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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

a photo a day

"Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." - Mark Riboud

What fun I've had continuing this project. Now it will have to be on hold until I return to Portland this summer. I did make a few images I'm very happy with.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

a photo a day

“You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”  – Ansel Adams

Still wandering the streets of Portland looking for those moments when, if I'm lucky, all of those things might converge. Adams' sentiment is a lovely one, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I'm dividing my time between photographing and drawing while here in Portland. Not a bad way to spend a few days.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

a photograph a day

‎"Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen. Eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

I'm back in Portland photographing. Here's what I made today.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

exhausting and exhilarating

Going through years of work is a daunting task, but one I've undertaken for the sake of the show I'm having in May.

There are images I've always kind of liked but have never printed. There are images that didn't work for me ten years ago that make sense to me now. There are pictures that just needed a little cropping (which I never used to do, but in my older and wiser stage now allow), and there are pictures that suddenly blossom when placed in a new context.

I'm excited and energized and realize once again that I am so lucky to get to do what I love - and that what I love to do - making pictures - is just about the coolest thing on earth.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

snow day

From my window today I got to watch a foot of snow fall on the neighborhood.

Kind of a meditative and beautiful thing.


Here is a wonderful article about Leah (Team 6). It is hot off the presses of the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle. So proud of you, Leah!

Read it here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

on the way home from shooting furniture

Bob Greenspan is a commercial photographer based in KC. He did a photojournalistic stint at the Kansas City Star years ago, but now he shoots products and buildings. He was on his way home from his midtown studio last night (having just shot some furniture for a client) when the explosion at JJ's Restaurant took place. Apparently, his car windows were rolled up, and he had music playing, so he didn't hear the blast. He just saw the sudden massive plume of smoke and then the flames. Bob pulled over, got out of his car and grabbed the Canon he had in his trunk. His photojournalistic instincts kicked in, and he started shooting even before any sirens sounded. Of all the pictures I've seen of the horrific scenes from last night, Greenspan's are among the most powerful.

On his Facebook page, he wrote: “It was a very surreal scene, with victims wandering out like zombies — obviously in shock.”

Still hard for me to believe this took place just a few blocks from my home.


Last night there was a natural gas leak, explosion and fire at JJ's, a beloved restaurant here in Kansas City. It was a cool place - locally owned and operated by Jimmy and his brother David for 27 years.

JJ's is completely gone now. Neighboring businesses, offices and homes were affected, as well. One body was found in the charred remains this morning, and three people are still in critical condition at nearby hospitals.

It's a sad, gloomy day in Kansas City.

After meeting a friend for coffee this morning, I drove as close as I could to the block where JJ's had stood. I guess I wanted to physically be part of the community that is dealing with this tragedy hands-on. I also wanted to get a picture or two to post here on the blog. Of course, the police have the whole area marked off, and there's no way to get too close right now.

As I pulled up to our condo, I saw this one lonely helicopter hovering in the sky. I had fallen asleep to its drone last night, and I can hear it even now as it circles high above the Plaza, the area where JJ's was and which is only a few blocks away.

It struck me as sad. Which is the way everyone in KC is feeling today.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

change the case

Change the Truth's own Dawn Taylor (Team 5) and her good friend Christina Eldridge have started an entrepreneurial venture, Red Dirt Shop, a socially responsible business selling cell phone covers with original designs by artists. A portion of each sale will go to Water.org, providing access to clean water for people all over the world.

Several artists' works have already been chosen to grace the cell phone cases when Red Dirt makes its launch in March.

Dawn felt strongly - from the very beginning - about including the artwork made by some special young friends who live in Uganda. She pored over the drawings and paintings that the children at the orphanage have made during the past few years and selected two: one by Brian and one by Nicky.

The young artists will be paid for the use of their artwork; the money will go toward their education. As you can well imagine, the boys were thrilled to hear all about this! (Melissa reported that Brian flashed his huge grin, then simply shook his head in disbelief.)

Maybe one of these days, when Brian and Nicky are walking down the street in Kampala, they'll turn to see someone chatting on his/her cell phone and catch a glimpse of their own colorful artwork - loud and proud on a Red Dirt case. Wouldn't that be something?

And in the meantime time, Water.org and both the boys will benefit from the venture.

Red Dirt's motto is "Change the Case" because they want to encourage their clientele to think about having more than one case, kind of like more than one scarf or more than one purse. So, if it catches on, I bet we'll have more drawings from our kids purchased and featured!

Check out Red Dirt's page on Facebook and stay tuned for their big launch next month! We wish Dawn and Christina much luck. Personally, I'd like to thank them for diving into the world of social entrepreneurship and for including Nicky and Brian in the first round of cases.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

can you see me now?

That's the title of my solo show that's coming up in May.

It's turned into kind of a retrospective, which means I have been sifting through lots of old work, some of which I've never even printed before.

I'm hoping for a few surprises for the viewers, a few new twists on some old work, some thought-provoking pairings of seemingly disparate images and an opportunity for us all to have some fun (and maybe even gain some new perspectives) with the pictures I've been making for the past 56 years.


I'm also hoping to publish a catalogue to accompany the show.

And I'm very much hoping you will come to the opening.

The Bohemian Gallery
Overland Park, Kansas

Friday, February 15, 2013


Here is a new picture I made this week at Operation Breakthrough. This boy has seen and been through a lot in his few short years.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

can't get enough of vivian maier

“The Greatest Photo Collection Never Seen
Since Vivian Maier’s photographs were unearthed at an auction several years back, her work and her story have captivated people across the world. The idea that a lifelong nanny was secretly an astoundingly good street photographer—that the greatest collection of photos of Chicago from the 1950s through the 1970s had been sitting undiscovered in storage unit on the South Side—prompted blog post after blog post, story after story, exhibit after exhibit. Most of these offered very little in terms of biographical information about the highly private Maier, who didn’t seem to have any family or close friends.
But surely there had been someone. A secret lover? A neighbor turned confidant, who would turn up and explain what drove Maier to carry a camera around her neck every day of her life, to capture beautiful, moving, and humorous portraits and scenes and share them with no one? Co-authors Richard Cahan and Michael Williams spent the last year attempting to fill the gaps in the story of Vivian Maier. They contacted just about every home she’d worked in, interviewed the children she cared for, the neighbors who watched her with skepticism as she pointed her camera into garbage cans. They found the people who repaired her cameras and those who sold her film. And the answer, sadly, for those of us hoping to get even further into Vivian Maier’s brain, is no. There was no one. Maier’s only partner in life, her only confidant, was her camera.
The images below, along with the majority of the other images in Cahan and Williams’ book Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows have never before been seen. She kept them locked away from the families she worked for, never sharing them with anyone—even herself. The images come from 20,000 scanned negatives that don’t appear ever to have been printed during her lifetime.

This is the second book of Maier’s work to emerge since the reports about the cache of images went viral in early 2011. The first, Vivian Maier: Street Photographer, was a selection of the images won at auction by collector and Chicago historian John Maloof. This new book features those in the possession of another collector, Jeff Goldstein. Cahan and Williams, who specialize in sifting through old photos,  reached out to Goldstein soon after they learned about the discovery. 
The moment before Williams delved into the archive, he felt exhilaration and anxiety. The whole photography world was talking about incredibly talented ‘nanny street photographer’ and he was going to see a big chunk of her collection before anyone else. But what if they weren’t any good? What if the quality of the 80 or so that had inspired the initial praise, was just a fluke.
Quickly his fear disappeared. ‘From the moment I started going through I saw this was a really serious collection and she is serious photographer,’ Williams recalls. These new images span four decades and her travels across America and Europe. Because Maier’s camera was constantly with her, the act of going through the scanned negatives was like entering this mysterious woman’s head and reliving day after day, week after week.

‘The process of going through them for me was hypnotizing,’ he says. Initially he was looking for one theme to emerge, but then he realized that the dominant subject was obvious: Maier's life. 
As Wiliams made his final edit he did not attempt to highlight the most impressive photos in the collection, rather he attempted to build a sequence that would tell Maier’s story. Paging through the book, we watch Maier developing her photographic eye in postwar France, charming strangers on the beach of Lake Michigan, wandering through the roughest parts of Chicago, and expressing a photojournalistic sensibility at the Democratic National Convention of 1968. We are with her as her eyes move from a dog looking at the sky to the sky itself and as her interests transition from sweet babies on the beach to political pamphlets decrying abortion.
It’s unclear why Vivian Maier did not appear to have these rolls printed. Perhaps she ran out of money or could not keep up with sheer volume of photos she’d taken. Or perhaps she simply didn’t need to. In a time when photography has become so intertwined with instant gratification (Instagram likes, Facebook shares, Tumblr notes) it’s easy to forget that for some the act of photography is entirely about process. Vivian Maier carefully documented every day of her life. The motivation, this latest book suggests, wasn’t to see the results on shiny paper or to impress others, but to process them in her mind.”

This article was written by Heather Murphy for Slate

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

suzanne and some bags

photo by John Ehlers

Please take a few minutes to read this article about our fabulous Suzanne Garr!  She never ceases to amaze me, as she is always thinking of new ways to benefit the kids at SMK through wonderful new connections.... and helping others at the same time.

Monday, February 11, 2013

back to work

The Operation Breakthrough video work must go on!

Friday, February 08, 2013

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

hangin' with henry

Hangin' out with grandson Henry has meant entering a world of make-believe, curiosity and adventure. This boy has an imagination that never quits and an unquenchable thirst for new information. Seeing the world through his eyes has been a wonderful experience. So many new things to discover and discuss!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

big brother

Today Eddie and I walked with chased Henry as he rode his bike around the block a few times. We saw Mr. Joe, the letter carrier who inspired Henry's Halloween costume and with whom Henry has a sweet little friendship. When Mr. Joe greeted him with "Hi Henry" the response was:

"Actually, I am Clara's big brother."

Friday, February 01, 2013

my granddaughter is born!

Clara Mae was born in the water yesterday morning at 8 on the dot. She was a couple weeks early, but weighed in at 7 lbs. 15 ounces and is 20 1/2 inches tall. She's very sweet and mellow.

She is named for Eddie's mom, Clara and my mom, Anita Mae. Isn't that lovely?

Clara got to come home from the hospital today. She's been very busy doing her baby jobs: nursing, sleeping and being adorable. She's good at all three and even seems to be able to multi-task!

Her big brother Henry made a drawing to hang up on the front stoop.

It's a lovely day in New Orleans!!