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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

eastern kentucky

No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film. - Robert Adams

This morning I started a short road trip in Eastern Kentucky with two fully charged Hassie batteries and a pocket full of CF cards. 

There's just nothing quite like it. 

The sky was blue, there was a low-lying fog in the foothills, the beckoning windy Mountain Parkway was glistening and a local country music station laid down the perfect backdrop. 

I'm on the top of the world when exploring new parts of the world with my camera in tow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

a new year

Autumn, the best season hands down, has always marked change for me. Part of the reason is that it's the Jewish New Year - a time to reflect on what's transpired during the past 12 months, to come to terms with those things, to apologize to the people I love for all that I've messed up, and to move forward with a "clean slate," an open heart and a renewed sense of curiosity and commitment.

Every day of my life is spent with someone who has a chronic illness. He experiences various levels of fatigue, pain, frustration and sadness depending on a variety of ever-changing factors. He also knows what it's like to conquer fears, work through road blocks and fight to feel strong and healthy. Life is, of course, chock full of unpredictable events. Chronic illness makes a person appreciate the easy, smooth patches - and realize that victories, both small and large, can feel impossibly wonderful. Living with chronic illness seems to also makes those involved keenly aware of the fact that each of has something difficult with which to deal. Maybe it's an auto-immune disorder, maybe it's depression, maybe it's an obsession with weight, maybe it's a constant struggle with drugs and alcohol, maybe it's a lack of self-confidence. Sometimes it's obvious to outsiders; often it's not.

We all have our troubles, and we all have our wounds to show for them.

I hope this year I learn to be more patient with myself when encountering difficulties, but mostly I'd like be more understanding of other peoples' challenges and pain.

My brother's family has a good, life-long friend named Rebecca Alexander. You may have seen her on the Today show or Meredith Vieira recently - or chatting it up with her brother, Peter, on the NBC nightly news. Becky was born with a rare genetic disorder called Usher Syndrome III. (I first wrote about her on my blog here.) She's a smart, accomplished, beautiful woman - a psychotherapist and extreme athlete who has been gradually losing both her vision and hearing since she was a young teenager. Her book, Not Fade Away, was just released and has been my downtime companion for the past few days.

What impressed me most about Becky's inspiring book is that she has ultimately (now in her mid-30's) found a place to not only acknowledge and accept the wounds she's been dealt, but she's also figured out that the knowledge that seeps into the cracks around those wounds lights her up - brilliantly - from the inside.

Shana Tova (Happy New Year) to you all. None of us knows what the coming year has in store for us, but I hope we'll all find the strength to navigate the obstacles - and, better yet - to embrace the special moments of clarity and sweetness. I, for one, am moved to do so by people like Eddie and Becky.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

did you know...

St. Mary Kevin Children's Home cares for 180 orphans from ages 4-18 years.  Of those orphans, 55 are currently attending Secondary School from Senior 1- Senior 6.  For the 2014 Academic Year, Change The Truth has been able to offer full financial sponsorship to 30 of SMK’s Secondary students. The other students receive financial supports from their guardians and the administration of SMK.
A brief overview of Ugandan schools: the academic year begins in February and ends in November.  The school year is divided into three terms each with a duration of three months (February-April; middle May-August; September-December).  Students then have a holiday break for about three weeks between terms.  Students in Senior 1 & Senior 2 take 16 classes of study.  In Senior 3 & Senior 4, students will reduce to ten classes.  Required classes for Senior 1- Senior 4 include English, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History, and Geography.  The remaining elective, enrichment classes are a combination of Foreign Languages (Luganda, Kiswahili, French); Religious Studies (Christian, Islam); Fine Art; Business Studies (Commerce, Entrepreneurship); Computer; Agriculture; and Literature.  Finally, students in Senior 5 & Senior 6 will choose 4 courses for advanced studies in academic preparations for their future career path. 

Due to the expense of daily transportation and the rigorous academic schedule, the overwhelming majority of Ugandan students board at school during their 3-month school terms.  This arrangement provides students the opportunity to focus solely on academic studies. As well, schools have the liberty to schedule students to maximize their academic exposures.  It is typical for Ugandan students to begin their school day as early as 5 a.m. with individual revisions inside their classroom, attend regular classes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then re-enter classes in the evening after supper to complete class assignments until at least 9:30 p.m.  Since the academic climate in Uganda is solely performance driven, students must maximize their efforts for the best grades to qualify for higher level of education.

Ugandan schools base a student’s academic performance exclusively on two examinations.  One examination is issued at the Beginning of Term, usually during the first two weeks of the term.  The other examination is at the End of Term, usually within the last three weeks of the term’s conclusion.  An average of those examinations provides the student’s final grade with no consideration given to class attendance, class participation, or completion of assignments.  Therefore, when students return home to SMK during their one-month holidays, they return with the responsibility to review the term’s subject matter to ensure a thorough understanding, as well as look forward to the topics of next term to gain some fundamental knowledge prior to topic’s official introduction in the classroom. 

With the assistance of the Good People Fund, CTT has been able to provide SMK with a Holiday Enrichment Program for the Secondary School orphans during the school holidays the past few years.   This year the primary focus was placed on academic courses in several of the required classes.  Students also had the opportunity for Computer studies, Career Guidance experiences and coaching, as well as various enrichment activities. 

Thank you, Good People Fund, for this valuable assist. And thank you, Melissa, for this excellent overview!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

ctt updates

A small team of four friends from Portland, Oregon recently spent a few day at St. Mary Kevin's. Charlie, Susan, Fred and Cheryl had a marvelous and memorable time with our beloved Ugandan children. Charlie taught photo, and Susan taught sewing. Cheryl read stories to the kids, and Fred talked to groups of students about life in America. Melissa was kind enough to send these photos of the foursome interacting with their new friends. 

Team 8 has formed, and the group of volunteers (most of whom are returning team members) is busy preparing for their December travels. The lovely and diligent Natalie Boten is team leader. This will be her third visit to SMK. Accompanying Natalie will be:

Suzanne Garr
Dawn Taylor
Emily Biegelsen
Holly Cobb
Alan Cobb
Anna Cobb
Wyatt Cobb
Gus Cobb

As always, the team will be schlepping duffel bags full of goodies to deliver to the children. If you'd like to help by donating goods - or money to buy the goods - we'd certainly appreciate your help! Here is the list submitted by Melissa:

Badminton rackets and birdies
Toothbrushes (adult and child size)
Pens (blue and black ink)
Cough drops
Anti-fungal cream
Antiseptic wipes
Eye drops
Embroidery floss
Jump ropes
Paint brushes
Colored pencils
Stamp pads
Soccer balls
Small toys to use as game prizes (Ages 5-18)
Coloring Books/pages
AA Batteries
Children’s Tylenol (or other acetaminophen based pain reliever designed for children under 12)

We have a couple fundraisers coming up. Please make a note of these on your calendars, and if you are in the KC area please attend! They're both fun and will benefit our kids in a big way. 

Hamburger Mary's Bingo Night
101 Southwest Boulevard
Kansas City, MO
Tuesday, October 28
7:30 - 9:30 PM

Ten Thousand Villages Shopping Night
7947 Santa Fe
Overland Park, Kansas
Thursday, December 11
4:00 - 8:00 PM

St. Mary Kevin now has its own website! Our sponsored student Nelson created it. Check it out here. Great job, Nelson!

Yawe Joseph in his prefect uniform

And finally, sponsored student Yawe Joseph, who is loved by everyone at CTT, was recently elected PREFECT for sports and recreation by his peers at Kajjansi Progressive Secondary School. No, it's not a typo, though this young man is nearly perfect in every way! Prefects are leaders of their fellow students. They stand out on campus because they have their own special uniforms. Joseph will be responsible for organizing recreational activities for students and for insuring that school rules are followed when teachers and staff are not present in classrooms or dormitories. It's quite an honor, and we send our congratulations his way! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I was fortunate the see "Genesis," a huge exhibition of 200 images by Sebastiao Salgado, last year at this time in London. The show has just opened in New York at ICP. It is the Brazilian photographer's third long-term series on global issues (the first two were "Workers" and "Migrations"). His exhibitions are pretty staggering in their scope and size - and the images are luminous. His work raises public awareness about the environment and climate change and introduces viewers to forgotten people and places. He has traveled to over 100 countries to make pictures.

Salgado has a PhD in economics and only took up photography when in his 30's. Now 70, his impressive body of work is a gigantic love note to the world. If you're in NY anytime before January 11, check out the exhibit. Here are a few of my favorite images.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

this is one of...

the most gorgeous photographs i've seen in a long time. it's called "fence post, allensworth, california." matt black is the photographer - it's from his series entitled "the geography of poverty." you can see more of his remarkable work here.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

yes i do senior pictures

And yes, I'd like to do yours or that of someone you know. Doing commissioned portrait work is how I underwrite my personal photographic projects.

Here are three I've done recently. We had a lot of fun on these shoots; I'm ready to do more!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


My 19-month-old granddaughter Clara is soulful, playful, funny, curious, affectionate, independent, talkative, observant and very sweet. Also whip smart. Grandparents get to say these things about their grandkids, you know.

Monday, September 08, 2014


Henry just celebrated his 4th birthday, and I was very happy to be in attendance at the party. French silk pie for all!

Here is the birthday boy and his little sister, too.

Friday, September 05, 2014

classic photos

My daughter recently asked me to go through old family photos and make some copies for her to hang in her home.

My absolute favorites are from husband Eddie's Bar Mitzvah album. The pictures were taken by Bernard H. Winer (who, according to a quick Google search, died in 1999). These photos are classic early 60's party pics. I'm guessing Mr. Winer used a medium format camera with a big flash. He had a shot list that included all the basics: the candle lighting ceremony, the limbo, the dance with mom, the tie adjustment in the mirror. These photos are gorgeous - 8 "x 10" prints made on beautiful warm tone black and white paper. They've held up exquisitely over the years. Mr. Winer, I wish I could interview you. Bravo and thanks.

Enjoy some of my favorites for yourself!