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

Thursday, March 31, 2016


These are photographs, some of which I just processed for the first time since I captured them in 2012, from one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. Maybe the most beautiful.

With my sister, I traveled to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park after a stay at St. Mary Kevin Children's Home in Kajjansi. Bwindi is in the southwest corner of Uganda, very close to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. We were there to do a gorilla trek. That trek was one of the most challenging and exhilarating experiences of my life.

I love seeing these pictures now. They transport me right back to the dense, lush, verdant and mountainous landscape of the rain forest. They remind me how lovely planet earth is, how generous and warm people are and how moved and humbled I was to be in the presence of the silver back mountain gorillas.

It was truly one of the best journeys I've ever taken.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

10 years ago

Around this time ten years ago I made the decision to travel to Africa for the very first time. As I was making those preparations, I had to decide what my three-week project there would entail. That's when I began making connections with orphanages in Uganda. Here are some of the photos I ended up making during that October, 2006 workshop. Some of these were made in Jinja at two different orphanages, seome in the Rakai district at a family's rural dwelling, and some were made at St. Mary Kevin in Kajjansi. Some are old faves; some I've never even processed until now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

circling back to say thanks

When my husband was just 26 years old he started to experience some strange health deficits: slurred speech, droopy eyelids, difficulty swallowing and weakness in his extremities. We'd only been married a year. It threw us for a loop, to say the least.

Eddie had previously been very healthy. We didn't know what was happening to him; the doctors we saw weren't sure either. After a couple years of being poked and probed, being told it was "all in his head" and eventually being misdiagnosed, Eddie began taking meds for a disease he didn't have. The meds he took for that disease nearly did him in. At our wit's end, we finally checked into the hospital at the University of Michigan, determined to stay there until we got some answers.

Early on during that hospital stay a young resident walked into the room. His name was Joshua Cohen, and he and Eddie were about the same age. The two guys had a lot in common; they hit it off very well. The young Joshua Cohen seemed to make it his mission to give us a proper diagnosis. Over the course of the next three weeks, Joshua, our new friend, worked overtime to help one of his very first patients. The diagnosis was Myasthenia Gravis. With medication, Eddie has lived a full and active life, and it's really because of a young resident who put his nose to the grindstone and didn't give up until he had successfully solved the puzzle.

Fast forward 40 years. Our son Max is in medical school. Soon enough he will be a resident. Like Joshua Cohen. Eddie recently told Max the story about how important it was for him to get a proper diagnosis.  How it saved his life. As I heard Eddie and Max discuss it, I realized we had never really had a chance to thank Dr. Cohen. I suggested we do that.

Eddie: There are probably a thousand Dr. Joshua Cohens out there.

Me: I bet we'll recognize him.

Thanks to Google, it took about three minutes to find our unsung hero. Eddie wrote him an email, expressing our gratitude and hoping he'd remember us after all these years. Of course he did. Eddie was one of his firsts. How could he forget?

Dr. Cohen wrote back immediately. During their correspondence, Eddie mentioned that Max was in medical school. Now Max and Joshua are in touch. Eddie was not the only one to express appreciation for Joshua's astute investigative skills, tremendous smarts and unwavering dedication; Max said "thank you," too. As the son of the patient - and as an aspiring physician.

It's a feel-good story. I thought it was worth sharing.

Dr. Joshua Cohen

Eddie and Max

PS - I'd like to congratulate Max, who found out yesterday that he is the recipient of a 2016-2017 Fulbright. He will use the grant to do research on antibiotic resistance in Colombia, South America, where he will live for the next year. His dad and I are very proud!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

a wee one

I love portrait sessions with very young ones. Lincoln was born just two months ago. He already has quite a personality!

Monday, March 14, 2016

kampala boxing club

In a recent post I made mention of the boxing club in Kampala, Uganda. One of the first things that happened during my three-week long workshop with Thatcher Cook in 2006 was a visit to the club. Thatcher suggested that I go there to "get out of my comfort zone." I slung my SLR over my shoulder, hopped on a boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) and immediately headed over there. After all, I had come to Uganda to push myself into unknown territory; here was a way to dive right in… shoot something I'd never shot before in a place unlike anywhere I'd ever been before. The minute I walked into the space, I knew I was about to transcend into photography heaven.

The guys (and a handful of women) took me in right away. It helped that Thatcher had cleared the way for me. It also helped that I was in the midst of doing some boxing of my own with a trainer at the Woodside Health Club back home in Kansas City. The guys appreciated me showing off my moves, especially my upper cut which was quite impressive at the time.

After introductions and me showing off, the athletes got back to the business of shadow boxing, sparring and punching the bags. The place was gritty and sweaty and dark. I danced around the guys as I photographed them. They didn't hesitate to let me get close. The shooting became kind of a dance. I love it when that happens.

After thinking back to that afternoon and the one that followed (I had so much fun I returned the next day) I revisited the images I shot. I've never even processed most of these before. Seeing them in a finished state reminds me how much I love a good challenge, how much I love being in situations where I have to make my own way, how much I love connecting with people, how much I love photographing people who are passionate about what they do, how much I love and am grateful for opportunities that encapsulate all of the above, and yes, how much I love photography.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

scary shooting

Trump arrives

I attended the Trump rally at the Midland Theatre in Kansas City last night. I sat in on only 15 or 20 minutes of the scary craziness inside; honestly, I was getting too upset to stay much longer. The way he riles up his audience is quite skillful and deliberate. The crowd was on its feet chanting and cheering, making it hard for anything much to be said. After the fourth time Trump demanded that a protester be removed (and the crowd was basically calling for blood at that point), I had to leave. And there were two young children sitting in front of me. The messages they were hearing and the behavior they were seeing? As I said: scary.

Most of the pictures I took were in front of the venue. The police had divided the two political camps: Trump supporters were on the west side of the street, while the protestors were on the east side. The police, some on horseback, attempted to keep the sea apart by lining up in the middle of the street. Each time the protestors stepped off the curb, the police called out. At one point, several stepped into the street, and the police sprayed mace in their faces.

I stayed the course and spent a couple hours shooting.

I was trembling when I left.

Here's a video I shot of the police pepper-spraying protestors who stepped into the street:

Here's a video I shot of protestors following police orders: