Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jesus

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6-7


A Christmas Wish

Wishing you a Joyous Christmas and a 
New Year of Peace and Happiness.

Dan, Kay, Danny and Olive


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tough Guy?

This dude looks pretty tough, eh? He’s not. Not even close.

This image may have been reality if the City of Refuge had not been in his future. He was born into a life of homelessness, fear, and abuse. He is now a resident of the City of Refuge Children’s Home in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. He lives a life of love, learning, and spiritual growth.

He deserves an Academy Award for his performance in the photograph above. We were playing a game my son and I came up with years ago. We call it, Happy Face, Sad Face, Mad Face. This is his mad face. A pretty good mad face…but a total fake. A big-time fraud. Check out the real deal below:

Yes, he's a charmer and a bit of a class clown. And he could probably sell ice cubes to an Eskimo. Don’t be surprised if he grows up to be a leader of his country one day. He is an amazing little fellow. And he's being raised by an amazing team of people that are now his family.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Good Day

One thing is for sure. When you’re a kid and have really dirty feet, you’ve had a good day. It’s a natural law of the universe. I’m not sure what happened prior to this footprint landing on the wall, but you can bet it was all good.

As a parent and photographer, finding a dirty footprint on the wall requires prioritization. What is my first priority? Get the shot. Second priority? Get the perpetrator.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Fifteen Seconds of Peace...

Fifteen seconds of peace during 60 minutes of chaos.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Barred Owl

I decided to take the "back way" home one night after work. As I drove along, I could see a large bird sitting on a fence post up ahead. I slowed my car as I approached it. I assumed it was a hawk, but as I got closer to it, it turned its head toward me and I knew in an instant - it was an owl. WoW! A Barred Owl. He stood nearly two feet tall. I think owls are magnificent creatures. This is the first owl I have ever seen in the wild. Did I have a camera with me? Of course not. What an idiot. I know better. I was instantly reminded of a quote I heard NYC-based photographer, Jay Maisel, say (in-person at a conference I was attending), "It is very difficult to capture a great image if you do not have a camera with you."

No kidding.

The next day - I decided to go home the same way I went home the previous night. Same fence post. Same owl. No camera. What a supreme idiot.

The next day - I decided to go home the same way I went home the previous two nights. I HAD A CAMERA! Duh. Near the same fence post...in a small tree...CLICK. We stared at each other for nearly ten minutes. I probably fired off thirty shots before he got bored with me and flew. I was delighted to get the shot, but I was even more excited about simply seeing him in all his splendor…3 straight nights.

I've not seen him since. Maybe he knew he gave me what I wanted…finally he could move on. He taught me something in the process. I carry a camera with me every single day. You should, too.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Christmas Gun

This sign appears every year around this time. Nice. Just in time for Christmas. I'm thinkin' this isn't what Jesus had in mind.

I'm just sayin'...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Whirlybird

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Old Color

For my eye, it’s hard to beat what I call “old color”. Old color reveals history and character.

The morning I shot this, I had a nice chat with the farmer. He told me something I would have never believed had I not talked to him in-person. Back in the 1930’s, this barn lived in the country. The country, however, evolved over decades to become a busy city intersection. This barn was disassembled board by board, transported to this location (5 miles) and reassembled board by board. It lives in the country again. I think it’s a magnificent structure and a great example of old color.

I’ll be posting more images of these American classics in the coming weeks. Barns as we know them today are on my endangered species list. Structures like this will very likely be gone in a generation or two. Look around. Many wooden barns are becoming American ruins.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

A few years ago, I traveled to Jamaica with three others from our Church. This trip was to pave the way to take ninety (yes, 90) members of our Church on a mission trip to an orphanage in Jamaica. That trip is history. It was a remarkable trip…life-changing for many, including me.

The person pictured above is Stephanie. She was in our group of four that went on the fact-finding mission. One day during our trip, Stephanie said six words to me that I have never forgotten. It wasn’t just the words, it was the way she said them.

Understand that I have spent too many days thinking that going to Church was an obligation…my duty. It was something I needed to do so my son would see me doing the right thing.

One day as we were planning our day in Jamaica, I mentioned to Stephanie that there was a worship service that evening. She stopped what she was doing, looked at me with a sparkle in her eyes and said, “YOU MEAN WE GET TO WORSHIP!!?” She practically shouted it. She could not have been happier. Those six words were like cold water in my face. It took a person thirty years my junior to wake me up.

Thank you, Stephanie. I know I have told you this story in person, but it is worth repeating. It was a gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pilates Studio in 29 Seconds

Ouch.

video

This little video distills my two-hour Pilates studio shoot down to 29 seconds.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Scooter

Scooter was our pet hamster for a time. If you own a hamster, it will not be for long. Hamsters typically live two years or less. That fact was my call to action. Scooter is gone now, but he lives as a 3-foot tall poster in our son's bedroom. And he rests beneath the flag pole in our front yard.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The New Math

How many times have we heard "it's not about the money"? Will we ever begin believing it?

Every worldly possession these children own fits in one suitcase tucked neatly under their bed. That's it. Their cricket bat is made from discarded lumber...and it practically weighs as much as they do. Their ball isn't nearly as nice as what our dog has. They look terribly unhappy, don't they?

What do you say we adopt the new math?

Faith + Love = Happiness.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where the Action Is

When I revisited this image today, I recalled that I filed it under "Adventures" as well as "Sports". Why Adventures? I was standing on a catwalk about eighty feet above ice level. The catwalk is made of steel mesh that flexed dramatically as I stepped across it. Trust me, flexing does not feel good under your feet when you're 80' in the air. To make matters worse, I could see very clearly through the mesh to the ice below. This solidified my view of where I would crash and burn if I made one false move. All I could think about was dropping my camera...or becoming one of those Flying Wallendas that lost it on the high wire. Somehow, I got lucky and came out of it with this shot.

Occasionally, a blind squirrel finds a nut.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Harsh Reality

Okay, people. That's enough of the Caribbean nonsense. My friend Ron has brought me back to reality. This will be our reality in Michigan for the next four months. Sing along with me now...It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Caribbean Color

As the temp in Michigan hovers around 22 degrees, I'm thinkin' Caribbean!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Cross-Culture Frenzy of Fun

There are precious few things in life that cross boundaries of culture and language. Young children have a unique ability to view what they have in common with other children. Don't we all have more in common than we have as differences? The inhabitants of our world allow wars to happen because of the differences.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Mix of Pixels

video

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Little Angel

During one of our walks home from the ice cream store, we noticed a rainbow in the valley between the mountains. It is a common occurrence in the Blue Mountains, yet I cannot leave ANY occurance of a rainbow alone. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen one. I felt compelled to photograph it. I asked Carly if I could take a photo of her with the rainbow over her shoulder. I figured it would be little more than a snapshot. We snapped a few photos and were back on our way.

After a few moments of walking in silence, Carly said to me, “I think rainbows are God’s promise to us that he will help us through the storms.”

Hearing those words caught me totally off guard. I will never forget hearing Carly speak those words. I have replayed them in my head nearly every day since…the words of a little angel.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pure Joy

This day was the first day Kenny ever had a hammer in his hand. He was ecstatic. Did I mention he was ecstatic? When a young boy has a hammer in his hand, he instinctively starts looking for a nail. Kenny was no exception.

My father got us enough kits from Home Depot to fill a suitcase and we carried them to Jamaica for the children. When constructed, the kits would be little wooden flower pots. Kenny needed to pound in a grand total of four nails to build his flower pot. He whacked a couple of my fingers in the process, but I knew going in that my fingers could be the victim of friendly-fire. I just needed to deal with it.

Kenny's flower pot began taking shape. Each time he finished pounding in a nail, he would raise his arms in victory and would shout, “Yeesss! Four times he shouted, “Yeesss!” He had the time of his life.

Was it worth me having a sore finger or two? Yeesss! My fingers never hurt better.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

For a Friend

I spoke to a good friend yesterday. We talked about working on a project together for a very special organization. We explored ideas for photos that tell a story without necessarily being literal…perhaps without even showing faces.

I love photographs that require us to interpret or contemplate...or that tug at us. Our conversation reminded me that photographs are often at their best when they DON’T tell the whole story…when something is left to our imagination.

Sometimes a picture is "worth a thousand words”, but sometimes when a picture is supplemented by some well-chosen words, it has even more impact or can lead us somewhere we may not have gone with our own imaginations.

It was great talking to you, Jim...as usual.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tree of Life

There is a tree in the farm field behind our house. We named it the "Tree of Life" after the tree by the same name at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. I have photographed this tree many times under many different conditions.....because it's there. And because it never looks the same two days in a row.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Some powerful thoughts...

A friend and colleague of mine published some great thoughts recently. Check this out:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hot Air

Hot air balloons as I saw them from a hot air balloon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jacob

I was speaking at a Church a while back, trying to help them raise funds for a mission trip to Jamaica. I showed them photos of children from the orphanage they were about to visit. The photos included an image or two of Jacob. Many people were moved to make donations to help their fellow members. After the service, a woman confronted me and said she would not be donating because the kids were well-dressed and didn’t appear to be in need of anything…including help from her Church. She said what she had to say and before I could respond, she turned around and was gone. I would have liked to tell her that the orphanage makes a point of ensuring that the children are well clothed...that a great deal of effort is made to make the children feel as though they are not orphans.

Can you imagine how fragile their self-esteem might be? Their parents are not in the picture…they may feel abandoned. I know how hard it is to build self-esteem in a two-parent family...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Teaching

A week ago, I attended my son’s soccer tournament. As I was photographing what I thought was the action, I was distracted by the parents on the sideline. The opposing team had the loudest parents I have ever heard at any youth game...EVER. Even their clothing shouted - with slogans about winning. At times, their screaming was mean-spirited. My son is 11-years-old. This was not the World Cup finals.

I turned my attention (and camera) to the spectators. I found I couldn’t take my eyes off them because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. After I fired off a few frames, one of the loudest parents looked at me and shouted proudly, “Hey, look, now WE’RE being photographed!! They didn’t know who I was. My camera equipment is not common. I probably looked like I was working the game. I began to wonder if my camera’s presence would change their behavior. I dismissed that thought when another parent shouted for all to hear, “Hey! We’re the most obnoxious parents out here, AND I’M PROUD OF THAT!.... I fired off a few more frames. He looked around at his fellow parents for approval. They were silent. One by one, they began sitting down…slinking into their folding chairs.

One of the unexpected things I’ve learned as a parent is that I am always teaching. When I am at my best, I am teaching my son. When I am at my worst, I am teaching that, too. We do not need teaching certificates to teach children.

I’m trying to get this parenting thing right. And I need all the help I can get. I am not smart enough to think of everything on my own. Sometimes I need reminders of what not to do.

This day, I was reminded. Loud and clear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Olive the Wonder Dog

They say cats have nine lives, but they don’t have anything on Olive. She has had more than her share of issues…but she takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. I must admit that I made this image thinking we may not have her much longer. That was a couple months ago.

Many people have asked me how I created this image. Briefly:
1. The camera was at ground level
2. Fisheye lens
3. I used an exposure technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR)
4. I had a dog full of personality and character

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ice Cream Store

During a visit to the City of Refuge, it was suggested that Kay and I take some of the boys to the ice cream store. It sounded like fun. It was a ten-minute walk down the mountain. The "ice cream store" ended up being little more than a tar-paper shack with an ice chest. I don't believe there was any electricity. The only light was light that filtered through doorways on either side of the shack. Do you remember the little plastic ice cream cups that came with a flat wooden spoon? When the boys received theirs, they were over the moon.

After thanking us profusely, the boys spontaneously grabbed one another by the hand and headed for home. They could not have been happier…nor could I.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Sky is the Limit

There are more than 12,000 homeless children in Jamaica. These six children (and many others), by the grace of God, found their way to the City of Refuge. They are learning, growing, and thriving. Make no mistake, these are bright kids. In many ways they now seem no different than your children or mine. The City of Refuge is breaking the chain of despair and is growing future leaders. They carry the colors of their country. The sky is their limit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Safe and Sound

This little guy is a resident of the City of Refuge Children's Home. The Home is located at 4500 ft of elevation in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. More than 60 children live at the orphanage. In 2002, 12,000 new cases of children needing a home were reported to the Child Developmental Agency in Jamaica. The need is great!