"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Friday, January 29, 2010


Visiting and caring for my father for a few days. Flipping through pages of my diary. Being in my childhood home that has changed very little over the years. And, of course, taking pictures.

This is a sampling of what was on my mind shortly after I turned eleven:

"At school today Mrs. Nelson, our gym teacher, complimented me highly on my new bangs and we learned the crip shot in basketball. I can do it pretty good. At the alumni vs. faculty game I saw a dreamy boy on the team. Wow! I’ll have to look him up someday, won’t I?"

"The principal gave a thirty-minute talk to our class today. He talked a little bit about love crushes and notes. I used to pass them, but I stopped a long time ago."

"When I went to Polly’s house last night her cousin, Hunt, started liking me, He’s 10. He wrote me a note and then called me when I got home. Mom and Dad come home tomorrow. I’m gonna get killed when they see my tests, but I hope not. Piano today. I don’t like it a whole lot, but who does?"

"Kathy and I saw 'The Nanny' today. Ach! Ach! I screamed in some parts. I was holding onto Kathy for dear life. It was really awful. Rode the bus home. Had dinner and watched Walt Disney."

"Have our library exam tomorrow. Miss Meadow is a creep from outer space and with her as the teacher I know almost everyone will flunk it!! Music exam tomorrow, too. Moma’s helping me with that."

"Dancing school was fair. Now I know that Doug never really liked me. He didn’t ask me to dance once, and I didn’t get him for a no-break. Oh, well."

- from my 6th grade diary

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

adelaide rose

Another very young photographer.

“When my dad came back from Iraq a year ago, he brought back a camera. At first it was used for snapshots of the family, but soon after I started playing around with it and realized that I actually really liked it.

I’d like to be a photographer, and I’m pretty sure I will be. I’m only 13, so I’m not really sure what’s next, but I’m just going to keep getting better and better and see where life takes me. I want to go to college, but then I feel like I don’t need to. I don’t need to know all the terms and have someone tell me how to take photos. Terms are useless when it comes to art; it’s all about the image that is created.

Every little thing that I see inspires me.

My family supports me a lot, and only one of my friends actually knows about my photography. My mother always tells me I’m going to be a famous photographer. My sister says the same thing, but my brother isn’t really aware of my photography, at least I don’t think. As for my friends, I don’t think they are very interested.”

Monday, January 25, 2010

olivia bee

In the talk I gave about my work last week, I got the ball rolling by showing pictures I had made when I was a young girl. Unbelievably (and luckily), I have a picture of me taking a picture when I was just two and a half years old. I have an assortment of pictures I made in the years following, too. I think it's pretty interesting to look at that stuff. As I said in the lecture, they inspire me to stay open to simplicity, wonder and imagination - elements of childhood AND photography that are all too easy to lose sight of.

A blog reader sent me some information about a young photographer named Olivia Bee. At the tender age of fifteen, Olivia is making some incredible work. In this day and age young people have access to cameras in a different way than we did back in the 50's and 60's. With point and shoot cameras and cell phones, just about anyone and everyone is a photographer now. Given the fact that it has always been one of the most democratic of mediums, this makes sense. This new wave of technology gives a readily available mouthpiece to so many people. But it's those who seem to be finding their own voice that make it exciting for me, a person who loves looking at thoughtfully made pictures.

In Olivia's own words:

Olivia writes, “I was born a small and scared kid. I wouldn’t play at the park when there were other kids there [and] I lined up my toys. I didn’t like going out of my house often and I had really bad OCD. Art was always a part of my life. In 6th grade, I discovered photography and I guess I thought it was pretty cool. I kinda ‘woke up’ to the world when I was like 13, [as I] started realizing that there were wonderful things going on… but there were horrible things going on.

I started really making sense of my time in terms of fun things and memories. I started going to concerts and started having lots of friends and started just doing things other than sitting in my room and drawing. When I was 14, I figured photography was a great way of writing down my feelings, and when I entered high school, I kinda exploded. I wasn’t very happy and I made all these stupid depressing photos. It was around like, March that I decided I was done and wanted to take photos to document the wonderful memories I was going to have.

My life started on April 5th of 2009. From about that point on, everything changed. I had a lot of fun. There were periods of brief sadness, but whatever. My photos now are for documenting my teenage years. A diary of sorts.
I want to be a photographer and I want to make movies. I want to go to college to experience it all. But first, I’m buying a school bus and driving nowhere with a bus full of friends. I don’t know what I want. Well, I want a husky.”

(PS - If you were not able to attend my presentation at the Nelson-Atkins, don't fret! It was videotaped. If you'd like a copy, please let me know.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

pics by christy: last installment

These last few pictures made by CTT Team 3 member, Christy, include some of my most favorite. Yes, I realize that three of them include yours truly, but when you're a photographer you jump all over pictures of yourself from vacations, backyard barbecues, birthday parties and trips to Uganda simply because you are usually the one TAKING the pictures, and you are thus rarely SEEN in any of the pictures. So... I love these, wanted to share them, and I thank Christy for taking them! But four of the others, the child behind the clothesline, the girl with her hand on her chin and the two pictures from yoga class are favorites simply because in their own quiet way, they speak volumes about how Christy skillfully took note of the ordinary but beautiful moments that unfolded around her while she was experiencing Africa for the very first time.

If you would like to go with us on the next trip (possibly one in May or June and definitely one in December) and have not contacted me yet, please do so soon.

It actually looks like the kids may have taken this themselves. How much more joy could you possibly see on these faces?

Eddie and I danced the polka (we lived in Wisconsin for eight years - what can I say?) while the marching band played one afternoon. I love the looks on the kids' faces as they watched us. They thought we were hilarious.

I brought back the "Mak-it-Plate" finished products from the drawings the kids made in 2008. Here I am digging through stack of plates looking for the one by Rachael.

Found it!

Yoga class

Yoga class

Friday, January 22, 2010

life support

I have donated an image for Haitian relief through Wallspace Gallery's Life Support Program. (It is, in fact, a small version of the print that is in the collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.) Several photographers have stepped up to the plate and created limited editions of 10 prints for $50 each. Click here to SHOP and HELP!

Crista Dix, the gallery owner and director says, " Just as we start a new year, filled with optimism and hope for a better year, a devestating earthquake in Haiti brings tragedy and pain. This impoverished nation needs our help. My gallery and its artists want to do our part. We are supporting Doctors Without Borders, and 100% of the print sales goes to supporting that organization."

My image just went live on the site. Hopefully all ten will sell. Here are some of the other offerings. (I've already bought a couple myself!)

Tom Chambers

Priya Kambil

Emily Shur

Carl Corey

Angela Bacon Kidwell

Aline Smithson

Thursday, January 21, 2010

pics by christy: part 2

Rosette, one of our sponsored students is a most fabulous dancer with a most winning smile.

Peter, our guide and good friend, plays the ukelele Christy bestowed upon him.

Melissa and (Princess) Petra

This is a typical lunch and dinner for the children: posho (maize flour mixture) and beans.

Marvin, a boy from town, chased our van up the road to the orphanage every morning.

Laura and Natasha


Kaley taught young Moses, who is hearing impaired, how to sign the alphabet. They did this in tandem for our Christmas Day talent show.

Oliva jump roping

Eddie gets a high five from Tony during a game of cards.

Bobbi teaches relaxation during yoga class.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

pics by christy

Team 3 member Christy Radecic shoots sports, buildings and sports buildings. In fact, she’ll be on her way soon to shoot the Super Bowl for the fifth year in a row.

Besides devoting her energy to and spreading her infectious enthusiasm around the art room, the sports field and the game tables, she shot video and stills at St. Mary Kevin’s. I just received the stills today. They’re fantastic! Over the course of the next few posts, I’m going to feature some of my favorites. I think you’ll get a very good sense of what it was like to be in Kajjansi. Christy captured the colors, the movement and the emotions with honest, lovely portrayals of the children and her fellow Team 3 members.

I took the liberty of writing the captions.

Carol plays a game of cards and is, as always, having a great time!

These are the Christmas gifts we gave out. No wrapping paper; we used colorful bandanas instead.

Ivan, the band instructor, teaches the children how to play without any sheet music - just a lot of hand motions.

Claire, one of the snare drummers.

This is Otim Alfonse. Everyone calls him "Boy-Boy"

Reading a pen pal letter

The children made more banana fiber dolls for us to sell. If you want to purchase one, please contact me.

Izzy works on a piece in our makeshift art room with art supplies we brought with us.

Another young artist at work.

Gloria and Amswa

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

more new work from uganda

This is the time of year when several photography competition deadlines come crashing down all at once. That always means sifting through work, old and new. As I'm still editing the work I made at the orphanage, the new ones have to speak up pretty loudly to be heard, since the older ones have already stood something of a test of time. At any rate, here are three more new ones made during the most recent (it doesn't seem possible that I've only been home three weeks!) trip to Uganda.

Monday, January 18, 2010

tina and claire faith

These young girls move in tandem. They, like all the others at the orphanage, have had to make their own family unit. They have chosen each other to be best friends and close sisters. I have seen them work together to carry a huge basin of water to the bathing area, I’ve seen them share their food, hold hands, whisper in each other’s ear and snip at each other during card games.