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

Friday, March 30, 2012

silhouettes on the shade

I was a girl scout. My favorite part about being a girl scout was collecting the badges. After my mom sewed each new badge onto the stylin' green over-the-shoulder sash, I'd put on my uniform and savor the look in front of my full length bedroom mirror.

Was "be prepared" the motto? I know it was for the boy scouts. Frankly, I would have been happier to be a boy scout. They got to do more adventuresome and dangerous stuff. On second thought, they didn't have that cool sash for their badges, so maybe not.

At any rate, I'd like to think I am always well prepared. Yesterday, as soon as I realized there were guys washing the outside windows at our high rise condo, I gathered up my available cameras (the iPhone and the Canon), moved a couple pieces of furniture away from the window, did a few test shots and then waited patiently in my chair for the window washer guys to get to my floor.

It took a little while, but suddenly they appeared at the top portion of our windows. (They were working their way down from the 10th floor, and we are on the 4th.) Just as I'd hoped, they were perfectly backlit by the sun. Their silhouettes on the shades were strikingly beautiful. Just as I'd imagined. And, man, I was prepared to get the shot.

As the guys moved downward and more into the frame of my window, the shadows they cast were graceful and beautifully distorted. My heartbeat quickened. I started shooting like mad with my iPhone (with the Hipsta application).

I made so many rapid fire captures that the camera stalled... way before the dancing silhouetted figures on my shade reached their peak of photographable greatness. The camera went into "winding film" mode and wouldn't let me take any more shots. So, being the prepared scout that I have always been, I smugly picked up my Canon that was turned on and ready to go. No problemo.

I kept shooting. The elongated figures of the window washers, as they reached up to soap and then squeegee, were incredible! I fired off as many shots as I could in a short period of time, basking in the knowledge that each time I depressed the shutter, I was making a spine-tingling photograph. The poor iPhone finally stopped coughing and sputtering, so I grabbed it to shoot a few more pictures as the guys disappeared from my window frame on their trek down toward the 3rd floor. Just like that, they were gone.

I could barely wait to see the pictures! Forget the iPhone; it was still in "winding film" mode and was starting to look a little green. I pulled out my laptop and card reader so I could view the masterpieces I'd just made on the Canon.

I did not know it is possible to shoot with that camera EVEN THOUGH A CF CARD HAS NOT BEEN INSERTED. A good girl scout would have made sure there was a card in the camera. I had disgraced my entire troop.

After some time, still shaking my head in disbelief and occasionally banging my fist on the table, I picked up my tired little iPhone and sifted through the shots it had managed to record.

There were two that do hint at the masterpieces I surely made but will never see.

Around the time I was a girl scout, I was also a huge fan of Herman's Hermits.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

operation breakthrough video is almost "in the can"

Lynne and I wrapped up shooting for the Operation Breakthrough video yesterday. It was an afternoon in the bright sun with lots of adorable children.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

5th annual change the truth fundraiser

SAVE THE DATE!! June 29th. Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City.

Willy's drawing is just one of many wonderful pieces you'll be able to view and purchase that evening. Much more information to come. For now, please put us on your calendar!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

ten week old twins

Zach and Jana came to my studio for a portrait when Jana was seven months pregnant with their twins. We decided then and there that they should return after the babes were born so we could recreate the pose.

After we got that business out of the way, we let the babies do some free form modeling on the floor of the studio. From the adult's perspective the "lick" was the highlight of the performance!

crazy woman chasing clouds

If you were behind me on State Line and then on Nall heading south Friday, you must have been wondering what was wrong with me. I kept stopping, hopping out of my car, getting back in, driving a few more feet, stopping again, hanging out the window, grinning ear to ear, shooting up a storm. (Heh heh.) What a show!

Friday, March 23, 2012

atem and some pencils

After I read the incredible and amazing book “What is the What” by Dave Eggers, I wanted to get to know some of the “Lost Girls and Boys” of Sudan. There are quite a few who live in the Kansas City area.

Among others, I was fortunate to meet John and Rebecca. John was a “Lost Boy”. They are a beautiful, inspiring couple with two precious children. I have stayed in touch with Rebecca, who recently called to tell me about their son Atem’s pencil project. Atem is one of the most adorable, charming and engaging kids I’ve ever met. He posed for me in my studio, holding the Sudanese flag. Obviously, even though he is very young, he “gets” what helping others is all about. Please read what Atem's proud mother recently wrote about his philanthropic pursuit:

“Atem started his project when he was 6 last year. One night I was watching some YouTube slides about south Sudan, where kids in the villages study under trees. Atem saw that, and he started to ask a lot of questions like: ‘Why are those kids sitting on the floor? Why do they write with their finger in the dirt? Why..??? and Why...?’ many questions like that.

I simply explained to him about the situation in south Sudan and told him the children there don't have any support because of war, and they don't have pencils and papers they can write with… that’s why they use their fingers to write in the dirt.

It was very obvious that my child was shaken by that fact. He went to his room and came back with ten pencils and asked me: ‘Mama, is there any way we can send these ten pencils to the kids of south Sudan? They need them more than me.’

On that day we made a commitment to collect school supplies for children in south Sudan, and I collected 1,000 pencils and 1,000 notebooks and some other material and delivered them when I went to south Sudan last year for the independence celebration.

When I came back, Atem's former teacher Miss Linda Wansing offered to help with the project and created a ministry at her church.

This year Atem's goal is 10,000 pencils.

The original project was about the pencils; however, we are working to build a school for the kids of Wernyol town - a small town where John's family came from. I am so touched by that, and I am giving it all my effort to see Atem achieve his goal to actually help children like him to have quality of education,

About Atem's project - we have collected 7,000 pencils so far this year.”

Isn’t that so wonderful? And, by the way, if you have not read “What is the What”, I say: get going! It’s a fabulous book. And, to Atem, I say: you are a rock star.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

in the studio

A moment "in between the lines". That's usually the one I grab and love the most.

Monday, March 19, 2012

black sky

Today there was an impressive display of storm clouds rolling through the area in and around my studio in the West Bottoms of Kansas City. Here are some shots I made with my handy dandy Hipsta.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

northern uganda, 2007

In 2007, two of my fellow team members and I made the journey to the northern part of Uganda. We wanted to see the area that had been devastated by Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels' 20-year long war, We wanted to see displaced persons camps; we were actually helping two half-orphans from St. Mary Kevin find their mother in one of these camps (a mother they had not seen in four years). We were also hoping to find some children to bring back to the orphanage for placement there.

We felt safe during our explorations there. We'd been told the civil war had ended and that Kony had retreated to a bordering country a couple years earlier. Peace talks were on-again off-again, but there were no skirmishes, abductions, murders or rapes taking place anywhere near our location, which was in and around Gulu town.

We were shocked at what we saw in the displaced persons camp: filth, extreme poverty, overcrowding, deplorable living conditions, disease, lack of food, lack of sanitation, lack of clean drinking water, torn clothing or no clothing at all. Carol, Lynne nor I had ever seen anything like it. The stories we heard were horrifying.

We were warmly greeted wherever we went, though, and we were greeted with gracious Ugandan hospitality. The children had clearly been through an astonishing, unfathomable amount of pain and loss; most were still able to play and laugh in our presence. Over and over again, we were struck by their resilience.

All the talk this week about northern Uganda made me go back and look at some of the pictures I took there.

Gulu Town

Displaced Persons Camp

Saturday, March 17, 2012

happy st. patty's day!

I know you'll have a hard time believing this, but I am part Irish! I know, I know... everyone says that on St. Patrick's Day.

My great grandmother was named Mary, and she came from Ireland. She met and fell in love with a handsome, mustached man named Moses Moses (such a good name, his parents used it twice!) They married and had a daughter named Freda, who was my grandmother.

I don't like beer, so I won't throw back a green one today. But I will honor the 1/16th part of my heritage that is Irish by giving some thought to those who came before me. And if Max still lived at home, maybe we'd watch some old Spongebob episodes together. Max Moses Feinstein, that is.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the way i see them

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

Here's another one of my recent photographs from Uganda, made during the golden light of the late afternoon sun.