Vicky Collins Online

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My Week in Detox

He told us his name was Ray Casados but on the street they called him Rah-Rah. He was a young tatted up heroin addict who was spending 90 days at the Hoy Recovery Program in Velarde, New Mexico, hoping he could finally kick the habit that had him by the balls, and move forward with a new life as a barber. He hailed from nearby Espanola, a drug trafficking corridor with multigenerational drug abuse and entrenched, life crushing poverty.  Rio Arriba County where he lives has the highest rate of heroin overdose deaths in the country.  Ray wanted to stop dealing drugs, to make money legitimately, and stay out of jail. He knew this was his last chance, that if he didn’t get his shit together he would probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

We met Ray and the other clients at Hoy while attending Ami Vitale’s multimedia course at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops.  It was a five day intensive that taught us how to tell our stories using DSLR cameras and Final Cut Pro.  Neither my partner, Karsten Balsley, or I had shot or edited video before, and like Ray, our learning curve was incredibly steep.  I shot with a Nikon D7000, Karsten with a Nikon D3S.  We are both accomplished photographers but everything was different.  We were told out of the gate that we would learn from our failures and over the week there were many mistakes and setbacks.  Karsten was cracking up as he helped log the tape because he could hear me saying “shit, shit, shit” as things went to hell in a handbasket.

For me the biggest revelation was that with multimedia production I could get out of my news box and break rules that have been ingrained in my head for 30 years.  I was also forced to be aware of things I simply take for granted when working with professional photojournalists and, especially, sound men.  I count on my photographers to notice things like lighting and composition so I can pay attention to producing.  Now I was doing it all myself.  These days in news production, sound men are often left by the wayside, but you come to edit with screwed up audio and you’ll tear your hair out.  I can’t thank Ami enough for her creativity, Jake for his patience and Final Cut expertise, and my classmates for their support as they struggled through their own projects.  We completed our stories in four days. No one got much sleep.

The week of the course was one of the most intense of my life, but at the end Karsten and I returned to Hoy and showed our piece to Ray and the other men and women at the center.  Throughout my career I have not had many opportunities to sit in a room with people watching my work. For this audience, that has been through so much, there was laughter and back slapping and especially gratitude that we were able to look at them and see their humanity. I know I saw Ray sit up taller that afternoon.  I believe Ray, Karsten and I now have a skill set we can use to make a difference for ourselves and for others, all because of our time in detox.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.

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Blaine Harrington’s Photo Exhibit

My friend, Blaine Harrington, is one of the most accomplished travel photographers in the world. He will be the featured photographer in an exhibit called “Unifying the World through Color” at the Denver Photo Art Gallery (for those of you in Denver it is John Fielder’s gallery at 833 Santa Fe Drive) starting on Friday, January 7 and running through Wednesday, March 2. This is just one small sample of his beautiful work. He will display photographs from his travels through Burma, Bhutan, Fiji, India, Namibia, South Africa, Thailand and the United States. Here is a photograph from Rajasthan in India with an explanation of how he got the shot.

Blaine Harrington's Rajasthan Woman

Blaine Harrington: One of my favorite things to do while traveling around the world is to watch people moving in their environment, going about their daily routine. Even better is watching women walking in India, wearing saris that are every color of the rainbow. I loved the motif of the wall in this scene and so waited for a woman in the right color sari to walk through. The bright red of this woman’s sari complemented perfectly the colors the floral background. As she walked the woman held a huge broom in front of her face to shield herself from the sun. The broom added just the right amount of mystery and made the photo less about her face or more about the shapes and colors of the scene.

Every year he invites me and many others to help him pick his portfolio for the Society of American Travel Writers competition. The pictures are stunning. If you love to travel, take photographs or just want to see artistry with light and color I highly recommend this exhibit. Blaine is a huge inspiration as I work on my photography. He has many more images from all over the world on his website. To see more of Blaine Harrington’s travel photography visit http://blaineharrington.com.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Photography: Stepping Up My Game

Just bought a Nikon D7000 camera and Nikkor 18-200 mm 1:3.5-5.6 GII lens. Have set a goal to teach myself to shoot and edit video in the year ahead. My television colleagues are trying to talk me into Final Cut Pro. Also looking into continuing education at the Santa Fe Photography Workshops. Need to enhance the skill set. Time to step up as a photographer and journalist. Nervous and excited. I posted my current portfolio on Flickr. Onward and Upward!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vickycollins/sets/72157625467469718/

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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How People Live

During April I’ve had a photo exhibit running in Studio 13 Gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District.  It’s called “How People Live” and is a collection of photographs from the streets and slums around the world that illuminate the diversity of people and the condition of the poor.  Photos were taken in Uganda, China, Thailand, India, Brazil, Mexico, and various places in America.  Most of the photos were gathered while I was on television production assignments.  “How People Live” was a fundraiser for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and I want to thank all the people who supported this effort.  I’ve posted the photos to Facebook and Flickr and wanted to share them with a broader audience.  Hope you find them compelling and enlightening. 

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1106444740&ref=profile

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vickycollins

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Amazing Grace

I had my first photos ever in a gallery.  A call for entries went out for a juried exhibit at Flash Gallery in Denver (http://workingwithartists.org) and two of my photos were selected.  The subject of the exhibit was “Home is Where the Heart Is” and photographers were encouraged to submit their visions of what home means.  Proceeds from the exhibit will go to help the Denver Rescue Mission.  One of my photos was of the aftermath of the Greensburg, Kansas tornado of 2007.  It showed a home completely demolished and a sign that read “Future Home of the Dixson Family We are Blessed.”  It stunned me that people could be so optimistic when their life was a wreck.  But the Dixson’s were.

Greensburg, Kansas Tornado 2007

Greensburg, Kansas Tornado 2007

 The other photo showed Achan Grace in her new home.  I took the photo in Uganda.  I had met Achan Grace in 2006 when she was living with her five children in the Acholi slum.  She was struggling to come out of the kind of extreme poverty that kills you.  I took her photo then.  Life was difficult and you could see it on her face. 

Achan Grace 2006

Achan Grace 2006

She was an expert beader with BeadforLife (http://beadforlife.org) and through her hard work managed to save the money for a down payment on a house.  I met her again in November 2008 in her new home outside of Kampala.  I cried when I saw how far she had come.  She remembered me by name.  I was humbled.  I took Achan Grace’s photo as she looked out of her window.  She was confident and serene.

Achan Grace 2008

Achan Grace 2008

It was very gratifying to attend the opening of the exhibit.  People stopped by the photo of Achan Grace and asked me for the story.  The gallery owner kept talking about it and pointing me out as the photographer.  Achan Grace’s image touched people.  She had a look on her face that spoke of strength and triumph.  I was so proud that I could convey her struggle and accomplishment.  Finally towards the end of the evening someone purchased it.  The money will go to help the homeless.  In the wreckage of lives there is hope for recovery whether it’s from killer tornados or crushing  poverty.  I pray that the Dixson’s have rebuilt their life.  I thank God that amazing Achan Grace did.
For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com