Monday, April 30, 2012

Well, That Was Stupid

I'm playing around with Google+ I inadvertently erased the folder that contained all of the images for this blog.  Google states that they cannot be recovered, so I'll simply press on.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sei Weng's Horse

Adrift on the Sea of Marmara near Istanbul
I had a conversation with a close friend of mine last week who had ended a relationship with her long-time partner.  She was distraught by the way events had occurred, which caused me to reflect on how we mark life's phases.  It seems that as we move from one phase to another they are separated by moments of great change and upheaval.  We look at these changes in the moment and more often than not classify them as either good or bad.

Years later when we look back on the sign posts that we have passed by our perspective is different, and those changes that we once thought were terrible moments in our lives actually turned out to be necessary for us to move forward and to grow as human beings.  Of course the opposite is true about moments that at the time seemed wonderful, yet years later we realized that without them our lives would have taken an altogether different turn.

It's similar to the Chinese story of Sei Weng's Horse which goes...
     This farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to condole over his terrible loss. The farmer said, "What makes you think it is so terrible?"
     A month later, the horse came home--this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer's good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said, "What makes you think this is good fortune?" 
     The farmer's son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, "What makes you think it is bad?" 
     A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer's son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. "What makes you think this is good?" said the farmer.

I suppose my point is that our lives exist within the constant flow of change.  Everything all around us is changing from one micro-instant to the next.  It seems futile to attempt to freeze a moment of our lives and then classify it as good or bad, but of course that's what we try to do.  "Change happens."

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Superman waits on the sidewalk for his mother to emerge from the bookstore
I've been looking at thousands of news photographs lately, shot by some of the industry's most notable photojournalists. What's intrigued me is the varying perspectives.  In other words, a rather mundane shot can be enhanced into something incredibly  interesting if the photographer simply changes the perspective.  I viewed some of James Nachtwey's works where he shot an average street scene through the jagged opening of blown-out wall, the rubble of the wall framing the shot, making it far more interesting.

I believe this is where photography can lend itself to life, i.e., if we work to change our perspective than we may see things in a more interesting or enlightened way.  For many, they are attached to their own perspective, seeing it as the one and only truth of the world.  If they could only release themselves from that grasp and move a few inches either way it may open up an entirely different world for them.  What would happen if perspective were applied to politics, religion, social morays, etc.?  I contend that we would have a much more inclusive, tolerant, and compassionate world.  Move a little to the right or left and see what the world looks like then.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I remember when I was a little boy, my father telling me that if in my entire life I had five good friends that I could consider myself lucky.  I thought that odd at the time partly because there were so many people out there, and from my perspective at the time life seemed so long.  Certainly I would amass hoards of friends over my lifetime.

Today I see that that he was giving insight into my personality, which, to my father was an extension of his.  I, like my father, am deeply private, and at the same time sociably social.  As he predicted, I have dozens and dozens of acquaintances, but less than a handful of people that I call friends.  Maybe my definition of a friend is too narrow.  More likely its that I prefer to interact with people on a one-on-one, deeply personal level, and there are just so many people in your life that you can do that with.

The other day my 8-year old son had his best friend over to the house for a sleep over.  My father's words came to mind and I felt happy that his friend was there, the two of them sharing the latest video game or having a Nerf gun war.  I see myself in my son, as my father saw himself in me.  I'm continually surprised how generations to the next.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New 50mm And Nachtwey

I picked up a new Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens for my camera the other day.  Its faster than my 18x200, that has been my travel lens of choice for many years.  The 50mm doesn't have a telephoto option, so it forces me to adjust my position relative to the subject, which is an added challenge for me.  With a telephoto lens I just zoom in or out as necessary, which is some respects has spoiled me a bit.

I watched James Nachtwey's War Photographer the other night and was dumbfounded firstly by his images, but moreover the amount of human suffering that he has borne witness to over his 25+ year career.  His compilation of work, Inferno, is filled with such tragic images that I could barley get through it without having to walk away and settle myself.  Nachtwey has reminded me of the immense human capacity for injuring and killing one another, and just how distant many of our lives are from the day-to-day suffering that occurs in so many places around or world.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Back From Haiti

Back from Haiti now for a week or so.  People ask me how it is there now, and my answer is… "It's Haiti".  The one thing that immediately struck me was the lack of obvious damage from the earthquake.  I really had to look hard to see evidence of the quake.  The Haitians did a very good job of cleaning up the debris, which I suspect that it was all bulldozed into the ocean.

The other observation was simply a lack of gratefulness among the people that I met.  I theorize that its a by-product of receiving so much international aid over the recent years that many Haitians have simply come to expect it.  They no longer see aid as coming from the helping hands of other people, but rather more as an entitlement.  This saddened me more than any thing else, but I suppose it's really my (our own) fault. I question how anyone would be able to find that balance of giving aid or assistance without effecting the cultural values of those that he or she is trying to help. What's the greater evil, withholding needed aid, or irrevocably altering a culture's value system and sense of self-respect?