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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

small business saturday

I always try to do my holiday shopping at my favorite local, small, 
independently owned stores or directly from my favorite artists.
 I hope you will consider doing the same this year.
 If you wish to visit my small store, please click on the link below:

A few of my own KC faves are:

Brookside Toy and Science
Reading Reptile
Crick Camera
Rainy Day Books
Shop Girls
Black Bamboo
Good Juju
Retro Inferno
The Tasteful Olive

Friday, November 29, 2013

on the plaza

Each year on Thanksgiving night in Kansas City, some 80 miles of Christmas lights are switched on with much flair and celebration (live music, local celebrities, huge crowds, fireworks, etc). The lights outline the stores and restaurants of the Country Club Plaza, one of the main attractions of our city (it also happens to be my neighborhood.) I took my camera down the hill with me this year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

happy thanksgiving!

I shot this yesterday. Little Eva. It was one of those "in between" moments during an Operation Breakthrough shoot. I was pretty much done and had already moved the lights. But then she did this, and I was lucky to catch it.

Tonight I thought it made a pretty nice Thanksgiving image.

Monday, November 25, 2013

new orleans

My nephew got married in the Big Easy this past weekend. That meant getting most all of our family together, which is always a huge treat. Here are a few photos I made of my children and grandchildren.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

very early morning musings

Had I known what I was getting into, the whole truth of it - the challenges, the disappointments, the heartache and the frustrations that invariably seem to go hand-in-hand with running a not-for-profit - would I have started one? I think back to the days of my photography gallery. Had I known what I was in for - the long stretches of bleak winter weather and dismal sales, the challenges of convincing people that photography is indeed ART - would I have chosen to open the doors of the Baker Gallery?

It's difficult to know how to do my current job. I've never done it before, and I never took a class in it either. Come to think of it, I have been sorely untrained for just about every serious job I've ever had: mother, gallery owner and, for the past seven years, director of a not-for-profit.

I guess I fly by the seat of my pants most of the time. I do seem to manage, however, to surround myself with people who can help me figure out stuff as I go. I've been really lucky in that regard.

Just as there were specific kinds of ups and downs with the gallery business, there is a unique set of roller coaster dips, swerves and curves in the non-profit world. Honestly, I don't know what is going to come my way any given week, especially since I am thousands of miles away from the physical location and the actual people we are helping. So I simply strap on my seat belt, do the best I can with the navigation system I'm inventing as I go and let things rip.

Happily, the frustrations and disappointments that inevitably occur are outweighed by the good things that end up happening. I define good things this way:

a shy, sad, not-so-trusting young girl who is afraid to look us in the eye or murmur any words at all, transforms - and after our two-week visit (complete with hugs and hand holding) tells stories, sings (quietly), dances (when she thinks no one is looking) and with shaky, but new found confidence, implores us to please return again next year.

an orphan with a serious case of worms and malaria lost his grandmother and was brought to the orphanage. after some weeks, he makes a best friend. together they navigate their way through the meal lines, the lonely nights, the long days of schoolwork and chores and the strict discipline from teachers and matrons. the boys can be seen walking hand in hand, talking. or kicking around a ball made of tied up plastic bags and laughing every now and then when the ball plops into a muddy puddle.

a seven-year-old, figuring that since her parents had died she had no hope of ever going to school, is presented with her first school uniform and school shoes, some books and some pencils. she can hardly believe her good fortune, and she turns away to hide her tears of joy.

four brothers lose their mother and then are abandoned by their father. they end up living at the orphanage, where they have a bed on which to sleep each night, three meals a day, medical care and the chance to go to school. their talent for art and music is soon discovered, and before they know it, they are playing trumpets and painting canvases.

a teenager loses all hope for her future when her guardian, her last living relative, is hit by a car on the main road and dies. she turns to her brothers and sisters at the orphanage for strength and support, and she gets it. she is seen walking arm in arm with four of her girlfriends; they steady her as they move slowly in unison across the red dirt that leads to their dormitory.

a 23 year-old parentless high school student, smart as a whip and equally as determined, is given the opportunity to attend school. he discovers a love of all things related to computers and technology and makes it his business to excel in these areas. quickly, his talents are recognized, and he is granted an opportunity to get on a plane for the first time in his life and travel to america to present his ideas about an application he's working on. its one that will detect clean water. it's one that will help the people of his country who don't have access to clean water on a regular basis. he sees it as a way of giving back.

These are examples of the beautiful things I get to witness in my life as director of Change the Truth. These are the things that keep me moving forward, despite set-backs and mishaps. These are the things for which I am incredibly thankful.

There is so much good we have done for the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood in Uganda. The board of directors, the donors, the teams that travel to Uganda, our on-the-ground- social worker, our event volunteers, the people who gather pens, paper, cough drops, jump ropes and sidewalk chalk for the children, the people who sew dresses and britches from pillowcases, the people who raise money through bake sales or who deposit their dimes and quarters in jars they've set out on mantels in their living rooms. All of these people continually restore my faith in humanity - and my belief that all of us are good and just want to know how to be good at being good.

So, yeah, if I'd known how deep into the pool I was going to eventually wade, I might have been scared away from this job. But I could say the same for being a mom and a gallery owner.

And these three jobs have been the best possible ones for me. I'm lucky to have (or have had) them…very, very lucky.

I just recently came across this video collage Lynne made for me after our 2008 trip to St. Mary Kevin Orphanage (the year my son Max was on the trip). It seems like a perfect accompaniment to this blog post. (Thanks, Lynne.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

fraction holiday print sale

Each year Fraction Magazine hosts a holiday print sale. Those of us whose work has been published in this online mag are all asked to participate by making a small, limited edition print available at a reasonable price. Last year, the collection of offerings was really nice, and I can't help but think this year it'll be just as good, if not better.

The print I'll be offering for sale is an image I made last June while on a trip to Minnesota for my niece's college graduation. It's called "Girl in Bubble, Minnesota, 2013." I'll be making an edition of ten 10" x 7 1/2" prints. Each will be signed and numbered and will sell for $125 plus $10 for shipping.

The sale goes live Monday, November 25th. You'll be able to access it at:


There should be some really nice images available at truly affordable prices. Happy shopping! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

kelly and rory

Yesterday I got to make portraits of Kelly and Rory. Kelly chose Iron and Wine to listen to while I was photographing her sister, then Rory chose Ray LaMontagne. So we had great music and good conversation, and these girls really gave me their all. I am so lucky to have clients who are as honest, genuine and trusting as these two. I've been photographing them every two years for quite a while, so we have established a nice rapport. Their mom loves black and white, so I was a happy camper working on these files last night!

Friday, November 15, 2013

isa leshko

I am forever amazed at the incredible range of personal projects that are undertaken by photographers. I met Isa Leshko at a portfolio review in Santa Fe a couple years ago. She and I sat together one afternoon and shared work. Her portraits of elderly animals were quite lovely, and I immediately became a fan of the series. I was so happy to see that the work was recently featured on Smithsonian.com. 
“While caring for both of her aging parents, Philadelphia-based photographer Isa Leshko made a conscious decision not to photograph her family. But about a year later, while visiting a friend’s farm, she found herself drawn to an elderly horse. Since then, she has captured dozens of animals in their winter years, including farm animals, horses and dogs. Some of them are factory farm rescues; others beloved pets. Many of the animals passed away shortly after Leshko photographed them. She writes:
I am creating these photographs in order to take an unflinching look at aging and mortality. My maternal grandmother had dementia during her later years, and now my mom has it. I am scared of developing Alzheimer’s disease and I get nervous whenever I lose my keys or forget a person’s name. Photographing geriatric animals enables me to immerse myself in my fear of growing old. I have come to realize that these images are self-portraits. Or at the very least, they are manifestations of my fears and hopes about what I will be like when I am old.
Although Leshko says the project originally began as a form of self-therapy, it evolved into ‘Elderly Animals,’ a traveling photography exhibition that has generated hundreds of emails and letters from viewers, detailing their own experience caring for an elderly animal or looking after an aging parent.”  - Smithsonian.com

Here's a nice video about the project.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

guest post by melissa: update on violin lessons

A few months ago, SMKOM had the pleasure of hosting the Strings for Uganda team (Nick, Lindsey, Hannah, and Amaya).  Their time is still fondly remembered by the students, as they forged some really special friendships.  During their 2 week visit, 20 students from Primary 3 and Primary 4 had the unique opportunity for violin training. These students would eagerly await their lesson time during the school day and literally run to the music room for their daily training. It was the highlight of their day!  Afterwards, they were reluctant to leave, and many sought out additional violin practice after school.

While the Strings for Uganda team sparked an interest in the violin for their students, they knew that cultivating a musical talent is not a short-term process.  It takes months for their students to learn the proper skill sets to proficiently play the violin, as well as establishing a deeper appreciation for their instrument.  They needed someone here in Uganda to continue their work.  
During their planning process, the Strings for Uganda team managed to link with the only musical institution offering private musical training within Uganda.  The Kampala Music School has a long and well-respected history, providing musical training from classical, orchestra, or vocal training to musicians of all levels of skill set.  Beginning with email correspondence and then a personal visit, the Strings for Uganda successfully formed a partnership with the Kampala Music School offering violin rentals and continued instruction for SMKOM’s violin students.

Last month, violin lessons began on a weekly basis right here at SMKOM.  A music teacher with the Kampala Music School travels to SMKOM during the school day to offer 30 minute lessons for the 20 violin students. Students leave their classroom during their group lesson time and then return afterwards with minimal disruption to their studies.  The violin students have picked up right where they left off.  They have not missed a beat or forgotten their initial training by the Strings for Uganda team.  With each new lesson, their skill set is growing.  They are playing with confidence.  They are practicing during the week.  They are proud to be a member of this class. 

Thanks to the Strings for Uganda team… Nick, Lindsey, Hannah, and Amaya.  Your love for the violin has been transferred to each of your students.  They are proud to be YOUR students, and your initial influences will never be forgotten.  And additional thanks to the Kampala Music School, director Kiggunda Fred, and teacher Phoebe.  The torch has been passed to your capable hands to train our violin students.  The passion your school has demonstrated for teaching Ugandans about the beauty of music has been inspiring.  Thanks for believing in SMKOM’s violin students!

- Melissa

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

some good stuff is cooking in the change the truth kitchen

Hopefully, you just received the latest CTT newsletter. It lists the three upcoming CTT fundraising events. (If you do not get our email newsletter and would like to, just drop us a note with your name and email address.) The events at Gordon-Biersch, Ten Thousand Villages and Boulevard Brewery are going to be lots of fun and will provide wonderful opportunities to raise funds for the kids at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage. If you would like to help plan the big March 14th annual event at Boulevard, we'd love to hear from you. Just drop us a note with your contact info. If you or any of your friends/family have items to donate for our silent auctions, we would be delighted to take them off your hands!

Hot off the press is the new CTT t-shirt. It's a delicious chocolate American Apparel shirt with a colorful CTT logo on the front and a quote by Mahatma Gandhi on the back: "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." The shirts are available in men's S,M,L, and XL and cost $20. If you would like one, please let us know (nice holiday gifts for your friends and family members!?).

Everyone who has ever been to St. Mary Kevin Orphanage with a CTT team knows Nelson. Nelson is one of our sponsored students. He is making quite a name for himself at Makerere University in Kampala as a computer whiz and has been working on developing an app to detect clean water. Nelson has been invited to present his idea at a tech conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. It will be his first trip outside Uganda. You can imagine how excited he is! This is an amazing opportunity for young Nelson, one that will surely have a major impact on his future in computer technology. Would this have happened without support from CTT? Nelson would say "no way."

Team 7 has started packing their duffel bags as they get ready for their December trip. They are still looking for items such as new or gently used backpacks (for our sponsored students), jump ropes, soccer balls, art supplies, pencils, ball point pens, cough drops, ibuprofen, small tubes of toothpaste, decks of cards and gently used digital cameras. If you can help, please let us know.

Violin lessons continue at SMK, thanks to the wonderful groundwork laid by Strings for Uganda, who volunteered through CTT at the orphanage in August. Gardens are flourishing, thanks to seeds that were donated. Tutoring, paid for by a grant from a CTT friend, is giving the children a leg up in their studies. Donated laptop computers are making it easier for them to find their way in school. All of these things, and more, have been provided by CTT.

There is a lot of good stuff happening! This would not be possible without the time, creativity, energy, talent and monetary donations from our wonderful CTT family. It does take a village, and we thank you for helping make our particular village such a special one. We are truly making a difference in the lives of Tina, Joan, Francis, Scovia, Brian, Nahia, Claire Faith, Billy, Samarie, Caleb, Issy, Tony, Rose, Oscar, Evelyn, Sheila, Fiona, Rosette, Rachel, Rosemary, Vincent, Nelson and so many others.

If you're not involved in these endeavors, think about changing that! There are so many ways to help. We can use assistance planning and working at fundraising events, rounding up donated items for silent auctions, collecting things to send to the children, spreading the word by telling friends and family about what we do, writing to pen pals, making the decision to sponsor a student, asking us to speak at your school or church or deciding to become a member of one of our teams that travel to Uganda.

A young family recently brought in a jar full of coins they'd been collecting for the kids at the orphanage. The jar sits on a table by the front door, and they drop their spare coins into it each day. We counted $62.14 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. That money will go a long way toward purchasing hygiene items for the kids at SMK. The family took the jar back home to do it again because they realized it is so easy. And it makes them feel so good!

The kitchen is fired up. Come on in and stir a few pots with us.

Monday, November 11, 2013

jillian and harrison

Sunday afternoon brought an engagement shoot my way. It was very fun.