Eden Unvanquished: Photos from the Gulf

Photographer, Clayton James Cubitt, aka Siege, has been cronicling his native Mississippi's slow emergence from disaster. His blog, Operation Eden is described as "a personal chronicle of what hurricane Katrina has done to my poor proud people."

In describing the process of finding and photographing the survivers, Siege writes:

"I normally shoot fashion and portraiture for magazine and advertising clients. I'm often called upon to make celebrities look heroic. Celebrities aren't heroic. These survivors are. I wanted to make portraits of them that showed their pride, and dignity, and strength, even in such low circumstances. I wanted to show my respect, and love."
Operating out of his rental car, transformed into a mini-production studio, this fashion photographer and writer for Nerve.com has been bringing us images of nobility and grit emerging from the rescue, recovery and now clean-up.

(Click here to see what mold can do to a home in these conditions.)

Clayton is tied directly to the disaster. His mom is one tough lady and made it through the hurricaine and the looting that ensued, with a pistol grip pump shotgun on her lap at all times.

From Operation Eden, On Location in the Gulf:
Here's how I worked on images I was shooting down in The Gulf. Conditions are basically 19th century, the only light cast by candles and hurricane lamps, so my rental car became my time machine back to the future. It was a glowing and humming and cooling cocoon. It was my rolling generator, converting gas to electricity. That red box on the floor is a DC inverter that plugged in to the lighter and provided me with two normal AC outlets. I was able to run my laptop off of it, and charge camera batteries and cell phones with it. It was the single most useful tool I had there.

That's a trackball I'm working with, and a CF-card reader rests on the seat next to my leg. I shot about 3GB of data each day. That glowing knob on the door handle is a Powermate, and I can't use Photoshop without one. On the dash is my cell phone, which worked decently when I first arrived and got progressively worse, strangely. It was my only lifeline out. Next to that are more CF cards waiting to be copied, and a notepad with all my shooting notes, the names and ages of people I shot, and phone numbers (including the infamous FEMA 800 Line Of Oblivion)

I was only able to get net access twice, in order to post what I posted. Once, when I drove three hours to a Jackson motel, and once when a nice National Guardsman let me borrow their connection. I already had images and words ready, and would set them all up to drop over a few days ahead.