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By: André Hermann

Student # 02455931

Academy of Art University

Graduate School of Photography

July 2008

Documentary Photography
June 1991, my junior year of high school, I seriously discovered documentary photography. The
irony of this statement is I had no knowledge of this form of photography, or what it meant to do it.
I don’t remember my motivation now, but I remember signing up for a photography class at the
local junior college while still in high school. Unsure of photographing people, I turned to the only
interesting thing that I could find— the open waste land of the High Desert, who’s boundaries began
on the outskirts of town. This vast area harbored urban legends, abandoned houses, killing fields for
unwanted pets and other animals, dumping grounds for cars and illegal drug operations. Once I put
a camera in my hand my adventurous spirit led me to photograph these locations, and everything
I could find out there. The more I photographed and explored the more I realized that there were
stories there to be told. The people were long gone but their ghosts still lingered in the form of
what was left behind; trash, photos, clothes, notes and messages written on the walls. I would often
wonder, “If these walls could talk what kind of stories would they have to tell?” The summer of 1991
I realized my passion for photography and telling stories.
1992, after a boring semester of general education at a junior college I joined the NAVY. The
next two years were spent travelling the world photographing everything, everywhere. I still wasn’t
giving photography much thought. I knew that I liked it but had no clue what I could accomplish
with a camera outside of my personal addiction for it. Once again it was left simmering on the
burner. After the NAVY I went back to Junior college to major in graphic design, where I also
attended photography classes. I still wasn’t seriously interested. It’s kind of weird now that I look
back at my progression through college. I took classes to keep me shooting and to expose myself to
the dark room. But never really immersed my self in it. Somewhere in my brain I still believed that
I couldn’t make a living doing it. I would move on to complete my bachelors degree while working
in the publishing business as an art director. While working through my BA in graphic design I
was submitting photography to the art/design department’s annual student show. The funny thing
about this is that my photography was being chosen for the student shows and no one in the photo
department knew who I was.
My passion for photography remained on that back burner, progressing to a rolling boil
throughout my career as an Art Director. It was more of a hobby that I did on my free time. Every
time I would show people my work I was told that I had an amazing eye. Every one would ask what
I was doing as an Art Director? I was beginning to assist at this point for photographers who I hired
to do my editorial shoots for the magazine I was responsible for. I started to realize just where I
could take my photography and where photography could take me.
I knew that I had to pursue photography seriously, or forever hold my peace as an Art Director.
It was very hard for me to let go of an extremely stable, well paying gig to pursue my passion. I
knew it had to be done though. After much debate and soul searching I stepped up to the edge and
literally jumped off into the unknown; moving up to San Francisco to completely immerse myself in
Courtesy Taylor Glenn
André Hermann
Cell: (415) 793-3526
1091 Calcot Place #317, Oakland, CA 94606

Master of Arts (in progress)–Academy of Art University, San Francisco Assistant/Photographer, (2007-current)
Bachelor of Arts in Art (Graphic Design)–CalState Northridge Vince Tarry Photography
Associates of Art, Associates of Science–Moorpark College Assist photographer at weddings, corporate events, family and school
ArtCenter At Night (Copywriting for Advertising)—Los Angeles portraits. Retouch wedding albums.
Ed Kashi Documentary Photography Workshop—San Francisco
Camp Photographer, (2007)
SOFTWARE Children’s Skin Disease Foundation (CSDF), Camp Wonder
Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, imovie Document week long summer camp. Create multi-media presentations
for camp presentation, and final camp DVD.
• Accepted into the Eddie Adams Workshop XXI, 2008 Photographer, (2007)
• 1st & 3rd place single documentary category, AAU Spring Show, 2008 Alcatraz Island Tours
• 1st place documentary portfolio category, AAU Spring Show, 2008 Photograph guests before they board the ship to Alcatraz. Process and
• Photography displayed at AAU—Capa Room Gallery, 2007 print digital files. Customer service.
• 3rd place single documentary category, AAU Spring Show 2007
• Solo show ‘The People To Your Right: Portraits,” The Brickhouse, SF, Art Director/Photographer, (2000–2007)
2007 Creative Age Publications, Van Nuys, CA.
• ‘Rubber Neck,’ juried photo exhibit, ARTworkSF Gallery, SF, 2007 Dialysis & Transplantation, Medesthetics magazine, Nailpro trade shows,
• 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, juried Ventura County Fair photography exhibit, Today’s Image Las Vegas Tanning EXPO, NSSE Show
2006 Main responsibility was the design and production of monthly magazine.
• Finalist (Medesthetics) Best Medical, Dental & Related Services
Publication/Trade category, 2006 Freelance Graphic Artist, (1997-2007)
• Juried student art show, California State University, Northridge, 2000 The Originators
Designed logos, brochures, and other collateral for small to medium
PUBLISHINGS businesses.
• EB story highlighted on, 2008
• Photos featured on, 2008 Freelance Production Artist, (1999)
• Photos published in Digital Photographer Magazine, 2008 HITS Magazine
Responsible for weekly ad production in music trade magazine.
This series of (16) matted 20x20 photographs tells the story of an 11-year old boy named Garrett,
his family and the challenges of everyday life they face because of a crippling disease. He was born
with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), (pronounced Epi-derm-o-ly-sis Bull-o-sa,) a genetic skin disorder in
which his body cannot produce the essential protein required to anchor the inner and outer layers of
skin together, resulting in the slightest friction causing blistering, and the break down of the skin.
Through Garrett and his family, I will attempt to give a face to this horrific, and unpublicized
disease. People need to see and be aware of this disease, the profound struggles that it creates, how
it affects children as individuals, and the family as a whole. Short life spans (parents outliving their
children), constant pain, suffering and exorbitant medical bills make for an extremely tough, but
manageable life.
It is important when viewing these photos not to mistake him for a burn victim. People with EB
could only wish to be that lucky. In the case of EB victims there is no light at the end of the tunnel in
regards to recovery.

A girl sits on an afternoon couch watching a basketball game, enjoying a snack. The sounds of a child
screaming and crying echo through the house unnoticed. A few feet away a family’s dinner table doubles
as a make shift operating table. Eyes closed between a blink, my mind imagines a hospital ER scene.
Opening my eyes again, the moment is framed in my viewfinder: an 11-year old boy with a rare genetic
skin disease enduring one of two weekly bandage changes. Skin and bandage peeling off together, he
begs his mom to stop. The pain is too much for him to handle. Granted a few seconds, he takes a deep
breath. They must keep going. Once the process has started it must continue. He cannot stay exposed
for too long for fear of exposure to bacteria, infection, and his raw skin drying out. In two days he will
experience this again. This cycle started at birth and will continue for the rest of his life.
Epi-derm-o-ly-sis Bull-o-sa (EB), the breakdown and blistering of the skin, is a rare genetic skin
disease. Children born with EB lack the proteins that anchor the inner and outer layers of skin
together. Without these proteins the skin separates easily with the slightest friction, and blisters.
This disease affects children externally as well as internally, blistering the esophagus and inside of
the mouth.
Garrett, a cute, freckled, red-haired kid, who although quiet has an energy about him that is
magnetic, is a boy everyone likes. Garrett was born with EB. He is the worst case the Doctors at
11-year old Garrett. A quiet, red haired, freckled kid born
with EB. Stanford’s Dermatology Department have ever seen. With no prior knowledge of this condition,
seeing blisters and open wounds across Garrett’s newborn body, the doctor called for burn dressings.
Treating Garrett as a burn victim essentially saved his life.
Garrett has lived his entire life in bandages. Lorraine, his mom and primary care giver, changes
these bandages twice a week. The bandage changing process is extremely long and painful, taking
up to four hours to complete. The day I witnessed this process for the first time I was literally
knocked on my ass. The pain and hardship that this little boy experiences on a daily basis is
During one session, the bandage on Garrett’s right thigh hadn’t softened completely. His mom
tried removing it, unknown that it was stuck to raw skin. Screaming, “STOP!” at the top of his
lungs, pushed his mom’s hand away and removed it him self. All his mom could do was watch
helplessly as Garrett suffered what seemed like an eternity to remove that bandage from his
thigh. I could not believe what I was witnessing. He goes through this every three days! “Fuck!”
And to think that this wasn’t a good, or a bad day for him! I’d hate to think what a bad day is
like. This is his life: pain and suffering! While all of this was going on his siblings were in the
house. His sister just sat eating a snack and watching TV a few feet away. She seemed oblivious
to her brother’s screams of pain and agony. I drove home that night with my stomach in knots
wondering what the hell this kid did to deserve this and how his siblings could just sit there
without flinching.
Photographing this process has been my “baptism by fire.” The bandage changing sessions
were an emotional battleground where I proved myself. I learned to always keep one eye in
the viewfinder and the other scanning and anticipating what might happen next. My strongest
photography in the series would come from these sessions. I knew that if I could not stay focused
while documenting this little boy at his worst moments how could I stay focused through the
rest of the story. I would be failing Garrett, the project, and myself. It was very difficult for me to
photograph a child suffering. My first thought was to put the camera down and help. Hearing a child
cry in pain and not being able to help is not an easy thing to ignore. I had to remind myself that I
was helping by being present with my camera, taking photographs.
There were many times when Garrett’s tear-filled eyes met mine through the viewfinder. These
were my weak points where I felt like stopping. I felt like an intruder, trespassing on this little boy’s
moments of agony. I really think he knew what I was feeling. Garrett knew why I was there and with
that look he was giving me the ok to continue, as if saying, “Keep shooting. People need to see this.”
Throughout this project there have been times where I’ve questioned what I’m doing and how I’m
When bandages are stuck to open wounds, Garrett doing it. I have asked, “Should I allow myself a period of time to get acclimated to my subject?” It
removes them himself. He choses to retain control of his
pain in theses situations. seemed as though I always felt weird coming right in and shooting. This thought would cause me to
lose many good moments in the beginning, and even freeze up at one point, unable to shoot, during
one of Garrett’s partial bandage sessions. Talking with another documentary photographer helped
me to realize that this way of thinking was caused by my own weakness and insecurity. It wasn’t
Garrett or the moment. I was creating an uncomfortable situation for myself. Each time I missed a
photograph I was failing my subject, my story, and myself. The whole reason I am there is to tell
Garrett’s story. I learned very quickly that I had to focus on my subject. The story isn’t about me,
my problems, and how I feel. I have to leave all of my fears, inhibitions, insecurities, and personal
problems at home.
Documenting Garrett has had a profound affect on me. The more I photograph him and learn
about his daily struggles the more I am reminded of my childhood. At the age of 6, I was in a car
accident that left my face cut very badly. Everyday I was made a spectacle at school and in public.
At school, I was taunted and teased being called “Scar Face,” “Dog Face,” and “Herman Monster.”
In public, people would always stare, wondering what happened to me. I didn’t like looking at
myself. For a long time I actually believed that I was ugly. Years later my parents made arrangements
to have me visit a plastic surgeon who made my face look like new. The physical scars nearly
disappeared. I believe this is why I was so worried about photographing Garrett in the beginning.
I felt as though I was making him a spectacle by taking photos. Through this connection I learned
that I had it easy when I was a kid. Nothing that I went through could compare to what Garrett
is experiencing. Even worse, there’s no escaping EB. He can’t grow out of his disease. No plastic
surgeon can fix it. He has to deal with the staring, the insults, and the low self-esteem for the rest of
his life.
I don’t feel that I chose this project of documenting Garrett and his family’s experience with
EB; it chose me. I had never heard of this disease until the summer of 2007. It is weird how things
happen when you least expect them. I was offered a job that changed my life and perspective as a
photographer forever. Working as Camp Photographer for the Children’s Skin Disease Foundation
that summer introduced me to my purpose. Originally, 7 photographers, including myself, and 2
videographers were hired to document the camp. Every one quit for better paying opportunities. I
was the only photographer who stayed. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into by saying that I
could document a whole week of summer camp by myself. Not knowing what to expect I took the
challenge as a great opportunity to test the documentary waters. At that point I wasn’t sure why, but
I knew this opportunity was given to me for a reason.
There were over 70 kids at the camp all suffering from different skin disorders. One disease
in particular caught my attention, EB. All of the children suffering from this rare disease
EB is a life long challenge for Garrett, of which there is
no escape. were wheelchair bound and wrapped from neck to toe in bandages, disfigured, scarred and
blistered. I was fascinated by how positive and empowered these children were at camp. It
was as though they had shed their bad skin and were normal kids for a week. They were the
reason I was given this opportunity. EB needed a voice. People needed to see these kids and
this disease, and I had the camera and the passion to make it happen.
The first part of this project has primarily focused on Garrett, the presence of his immediate
family, and the physical aspects of EB: his bandaged body, and the bandaging process; giving you a
general good starting point of what his life is like with the disease. I have given much thought to the
direction of the second portion of this project. There are many “what ifs” involved when dealing with
a potentially terminal disease. What if Garrett passes away during the project? Or, what if the family
decides that they’ve had enough? In the case of the first scenario, I would continue to document
the Spaulding family through the grieving process, focusing on the affect of losing Garrett to EB.
Considering the second scenario, I would change routes all together. I would shift the project from the
perspective of Garrett and his family to documenting the disease from four different perspectives:
1.) Garrett and his family, who are at a midpoint with the disease.
2.) A family who has lost a child to the disease.
3.) A teenager facing the mental and physical challenges of entering adulthood with EB.
4.) A family who’s child is at the terminal stages of the disease.
Until any one of those two events take place, and I pray that none of them do, the second part
of this project will continue to focus on Garrett’s life focusing primarily on activities outside of the
house. His relationships with people, including his immediate family; how others interact with
Garrett; Church on Sunday mornings; sibling’s basketball and baseball games; Garrett at school with
friends, teachers and aides, how other kids react to Garrett, summer camp, the family’s weekend
outings, haircuts, brushing his teeth, and doctor’s appointments will be explored.
There are challenges that must be overcome to succeed with the final half of this story. Scheduling
will be very important. When. Where. Who’s available and who isn’t. Gaining legal access to
schools, the family’s church, and hospitals, not to mention photographing other children will pose a
concern. Will Garrett act differently in the school setting and around his friends and peers? Each of
these problems will be dealt with on an individual basis. My plan is to carry a copy of the portfolio
to secure my intentions with schools, churches, and individuals. Model releases will also be handed
out when needed.
When I photograph Garrett I really try to avoid going to his home with any expectations. In the
past I have come to find that what I planned to shoot didn’t happen, something else occurred, or I
left with moments I had seen before. I never really know what might happen when I make the two-
Although Garrett can’t particpate in regular sports he has
the ability to return a foul ball at his brother’s ball game. hour drive to Garrett’s house. Sometimes it is very frustrating because I leave feeling that it was,
what I like to call, “a throw-away day,” where I go out there to shoot and come home with nothing;
just not seeing anything that really hooked me in the display. It isn’t until I get home and critically
review my photographs in Lightroom that I say, “holy shit! I got some great images!” Through this I
realize that I have to put much more trust into myself as being a good photographer. Even though
digital allows for much more convenient photography, I do not have the luxury of reviewing each
photograph on the spot. The moment I take my eyes away to review the screen is when the decisive
moment will present itself.
Photographing inside someone’s house is a challenging environment. I do not believe in
rearranging the family’s furniture to set-up the perfect scenario. I cannot dictate where things are
going to happen so I have had to study the Spaulding’s house and figure out where the light sources
were. There were times though where I had to open or close blinds or turn on/off lights to create
the right lighting. I did not want to introduce any distracting elements such as lighting equipment or
flashes into the mix. Luckily the majority of the house has large windows allowing the rooms to fill
with natural light.
I chose to photograph this series with a Canon 5D in the traditional documentary sense: black-
and-white with natural and available light. The 5D creates amazing images at high and low ISOs.
This was a strong determining factor when shooting in low light situations over ISO 800 because
the presence of digital noise is almost nonexistent. The one drawback to shooting with the 5D is
the loud shutter. I was never truly aware of this until I followed Garrett and his mom to the hospital.
The sound of my shutter was like glass breaking in a silent room. Every time the shutter clicked my
presence was compromised. I could no longer be the fly on the wall. To eradicate this problem I am
considering the Canon G9. This is a 12 mega-pixel rangefinder style digital camera. It allows me the
same features as my 5D, but is considerably smaller and has a silent shutter. The only drawback to
using this camera is that I will not have the diversity of interchangeable lenses. Luckily the G9 has
a wide focal length of 35-210mm. This is not a problem for me. Through out this project I have shot
primarily with a 16-35mm L series lens. Occasionally, I have also shot with a 50mm, 24-70mm,
and 24-105mm. I have noticed that I waste too much time switching between the wide and the 50.
Every time I turn away to change lenses is when I am most susceptible to missing the “shot.” I have
grown very fond of my wide. This lens allows me to see everything happening in front of me. It
produces a high quality image that allows me to go back and crop in if needed. Shooting digitally,
utilizing camera raw capture and converting the images to black-and-white in post has allowed me
to edit quickly and easily, minimizing the amount of time I spend in the digital darkroom, and has
eliminated the cost of film and developing.
A quiet moment is disturbed by the loud shutter of the
Canon 5D. Printing and choice of color or black-and-white has played a major role in the development of
this project. When I first started making prints I compared color and black-and-white options. I
wanted to experiment with something different. From the first day, I knew this series was not going
to work in full color. I had recently seen some nice photography utilizing desaturated color. I began
experimenting with this. In theory desaturated color sounded like a good idea. Combining the
benefits of Black-and-white and color together, the fusion of both the drama of Black-and-white and
the versatility of color in the end the lowered my print quality. After critiques from my colleagues
and instructors, we all agreed that rather than benefiting the images, the use of desaturated color
made them look as though they were taken under horrible lighting conditions. I don’t know why I
didn’t see it before. I think I was really trying to emphasize the color of Garrett’s skin condition. In
the end going the traditional BW route allowed the viewer to focus on the emotional power of the
moment rather than be influenced by colors.
My intention is to dedicate a year-and-a-half to document Garrett and his family, starting January
2008 and ending July 2009. The Spaulding family has granted me complete access to their home.
They are extremely happy to have someone documenting Garrett’s disease. For the past 6 months I
have been meeting with the Spaulding family once, twice and sometimes three times a week. The
final outcome of this project will be a complete black-and-white photo essay of 16-20 (11”x16.5”)
images matte on 20x20 boards. These images will also be bound in a book and displayed in
galleries to raise public awareness for the disease.
As I mentioned earlier, this project has changed my life. I moved up to San Francisco to become
a war photographer, unsure of where it might take me, or whether I would succeed or fail. The
EB story has helped me to discover who I am as a photographer and solidify who I am as a
person. I feel that my heart, passion, and soul, is truly rooted in the documentary world, using my
photography to help people who can’t help themselves.
As a documentary photographer I want to present the viewer with a new perspective. The images
that are going to invigorate and move people are the photographs that require some hard work,
dedication, and time researching and gaining the trust of the subject. By creating images that are
simple, yet refined, my intention is to take people by surprise. There is no symbology, no metaphors
to be played upon here. No props. It is the real world that I am tapping into and attempting to
capture and preserve. This is the essence of documentary photography: creating photographs that
open windows into other worlds, establishing an emotional connection with the viewer, thus
challenging the person to see something differently.
Many photographers have influenced my photography and how I perceive the world. Dorothea Lange, Ed
kashi, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, Larry Burrows, and James Nachteway, only to name a few. Though
not all of these photographers were not known for helping people, one thing is for certain, they all looked
for the smaller details in the bigger picture. This shows in each of the photographs below.

Migrant Mother, Autism

February, 1936 Ed Kashi’s stories,
Dorothea Lange’s work with dedication, and
the FSA in the 1930s has multi-media work
made me question the use has challenged me
of cropping to simplify the to strive for a higher
story in a photograph, or
level of production,
change the meaning of a story
and dedication in my
own work.

Heroin Users,
Roberto Lopez, Oil Field
Worker, September 28, 1980
James Nachteway,
Richard Avedon’s Southwest
the War
series exhibits how true
Photographer, the
emotion can be found in the
Humanitarian, the
simple. Even though he wasn’t
ghost. From the
truly a documentarian he
first time I saw the
proved that there are stories
documentary, War
to be told out there in this
Photographer, his work gave me a new level to aspire
country, if we’re willing to go
to. Nachteway’s ability to become invisible, his use of
look for them.
light, and composition is profound.

Yankee Papa 13, 1965 A Young Man With

Larry Burrow’s, photo essays Curlers... 1966
from Vietnam has had a Diane Arbus was a bold
profound affect on my work. woman. It’s been debated
Burrows had the ability to that she exploited her
create striking photographs subjects. Regardless,
of moments that hit home her work destroyed
and changed people’s way of borders, and gave the
thinking about the Vietnam world a new glimpse into
War. His dedication to a strange, taboo side of
documenting the War would see him returning to society. Her photography demanded our attention and
Vietnam over many years. asked to question who we are.
Fall 2006
PH612 The Nature of Photography
PH625 History of Photography

Spring 2007
PH609 Digital Photography
PH613 Color Theory for Photographers
PH616 Photographer & Photoshop

Summer 2007
GS601 Aesthetics and the Renaissance
GS602 The Art & Ideology of the 20th Century

Fall 2007
PH635 Advanced Digital Printing
PH642 Location Lighting
PH699 Special Topic (Portraiture with Available Light)

Spring 2008
PH601 Photography-Concept
PH622 Documentary
PH680 Thesis Project Seminar

Summer 2008
GS606 Crossing Borders
GS602 Art & Ideology In the 20th Century

Fall 2008
PH456 (Directed Study) Documentary 4: Multimedia Reportage
PH464 OL (Directed Study) Self Promotion & Marketing
PH610 (Directed Study) Photojournalism

Spring 2009
PH462 OL (Directed Study) Editorial Photography
PH260 (Directed Study) Documentary 1: Shooting for Publication
PH270 (Directed Study) Documentary 2: Environmental Portrait

Summer 2009
GS604 Professional Practices

Graduation: Summer 2009