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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

almost ready to go to press!

My children's photo book is just about ready to go to press! I handed it off to designer Vicky Frenkel and am so pleased with the way she jazzed it up. On the cover is a fabulous bubbie named Linda and her handsome grandson Ami.

Here are the first four spreads.

I'm taking pre-orders for Some Grandmas. The book is $19.95 and will be available in time for Mother's Day. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the foster grandmother program at Operation Breakthrough. I think the book will make a nice gift for the grandmothers and children in your life. If you'd like to order copies now, please shoot me an email.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

visitation day report

CTT 2015 Term 1 Visitation Day Report
Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School
Akampulira Shine - Senior 1


Shine’s Classes in Senior 1: English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Commerce, Computer, Christian Religious Education, Islamic Religious Education, Political Education, Luganda, Agriculture, Literature in English, and Fine Art.
Shine’s Best Performed Classes in Beginning of Term 1 Examinations:  History, Luganda, and Commerce
Term 1 News from Kajjansi Progressive SSS:  Kajjansi Progressive enjoyed academic success in last year’s National Examinations and had a grand celebration for students, staff and parents.  In addition to normal classes which are held Monday-Saturday from 7:30a-5:00p, the school has begun competing with neighboring schools in Netball (a female sport similar to basketball) and Football (a male sport also known as soccer). 
Shine’s Visitation Day gift from YOU:  1 kilogram sugar, 1 bar washing soap, 2 rolls toilet paper, 3 blue ink pens, and 5,000 UGX spending money for canteen.
School Name and Location:  Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School is located in Kajjansi only about 1/3 kilometer walking distance from St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood. 
Kajjansi Progressive SSS’s Motto:  "Never Give Up"
Information about Kajjansi Progressive SSS:  Kajjansi Progressive is a boarding school for 1,500 students in Senior 1- Senior 6.  This school has been providing quality Secondary education since 1992 with a highly qualified staff of teachers in both Arts and Sciences.  In 2014, Kajjansi Progressive SSS was ranked #75 out of 1050 Secondary schools in all of Uganda in Ordinary Level (or O-Level) for Senior 1-Senior 4 studies.  In addition, in 2014 it was ranked #47 out of 200 Advanced Level (or A-Level) schools for Senior 5- Senior 6 in the entire Wakiso district.

[This is just one of the many reports now being sent to CTT sponsors of individual students. Melissa makes a point of visiting each and every secondary student. It's a special day for a boarder who doesn't see familiar faces from "home" very often. Mel is greeted with huge hugs, often some jumping up and down and frequently a few screams of delight. Our students - especially those in Senior 1 - are so proud of their new uniform and school shoes and get such joy showing Melissa their classrooms and dormitories, introducing her to teachers and new friends and enjoying a soda and a long chat.]

Friday, March 20, 2015

baldwin lee

I was unfamiliar with Baldwin Lee until recently, when I came across this article by Mark Steinmetz. The photographs from his project, "Black Americans in the South," are really lovely. Check out his website to see more work.

"I suspect that few are aware of the accomplishments of Baldwin Lee, who, photographing in the South 30 years ago, produced a body of work that is among the most remarkable in American photography of the past half century.

In the early 1970s, Lee studied photography with Minor White at MIT and then with Walker Evans at Yale. He became Evans’ printer, and afterwards began to teach photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and then at Yale. Lee took a cross-country photo trip with former classmate Philip Lorca-DiCorcia in 1981 and a year later joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee. He retired last year.

When Baldwin Lee first arrived in the south, he did not know what he would photograph. He took a 2,000-mile exploratory trip on the back roads photographing anything that interested him with his 4 x 5-inch view camera. 'My subjects included landscapes, cityscapes, close-up details, night studies, interiors of commercial and residential buildings, and portraits of peoplewhite and black, old and young, rural and urban, well-to-do and poor,' he writes in a manuscript that has yet to find a publisher. 'Upon proofing the film, I saw that the suspicion I had had while making the photographs was confirmedwhat interested me most were the pictures of black Americans who lived in poverty.' Lee was surprised by the strong empathy he found he had for the subject.

An American of Chinese descent, Lee must have cut an odd figure carrying his bulky equipment in these communities. He begins his manuscript, In Consideration of Photographing in the South, with a chapter entitled The Bed You Lie In: 'My profession was announced as I walked down the road by the tripod-mounted, large-format wooden camera perched on my left shoulder,' he writes. 'I had long since discovered that walking is by far the most useful way to increase your chances of encountering interesting people and situations. I was making my way along a street in a dilapidated commercial area on the outskirts of downtown Augusta, Georgia, when a beater van slowed as it passed. A slowing vehicle usually means one of two things. Either it is a random innocent event, or you are being checked out, perhaps out of curiosity. It is not every day that people see an Asian man in the black section of town carrying a big camera.'

A couple inside the van invites Lee in: 'A short time later we arrived at a funeral home. The man and his wife had lost their baby a few days before.' Baldwin continues his story and discusses the photograph he was asked to take of their baby and then launches into a discussion on post-mortem photography, crib safety, and James Van Der Zee. His manuscript is part memoir, part treatise on photography. He slips in and out of topics, many of which shed light on the photographer’s predicament. Delightfully, he veers from Eudora Welty to Las Vegas to his father’s bath schedule (his large family in Manhattan’s Chinatown had to contend with one bathroom) to the unequal distribution of wealth to Aesop’s Fables. He offers insights to Walker Evans and gives a rich reading of Evans’ photographs.

Baldwin Lee’s inspired work from the mid-1980s deserves to be known by a larger audience. It is the result of a keen talent and intellect working with discipline, passion, concern, and risk. The neglected world he describes has perhaps vanished by now, but it is my hope that his unique images along with his words will find a publisher and enrich our understanding of what photographers do."

- Mark Steinmetz (for Lightbox)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

captain freddie

My friend Fred, a member of the Change the Truth board of directors, just returned from his third trip to Uganda to visit the children at St. Mary Kevin. Fred is a psychologist in his real life in Portland, Oregon, but when he goes to SMK, he is Captain Freddie, a tireless advocate for joyful living, who is all about playing and having fun.

The children love him. They follow him around, happy to simply be in his presence soaking up his cheerful demeanor. Fred is known for encouraging the children to pick up trash and keep the grounds clean. They trail after him, trash barrels in hand, singing and skipping, delighted by their leader's love and attention.

The kids started calling him Captain Freddie back in 2008 when he first traveled to SMK. It's the perfect moniker for this pied piper.

Fred spent a lot of time during his past two visits talking to the children about life in America and encouraging them to ask questions about that. He also talked about cherishing and treasuring what they have, including their pleasant memories of lost family members and friends.

But I think the biggest and best gift Fred gives the children is his time, his attention, his smile, his bear hugs, his laugh and his open heart.

When I asked him to sum up this most recent trip, he simply said:

"Being with and helping the children at SMK helps me become a better man."

We are so lucky that he has chosen to spread his love amongst our beloved children in Uganda. While he's busy becoming a better man, kids like Queen, Sarah, Nelson, Eddie, Mary and Moureen are becoming better adjusted, more grounded, more loved, more confident and increasingly hopeful.

Not a bad deal, captain.

Fred gets his hair braided

The pied piper in action.

Monday, March 16, 2015

introducing: some grandmas

Here are a few things I've figured out how to do with one (non-dominant) hand:

peel and slice a banana
tie my shoes
snap and unsnap my bra
use a pair of tweezers
take off and on a sling
put on a tank top
write thank-you notes

But the best thing has been (DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!!!!):

figuring out that I really want to get my grandma book off my desk and out into the world.

Being cooped up (not able to drive), sitting still more than moving around, thinking and listening more than talking, having lots of awake hours during the night, being in a constant state of pain and having to truly be in each moment as I awkwardly navigate my way through the day has made me realize something really important:

if it matters, just friggin' do it.


just in time for Mother's Day, my photo book about grandmothers, Some Grandmas, will hit the shelves!

I'll give more details soon… just wanted to whet your appetite and let you know that you need look no further for that perfect gift for your favorite grandmother (or grandchild) this May.

I haven't figured out one handed gift wrapping yet, but by then I'll be out of my sling :)

PS - if you'd like to receive notifications about the book's release and are not already on my mailing list, please shoot me an email at gbfeinstein[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I've been receiving some gorgeous flower arrangements as I convalesce. They make the days look and smell prettier. This picture of my grandchildren, with the flowers they picked on a recent stroll through their neighborhood, has brightened my day big time.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

chicken soup on an elephant placemat

There truly are medicinal benefits floating around in a good bowl of "Jewish penicillin," and I am fiercely slurping down the stuff. Eddie tries to make each meal fun; today's lunch was served on the placemat I loved when I was a kid (thank you, Mom, for saving everything).

Days three and four post-op have been exciting, and that means tiring. I had my first of many sessions of physical therapy yesterday. Today's schedule included my first shower. Every task seems to take ten or twenty, maybe 50 times longer when one arm isn't working so well.

I'm still reaping the benefits of pain meds, so I continue to avoid the operation of heavy machinery.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

just taking pictures of my life

My life yesterday was in the hands of a very capable shoulder specialist (CCS), a great anesthesiologist and a fabulous team of nurses.

The repair to my rotator cuff is now behind me. I came home with one heavy and completely numb shoulder, arm and hand (from a nerve block). That block started to wear off this morning, and I began taking pain meds. Everything is just a little bit glazed over now.

True to form, I took a few pictures while waiting to be rolled into the operating room.

Monday, March 02, 2015

see you on the flip side

My left hand is all warmed up. I've got my rented recliner set up in a corner of the bedroom, and I've got a little table next to it stacked with books and art supplies. The surgery will be quick. I'll be home by mid afternoon, most surely in a haze. But I'm hoping to draw or take pictures as soon as possible. My friend Leslie loaned me her nifty ice machine. It will send ice cold water circulating on a constant basis through a big cuff that attaches to my shoulder. Got some chicken noodle soup in the frig. And my devoted husband and friends willingly on call. All set. Bring it on, doc.

Sunday, March 01, 2015