Mental Hospital from 1891

I became a photojournalist for many reasons, but one reason in particular has been to photograph people in situations that would have occurred regardless of my presence.

Over the Summer I spent time with four families committed to staying connected to their loved ones living with severe mental and physical disabilities. All of them are cared for daily at the Sonoma Development Center in Eldridge, California which is in the process of being shut down by a governor’s budget plan. The images and story appear in the Fall issue of Sonoma Magazine.

Susan Farrell, 61, at a McDonald's in Sonoma, California where Brien Farrell and his wife Kathy Farrell help her eat a cheeseburger and french fries. June 23, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Susan Farrell, 61, at a McDonald’s in Sonoma, California where her brother Brien Farrell and his wife Kathy Farrell often take her to lunch and help her eat a cheeseburger and french fries. June 23, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Susan Farrell, 61, having lunch with her brother Brien Farrell at a McDonald's in Sonoma, California. Brien often helps his sister eat by handing her small bites of french fries or a piece of a cheese burger. June 23, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Susan Farrell, 61, having lunch with her brother Brien Farrell at a McDonald’s in Sonoma, California. Brien often helps his sister eat by handing her small bites of french fries or a small piece of a cheeseburger. June 23, 2015.
(Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Sonoma Development Center resident Frank Magliotto, 89, during a visit with his nephew's wife Julie Ferrario and her children Domenico Ferrario, 5, (right rear) and Teresa Ferrario, 3, in the center's Nelson Unit in Aldridge, California. June 18, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Sonoma Development Center resident Frank Magliotto, 89, during a visit with his nephew’s wife Julie Ferrario and her children Domenico Ferrario, 5, (right rear) and Teresa Ferrario, 3, in the center’s Nelson Unit in Eldridge, California. June 18, 2015.
(Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Sonoma Development Center resident Frank Magliotto, 89, in his room at the center's Nelson Unit with his nephew's 3-year-old daughter Teresa Ferrario. Aldridge, California June 18, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Sonoma Development Center resident Frank Magliotto, 89, in his room at the center’s Nelson Unit with his nephew’s 3-year-old daughter Teresa Ferrario. Eldridge, California June 18, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Sonoma Development Center resident Frank Magliotto, 89, during a visit with his nephew Paul Ferrario, Frank's sister Mary Ferrario (right) and Paul's 3-year-old daughter Teresa Ferrario in the center's Nelson Unit in Aldridge, California. June 18, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Sonoma Development Center resident Frank Magliotto, 89, during a visit with his nephew Paul Ferrario, his sister Mary Ferrario (right) and Paul’s 3-year-old daughter Teresa Ferrario in the center’s Nelson Unit in Eldridge, California. June 18, 2015.
(Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Kathleen Miller with her son Danny Smith, 48, at a farm near the housing units of the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, California. June 7, 2015. June 7, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Kathleen Miller with her son Danny Smith, 48, at a farm near the housing units of the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, California. June 7, 2015. June 7, 2015.
(Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

About once a week Kathleen Miller takes her son Danny Smith, 48, (left) out for lunch at a McDonald's in Sonoma. On this occasion Miller's grandchildren Sydney Dillon, 13, (foreground) and Casey Dillon, 16, join her. June 7, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

About once a week Kathleen Miller takes her son Danny Smith, 48, (left) out for lunch at a McDonald’s in Sonoma. On this occasion Miller’s grandchildren Sydney Dillon, 13, (foreground) and Casey Dillon, 16, join her. June 7, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Molly Dillon with her younger brother Danny Smith, 48, at a farm near the housing units of the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, California. June 7, 2015. June 7, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Molly Dillon with her younger brother Danny Smith, 48, at a farm near the housing units of the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge, California. June 7, 2015. 
(Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Patricia Walter during a doctor's office visit with her daughter Andrea Walter, 34 in Sonoma. Andrea had been transported by ambulance from the Sonoma Development Center to make this appointment to see the progress made from a recent hip injury. June 12, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Patricia Walter during a doctor’s office visit with her daughter Andrea Walter, 34, in Sonoma. Andrea had been transported by ambulance from the Sonoma Development Center to make this appointment to see the progress made from a recent hip injury. June 12, 2015.
(Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Patricia Walter during a doctor's office visit with her daughter Andrea Walter, 34 in Sonoma. Andrea had been transported by ambulance from the Sonoma Development Center to make this appointment to see the progress made from a recent hip injury. June 12, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Patricia Walter during a doctor’s office visit with her daughter Andrea Walter, 34 in Sonoma. Andrea had been transported by ambulance from the Sonoma Development Center to make this appointment to see the progress made from a recent hip injury. June 12, 2015.
(Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

An old metal sign at the entrance to the Sonoma Development Center, once known as the Sonoma State Hospital, with the Roman numeral date 1891; the year the mental hospital first opened its doors in the town of Eldridge, California. June 29, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

An old metal sign at the entrance to the Sonoma Development Center, once known as the Sonoma State Hospital, with the Roman numeral 1891; the year the mental hospital first opened its doors in the town of Eldridge, California. June 29, 2015. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

local band – local shoot

I’ve been shooting this band on and off for a few years now. They have a lot of heart and passion and are quite a mix of personalities. I shot them in Santa Rosa in some locations I’ve been dying to get into like this old decaying property with some beautiful pale green cement walls in the west side of Santa Rosa. The property owner generously gave us access after he realized the only equipment I would be using was a small camera hanging from my neck. Pays to travel light.

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015 Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015 Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015 Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015 Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015
Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015 Location: Santa Rosa, California

Photo by: ERIK CASTRO © 2015
Location: Santa Rosa, California

WONDERFUL – a short film series

During a cold winter night a few years ago I was sitting in a bleak smoke-filled room at a Motel 6 in Santa Rosa, California with Matt Lytle; a 20-something-year-old who had spent several long years homeless. We were having a discussion about surviving the mental challenges of living on the streets. Matt said a lot of beautiful things that night. One that I never seem to forget was his comparison of the sound his skateboard wheels make gliding over smooth pavement to that of the sound a mother makes while comforting her baby by saying, “shhhuuush.”

He also told me that night that “in order for somebody to basically get out of the darkness and what not, they have to know that there is a light out there.” Those words and Matt’s ability to find so much beauty in his life during a time when it was so punishing is what inspired me to make this short film series titled, WONDERFUL.

WONDERFUL was screened this evening at a fundraising event for the non-profit Social Advocates for Youth who plan to open their Dream Center this fall. The Dream Center will be a place to help other homeless youth like Matt find a way out of the darkness.

– Erik Castro, April 18, 2015

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/125291244″>WONDERFUL – A Short Film Series (9:32)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/erikcastro”>erik castro | photojournalist</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

WONDERFUL – coming soon

A lot of truly enjoyable work has gone into this video series. I had the opportunity to interview and film some wonderful people, and was able to write and record lots of new music, I got back on my Santa Cruz skateboard to do tracking shots, and best of all I got to share some stories worth hearing.

It’s called WONDERFUL and the film series will be out in April for on-line viewing at the website for the Santa Rosa non-profit Social Advocates for Youth.

Here’s the trailer:

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/122033978″>WONDERFUL – Trailer</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/erikcastro”>erik castro | photojournalist</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

time with winemakers & chefs

Spent some time with more interesting winemakers for SF Chronicle in which writer Jon Bonné has championed their style and end result of their efforts.
winemakers0201Winemaker Scott Schultz, Provisor Vineyard

winemakers0201Winemaker Leo Hansen, Stuhlmuller Vineyards

Also had the pleasure to spend time with 5 local Sonoma County chefs for Sonoma Magazine. I asked all chefs to bring to the shoot an object that they used daily or that they just couldn’t function without.Chef SeriesChef Ari Weiswasser/stainless steel pizza turner/Glen Ellen Star

Chef SeriesChef Shane McAnelly/bronze die for his Emiliomiti pasta machine/ Chalkboard Restaurant

Chef SeriesChef Darren McRonald/Food Lover’s Companion/The Pullman Kitchen

Chef SeriesChefs Matthew Williams & Moishe Hahn-Schuman/vintage Japanese hand-crank noodle machine/Ramen Gaijin

Chef SeriesChef Jesse Mallgren/handmade sashimi knife & sharpening stone found by a collector 50 years ago in a Tokyo barber-shop/Madrona Manor Restaurant