paranoid about power," he says.
I hope that you have all been well! The bad news is that I have taken far too long to update you. The good news is that I have delayed hitting the "send" button on this post as I continue working and more and more news comes in!
Power Paranoid UK
I spent most of the past few months in the UK, working on perhaps the most difficult story I have taken on. While the number of households affected by Fuel Poverty has risen to near 7 million (and is projected to continue rising), it was extraordinarily difficult to find people willing to allow me into their homes and photograph. This one took an incredible amount of time and energy - so I am once again extremely grateful to each of you for supporting the project! It simply wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
My efforts were eventually rewarded as people like Richard Latham, pictured above, and a few others invited me into their homes. It was absolutely surreal to examine this issue in England - to find people connected to the grid, in "everyday" living situations, who simply refused to flick on their light switches because of a very real fear of compounded debt to their energy companies. A couple more photos from the project are below - a full edit is coming soon, and I'm planning a return trip to the UK next winter!
Richard Latham poses for a portrait lit with flashlights in his home in Solihull, England.
"John" (not his real name) in his flat in Birmingham, England. Having recently lost his job, and homeless until just a few weeks ago, John lives off jobseekers benefits and struggles to pay his bills. For each large purchase he makes - such as the winter coat seen in the background - he has to plan for days without use of electricity.
In February, I had an extremely successful exhibition at The Strand Gallery in London in partnership with the energy charity Ashden (www.ashden.org). On one floor of the gallery, my prints were exhibited in the dark, and visitors viewed the work using handheld solar lights created by D.Light (http://www.dlightdesign.com/) and ToughStuff International (http://www.toughstuffonline.com/). On the next floor, visitors learned about the plethora of sustainable energy solutions that Ashden supports. It was wonderful to continue contributing my work to the discussion on energy's future.
We were fortunate to attract a lot of media attention - including this BBC World Service interview: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00nnksl and articles from Reuters Alertnet: http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/alertnet-news-blog/photo-exhibition-in-dark-sheds-light-on-energy-poverty/ and The British Journal of Photography: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/feature/2145128/exhibition-life-lights-london.
Last month, I was named one of the Photo District News 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch, a huge honor in the photography world. Images here: http://pdn30.pdnevents.com/gallery/2012/?contest=dicampo and interview here: http://pdn30.pdnevents.com/gallery/2012/bio/dicampo.shtml
Life Without Lights work from five countries will be exhibited at the Lumix Festival for Young Photojournalism in Hannover, Germany this June. Very excited to share an exhibition space with a wide range of fantastic photography: http://www.fotofestival-hannover.de/ausstellungen2012.html?&L=1
Pulitzer Center Grant / Where Does Chocolate Come From?
A man inspects his destroyed home near Blolequin, Ivory Coast on the first day that he returned to his village, having fled during post-election violence last spring and lived as a refugee in neighboring Liberia for about eleven months.
Finally, a bit of non-energy news. In early March, I traveled to Ivory Coast on my third grant from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to report on the post-conflict situation there and the connection between the country's cocoa industry and ten-year civil war. Full story coming soon...
That's all for now! Expect more news soon as I prepare for an upcoming trip to Uganda photograph a chapter on Energy Poverty + Women's Health. And during this down-time between shooting, getting you your rewards is one of my top priorities!
All the best,