Skip navigation
Help

Des Moines

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /var/www/vhosts/sayforward.com/subdomains/recorder/httpdocs/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

<< Previous | Next >>Webster City

Alazar "Junior" Soto lies in the Des Moines River while tubing on Sunday, July 15, 2012 in Lehigh, IA.
<< Previous | Next >>View all

When the Electrolux washing machine factory left Webster City, Iowa for Juarez, Mexico almost two years ago, it effectively knocked the town’s middle class to its knees. A sizable portion of the town’s population worked there, and they quickly found themselves scrambling to figure out what came next.

A couple of months after the plant closed down, photographer Brendan Hoffman first visited Webster City, which sits about 75 miles north of Des Moines. He was following former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty who, at the time, was campaigning in the Republican presidential primary. The plight of the town presented itself to him as the bigger story.

“It was a story that I felt conflicted about and those are the kind of stories I’m most drawn to,” says Hoffman, who is a member of the Prime collective. “Sure, some of the people in Webster City are going to tell you that they got screwed over. But at the same time if we are going to consider this country to be a free-market democracy, whose is to stop [the company] from deciding that they can be more efficient by moving production to Mexico?”

Hoffman also knew he could follow the story beyond Iowa. One of his colleagues in Prime, Dominic Bracco, has been working in Juarez for years and could help him find the people who now work the jobs that used to belong to the residents of Webster City.

“This was a solidly middle class job when it was in Iowa and I’d like to see if it’s creating the same kind of jobs in Mexico,” he says.

Hoffman has been back to Webster City three times, putting together an ethnography of the town. In the spring he hopes to travel to Juarez to document the new Electrolux factory and have the story done by 2014, in time for NAFTA’s 20-year anniversary.

Instead of focusing on just one family in Webster City, he’s chosen to look more broadly at moments that slowly weave together a complicated story about a place in transition.

“I don’t think there is any way to ignore the fact that this is a major blow for the town. I wouldn’t be doing my job of being objective if I tried to gloss over that,” he says. “But at the same time it isn’t a surprise that companies have the option to move to a lower-wage country. The question comes up about whether the company has any responsibility to the town. I also don’t see why people aren’t more prepared for this kind of thing.”

While the Electrolux plant didn’t employ the entire town, Hoffman says the closing still had a seismic effect on everyone there. For those that did lose their jobs he says the Federal Government has stepped in and helped many of them go back to school through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Some former employees are also still living on unemployment while they look for new work. Others have ended up losing everything.

Showing this complexity in photos is difficult. Hoffman has the photo of a Webster City resident on his lawn with all his possession lined after being evicted and the photo of the shuttered plant. But he also has the photo of a dad joking around with his kids as they lay out under the stars on a summer night.

The dad, Steve McFarland, actually shows up in several of the photos. McFarland was never an Electrolux employee (he builds houses and frequently works outside Webster City) but for Hoffman he signifies someone who has found a way to work through the general economic problems in the town. Within the context of the story McFarland helps show the viewer that not everyone has thrown up their arms in despair.

“He’s not someone who worries about this future at all,” Hoffman says. “That’s probably unique in some ways, but he manages every week to have a couple dollars left over and as long as there’s something left over it’s all good.”

Some of Hoffman’s photos are more ambiguous. This summer, for example, he shot photos during the county fair, including the fair queens and the local parade. While people still lined the streets and dressed up for the contest, he says the whole event felt a little forced.

“It all kinda felt like an attempt to remain stoic,” he says. “They were trying to stay straight faced and let people know that everything is fine because look, our daughters can still be beauty queens.”

Struggling towns are nothing new in the United States, but Hoffman says he hopes that by visiting Juarez his work can provide a more three-dimensional view of an ongoing story that has affected much of the country. He’s been pushing to get an edit of the photos out before he heads to Mexico because this is an election year. Politicians on both sides love to toss around the word “middle class,” and with his story, Hoffman has provide them with a picture of what real life in the middle, or former middle, class really looks like.

“In the end I think people have to take responsibility for their own lives,” he says. “But imagine that you’re 50 years old and that’s the only job you ever had. All of sudden you have to find something new to do and maybe move somewhere new. That’s a really difficult decision for some people.”

0
Your rating: None

We’re accustomed to seeing Olympic athletes in their elements: gymnast Gabby Douglas tumbling across the balance beam; runner Lolo Jones mid-hurdle on the track. But in his portrait series of gold-medal hopefuls for TIME’s 2012 Olympics special issue, Martin Schoeller shows three U.S. team members—Douglas, Jones and swimmer Ryan Lochte—whose passion for sport isn’t contained by training center walls.

(For daily coverage of the 2012 Games, visit TIME’s Olympics blog)

In Des Moines, Iowa, where Gabby Douglas has lived since 2010 with a host family to train with legendary Olympic coach Liang Chow, Schoeller met a young athlete who was a role model in the gym and in her home. “It was inspiring to see Gabby with the family who has taken her in so that she can pursue her dream of being an Olympic athlete,” the photographer said. In one picture, Douglas is posed in a full split against her family’s refrigerator, a move that Schoeller says isn’t uncommon for the 16-year-old gymnast. “She’s always stretching around the house to stay limber—you see what it means for these athletes to live and breathe their sport,” Schoeller says. “And then to watch the little girl clinging to Gabby’s leg and playing with her like a new sister was really lovely.”

In Baton Rouge, La., Schoeller photographed track and field athlete Lolo Jones, who finished a disappointing 7th in the 100-meter race at the 2008 Games in Beijing after she clipped a hurdle during the race. “Lolo made me realize how much pressure is on these athletes,” says Schoeller, who, in one image, captured the athlete training for hurdles with her dog. “One little misstep in her last Olympic performance caused a big disappointment, and that is devastating when these athletes have given up everything to become an Olympian.”

Watch behind-the-scenes footage of Martin Schoeller’s cover shoot with swimmer Ryan Lochte

Swimmer Ryan Lochte has become somewhat of the poster boy for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team after appearing on the June cover of Vogue and on the front page of the New York Times’ style section. It’s not surprising, then, that Schoeller found a confident, self-assured athlete in Lochte when he photographed the swimmer in Gainesville, Fla. this May. “He was very nice and very nice-looking, almost like a model,” Schoeller says. “But he is also obviously an incredible athlete—to watch him swim back and forth, turn at the edge and create those ripples in the pool made for a great photo.” With just an hour and a half to shoot, Schoeller tapped a professional diver to lay a black sheet and several lights at the bottom of the pool to create the contrast seen in his photos. “I’m not even a big sports person, but athletes’ bodies are mesmerizing,” Schoeller says. “They’re constantly putting themselves in pose and doing something interesting with the physical expressions, and I love to photograph them because they’re natural performers at heart.”

Martin Schoeller is a New York City–based photographer. See more of his work here.

0
Your rating: None

Lars Tunbjörk is accustomed to seeking out the absurd. And on his first assignment covering U.S. politics, the Swedish photographer, best known for capturing the subtle humor in his native country’s suburban landscapes, didn’t need to look too hard. The frenzy of candidates, crowds and media that accompanied the Republican caucuses earlier this week in Iowa gave Tunbjörk absurdity by the ballotbox-full. This series of revealing and often humorous photos, commissioned to illustrate TIME‘s political coverage in the magazine and online, is a remarkable snapshot of American democracy in action. Tunbjörk often arrived early to watch campaign workers set up and stayed long after the the spectacle ended to capture them breaking down the stages. “The people of Iowa work hard during the process and take it very seriously,” the photographer says.

With a fresh eye, strong flash and unusual compositions, Tunbjörk captured the personality-driven candidacy of Rick Santorum as he prayed before a plate of nachos in Johnston, Iowa, and discovered Mitt Romney’s robotic rhetorical repetition on the trail in Clive and West Des Moines. Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann were also photographed, and Tunbjörk shows the full spectrum of the long days both the candidates and Iowans endure, waiting at events and standing out in the cold during the sometimes grueling caucus process. Under the Iowa big-top, the marvels never cease. “Sweden is such a quiet country,” Tunbjörk says. “And this process is such a circus.”

Lars Tunbjörk is a Stockholm-based photographer and represented by Agence Vu in Paris and by the Gun Gallery in Sweden and Paul Amador Gallery in New York. He is the author of Vinter (Steidl, 2007) and his next book, L.A. Office (MACK) will be out this spring.  

Adam Sorensen is an associate editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter at @adamsorensen.

0
Your rating: None

Tuesday’s Iowa caucus goes down in the history books as a photo finish for an epic race. Mitt Romney edged out victory over Rick Santorum by just eight votes, with Ron Paul finishing not far behind. Iowa City photographer Danny Wilcox Frazier, who has been covering the race in the Hawkeye State for TIME, offers an inside look at this the quintessential American saga from its early to final days, and in chronicling this path, he sheds light on a Republican spirit ready to take on Barack Obama.

Frazier’s lens captures the sentiments not just of the candidates but also of the voters, as well as the reporters who’ve covered them both. For Frazier, the Iowa path is well-worn. He traced the campaign trail for the magazine in 2008, and now, four years and a recession later, the state’s mood appears expectant and committed. The Tea Party vigor has muted, but the determination for change has not. It is apparent in the eyes of those he photographed, from Occupy Des Moines protesters to Faith and Freedom Coalition banqueters to veterans at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, all of whom were preparing to make 2012’s first great decision. And when you behold his images of empty audience chairs after campaign stops and candidate speeches, you can’t help but feel the present investment Iowans—and all the nation’s Republicans—feel in their political future.

“I followed Republican presidential hopefuls as they addressed voters in kitchens, cafes, and town halls—candidates opening themselves up to unexpected questions as they met face to face with factory workers, farmers and residents of a state that is questioned over its first in the nation status once every four years,” Frazier said. “Attack ads paid off, as did the traditional formula of visiting all 99 counties and doing the ‘work’ that wins Iowa.”

Several of Frazier’s photos have already become some of the election’s most memorable. He snapped Michele Bachmann moments after she declared her candidacy in June, and Newt Gingrich as he was getting his makeup done for a November interview—both of which were featured in the pages of TIME last year. Then there are his images of Rick Perry hunting pheasants with Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in October and Rick Santorum following suit two months later. Some things never change—you have to know the game to play the race.

Danny Wilcox Frazier is a photographer with Redux who is based in Iowa City.

Elizabeth Dias is a reporter in TIME’s Washington bureau. Find her on Twitter @elizabethjdias.

0
Your rating: None

The night before the tenth anniversary of September 11, I flew out to San Antonio to begin a three-week road trip across America with TIME columnist Joe Klein, from Laredo, Texas up to Des Moines, Iowa.

In the seat next to me, a beautiful woman sat caring for her quadriplegic son, who was sitting in the adjacent row with her daughter. Susan Bradley and her daughter were tender and attentive with Matt in a way that made me think his injuries were new. I, shooting my first assignment in the U.S. after 11 years of covering conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Congo, Darfur, Lebanon, Somalia and Libya, assumed he was injured at war. Matt was 24, the age of so many young, American men I have spent years with on military embeds in Afghanistan, documenting the war unfolding over the years and witnessing heavy combat and brutal injuries.

As it turns out, Matt had nothing to do with Afghanistan. Like almost everyone Joe and I would meet on the road trip, the war rested on the periphery of their lives, and their primary concerns were here at home. Matt, a football player in college, and the son of a professional football player, had been rafting in Sacramento, California, when he stepped in to rescue a woman being abused by her boyfriend. As Matt walked away, the man allegedly followed him with a mag-light, and beat him on the back of the neck with the heavy flashlight, causing spinal cord injuries that left him paralyzed.

I don’t know why that moment stuck with me. I just immediately connect everything to the wars I have been covering overseas, and that’s not the case back home. I wrongly assumed all Americans at home were as consumed with our troops in Afghanistan as I was abroad.

Over the last decade, I have come to know details about most Afghan warlords, the infinite humanitarian crises across Africa, statistics of maternal mortality rates of women around the world, but I’ve become a stranger in my own country, unfamiliar with the pertinent issues at home and with what Americans are thinking the year before another presidential election. I generally don’t follow domestic news that much aside from how it relates to the stories I’m covering abroad, like what Americans think of the War in Afghanistan.

In three weeks of extensive interviews and casual conversations, I don’t remember a single person, except for veteran Anthony Smith, who was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq, bringing up the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, without being prompted by a pointed question. Almost everyone spoke about the economy, healthcare and unemployment. People are polarized. Some are angry, and many say they are disillusioned with President Obama.

Working with Joe was quite an honor—for me, it was like a free education of politics in America. I sat in a lot of his interviews and asked him a lot of questions. Of course, I felt incredibly ignorant, because so often they were questions I should known the answers to—about politics in the States, who was running, what their platforms were. But I honestly hadn’t been following them that closely because I’ve been gone.

In fact, I’ve been gone so long that it took a while to familiarize myself with what the scenes were of the story in each city, and what the reoccurring topics of discussion were. Once I did that, I felt like I needed more time to go back and actually shoot because we moved so quickly. The pace of traveling to one city a day made it difficult for me to figure out what there was to shoot. It’s not like there was a specific protest or news event going on. It was just the city, or a gas station, or a diner, so I had to really talk to people and find out where I need to be as a photographer.

Overall though, it was really nice to be home. It was nice to be in my own country, where I didn’t need a translator or a driver. Where I didn’t need to figure out cultural references or what hijab I needed to wear to cover my hair. Americans are really lovely people—friendly, kind and willing to help you out. For me, it was incredibly humbling to come back and spend three weeks just talking to Americans all across the country and listening to what they had to stay.

Lynsey Addario is a regular contributor to TIME. See more of her work here

Read Joe Klein’s cover story from the Oct. 24, 2011 issue of TIME [available to subscribers] here.

0
Your rating: None

Hurricane Irene wound up by most estimates as one of the top ten most destructive and deadly hurricanes to hit the United States since 1980. While ultimately not as powerful as many had predicted, the storm still killed at least 27 people along its path from the Caribbean to the eastern seaboard. Transportation was shut down all along the east coast, stranding residents and tourists in shelters, airports, and train stations. More than 5.8 million customers lost electricity, thousands of flights were cancelled, flooding washed out roads and destroyed homes, and evacuation orders were issued for hundreds of thousands. Gathered here are pictures from the Hurricane's path. -- Lane Turner (44 photos total)
Billy Stinson comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood on August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, N.C. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. "We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset," said Erin afterward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Add to Facebook
Add to Twitter
Add to digg
Add to StumbleUpon
Add to Reddit
Add to del.icio.us
Email this Article

0
Your rating: None

SUNRISE PRACTICE SUNRISE PRACTICE: Members of the Hays High School football team in Hays, Kan., took to the field shortly before sunrise Monday for a workout, on their first day of practice for the fall season. (Steven Hausler/Associated Press)

SUPPORTING A SOLDIER SUPPORTING A SOLDIER: U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry posed Monday for a photo with a cut-out of Spc. James Benal, who is serving in Afghanistan. Gov. Perry was campaigning at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. (Jim Young/Reuters)

BACK IN COURT BACK IN COURT: Egyptian state TV showed ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak lying on a stretcher inside a cell at a courtroom in Cairo Monday as fallen leader’s trial on murder and corruption charges resumed. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

BOTTOMS UP BOTTOMS UP: Men wearing traditional Bavarian clothes sat Monday in a boat equipped with a beer barrel during the Fischerstechen boat-jousting competition at the Staffelsee Lake in southern Germany. The event, dating back to 1864, is held every year on the Catholic feast of the Assumption. (Christof Stache/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

RUBBERY CRASH RUBBERY CRASH: Denny Hamlin hit a tire barrier during the Nascar Sprint Cup Series auto race at in Watkins Glen, New York, Monday. (David Duprey/Associated Press)

0
Your rating: None