common ground

Common Ground (click here), the multimedia version of my farm/subdivision diptych project, has launched.

The project is a MediaStorm production. MediaStorm is the New York City-based multimedia production company founded by Brian Storm, one of the world’s most brilliant innovators and all-around awesome guys.

I am incredibly pleased with the way Common Ground turned out. I believe this project is a great example of the fabulous results that are possible when one combines still photography with audio. I have always been a proponent of the power of still photography and over the past years I have become convinced that audio not video is the key to engaging multimedia.

I have a slew of people to thank. Without them, this project wouldn’t have been possible.

First off and most importantly, I want to thank my photo subjects.

Many many thanks to Harlow and Jean Cagwin. The Cagwins opened their home and their lives to me in 1994 and allowed me to freely document both their ups and downs for the next 9 years.

Next are the Grabenhofers. I would like to thank Amanda, who in March 2007 after seeing me present my farm story in her College of DuPage photo essay class, raised her hand and said, “I live in that subdivision.”

That fortuitous moment gave my essay new life and took it in a whole new direction.

Although, they didn’t have much say in the matter, thanks to Amanda’s kind invitation to let me document her family in the Willow Walk subdivision, I couldn’t have done any of this without Amanda’s husband Ed and the Grabenhofer children- Ben, Aiden, Abigail and Caitlyn. I can’t forget Molly and Noel- the family dogs- whose playful exuberance provided me with hundreds and hundreds of great photo opportunities.

Thanks, too, to the other families on Cinnamon Court, who from day one unconditionally accepted a dorky middle-aged man with a camera lurking in their cul de sac.

Over the years, many of my friends and colleagues have helped and guided me as I have worked on this project. Most notable of them are Rob Finch, Mike Davis, Michael Hamtil, Todd Panagopoulos, Leigh Daughtridge, Loup Langton, Mike Zajakowski and Jon Lowenstein.

As for Common Ground, the latest incarnation of my never-ending project, the lion’s share of the credit goes to MediaStorm producer Chad A. Stevens. Chad saw me present the diptychs publicly for the first time at the Mountain Workshops in Kentucky and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for my collaboration with MediaStorm. Once the project was greenlighted, Chad produced the whole shebang. Along the way, Chad went through 14 years of images and even though I wasn’t thrilled when he made me scan in 545 negatives, it was his attention to detail that made Common Ground what it is. In addition, Chad even found Andy Webster, who composed the perfect music for the piece.

Thanks also goes out to my former co-worker and current Rocky Mountain News multimedia shooter Wes Pope. Wes took time from his personal life to shoot the interviews and give Common Ground a great ending by documenting the Cagwins when they got lost in the Willow Walk subdivision while trying to find the street named after them- Cagwin Drive.

Once again, Brian Storm rocks!! I am so proud to have been able to work with him and I hope that I get the chance again in the future.

I know you are all hoping that this is the final chapter in this story but there is one last piece of unfinished business. My attention now turns to what was my original plan- finding a publisher for the book.


11 Responses to “common ground”

  1. As I have said before… A really wonderful piece of work! I never get tired of seeing it.

    Looking forward to the book to add to my collection.

  2. It just brings tears to my eyes everytime I watch it. I’m so excited I get to share it now. Thank you Scott for everything!! -Amanda

  3. Just watched Common Ground: it’s beautiful and touching. What a way to tell a story. — Jan

  4. Well done Scott. Well done.

  5. such a beautiful piece, scott. it really captures the passage of time, but the more things change, the more they stay the same.
    every photo was spot on.

    i have a question– since you worked on this for the tribune, do they not own the rights to the images? did you work something out with them? i wonder because of the book publishing.

    very awesome work.
    i’ll be passing this piece along to lots of photogs and friends.


  6. Kendrick, thanks for the kind words.
    This story has always been a personal project of mine. Even though it has been published at all three newspapers that I have worked at in my career, I have retained the copyright on the work. I have made deals along the way when I had to work on the project on company time but the vast majority of the shooting has been done on my own time.

  7. I loved this piece. I’m a radio documentary producer and am so interested to hear you say that AUDIO is such an important part of the work. I was surprised and pleased to arrive with you at the neutral human ground where the story ends. I grew up not far from this place and know these issues well – you found a way to get around all the cliches.

  8. Scott,
    This is one of the finest story telling multimedias I have seen. You go beyond cause and effect, but you have before and after, something I often find hard to show. It’s so great that you were able to capture not only the old and the new, but the fact of the matter: this is how it is.

    Excellent job. I would buy the book.


  9. just have to commend you on this piece. it’s absolutely fantastic.
    I get tears in my eyes everythime I watch it…
    looking forward to the book!

    greetings from nz.

  10. Scott – the whole thing is great. fabulous. nice to see you at the end and to see that Wes did the video.


  11. Awesome. Very well done. Hope you and your kids are doing well.
    Love, Elliott

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