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

Monday, March 28, 2011

little dresses for africa

Another Change the Truth happy ending story...

A couple weeks ago Team 4 member Avis invited me to accompany her to a speaking engagement she had been asked to do. I was excited because a) I wanted to hear her speak about her experience in Uganda b) the name of the group to whom she was speaking was called “Wise Women” and who wouldn’t want to sit in that audience?? c) I love any opportunity to spend time with Avis.

It was a great evening. We grabbed a quick bite to eat first, so we had time to catch up. When we got to the venue, St. Andrews Christian Church, we set up a little table of CTT goodies to sell: beaded jewelry, note cards, fabrics, etc. Soon the room was filled with women; there was a great turnout.

Avis gave a wonderful presentation. It was so clear that her experience at the orphanage had a profound impact on her. You could have heard a pin drop in the room. The Wise Women were hanging on Avis’ every word.

There was a woman in the audience who spoke briefly about some work she’s been doing to help children in developing nations. She sews. She sews dresses and shorts. She sews these for an organization called “Little Dresses For Africa” which, as it turns out, is very similar to the “Mother Bear Project.” (You may recall that the latter is the organization that sends a teddy bear template to knitters who make adorable bears for kids living in dire situations. These were the bears we took to the orphanage and gave out as Christmas gifts last year.)

As soon as I got home that night I googled “Little Dresses For Africa.” It was founded by a woman named Rachel and is based in Michigan. To date she has collected 120,000 hand sewn dresses (and “britches for boys” too!) from seamstresses all over the world. Check out her website here.

I wrote to Rachel pronto.

Ten days later four big boxes were delivered to my front door. 75 dresses and 75 pairs of shorts!!! A myriad of sizes, fabrics and trimmings. Unique interpretations of the same pattern. (Just like the bears!)

Guess what the children will be getting for Christmas next December?

Thank you, men and women who sew these delightful creations. Thank you, Rachel. And thank you, Avis.

I love that we are all in this together!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


The Operation Breakthrough annual fundraiser video has been been something I've worked on for several years now. This year is no exception. I am again collaborating with my good friend Lynne Melcher. We started shooting stills and video a couple months ago; the video will be completed soon and shown in late April.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

missing africa

Lately my mind has been back in Africa... more intensely than usual.

I just finished reading "What is the What" and tonight watched the documentary "The Lost Boys of Sudan." (I highly recommend both.)

Plans for the Change the Truth Friendraiser/Fundraiser are well under way. I've been focusing a lot of energy on: distributing banana fiber dolls to local artists, collecting items for the silent auction, working with the graphic designer on the poster and invitation, exploring food/entertainment options, framing the children's paintings and working on the new film (to be shown for the first time the night of the event).

It's hard to believe, but I am also already in the process of assembling the next team of volunteers; Team 5 will travel to Uganda in December.

But mostly, I've been thinking about the children. I miss them.

My young friend Tony is someone I especially miss. I've known him since my first trip to St. Mary Kevin Orphanage in 2006. He's one of those kids who simply stole my heart early on.

This past December Tony made a watercolor for me. I've been looking at it a lot lately. It's just him and me (see the camera?) in an empty, but beautiful space. I love how he's holding onto my leg.

Nine months before I get to see him and the other children again. That seems like a very long time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

print now available for purchase

My photograph "Two Boys, Kajjansi, Uganda, 2010" is now available at the "LIfe Support Japan" online auction at Wallspace Gallery.

Immediately following the earthquake and tsunami, several hundred photographers banded together to donate limited edition prints (10) for sale at $50 apiece. Tens of thousands of dollars have already been raised. If you buy one of the prints, you'll be contributing funds toward Direct Relief International and Habitat for Humanity Japan.

My print was offered up this afternoon, and I'd love to see it sell out quickly! Click here to go to the auction site. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

nobody else has to know (yikes!)

Just had to share this new camera review from Fashion Wire, an online magazine:

“Using built-in Beauty Retouch modes, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP7 digital camera boasts the ability to tone down wrinkles, whiten your teeth and amp up rosy cheeks with just the touch of a button.

We concentrated on two modes: Esthetic, for clearing skin texture and whitening teeth, and Make-up, to add color options for foundation, eyes, and lips and cheeks. After you take a photo by simply pressing the large shutter button on top of the camera, touch the playback button on the LCD and the smiley-face icon in the lower right hand. An arrow will point to the face you want to ‘fix,’ and you simply swipe it to begin. You’ll be taken to a close-up of that visage and given a choice of two mode icons in the top left corner. Once you choose one, you’ll have three options, and each one will let you suggest the percentage of work you want to apply (20, 40, 60 or 80) by pressing the up and down arrows on the top right side of the screen. The first is Esthetic, and it’s far and away the best feature. Start with clear skin, head to shine removal, and finish off with teeth-whitening. We suggest going either 60 or 80 percent for best results.

Next is the Make-Up Retouch where you’ll have four choices: Foundation, Lip Color, Cheek Color and Eye Shadow. Instead of the percentages, this time you’ll be asked to choose colors. We unilaterally skipped the foundation because it made everyone look chalky, no matter what shade we tried. The lips were fun to play with, offering pink, coral, red and buff tints. Rather than an opaque layer of lipstick, it was more like adding a subtle pigment, brightening up lips that already had lipstick or perking up a naked mouth. The cheeks allowed both shapes and shades, letting you choose where you apply the blush in the five peach-to-pink hues. The eyes trailed foundation as our least favorite feature. Shadow colors come in neon green, dark brown, light brown, midnight blue and a very odd, shocking purple. The browns were hard to notice, and the other colors looked like a child had a go at her mother’s makeup drawer.

Once you’re done, simply hit the OK button and you’re taken to before-and-after screen shots so you can check out your work. Press OK again and voilà, a brand-new image will be saved along with the original.

The results can be jarring. Our subjects showed a huge change in skin tone, wrinkle removal and general smoothing of the skin, as well as a whiter set of choppers. The makeup was subtle if you used the right settings. Again, stay away from foundation and eye shadow. But both the cheeks and lips could add nice, restrained pigment.

The takeaway? Though other camera makers, like Sony, Olympus, Kodak and HP, promise to make you look tanner, thinner and smoother before you take a photo, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP7 offers a fun and easy way to instantly upgrade your appearance after you take a shot.

You’ll look younger, fresher and smoother, but keep it simple with the makeup. And shhh, nobody else has to know.”

- The Fashion Wire

Monday, March 21, 2011

hipsta at the wedding

I had so much fun shooting pics with my iphone camera (hipstamatic app in tow) at Sarah and Sean's sumptuous wedding. The real wedding photographer (who studied at Savannah College of Art and Design) was very patient and kind, letting me do my thing. Here's a sampling from the 100 pics I selected in the editing process.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

the moon and the number 18

We didn't get to see the super moon last night since we were inside a building in downtown Miami, so I am using a beautiful photo I found online. This is from a British newspaper, and the photo was taken at St Michael's Tower in Glastonbury, Somerset, England.

Eddie found a beautiful way to make mention of the moon in the wedding ceremony:

"What a magical night it is. And if we need proof just look at the moon - now at its closest to the earth in 18 years. Symbolic of the closeness you two feel for each other. 18 is represented in Hebrew by the word 'chai' which means life. How special is that?"

So the moon last night offered hope for us all, reminding us about the possibilities of living our lives to the fullest.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

wedding vows

On a lighter, brighter and more hopeful note, Eddie and I are attending a wedding this weekend in the sunny state of Florida. Eddie was asked to officiate at the wedding, and I am running around documenting it with my Hipstmatic. Fun with friends and fotography in Florida. Not a bad way to spend the weekend.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Today I join hundreds of bloggers around the web for a day of blog silence to honor the many lives lost in Japan and the many who are suffering as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

no words

Just deep sadness and despair.

Monday, March 14, 2011

life support japan

Wall Space Gallery has created a wonderful project selling photographs @ $50 as a benefit for the people of Japan. The money raised will go to Direct Relief and Habitat for Humanity Japan. Please visit the site and purchase a piece of art and help those in need.

All limited editions photographs are 8.5 x 11 inches, signed editions of 10 only.

This is the first of many auctions the photo community has pulled together, powered by my friends Aline Smithson of Lenscratch and Crista Dix of Wall Space Gallery. Many more photographers are donating their work, and more images are being uploaded every hour, so check back often! In just two days, over $10,000 has already been raised.

This is the image I have donated. "Two Boys, Kajjansi, Uganda." It probably won't be up on the site for a while, as I understand there are 200 prints in the queue. Quite an outpouring of support from an amazing photo community of which I am proud to be a part.

Thanks to Crista and Aline for organizing this. Now go shop! There are some wonderful photographers involved in this project. Click here to get started.

jja jja / mama

There are too many awful visuals swimming around in my head this evening/early morning. Too many hours of CNN today.

I need to plant some happier pictures in this brain of mine so I can fall asleep.

I got a new name when I was in Uganda this last December: Jja Jja. It means grandmother in Lugandan.

Here are the beautiful faces that belong to some of the young people I think about constantly: Henry, who may or may not call me Jja Jja when the time comes, and the kids at the orphanage who call me Mama Gloria. Thinking of them, as well as my children Abbie, Sam and Max, reminds me that my little slice of the world is indeed a good and wondrous one.

My heart aches, as I know yours does too, for the millions of people in Japan whose lives have been broken. What can we really do at this early juncture but fully appreciate what we have. With that strength, we will then move forward to do what we can to help.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

paul fusco

This afternoon my friend Anna posted a link on facebook to Magnum photographer Paul Fusco's powerful series on Chernobyl's horrifying legacy. Anna simply wrote that she felt "compelled to repost this link — my all time favorite photo essay. difficult to watch, but so so important."

It is indeed very tough to watch. But in light of what's possibly going on with the nuclear plants in Japan, we may have to consider the reality of this frightening issue all over again.

You can watch the narrated slide show here. Do keep in mind the images are graphic.