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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Been thinking about sisters a lot lately. And it just so happens I've been printing an order for some sisters I photographed in my studio two years ago. The girls are coming in for their biennial shoot next week. I loved the way they interacted with each other last time I saw them, and I can't wait to see how their relationship has changed over the past two years.

Here is what we made once we got more serious.

Monday, August 29, 2011

100 Portraits — 100 Photographers

For the past five years editor Andy Adams has been been publishing FlakPhoto, a website that promotes photography from within the online photo community. In November 2010, Adams teamed up with curator Larissa Leclair to produce a photo projection for the FotoWeek DC Festival of Photography. It screened simultaneously at several non-traditional exhibition venues: on the exterior of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, in the Satellite Central projection theater and on screens fixed to trucks traveling throughout the streets of the city. The project(ion) was called "100 Portraits - 100 Photographers." I talked about it some time ago in this post.

The screening has subsequently been shown at the "Head On Photography Festival" in Sydney, "Snap!", "Celebrate the Photograph" in Orlando, and the "New York Photo Festival" in Brooklyn.

"100 Portraits - 100 Photographers" received its first physical exhibition this summer at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, Australia. Andy, one of the hardest working guys I know, recently shared these photos of the installation with the other 99 photographers and me.

I'm really proud to be part of this exhibition.

Watch this cool installation video of the show in Sydney.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

guest post by monique udo

Monique, who hails from the Netherlands, is just about to complete her month-long volunteer stint at the orphanage. She has worked very hard teaching the children how to read music and how to play a lot of new instruments. It's funny - I've never met Monique. We planned her trip solely through emails. In fact, it was an internet search of non-profits active in Uganda that led her to CTT in the first place. That said, I do feel like we've gotten to know one another through our shared love for the children at SMK. (The fact that her two star sax players just happen to be Tony and Oscar... well, anyone who has ever seen me at SMK knows these boys have a very special place in my heart.) Here is a note I recently received from Monique. She, working alongside music teacher Ivan, seems to have worked music miracles this past month in Kajjansi. Thank you, Monique. I know the children have loved having you become part of their lives and will be sorry to see you go.

"Music at SMK!

I’m at SMK since three weeks and a lot of music is going on here. Apart from the music lessons I give, there is the marching band, the dance groups with drums and African harps, and a choir. I’m adding saxophone lessons, recorder groups, sheet music to learn how to play from staff notation, melodicas, guitar playing and the popular ‘cup game’. Imagine happening all of this at the same moment (which happens sometimes…). It sounds like band camp at SMK these weeks. I have some amazing saxophone students (Tony and Oscar) who can play for hours and hours. They learned how to play the saxophone and read notes so incredible quick, they’ve set a new standard for my pupils at home. Since CTT has been purchasing more saxophones with donated money, there are six saxophones at SMK now so the marching band can add a new flavor to its sound.

From the recorder groups, I scouted a few younger children who are starting to play the trumpet.
It’s fun to see those kids blowing, they are doing better than me, so they have fun too, when I give it a try. It’s interesting to see that different children have a talent for different instruments. It’s a good thing that we have all kinds of instruments around so everyone can find the instrument that fits him or her best.

Last week we organized an informal ‘music meeting’ where several groups and individual children performed songs that they had learned. It was a very nice gathering and another one is on schedule for the coming week.

So far, I am looking back on a very productive and fulfilling stay where I’ve come to know many talented, sweet and kind children and the wonderful and inspiring people around them. It’s been a great stay!"

- Monique

Thursday, August 25, 2011

guest post by melissa mosher

"Happy One Year to Us!

This past week I have been shaking my head in constant amazement that one year has passed since our arrival to Uganda. One whole year… 12 full months... 2 rainy seasons… 3 school terms. This move to Uganda was the largest leap of faith that I have ever taken, but the rewards have been beyond measure.

Recently there have been reminders about how settled Antwain and I have become in our lives in Uganda. Visitors have literally thought Antwain was Ugandan as his accent and mannerisms have assimilated so much to Ugandan ways. And I have received many compliments from adults and children about being a ‘real African woman. ‘ When we moved here, I wanted to live as simplistically as possible. I chose to wash my own clothes, mop my own floors, prepare my own meals integrating as many Ugandan local dishes as possible, and navigate public transportation. This was my conscious choice, and there have been times when it has been challenging, frustrating, and tiresome.

But one year later, there are a lot of fruits from that labor. On most days, I efficiently run my own household. I can wash some pretty ridiculous things, even heavy towels and blankets. I can prepare almost all of the Ugandan dishes (although there is still a lot more for me to learn). There are becoming fewer and fewer places/areas within Kampala that I have not visited. I have had the opportunity to travel to see the beautiful splendor of other parts of Uganda. I have learned the dance of bartering with market vendors or boda drivers and get amused when Ugandans recognize that I am a knowledgeable muzungu (white person). But admittedly, my Luganda is still very poor (although Antwain is almost fluent in his understanding).

For Antwain it has been a year for him to blossom. I continue to be amazed by Antwain every single day. He has grown taller and matured physically. But it has been the changes in his character, confidence in his academic performances, and the displays of profound friendship that have really transformed Antwain. He has been happier, healthier, and freer than I have ever seen him before. He has also displayed incredible patience and generosity with our enlarged household. Although Antwain still misses the conveniences of America, I can see that he now harbors a greater appreciation for them. It is still uncertain how this experience living in Uganda will shape the young man he is becoming, but I will never regret bringing him here to Uganda during such formable years.

And SMK…a place that I fell in love with back in 2007 still holds a cherished place in my heart. I still have moments (even after a whole year), where I will literally stop, look around, and revel in being at SMK. It still feels incredible to be living this dream! I continue to hold the utmost respect for the daily mission and dedication of Rosemary Kavulu and the entire staff at SMK. I am awed by the incredible support that Rosemary has had throughout the years from her husband, Joseph, and her children. In addition, it has been inspiring to witness the collaborative efforts of so many ‘friends’ of the orphans, like Change The Truth, Touch The World, Kyklou, and a few others who collaboratively are making some significant improvements to otherwise forgotten orphans. I wholeheartedly believe that it does take a village to raise a child here in Africa, and for me, it will be one of the greatest honors of my life to know that I was gifted with the opportunity to be a part of that village.

I am also reminded daily that I would not have the strength or endurance to be living my dreams in Uganda without the unconditional love and support of my family and friends. It is because I am so loved that I can love others. It is because I have champions in my corner that I can be champion for others. I will forever be appreciative for the selflessness of my loved ones who have endured long gaps in communication, a 9 hour time difference, a prolonged visit home, missed holidays and family celebrations, and additional obligations on my behalf.

There is still another year ahead of us. The journey is not over. There is still so much more that I want to experience and learn from Uganda. And remember there is always an open invitation to come and visit!"

- Melissa

Monday, August 22, 2011


I was lucky enough to spend the past week at a paradise of a place: Rancho La Puerta. It's located south of San Diego, just over the Mexican border.

Instead of sitting at my computer, I hiked. Instead of doing the laundry, I sculpted. Instead of driving around town running errands, I learned how to hula hoop. Instead of going to the grocery and cooking dinner, I got to go through buffet lines containing the most magnificent fresh, organic and locally grown vegetarian meals imaginable. Instead of being a slave to my cell phone, I was quiet. You get the idea. It was heaven.

Here are some photos, all taken with my Canon S90, a true workhorse of a point and shoot. I put it through its paces, and it did not let me down.

I'm trying to stay in touch with the slower pace, the meditation, the yoga, the crisp early morning hikes, the closeness of good friends (with whom I shared the experience) and the beauty of the world around me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

nice timing (by max feinstein)

Roger's Braid, Portland (GBF)

"As a regular reader of this blog, I was pretty thrilled when my mom recently embarked on a new project to photograph members of the homeless population in Portland. Part of my excitement stems from the new spectrum of colors present in photographs where once there was only black, white, and gray. As an avid enthusiast of GBF’s work, I’ve enjoyed comparing and contrasting the new style of work with the old. Perhaps even more exciting about this new project is the subject matter. Now, I’m not surprised that the artist in question has ventured into a previously untapped realm – this is something she regularly does – but that the current focus aligns so closely with recent events in my life. Specifically, since I moved to Boston but a few short months ago, I discovered a local not-for-profit whose mission it is to enrich the lives of the homeless population through food.

One could call Haley House a soup kitchen, but perhaps a more appropriate title might simply be restaurant with free healthy food. (And I do mean healthy – most of their food comes not from cans, but from a nearby organic farm.) In addition to serving meals, they also dole out a healthy dose of dignity to their patrons. Instead of simply serving guests and sending them back to wander the streets of Beantown, Haley House encourages volunteers to treat guests not as homeless people, but simply as people. Subtle though this distinction may seem, it has the distinct effect of reminding Haley House patrons that they deserve equal treatment as anyone else – an ideal that likely slips away rather quickly after a short period of life on the streets. The Haley House mission resonates beautifully with the ideals that have been deeply instilled in me be the author of this blog and her loving counterpart. That’s why I’m excited to begin working there regularly. (I will in fact be living at their residence for full-time volunteers, an opportunity afforded to me thanks to the generosity of Lynne Melcher and Melissa Mosher, whose thoughtful recommendations played no small part in the acceptance of my application.)

If you’re interested in learning more about Haley House and their work, I encourage you to check out their website. And if you’re in the Boston area, I highly recommend checking out their café at 12 Dade St. (02119 zip code). In the meantime, I’m looking forward to more installments of GBF’s latest project as a means to put the spotlight on the world of street living that’s often brushed aside from the average home-dweller’s daily discourse."

[Max will get room and board at Haley House in exchange for working there. He will be part of a small community of live-in residents who prepare and serve the meals to guests.]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

almost time for some time off

The seasons roll on, and soon it will be Fall - my favorite. There will be so much to blog about in September, but for now I am due for a little blog break. I will be signing off for a a few days. Truth is, I am going to a spa/retreat for a week. There I will bask in the beauty of close friendships, a gorgeous landscape, silence, organic food, exercise, hiking, scrabble games, meditation, art classes, etc. I am going to try and stay away from trips into cyberspace, which includes writing blog posts.

Before I do so, I will be sharing a "guest post" from my son Max, who just so happens to be getting involved in a very interesting program that caters to the homeless in Boston. (Folks say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree... as my children get older, I am beginning to realize there is some truth to this.) Max's post will appear soon.

In the meantime, I'll whet your appetite with some of the topics that will be covered in September.

It will be time to begin introducing Team 5, an AMAZING group of volunteers who will be traveling with me to the orphanage in Uganda this December.

The brand spanking new CTT website will be launched. Lots of good stuff there.

I am firing up my portrait business again. That will happen in my groovy new studio space in the Livestock Exchange Building. Special deals will be offered to blog readers!

Monique Udo (from the Netherlands) has been at the orphanage teaching music to the kids since the end of July. You'll love hearing about her experience and seeing some of her pictures. Just know she wrote recently that the kids learning saxophone are "learning too fast!" Oscar and Tony apparently are practicing five hours a day. (These children never fail to impress and inspire their Mama Gloria.)

My grandson will turn one. Admit it. You know you'll want to see pictures of him eating processed sugar for the first time, right? Abbie and Sam have promised the guests at the party a big 'ol birthday cake, and Henry will get to dive right in!

Recent nursing school graduate (and CTT sponsored student) Douglas has begun working at the newly re-birthed SMK medical clinic. This is outstanding, hopeful news, and there will be much more info about this to follow.

Moses got his hearing aids. His adjustment to them, and the changes that have occurred in his life, are pretty fascinating.

Melissa and Antwain will be celebrating their one year anniversary in Uganda. Since we can't all go to the party, we'll have to settle for some words and pictures from the two of them.

So, you see... there are reasons to stay tuned. Look for Max's blog soon, and then I'll see you on the flip side of my break. Thanks for sticking with me. September will mark the 5th anniversary of this blog. Whoa. Who'd have thunk it?

And, with the permission of his mother, here is a rather funny and adorable (parting) shot of 11 month old Henry. He seems to be quite the explorer.

Monday, August 08, 2011

parting shots

Time to head back to the midwest. This project I've begun in Portland will have to be put on the back burner until I can return.

Here are two more photographs I made. These guys are both incredibly down on their luck, have been for a long time and unfortunately don't really see a way out of the downward spiral at this point. They, like all the others I've met while working on these photos, could not have been nicer to me or more open with me. I really appreciated having the opportunity to get to know them, even if it was for such a brief moment in time.

leo, roger and jason

There is a bi-weekly newspaper in Portland called "Street Roots" which covers, among other things, topics specific to issues surrounding homelessness.

From the "Street Roots" website: "The 'Street Roots' motto is 'for those who can’t afford free speech.' The content and investigative journalism in the paper provide stories regarding marginalized communities, inequality, systemic abuses, addiction, etc. It brings clarity to political wranglings over budgets and often complex systems that are difficult for people to understand. The newspaper asks what the need is, who the needy are, and what they look like. 'Street Roots' is also a platform for individuals to publish their voices through poems, editorials, and opinions."

An impressive 12,000 - 15,000 copies are distributed; many of those are sold by the 80 homeless vendors who work for the paper. This group of sellers can be found on various corners throughout the city, politely hawking the paper for $1.00. The vendors pay $.25 for each paper; the $.75 profit goes directly into their pockets. For most of these homeless men and women, this is their only form of income. They take great pride in the paper and assume a certain ownership of it, making suggestions and providing input at weekly vendor meetings.

One of Portland's more recognizable members of the homeless community, Leo is a homeless activist and member of the board of "Street Roots." Occasionally he writes articles for the paper. He's also a poet.

On a good day, Roger, who stands outside Powell's Bookstore, sells 15 papers. Roger's been selling the paper for 12 years. He and his girlfriend (who is also a "Street Roots" vendor) camp outside on the other side of town.

Jason sells his papers each Sunday morning on a corner outside the Unitarian Church. He greets many of the churchgoers by name as they walk by. After selling a handful of papers, he enters the church and attends services along with them.

These three men were so gracious to let me photograph them; I'll be delivering prints to them tomorrow. And I am looking forward to photographing more of the vendors soon.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

young couple

More of the work I made this past week.

Friday, August 05, 2011


I'm using my new camera (the Hassie) and also trying to fully embrace and fall in love with color. As I continue to photograph those in Portland who are "urban camping", "sleeping out" or "part of the homeless community" (I'm learning that there are several different terminologies) I am getting more and more comfortable with both the camera and the color.

This is a photograph of an interesting and inspiring man named Mo. I met him yesterday and spent some time listening to his story. His challenge of living on the street is exacerbated by the fact that he does not have use of his legs and is dependent on a wheelchair to get around.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

homeless in portland

These are some photographs I've made over the past couple days and some info about homelessness in Portland.

"Homelessness in Multnomah County jumped about 8 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to a new report that looked at how many people were living on the streets, at emergency shelters or in motels with vouchers earlier this year.

Precisely how much worse the picture has gotten amid the recession depends on how one defines homeless.

The report, compiled by the city of Portland and Multnomah County, studied four types of homelessness: people who sleep outside, in short-term shelters, transitional apartments or on the couches of friends and relatives. In those categories, homelessness increased between 7 and 9 percent between 2009 and 2011.

Generally speaking, the number of homeless Multnomah County residents grew from 2,542 to 2,727 in the two-year period. Using the broadest definition of the term, which includes all four categories, the increase went from an estimated 14,451 to 15,563."

-Oregonlive.com, June, 2011

Monday, August 01, 2011

potluck in the park

Every Sunday while we're in Portland, Eddie volunteers at a park near our condo. For the past 20 years, free hot meals have been provided to those who need them through a program called "Potluck in the Park." Dignity, respect, friendliness and kindness are dished out, along with the food, to between 400 - 600 people from the homeless and low-income community each week. This organization serves food rain or shine, never turns down a guest, never runs of out food and every dime that comes in as a donation goes toward the food that is served. Eddie really looks forward to doing this each week. Yesterday I watched as he dished out food and a kind greeting to each and every one who came through the line.