Janet Jarman is a photographer/multimedia journalist whose work focuses predominantly on current issues and news in Latin America. Over time her storytelling has evolved from still photography alone to including audio and most recently video. Jarman has produced documentaries on immigration issues, globalization and the possibility for sustainable development. Her photographs have been published in Geo, Smithsonian, National Geographic Traveler, Newsweek and Fortune.
Jarman’s latest project focuses on police reform in Mexico and offers an insider’s view of a rural training camp. Jarman began this project mainly to portray the realities of policing in Mexico, especially in small towns where security budgets are minimal and corruption is rife.
The shoot itself lasted 12 days, spread out over three visits in late 2010 and early 2011. Filming mainly focused on Jalapa, Tabasco in Southern Mexico. The city is located in the middle of drug and immigrant smuggling routes from Guatemala to the Eastern coast of Mexico, and from there onwards to the US border. A cartel named Los Zetas dominates this area. At first, Jarman saw the project as a still photos only piece; however, once there, she decided that video might better portray the intensity and emotion of the training.
Explains Jarman, “During the training coverage, I had to be very careful to stay behind the line of fire, since they were using live ammunition. Fortunately, the trainers trusted my judgment and worked with me so that I could get close enough to the action. Still, it was risky. Once, I did want a picture so badly that I decided to set up a remote second camera to nail the action.”
While visiting in Miami, Jarman decided to take the advice of colleagues from the University of Miami and reached out to Midtown Video. “I had decided that I needed a tapeless workflow, immediately,” shared Jarman. “Since I had shot predominantly stills my entire career, my knowledge of video camera specifics was limited, and the whole process of buying a video camera was slightly overwhelming.”
After consulting with Jarman on her shooting needs, Jesse Miller, CTO, recommended the Sony EX1. “I feel quite lucky that I found Jesse and Midtown that day, “ said Jarman, “Establishing a relationship with a place like Midtown, with their style of and commitment to customer service is of immense importance. You really feel like they want your business, and that they are interested in keeping it. On top of that, they even seem interested in your work! This combination of professionalism is hard to find in today’s fast paced profit driven world, but when you step into Midtown, you know the experience will be an honest and educational one.”
Jarman returned to Mexico to continue filming, using the Sony EX1 to cover the interviews and action. “Gaining people’s trust and keeping it was crucial in order to get this access, concluded Jarman. “I spent a lot of time building relationships and explaining to people that I was there to tell a story about their lives, not to get them in trouble or put them in risk – and that I wanted to tell a unique story about Mexico. In the end people let me into their homes and opened up, allowing me to work in a thorough manner. I am grateful to everyone in the story for their trust.”
To learn more about Janet Jarman and her work visit her online at www.janetjarman.com.