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November 20, 2012 2PM EST

Q&A with Eros Hoagland

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  • Q

    Please welcome Eros Hoagland. Eros, what sort of response have you received since Witness: Juarez started airing on HBO?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    the response has been great. People have been really kind and most importantly, very interested in the project and the issues I am photographing. Ive gotten lots of supportive e mails from strangers, and its really awesome.

  • Q

    Do you find that the "story" you come away with afterwards is often different than what you thought it might be going into the situation?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    oh yes, very often the story I come back with is very different from what I had expected. the key is to keep an open mind while your on the ground and forget about what you THINK you know.

  • Q

    What is your goal each day as you take pictures?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    make great, telling images, stay alive and in one piece, and protect the local people I am working with. not necessarily in that order

  • Q

    What do you do to take your mind off the things you’ve seen?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    I take lots of time off between hard assignments, and during that time I surf, I dive, I fish, I play with my dog, and a talk to a professional therapist

  • Q

    I know those working in trauma medicine often find themselves somewhat desensitized to the horror they see in their professional life. I believe that, in moderation, this is a necessary coping mechanism that allows them to do their job.. Do you find the same in your field of work? If so, does it interfere with the quality of your work?

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    Eros Hoagland says:

    yes, and yes. We have to filter the terrible things we witness, and we also have to process our experiences honestly. I take time off and try to remain pretty zen about the hole human situation on our planet

  • Q

    What percent of your life is actually spent in the field? What sort of preparation do you do before an assignment?

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    Eros Hoagland says:

    these days im off more than I am on, but that could change from month to month. as for preparation, I do a bit of research, make sure I have solid contacts in destination local, and then just up and go.

  • Q

    As someone who does a lot of work in Haiti, I'm curious about the context of your comment about Haiti being the scariest place you've been.

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    indeed, I feel bad about not having supplied context to that statement. I was in Haiti during the 2004 coup. When Aristide was being forced out of the country. It was a very bad time. We, journalists, were being shot at and killed by armed thugs in the streets who were very upset about the ouster of Aristide. It wasnt Haiti that scared me, but being targeted and threatened on a regular basis. Haiti is a wonderful country, and I would like to return very much.

  • Q

    Did you ever fear for your life and if so, what were your coping mechanisms?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    strangly, having been directly shot at and threatened over the years, I have never really feared for my life. Does that make me a fool? Perhaps. Coping mechanisms is time off, and understanding that all people die eventually. I just have always been lucky I guess, lucky and very cautious.

  • Q

    Have you met Michael and Veronique, the other photographers featured in Witness?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    I know Michael, a great guy. I have yet to meet Veronique, but REALLY look forward to it

  • Q

    What is the most dangerous situation your position of "witness" has presented thus far in your career?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    I think the most dangerous thing that happened to me while filming Witness was when a car almost landed on me and Jarred as it flew off an overpass in Juarez. It was the same car driven by the young man who was shot and left to bleed out in the end of "Juarez."

  • Q

    What was the most challenging aspect of Witness?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    the most challenging aspect of everything I do, is arranging access with people who are very weary of the camera, and basic logistics. the gun fights are much easier to deal with. very simple, make pictures and not get shot. very straight forward

  • Q

    What's one of the biggest ethical dilemmas you have dealt with while on assignment?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    I don't think I have had many hard decisions to make ethically, that is, I have been faced with many difficult situations, but the right thing to do has always been pretty obvious to me.

  • Q

    It is obvious from watching Juarez how you got started. Any advice for someone entering the field? Fantastic work by the way, inspiring.

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    Advice....really understand your personal and professional motivations, and constantly re-evaluate those motivations. move to an area that interests you in a variety of ways, build up contacts, don't burn bridges early on, and save up money before hand as a cushion because you wont be making much money for a while. but really, you just gotta jump in for the most part. oh..and don't go showing your portfolio to important editors until you feel really confidant in your work. and move slowly, always, and make allies and friends everywhere you go.

  • Q

    What camera bodies and lenses do you normally carry?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    minimal kit. digital slr, a back up body , and a few lenses.

  • Q

    What are you working on now?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    I am working on a photo book about the drug war in northern mexico called "reckoning at the Frontier" its gonna be really awesome, but I need some more money to complete it. I have a good kickstarter campaign going, but I need some more $$$$$$$. after that I will re-evaluate where I go next http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/548813049/reckoning-at-the-frontier

  • Q

    That's all the time for today's Q&A. Thank you to Eros Hoagland for joining us. What should we expect from the final film, Witness: Rio?

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    A
    Eros Hoagland says:

    be prepared to be shocked and perhaps angry with the lengths that governments are willing to go to secure multi-billion dollar events in their cities. murder disguised as progress.

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