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

Thursday, October 31, 2013


I'm very lucky to have clients/friends who keep coming back to me for portrait sessions. Ellie's family is one of those. I started photographing them in the late 90's.

Ellie is now a senior in high school.

Here she is in 2000 - and just the other day.

Sweet Ellie.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

touching strangers

I'm a little late posting this work by Richard Renaldi. You may have seen it by now, as it's been getting a lot of coverage in the press and on social media. Its message is hopeful, pointing to what could be possible if we all just slowed down and shared the love with perfect strangers. The images, made with an 8" x 10" view camera are amazing, regardless of whether the people knew each other or not. The fact that they did not simply takes them to the next (very interesting and complicated) level.

This ad appeared a week after Renaldi's project was featured in the New York Times. He posted this on his blog with the simple title: "Plagiarism?"

Sunday, October 27, 2013

about face

I enjoy this exhibition more each time I see it. "About Face" is an evocative selection of contemporary portraits. It was curated by Jane Aspinwall and April Watson and will continue at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art until January. If you've not had a chance to see it yet, please put it on your list of things to do.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the show.

Jim Goldberg

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Michael Wolf

Tomoko Sawada

Sage Sohier

Friday, October 25, 2013


This morning I had a very pleasant visit with fabulous ceramicist Amy Meya and her two sons. Her oldest, Gaston, had made some cool drawings for the children at SMK; they, in turn, made some drawings for him. It was sort of a pen pal exchange with art  instead of words. At any rate, Gaston came over to collect his package of Ugandan drawings (with which he was truly delighted) and to hear a bit about the children who made them. I was captivated by him and asked if I could make his portrait. I even had a place in mind.

Amy and both of her children have been good friends to Change the Truth. Blaise, her youngest, made a doll for one of our fundraisers, Amy has made three dolls, and now Gaston is providing drawings to the children. He told me he was certain he would get inspiration from the drawings he received this morning. No doubt, a conversation between him and his new friends at SMK will continue, as he is already making plans to work on another batch of creations for them. Back and forth, back and forth these drawings will continue to go.

We have so much to say to one another and so much to learn from one another. I'm learning there are many different ways to do this!

Here's my portrait of the young artist, Gaston.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

it's a process

Editing one's own work is a daunting process, one with which I have a sort of love/hate relationship.

I was so sure about the top photograph, and then I was so sure about the second one.

Maybe it depends on whether I had a smoothie or a bowl of yogurt and granola for breakfast. On this particular morning, I am leaning toward the image of the young girl with her mother. (I had a smoothie.)

Soon, I must make a final decision. I am applying for a fellowship and need to turn in my 20 images in the next couple weeks. This particular application has consumed me for months. I will talk about it in some upcoming posts.

For now, though, I must go back to the editing room.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

my new favorite photograph

At what age do we start to develop our visual acuity? How do we first express it?

I was a lucky little girl the day I received my first camera. That Brownie gave me the ability to sharpen my visual skills early on and to share my vision with my family and friends.

I gave Abbie a camera when she was around three. It was a delightful privilege to get to see the world through her eyes.

And now, of course, practically every child has access to a camera. The breezy way kids navigate their way around their parents’ cell phones is pretty remarkable. Their ability to snap pictures is something that begins at a very early age.

You can probably imagine my excitement when I received this little snap from Abbie yesterday. It was taken by grandson Henry. I won’t “critique” it, but suffice to say, I think it is a wonderful view from the perspective of a three-year-old (who clearly felt the need to include himself in the frame). 

I can hardly wait to see more!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I've had a soft spot for marching bands ever since Max was a member of the Trojan Marching Band in college. Those few gorgeous fall Saturdays I got to spend at the LA Memorial Coliseum watching football and listening to the band are undoubtedly some of my best memories.

Once upon a time I saw Michael Jackson (and all of his siblings) in concert. It was The Victory Tour at Arrowhead Stadium in 1984. It was one of the nights when you felt sure everything about anything was forever changed.

Where am I going, you wonder? To the Ohio State Marching Band's moonwalking tribute to MJ, of course.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

wilbur again

Here are some more pictures of Wilbur Niewald.

And here is his bio, taken from the Haw Contemporary Gallery website:

Wilbur Niewald, professor emeritus of painting at the Kansas City Art Institute, received a 2006 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in New York.
Niewald has produced a prolific body of work; paintings that are as inextricably linked to the tradition of painting and modernism as they are to Kansas City. Painting and drawing directly from what he sees, the cityscapes and landscapes evoke a place. But, even as Niewald pays homage to the modem masters he most admires, he honors his longtime connection to Kansas City. It was in Kansas City where he first discovered Cezanne's Mont St. Victoire at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, as well as the work of Mondrian, in a show that traveled to the Kansas City Art Institute as part of an exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Since the 1970s, Niewald has painted directly from observation: landscapes, portraits, and still-lifes. He says that being in front of something becomes the reason for painting, allowing him to get closer and see a thing more clearly. Niewald is guided by truth and imbues his paintings with passion and emotion. It is precisely this act of looking, the patience of perception and his careful, faithful observation of the things around him that distinguishes his art.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

painter in the park

It's not unusual to spot 88-year-old Kansas City painter Wilbur Niewald at Loose Park working on a canvas. I did just that Friday morning and made this portrait.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

robin hammond

At its most elemental, photojournalism documents conflict — conflict between individuals, between nations, between ideologies, between humanity and nature. Literally and figuratively, photographers capture conflagrations large and small. Some burn strong and fast; others — often the more frightening, and more destructive — burn more slowly. They smolder.
Yesterday, Robin Hammond, a New Zealand-born photojournalist, received the $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his attention to one of the sub-Saharan Africa’s slowly burning fires: the plight of the mentally ill.
“Where there is war, famine, displacement, it is always the most vulnerable who suffer the greatest” says Hammond. The mentally ill, he notes, are a “voiceless minority condemned to lives of quiet misery.”
Based in South Africa, Hammond traveled for two years to regions of severe crisis — eastern Congo, Mogadishu, northern Uganda, Liberia and South Sudan — photographing in stark detail the barbaric conditions endured by tens of thousands of Africa’s mentally ill. Broken, largely forgotten, the mentally ill suffer abominable degradations, literally chained and caged throughout their days.
Time and time again while working on his project, Hammond found himself at a loss for words in the face of the unspeakable.
“I discovered a entire section of communities abandoned by their governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies,” he said.
Hammond will use the $30,000 grant to finish the project. A book of the winning work, titled Condemned, is now available through FotoEvidence.
- Time Lightbox

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


I love photography that is playful and thought provoking.

Hana Pesut is a self-taught photographer from Vancouver.  She's been working on a project called "Switcheroo" in which couples exchange clothes.  I think the results are hilarious, poignant, curious and evocative. 

Hana, if you read this: Eddie and I want to sign up!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

guest post by dawn: football is not soccer

Lillian, Tina, Dawn and Claire Faith

In just under 2 1/2 months, I’ll be returning to Kajjansi, Uganda with a volunteer team from Kansas City-based Change the Truth.  My teenage daughter is coming with for her first trip to Africa, and we’ll be spending part of the holidays with the children of St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood and other Ugandan friends.  We’re ticking off items on our to-do list, including travel vaccinations, applying for our visas, and deciding what activities we’ll be doing with the kiddos.
Since it’s my second trip, I have a much clearer idea of the opportunities to learn from the children as well as the potential to gain a greater understanding of Ugandan culture, even during a short stay.  There are plenty of things that I missed on my first trip in 2011, and my earnest hope is to make as much of a genuine connection with the wonderful, sweet souls who reside in that small village as we can.
Amazingly, the power of the Internet and the worldwide reach of Facebook allow me to be a 21st-century pen pal with some of the older children at SMK.  We exchange Facebook messages about my upcoming visit, we ask each other about how our day was, and sometimes we get to exchange very critical information.  Here’s an example, a Facebook chat I had last week with young Kato Abasi:
Kato:  Hi how is the USA?  For us in Uganda we are okay and St. Mary Kevin is good.
Me:  Glad to get your message.  Thank you!  We are good here.  You know I am coming to visit SMK in December!  I will bring my daughter who is 16 years.

Kato:  Does she know how to play football or any game?   
Me:  She does not know how to play football but she can try!  She likes other games.  Maybe we could play Frisbee again or jump rope.
That was all the chatting we were able to do, probably because Kato’s time on the computer was up or it was time for bed.  But this short exchange made me smile because I recalled how fanatical the kids (really, the boys) at St. Mary Kevin are for FOOTBALL (soccer here in the USA), particularly the English Premier League teams.  I had taken a couple of soccer football jerseys from a particularly popular EPL team with me on my first trip and I gave them to two of the boys who did not have any type of “sporty” shirt.  (I relied on one of the SMK staff members to help me select which boys received the coveted shirts…no way was I going to make that call.) 
An even more vivid memory was being allowed to play “keeper” (goalie) for a few of the pickup games.  There I was, the only female, certainly the only mzungu (white person), kicking around on a red dirt field, watching in awe the athletic skills of even some of the youngest boys.  I marveled that most of them weren’t wearing shoes, and the pitch wasn’t exactly a pristine grass field.  I’ll boast that I wasn’t scored upon, but only because I made the two best defenders promise me they wouldn’t let a hard shot on goal come anywhere near me.  No pictures exist of my time on the field (and that’s no accident or oversight).
Playing football or Frisbee, drawing pictures or reading books, holding a hand or sharing a laugh—all of these create the connections that let a young person know they are loved and that they matter, no matter what their circumstances are.  It’s a privilege to have these experiences and share a bond with these young friends.  I’ve missed them.

This was first posted on Dawn's Red Dirt blog. If you haven't checked out Red Dirt yet, please do so now!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

this happened 20 years ago

Searchers Find 2nd Victim Of Air Crash
The search ended shortly before midnight. After a day and a half of searching, Rob Reed's body was found 500 yards from where his plane had crashed, less than a mile east of Interstate 5 near Kelso.
His family and friends had placed their lingering hopes on finding him alive after footprints were found leading from the crash.
KCTS-TV producers Lena Sharpe, 29, and Reed, 38, were killed when their airplane went down early Thursday in dense woods five miles northeast of Kelso. The plane, piloted by Reed, disappeared while making a second attempt at landing in fog. The two were heading to Kelso to work on a documentary on old-growth forests.
Cause of the crash is under investigation.
Searchers found Sharpe's body Friday night in the wreckage of the Cessna 172. They followed Reed's footprints and found his body west of the plane. He had survived the crash and was heading toward the freeway when he died from his injuries.
"They were the two most positive people in the world," said Gary Gibson, KCTS executive director in charge of local production. "That's why this makes all the less sense."
They had an eye for the obscure and the extraordinary. If there were two paths to a story, they chose the off-beaten track.
Reed had been with KCTS for about five years and had won several awards, including a national Emmy for "Vanishing Dawn Chorus," a documentary produced with Gordon Hempton, a sound tracker, in 1990. The pair had crisscrossed the globe recording the sounds of birds greeting the morning.
Nothing fazed Reed during the demanding trip, Hempton recalled - not gunshots in Sri Lanka, poisonous scorpions crawling over his sandal-clad feet or the crocodiles by the water's edge in Australia.
"That was where the best shots were, the best sounds were," said Hempton.
Sharpe was beginning a promising career, said Walter Parsons, KCTS senior vice president. She was hired three years ago after an internship for the station.
She had a penchant for offbeat films, not the kind Hollywood would ever produce, said Judy Koven, who worked with Sharpe for Seattle's International Festival of Films by Women Directors.
Sharpe was working on "Rings," a documentary about forest management, when the plane went down. She had received a $7,000 state grant to produce it, her first full documentary.
The youngest of nine children, Sharpe had a passion for the state's forests, said Heather Mitchell, who attended Nathan Hale High School with her. Sharpe's father, Grant Sharpe, was a forestry professor at the University of Washington.
Reed is survived by his wife, Bobbie Baker, two daughters, Emilie and Anna; parents Elmo and June Reed of Green Bay, Wis.; and two sisters, Dianne Francis of Indianapolis, and Renee Kreusel of Wassau, Wis.
A memorial service for Reed will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow in Volunteer Park. Donations may be made to the Children's Hospital Foundation of Seattle, the Civil Air Patrol or the Cowlitz County Search and Rescue Team at P.O. Box 390, Kelso, WA 98626.
Sharpe is survived by her eight siblings and her parents, Grant and Winona. A memorial service has not yet been scheduled.

Rob was my brother-in-law, my sister's husband. I never had the chance to meet Lena. I am thinking of them both today, just as I am thinking of their friends and other family members who still continue to mourn the loss of these two kind, talented, adventurous, well-loved souls.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

taylor wessing portrait prize finalists

Every year the National Portrait Gallery exhibits outstanding photographs for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. Selected anonymously from over 5000 submissions, judges choose images they feel are the most captivating of 2013. This unique selection process results in an extensive collection of portraits in editorial, advertising and fine art from around the world. Among the four shortlisted artists, the winning photographer will be awarded £4,000 and a commission from the National Portrait Gallery. These four finalists will show with 60 other photographers from November 14th, 2013 to February 9th, 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England. 
 - Feature Shoot

The Twins, 2013 by Dorothee Deiss

Katie Walsh, 2013 by Spencer Murphy

Mamta Dubey and Infant, 2013 by Giles Price

Kofi Annan, 2013 by Anoush Abrar