Martin Christian Photography: Blog en-us (C) Martin Christian Photography (Martin Christian Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:31:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:31:00 GMT Martin Christian Photography: Blog 90 120 The Face of Sacramento's Homeless, a PBS project.  What do you need?  

   For much of 2019, I've been visiting with Sacramento's homeless population as Director of Photography for a new PBS KVIE program.  Hopefully we were able to discover what people struggle with, and find out what they need most of all.  

   These are some of the people I've met. 


   We spent several mornings with "Moody", who has blood clots in both feet and suffers from significant mental health conditions.   Attempts to house Moody have proven unsuccessful, so Moody continues to call K street home. 

  Living in a tent near North A street, she told me she's been robbed twenty-two times.  A few weeks later on my second visit, she was screaming at the men gathered outside of her tent to leave her alone.   


  "They call me Doobie".  When I visited with this gentle woman on K Street, she described to us the difficulties finding housing while having canine companions.  My heart breaks for these three. 


   An intravenous drug user we found living under the freeway, this young man's tent was surrounded by bicycles and needles.  He told me he does whatever it takes to survive, and only steals from the rich.  

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  Many times, retirement income and social security isn't enough to pay for housing in California, so this retired couple lives in their car in Sacramento. 


  Living in a tunnel underneath Mack road, surrounded by human waste, this young man was waiting to find out about the possibility of shared housing.  Like many experiencing homelessness, he continues to live near the neighborhood he grew up in. 


   A product of what many describe as California's broken foster care system, this woman shared that she chooses to live on the streets with her partner.  The dozens of cuts on her arms suggest a painful past, coping mechanisms many of us can only imagine.  


  Speaking in fragments that were difficult to understand, this woman's mental health condition represents what we found in so many we spoke with.  Without treatment, her outlook seems very bleak.  


  Laurie lives in her van and searches for her homeless son, who has untreated schizophrenia.  Suffering from untreated cancer herself, Laurie said to us, "I can't recover in a van." DSC00353-3DSC00353-3

   It's clean out day on North A street.  The green tag placed on this tent by Sacramento Police means she has until the end of the day to grab her stuff, and move.  Many of the tents relocated just one block away, continuing the cycle that seems to help no one.  


  When we spoke to her at Caesar Chavez Park in downtown Sacramento, this friendly woman told us about all the individuals living there.  She took the time to describe to us the specific help she thought each person needed. 

  For ten years, this gentleman has called a tent on the American River Parkway home, all while suffering from untreated physical and mental health conditions.  He offered to show me around his camp, while quietly revealing to me his family in Sacramento owns several houses.    


  Forced to move, she's only a few hours away from losing everything.  Nearly everyone we met on clean out day was asking for more garbage bags. 


   A bike trailer on the American River Parkway hauls a precious little dog.  I've been a bike commuter on the Parkway for over fifteen years, and I've had to change and adapt my route as the noticeable dangers have increased near downtown.  A once proud part of Sacramento seems to be on it's slow march towards decay.     DSC00742DSC00742

   Tents are everywhere in Sacramento.  Images from our drone show how a street next to a vacant lot becomes a makeshift community.    DJI_0039DJI_0039DCIM\100MEDIA\DJI_0039.JPG

 This young woman was across town when she found out her tent had to be moved, so she rushed up on her bicycle while we were filming.  Originally from Bakersfield, she didn't know where to go next, and was asking police for more garbage bags.  


  Crossing the Watt bridge during the evening commute, this gentleman heads for the camps on the south side of the American River.  



  I don't know the answers, I don't have any solutions.  Instead, I document reality and hope all of you are inspired in your own personal way.  This has been one of the hardest projects I've ever worked on, because at the end of the day, I get to go home.  I say goodbye, I thank them for sharing their life with me, and then I get in my car and leave, heading for a warm home, medical care, and the love of my family.   

  Walking away at the end of the day is the hardest part of my job. 

I hope some day our society decides that everyone is worth caring about. 




(Martin Christian Photography) Fri, 15 Nov 2019 21:31:04 GMT
Urban Beekeeping in Sacramento My Wife, the Urban Beekeeper


  We've been keeping bees in Sacramento for about one year now, and I have to say it has been a real blast.  I've learned so much from watching my awesome wife Karen nurture her colony, and it's turned out to be the most fun we've had together as a couple.  Yesterday she performed some spring maintenance, so I grabbed my camera.   Enjoy. 


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(Martin Christian Photography) Mon, 22 Apr 2019 19:23:22 GMT
Preserving the Chinese Gold Rush: Fiddletown's Chew Kee Store  Preserving the Chinese Gold Rush  

  Recently, a shoot for KVIE/PBS took us to the unforgettable Chew Kee Store in Fiddletown, California.  Once a Chinese herb store during the Gold Rush, the store gives the visitor a rare glimpse into the lives of early Chinese immigrants to California.  The store is one of the most authentic windows into the Gold Rush you will ever find.    

  Now a museum, the store reflects 100 years of continuous habitation by Chinese immigrants and residents. 


   Covered in dust, everything in the store is authentic, reflecting the daily life and work of its various inhabitants.  Herb doctor Yee Fung Cheung founded the store in the mid-1850s, who then passed it to merchant-gambler Chew Kee and his wife Sigh Choy, who then gave it to their adopted son “Jimmie” Chow. 


  The solid building was constructed by Chinese workers using the traditional Chinese technique of rammed earth, resulting in thick mud-packed walls that cool the structure during hot summer days.   On the day we visited, temperatures soared into triple digits, yet we were cool and comfortable in the shaded rooms.  

  Hand-made knives hang in the makeshift kitchen.  Each resident left behind objects that tell the story of Chinese culture transplanted in emergent California.  All furnishings and artifacts in the rooms are original. 


  Chew Kee was a merchant who took over the store in the 1880s, selling merchandise from China, groceries, and gambling supplies to the Chinese community.  By 1910 however, there were only four Chinese Americans residing in Fiddletown. 

  The store served as a business and home for its residents. Besides the spacious commercial room at the front, private living space includes bedrooms, an office, and two add-on kitchens – much of the interior is built with hand-hewn wood.



   Everything in the store was constructed, imported, and used by the people who lived there.  Paper hangs on many of the walls, used as an insulation to protect the inhabitants from extreme cold and heat.  




  In 1895, ten year old Jimmy Chow was too ill to make the journey home to China, leaving him in the care of Sigh Choy and store owner Chew Kee.  Years later, Jimmy Chow was the last resident of the building, and also the last Chinese resident of Fiddletown.  Jimmy lived in the rear of the building, leaving the store untouched. 


  Well-liked in Fiddletown, Jimmy’s death in 1965 at the age of eighty was the end of an era.  After his death, the building, the contents of the store, and Jimmy’s living quarters, were left all left intact.  It was abandoned until the Fiddletown Preservation Society members worked to open it for the public.


     Many thanks to Elaine Zorbas and Karun Yee with the Fiddletown Preservation Society for giving us such a special tour. 


  The Chew Kee Store is open to the public as a museum operated by the Fiddletown Preservation Society, April-October, on Saturdays only from noon-4:00p.m and by appointment. 


(Martin Christian Photography) Mon, 10 Sep 2018 19:35:19 GMT
Early photos! Brent and Kelly's mountaintop wedding. A few preliminary photos to share from Kelly and Brent's big day!  Enjoy. 

  It was a short hike on the Pacific Crest/Tahoe Rim Trail to the top of Barker Pass.   

    Brent's prep crew and wedding party are ready for the bride!

    A short walk for the ladies and we'll have a wedding!

   Last-second preps before walking down the aisle.

 The most unique "walking down the aisle" moment I've ever seen.  I am thankful to have witnessed such a tender family moment. 

 It's official!  Mr. and Mrs. Ledesma!


    A special day with special people.  Congratulations Brent and Kelly! IMG_6068IMG_6068

(Martin Christian Photography) Mon, 06 Aug 2018 00:15:31 GMT