Let's Go Higher!

Bishop George Bloomer's Call to Durham,
North Carolina

Rick Bagel
Digital Documentary Photography
December 10, 2007

One of the challenges I have faced so far, in capturing transience, is seeing beyond the physical changes. My first round of pictures, I got a nice shot with a boy and his dog. After that, I drove out to East Durham a few more times, but did not find anything that really captured my attention that I was comfortable photographing. On December 4, I ventured into East Durham yesterday with my friend's girlfriend's younger brother.

This was not my first trip into East Durham for this project, but the first trip where I found something worthy of a documentary.

We stopped in front of a municipal-looking building where two men were renovating the exterior. We asked the guys outside to talk to the boss man, and they pointed us inside. The boss turned out to be Reverend Bishop George G. Bloomer- pastor, social entrepreneur, author, property developer and manager, power broker, and community activist. The building was originally East End Middle School. It is now Beth El Family Worship Center. I took some photos yesterday, and got a great interview with Bishop Bloomer recorded, which will be great for sound slides. I plan on returning to take more photos of the church during services and some more photos of Bishop Bloomer's properties around Durham.

I think the project went well. I captured something that is really transforming the community, that most people at Duke do not know about. The audio was fantastic- better than the photos for sure, but I think the photos were good too.

A part of me wants to say that I could have done better if I got going with this a little earlier, but I honestly don't feel that way. Meeting Bishop Bloomer was destiny. He is somebody that I am going to be in touch with for a long time, and I would not have wanted my project to go any other way. If I had another two weeks to work on this, and still had my fateful encounter with Bishop Bloomer last week, I would probably try
to interview and photo some of the young men he has helped buy their own homes.

A real challenge of my subject is fitting it into five minutes. It would really take 15 minutes to scratch the surface of Bloomer's life- his struggle and upbringing, what he sees in Durham, his literacy and authorship, his feelings on mixing ministry with entrepreneurship, and his various activities.