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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

backlit birds

I saw this flock of birds as I was leaving my studio the other day. Their wings were backlit by the late afternoon sun.

Have you watched Portlandia? Put a bird on it.

Monday, January 30, 2012


Douglas and CTT Team 1 member Jane got into a conversation back in 2007. Jane asked him what he wanted to be if/when he graduated from secondary (high) school. Douglas told Jane that day that he had always dreamt of becoming a nurse.

Jane took him seriously and offered to help. She eventually became his "mama" and his sponsor.

Douglas enrolled in the Mengo School of Nursing, a well respected institution not far from Kampala. He turned out to be a stellar student and loved soaking in all the information and new skills he could.

Last May, Douglas became CTT's first post secondary school graduate. It was a day for great celebration.

CTT hired Douglas to work part-time at the orphanage. He will maintain this "paid internship" for a year. He's a dedicated, talented, compassionate medical care provider, and we're extremely lucky to have him on board.

Another cause of celebration came last month when Team 5 was at the orphanage. Douglas had just gotten word that after all the tests and various calculations had finally been completed, he was number one in his class! Numero uno. Top dog. Creme de la creme. Top of the heap.

Douglas beamed. We all did. There was back slapping and hugging, even a couple of speeches. He emailed Jane with the good news. We had cake and took pictures of the proud young man.

You know, on that day back in 2007, when Jane and Douglas stood by the jackfruit tree, red dirt under their feet, hot east African sun beating down, talking about the future - his truth really did change.

Congratulations, Douglas!

Friday, January 27, 2012


Before our trip, I reminded the team that it would be such s gift if they each took the time to seek out a quiet, shy child and become his/her friend. Too often it's the gregarious, charming, handsome, articulate, talented children who capture our attention so much that we don't notice those tiptoeing around the edges of our activities. (Tony was actually one of the withdrawn children on my first visit in 2006. He has blossomed so much, in part because of the attention and opportunities CTT has swung his way.)

Suzanne is one who has taken this charge very seriously. Last year she befriended quiet Beatrice (with whom she has a meaningful and unbreakable bond), and this year it was sweet Oliva.

In Suzanne's own beautiful words:

"It’s hard to describe in words exactly how a child captures your heart or takes your breath away when there are so many at SMK that you want to connect with in that special way. Her name is Alari Oliva and she is 10 years old. She is from Northern Uganda and has an older sister; Fiona who, like many of the sibling groups at SMK, has taken on the role of mother to Oliva. Fiona bathes her, watches over her and makes sure she is safe. It’s tender to see and heartbreaking at the same time because I often wonder who is taking care of Fiona.

I spotted Oliva one day in P7 quietly sitting on a desk with her small hands folded in her lap watching the dance performance for Team 5. She had this beautiful brown patterned dress on, and I asked others who she was. No one seemed to know, so I set out to meet her. It was challenging to communicate at first because I did not know Luganda and her English was spotty, but there is the language of a simple touch. I held her hand, and I signed to her that I loved her. She responded with the same, and I knew that we were going to be connected from that moment on. Her hand and mine were intertwined from that day forward until I left. She reminded me so much of myself when I was 10, shy and reserved, existing in the shadows. Often the children from the North keep to themselves at SMK. They go about their chores everyday and you often witness them staying together as a group, because they share some of the same sad stories of parents lost to the war or AIDS.

My goal with Oliva was simply to get her to smile, and a bonus would have been to hear her laugh. I was rewarded tenfold because she gave me so much more. She held my hand. She smiled, giggled, hugged and gave me a piece of herself: her heart. There is no greater gift than that of a child’s love, and I am blessed to have felt that love everyday at SMK with her and so many of the children. I only hope that with the distance we now share from Uganda to Wisconsin that she continues to feel how very much I love her."

- Suzanne

Thursday, January 26, 2012

sister berta

One of the co-founders of Operation Breakthrough, Sister Berta, had quite the adventure this week. She attended Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night! This article about her appeared in the KC Star on Tuesday. Definitely a good read. Here she is pictured with Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, who invited her to Washington.

christmas gifts

After we handed out the Christmas gifts to the children this year, it was fun to watch them discover the goodies inside the brightly colored plastic wash basins that contained them. Included among the various groupings of gifts were:

handmade dresses/shorts
toothbrushes and toothpaste
decks of cards
beanie babies
handmade necklaces and bracelets
hand knit caps

The handmade items were donated by groups of caring, talented, generous people from various parts of the country. The dresses/shorts came from a Minnesota based non-profit called Little Dresses for Africa and from a very kind and dedicated group of women from St. Andrews Christian Church in Lenexa, Kansas (spearheaded by CTT friend Bernadette). The necklaces, bracelets and caps came from CTT friends in Wisconsin. All of the items were big hits with the children, who don't get to change into new clothes very often.

Above is a great photo taken by Suzanne showing happy kids donning their new clothes and "jewelry".

Here is a letter written to the Wisconsin knitters. It's from CTT friend Mary Sue, who organized the cap drive. It will appear in their church bulletin this weekend:

Webale! (Thank you) from Uganda

Many thanks to our Quad Parish knitters for your overwhelming response to make hats for our friends at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood in Kajjansi, Uganda! We asked for 180 hats and we received more than 400! The children were thrilled to say the least when they opened their Christmas gifts. They loved the different colors, textures and patterns of the hats – and in the heat, our little friends wore their hats morning, noon and night. They even had fun trading hats! Thank you again for the time, effort and love that went into each of these hats. You brightened Christmas morning for these very appreciative and deserving children.
- Mary Sue

It's so cool how the ripples generated by these children continue to move outward.

Thank you, knitters, seamstresses and crafters. You made the children feel loved and very special.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

their faces

All night I have been working on a selection of snapshots I made at the orphanage last month. They are for an upcoming event that will be a fundraiser for Change the Truth.

I simply can't keep them to myself any longer. Just look at these beautiful faces.

shane gets a wake-up call

Yesterday morning, Change the Truth Team 5 member Shane Evans was awakened by a phone call.

"I got a call early this morning (6:30am) from an unfamiliar number... (you know when that happens...you're like WHO IS CALLING ME at this hour!?) I missed the call and saw there was a message... as I listened... there was a voice on the recording sharing... 'Mr. Evans... I am calling to inform you you have won the CSK Award for your book UNDERGROUND...' I sat in a moment of TOTAL thought... silence... and then I said out load... 'thank you GOD...', I began to think of ALL that it means... it is an honor to MANY that this is shared with a project like 'Underground'... family... friends... community... This book is the 'experience' of the underground... THE SPIRIT... this a spirit of HELPING... WE CANNOT DO THIS ALONE... I thank you all for your thoughts... prayers... words... I am truly honored."

For those of you who don't know, the CSK Award is the Coretta Scott King Book Award. A very big deal.

Read all about the exciting news here.

Congratulations, Shane!

Monday, January 23, 2012

hava nagila

No, you're not at a Jewish wedding or even a Bar or Bat Mitzvah! You're at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage.

Here are Oscar and Tony, along with Change the Truth team member Monique, belting out the traditional Hebrew folk song "Hava Nagila" ("Let's Rejoice") at the music performance held at the end of our visit in December.

Oscar and Tony both used to play the trumpet in the SMK marching band. They had never even held a saxophone in their hands until Monique arrived last summer for her first stint as music teacher at the orphanage. Not only have the boys learned to play a new instrument, they are now also reading music!

Monique taught them this song, in part, because of Mama Gloria's ethnic heritage. It was a real treat for me to hear "Hava Nagila" floating in the breeze on the days they were practicing. On the day of the performance, I literally had chills running up and down my spine.

Thank you, Tony and Oscar, for your dedication to learning. Thank you, donors, for providing the saxophones. Thank you, Monique, for the gift of teaching. And thank you, Avis, for catching the performance on video.

Stay tuned until the end. The three really get going, and it's a pretty smokin' rendition of the song, especially when you consider that the boys are new to the instrument, they'd never heard the song before and this all takes place at an orphanage in the middle of east Africa!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

party for melissa

Our fabulous "on-the-ground" social worker/liaison Melissa has been visiting home in the US for the past couple weeks (along with her son Antwain). Last night CTT team members got a chance to see her and catch up. We all agreed that Uganda has been good to her (one comment was that she looked 10 years younger!) She confessed that while it's been absolutely great to see family and friends she's ready to go back home to the kiddos (and put on her flip-flops!).

Jane (Team 1), Melissa, Leroy (Team 5)

Lonnie (Team 1)

Max (Team 2) and his friend Jill

Michelle (Team 5), Dawn (Team 5), Avis (Teams 4,5)

Eddie (Team 3) and me

David (Team 4)

Jennifer (Team 4), Lynne (Teams 1,2,5) Jeff (Team 4)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

the "henry special"

In honor of my grandson Henry and my new Hasselblad camera, I’m offering a studio portrait special.

YOU: Book appointment and come to my studio during the month of February.

ME: Shoot, edit and provide you with ten gorgeous, finished high-resolution digital files, ready for sharing and/or printing.

YOU: Pay a flat fee of only $125!

[My sitting fee is usually $325, which includes low-resolution proofs and an 11” x 14” portrait.]

ME: Happy to be shooting during this ordinarily slow time.

YOU: Happy to have beautiful files to print and share as you please.

[I will, of course, be happy to make archival ink jet prints from these files on special museum quality paper in sizes ranging from 5” x 7” to 30” x 40” at an additional charge.]

Book your appointment now! gbfeinstein[at]aol.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

henry's in the house

Grandson Henry is in town for a visit, and we are having a good time hanging out together! Here he is at the park where his mom and uncle used to play when they were his age.

Monday, January 16, 2012

shane: angels

Team 5 member Shane did these sketches of some of the girls at the orphanage. It was one afternoon while they were watching the boys play football (soccer). Shane gave all the girls wings and proclaimed them little angels.

That they are.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

more new work

I have been working with my friend (and printer extraordinaire) John Hans on one of my new images form Uganda. I was curious to see how large we could go before losing any of the magnificent detail of the Hassie capture. John made a 30" x 40" print, and wow, is it gorgeous!! I believe a 40" x 60" would look just as wonderful; I suppose we could go even larger. I am just amazed at the rich, saturated colors, the perfect rendering of detail (even in the shadows) and the overall power and intensity of such a large image. This is new territory for me!

I continue to process and work on new pictures. Here are a few more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

hip to be square

Having worked with a square format for years and years, I am still quite partial to it. The digital Hasselblad is not like it's 6 x 6 analog ancestor; it is 6 x 7. I am growing to like that arrangement, but on occasion I find that nothing but the lovely square will do.

It simply means I have to pre-visualize the square when I'm shooting. Sometimes it doesn't work.

But other times it does.