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|| News Item: Posted 2010-04-09

A Visual Poem of Chile: 'Revelar Los Enlaces'
Brooks Institute's documentary class to premiere multimedia show and gallery exhibit in Ventura on April 10, 2010.

By Jeff Johns, Brooks Institute

Photo by Jeff Johns

Photo by Jeff Johns

Children at the San Bernardo Elementary School on the outskirts of Santiago, Chile practice circus arts with Manuel, a recent graduate of Circo del Mundo, on Thursday, November 12, 2009.
There is nothing in this world like the smell of a new country. Nothing even comes close. As photographers, we smell the smells, hear the sounds, see the moments and let our subjects breathe their lives into our images.

In October 2009, 17 journalists from Brooks Institute left on a seven-week journey all across Chile to document the lives and stories of the people they would meet. Scattering in all directions throughout this snake shaped country, some went to the deserts in the north, some to the big cities in the middle, and some to the snow capped mountain regions in the south. From wherever they were, they tried to capture the struggles, triumphs, dreams and realities of the people they met.

When I first landed in Santiago, I had 1.5TB of hard drives, 56GB of memory cards, a camera around my neck, and the eagerness of a schoolboy about to run outside for recess. What I discovered in Chile was not what I expected.

A few of us had a small apartment in a busy business section of Santiago. Two of us started shooting our first story on the outskirts of the city on a circus school for children. One month passed and I was disappointed in the work I had produced. The moments were missing and the character of this country was nowhere in my memory cards, hard drives, or even in my own mind. The best thing we did was to rent a car and travel with friends and south towards the end of the world, to Patagonia - in search of the breath and heart of this country I was longing to know.

I write sitting at the base of an active snow covered volcano, up a winding dirt road, miles from any city noise. The stars are as bright as the billboards in Vegas, the air is crisp and clean, the smell of fresh baked bread fills the air, and the only sounds are the instruments of new friends playing Chilean folk songs while singing with all the passion of their country. Nicole is making classic Chilean food in the wood stove and Alfredo is playing his heart out on a small acoustic guitar. Their two-year old son, Pedro, walks the creaking wooden floors soaking in some of what will surely be his first memories.

Being welcomed into the lives of this precious family has taught me what it is to be a traveler, a journeyman, a photographer, and most importantly a human being. The character of our lives, the memories we make along the way and the breath we breathe into others lives is all that matters. The hard drives, terabytes and laptops mean nothing. The plane tickets, passports and credit cards only serve as a reminder of how short our time actually is in this amazing place. I will never think of Chile the same way, and I will never think of myself the same way. The kindness and warmth of the people I have met here only strengthen my conviction that the world is filled with an endless number of beautiful people and beautiful stories - no matter how difficult they can sometimes be to tell.

Photo by Jeff Johns

Photo by Jeff Johns
I only hope each and every one of us on this journey was able to experience the heart and character of this amazing country and can go out into the world and tell the stories, struggles and triumphs of the people we met here. As journalists and photographers, it is our job to honestly document the people we met along the way and tell their stories as best we can, but we are also a selfish breed, for we have the privilege to hear endless stories and grow from them all. It is truly a blessing and none of us will ever be able to repay what this profession has given us. It has given us character, it has given us heart and it has given us our own breath to breathe into the lives of those around us in an attempt to give a little back to a world that has given us so much.

Five weeks after we returned home, among the madness of preparing and prepping our final products to go to press for our openings, an 8.8 earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010. Devastating the lives of the people we met and the areas of Chile we grew to love we strongly feel a responsibility, not only as journalists but also as humans to help this country in any way that we can.

Now all of our events are fundraisers for the victims and survivors in Chile. All sales from our book, DVD, silent auctions of all prints at the exhibits will go directly to Direct Relief International, a local non-profit group which will donate 100% of proceeds go directly to humanitarian aid on the ground in Chile’s hardest hit areas.

Please help us on our journey to raise $1,000,000 to help the country well fell in love with in hopes of restoring the lives of those who changed ours. More information can be found at our website:

Donations can be made directly to our fund through Direct Relief International at:

Photo by

The Brooks Institute documentary class poses for a portrait in Chile.
Brooks Institute's Overseas documentary class presents: "Revelar Los Enlaces"

Ventura Opening Night Events

Saturday, April 10th, 6-10pm
6pm: Revelar Los Enlaces Film Screening
Iron Horse Stage 2
7-10pm: Interactive Multimedia Event & Gallery Exhibit & Silent Auction
Brooks Institute Ventura Campus
5301 N. Ventura Avenue, Ventura, CA 93001
Exhibit runs: 4/10/2010 - 5/20/2010

Thursday, April 15th, 5-7:30pm
Visions Gallery Exhibit & Silent Auction
Marriott Ventura Beach
2055 East Harbor Boulevard, Ventura, CA 93001
exhibit runs: 4/15/2010 - 6/6/2010

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact: Brooks Institute 888-304-3456.

(Jeff Johns is a visual journalism student attending Brooks Institute. You can see more pictures on his member page:

Related Links:
Brooks Chile Website
Jeff Johns Member Page

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