Stars and Bars

My favorite thing about working as a photographer, by far, is the immense range of human experience that I get to witness. Not just witness, but really take part in and experience. Some days are spent hanging out with primitivists living in the woods and the next day may be spent with CEOs or lawyers. When Al Jazeera America contacted me to go shoot a confederate flag rally in Knoxville, when the previous day, I had been in South Carolina talking to African American folks about their thoughts about the confederate flag coming down at the state house, I had mixed feelings, but was excited for the challenge. I grew up in a small town in the south, so I’m no stranger to this mentality. For the most part, I knew what I was getting into. I knew things were going to be said that would make me feel very uncomfortable, but I also knew that people were going to be very friendly and easy to be around.

My main focus was photographing Mathiew Heimbach who has become known as “The Little Fuhrer”. Heimbach is one of the leading voices associated with the white nationalist movement. His belief is that all races and religions should live separately. He proposes that all homosexuals should live in San Francisco, all Jewish people should live in New York, certain cities will be designated for black or white, completely self governed. The evening ended in a Walmart parking lot. After the event, the writer, Vegas Tenold and I joined Heimbach and a couple of his party members for dinner at Ruby Tuesday. It was a perfect example of what I love about photography. How else would you ever find yourself in this situation.

Since I was hired as a journalist, I’m abstaining from interjecting too much of my own opinions in here and tried to create a balance with the photography between reflecting the harsh reality of what was being said, and showing the human element. I was glad for this opportunity. Although I’ve heard some argue that groups like this should not be given attention or a voice in the media, I feel that it’s important to know where we are in society and get glimpses of all facets of our culture, and know that these people are out there and they are running for public offices.

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Carl Loveday poses for a portrait during a confederate flag rally held in a parking lot in Seymour, Tennessee on Thursday, July 17, 2015. Host Tom Pierce, and guest, Mathew Heimbach delivered speeches before prompting the group to drive with flags raised through Knoxville. Mike Belleme for Al Jazeera America
Carl Loveday poses for a portrait during a confederate flag rally held in a parking lot in Seymour, Tennessee on Thursday, July 17, 2015. Host Tom Pierce, and guest, Mathew Heimbach delivered speeches before prompting the group to drive with flags raised through Knoxville. Mike Belleme for Al Jazeera America
Eric D. Robinson poses for a portrait in his Dodge Challenger at a confederate flag rally held in a parking lot in Seymour, Tennessee on Thursday, July 17, 2015. Host Tom Pierce, and guest, Mathew Heimbach delivered speeches before prompting the group to drive with flags raised through Knoxville. Mike Belleme for Al Jazeera America
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Please check out the awesome article by Vegas, he did an awesome job:
http://projects.aljazeera.com/2015/07/hate-groups/

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ILOVEMAKKONEN

The thing that’s amazing about The Fader magazine is that they have this incredible knack for predicting the next big thing in music. When I got the call to head to Atlanta to shoot Ilovemakonnen, I had never heard of him and upon asking around, nobody I knew had really heard about him either. Just a few months later, he’s huge and I got to be there right at the cusp as it was happening. It’s cool to see the excitement of someone on the very edge of being world famous even if it is veiled behind a cool, nonchalant demeanor. The first time I listened to Makonnen, I hated it. Definitely didn’t get it. But after two days of listening non-stop as we drove around Atlanta and recorded in a bunch of studios, I’m a convert. Not 100%, but I can get down to some Ilovemakonnen. It was pretty amazing to see his process… Basically get reeeeeaaaaally stoned, do some mushrooms, and lay down an ad lib track usually in only one take. Give it a try kids, you could be the next big thing!

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While filming a video for Vodka on the Weekend

Makonnen went to visit a band in the suburbs of Atlanta called Sea Ghost. Turns out they were all high school kids making music in the basement of one of their parents houses. Makonnen took it in stride though and recorded an improvised hook for one of their tracks.

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The Awful Records house was a very different scene… you get the idea.

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Loooootttsssss oooofffff wwweeeeeeeeddddd.

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