Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dan's 2010 Two Words of Advice

LookUp

I had a lengthy 2009 year in review post that I planned on subjecting you to today, complete with a bunch of photos that illustrated my year in pictures. Upon further review today, I thought it looked like pure crap. It was not even close to what I was thinking or feeling today. Instead I'm going to give you my two words of advice for 2010:

Look up.

Here's hoping that 2010 is your best year ever. All my best to you and yours. Happy New Year, friends.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Ton o' Fun!

IndoSchoolBoys

With the help of my interpreter, we pulled off what I call a Ton o' Fun! These Indonesian school boys formed a tight circle around me as I was flat on my back looking up at the sky. Needless to say, we had a blast.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Tori

Tori

When Tori's mom asked me if I would shoot her daughter's high school senior pictures, I started fidgeting. I have always gravitated away from shooting senior pictures. Same with weddings. They are both a moving target. Many genres of photography have trends and the best photographers in those genres keep up with the trends. I cannot seem to find the time for that. Or perhaps I just don't want to. I suppose if my phone stopped ringing I'd need to rethink that.

Tori, her mom and I had a discussion over lunch. I've gotten pretty good at saying "no" to things that are not in my sweet spot and clearly this was not. However, this assignment was beginning to sound like something that was not cookie-cutter. Cookie-cutter is not my thing. It was beginning to sound like a bit of an adventure - for them, too.

We came to an agreement. Intuitively, they knew they wouldn't get the typical selection of photos and they seemed okay with that. And I could tell we had similar beliefs and values that made it difficult for me to say no. The rest is history. I think they're pretty happy with the results. So am I.

The photo above is one example of many that made it difficult to choose favorites. Much of that is do to Tori's energy, enthusiasm and beauty (inside and out).

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Home for the Holidays



I have another reason to be thankful today...another reason to be thankful to be home for the holidays. On Flight 256 from Amsterdam today, a terrorist attempted to blow up the plane. Thankfully, his attempt failed.

I was on that same flight six days ago.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let there be Light.....

BabyJesus

I asked my friend, "Hindsfeet", to be my first ever guest writer for this post. Hindsfeet fell down my Internet "rabbit hole" many months ago now. I think she is a brilliant writer and thinker. I love her blog and would encourage you to visit. A link to her blog follows her wonderful composition below.

Hindsfeet and I share a spiritual common denominator -- and He is the subject of this special Christmas post. Thank you for so graciously accepting my request, Hindsfeet. <><

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"For now, we see through a glass, dimly, but one day soon, face to face. For now I know Him in part, but one day soon I shall know Him just as I also am known."
1 Corinthians 13:12

Merriam-Webster defines color as a property that becomes apparent when light falls on it. Jesus came that first Christmas to add color to the window through which we view the world. When Christ illumines our lives, we begin to see our surroundings through a different lens, filtered by our Heavenly Father. Moreover, we begin to see Him. As we set aside time to sit, as Mary did, at His feet, and learn of Him (Luke 10:39-42), the lessons of our Lord begin to shape our outlook; as we progressively get to know Him with each passing day, with each abiding experience of His grace, of His discipline, of His forgiveness, of His love, as we allow His light to flood our lives, the hues of His holiness become vibrant, the lines that were blurry become vivid, the image of the incarnation of our Lord comes to life in our life, and gradually, going from glory to glory, we gain the treasure of seeing our Sovereign God, of knowing Him, even as we are known.

This Christmas, let there be Light.

http://hindsfeet-birdseyeview.blogspot.com/

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Big Mud Puddle

BigMudPuddle

This photo came up in conversation at the studio today. I was on assignment shooting a Habitat for Humanity renovation project when I happened to see this little guy. He is about to launch his battery operated speed boat on its maiden voyage. Pretty heady stuff for a little guy.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Michigan - A Winter Wonderland

WinterWonder

My friend, Hindsfeet reminded me of the wonder of Michigan winters today. Winters in Michigan can beat you down if you let them. I learned a long time ago that I needed to be the aggressor. I needed to take the bull by the horns and celebrate the change of seasons...and I've always loved an adventure.

Having just spent a week in the Ukraine, outside all day long with single digit temps, the current Michigan weather seems mild. Having the right clothing and knowing how to wear it is a game-changer. Now I love being outside in the winter. There is a lot of beauty out there. You just need prepare a bit more than usual to go in search of it.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cast of Characters

Cast

For the first time in more than 200 posts, I am posting a photo that was NOT taken by me. This is much of the crew I was with in Bali, Indonesia. We were eating our breakfast bento boxes in a small rural village outside Bali. From left to right:

Dan (half-crazed photographer with obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, assorted nervous ticks, often-times sugared up and over-caffeinated)

Patti (client)

Katie (producer)

John K. (writer, concept guy, genius)

John R. (agency VP and super guy)

Photo by Viv Scanu, cinematographer based in Jakarta.

*Copyright 2009 - Viv Scanu - Used by permission.

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More Bird Lady

Ukraine_12.15.09-45

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Monks



I have clicked my last photo in Kiev and have traveled east to Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It has been a very productive and rewarding trip. In fact, I think I've captured some of the best photos of my career (none of which can be posted here).

If you've followed this blog for any length of time you will know that I love my job. I love my family more. I am SO ready to be home. And so ready for CHRISTmas.

Now I just need to start and finish my Christmas shopping.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bird Lady


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anything to Stay Warm

In the 10-degree (fahrenheit) weather, this fur ball knows where he needs to be to feel some heat. He better be careful. Based on what I've seen around here, he could get made into a hat!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Kiev, Ukraine

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

I am on assignment in one of the great cities of eastern Europe - Kiev, Ukraine. I wasn't here more than twenty minutes before I felt the magnetic pull to get out the door and start discovering. It is a visual feast here - ripe with history and character everywhere I turn.

It gets dark very early here. My plane hit the tarmac at 4:30 pm and it looked like the dead of night.

More to come.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A K9 Christmas

K9_Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And there's nothing I like better than a home full of life.  We've got a lot of THAT goin' on!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Remembering Olive the Wonder Dog

Olive&Danny

We miss you, Olive.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Funny-Face

Funny-Face
You already know I have a thing for faces that really aren't faces at all. I think this one is an absolute riot. Not exactly sure what this thing is, but it's attached to a wall in a small Indonesian village - some kind of electrical device, I guess. To me, however, it could be a cartoon character.
Hey, if Sponge Bob can make it big.....
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Photo Stud?

PhotoStud

If you're one of my many three readers, you know that I cannot be too serious for too long. I figure it's time for this sign. No, this is not a statement about me (just ask my wife).

I saw this sign in Toronto and couldn't resist taking a snap. You'll probably agree that it's unlikely the 'I' and the 'O' just happened to fall off. I'm no fan of vandalism, but someone clearly had a sense of vision and creativity.

Who knows...maybe business improved...

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Can Feel Them



I have had the good fortune of being on assignment in more than twenty countries. I have loved each and every experience. Mostly the people. I love my job most days and I know everyone cannot say that -- it has changed me and shaped me. And no single assignment has impacted me more than my recent trip to Indonesia. I love being in situations that feed me culturally and creatively. Indonesia did that like no other. Indonesia and her people are part of me now.

I can feel them.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Little Princess

LittlePrincess

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Blessings

Kay & Danny

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I am fully aware of my many blessings. Two of my many blessings are pictured above. The photo is not new, but it remains one of my all-time favorites.

Here's hoping that YOU have a Happy Thanksgiving every single day of the year. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Peace.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Centenarian

Centenarian

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Warmth of Indonesia

Warmth_ofBali

The warmth of Indonesia had nothing to do with the 90-degree temperatures and everything to do with the grace of her people. This father and son are a typical example.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Home Sweet Home


I am home now for a brief while. Once again, I've learned a lot....mostly from the people of the land I visited. Whenever I travel to a less prosperous part of the world, I am struck by how different my life is in the land-of-plenty.

The photo above is "Home Sweet Home" for a family in Indonesia. I had the good fortune of meeting them. We could not speak a word with one another because of our language barrier. However, we spoke in the form of smiles, gestures, bows, and on my last day -- hugs.

Each and every time I have an experience like this, one thing gets my attention loud and clear. They are no less happy than any one of us. In fact, I am certain that they are happier than some of the people I know here in the States. I'll spare you the reasons.

Several times during my visit, I was reminded of my friend Woody. He had been visiting Togo, Africa (bordering Ghana). Woody had been speaking with a man from Togo. The man asked how things were in the States. Woody's response was that the recession was making it tough on many of the citizens in the States. The man's response?

"Our country has never known the wealth of your recession."


Farmer

(My farmer friend)

The people of Indonesia are among the kindest, most gracious people I have ever met. They have very little in material wealth, but they have riches in other ways. God bless them.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little Hindu Boy

A five-year-old boy and a 3000-year-old Hindu temple.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Beautiful and Proud

I am told that the people of Bali are among the longest living people on earth. There are many, many people 100+ years old. Now I know why. Their diet is sparse and they are very active. When I saw this beautiful lady, she had just walked the length of her village with a twenty-five pound bucket in each hand. She stopped for a moment to take a breather and I asked her permission to photograph her. That amounts to me pointing at my camera and then to her. She accepted graciously. Why wouldn't she? I think she looks absolutely magnificent.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Little Prince

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Fire Light

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Little Prayer


Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for blessing me beyond measure. Please forgive me for forgetting how blessed I am. Please help me do a better job of blessing others. I know "the way is narrow", but with your help, I can find the way. Thank you, Father.

Dan
(but you knew that)
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mondo Fern

You didn't really think you were going to get travelogue photos from me, did you? I'm too spellbound by the details at this point. And this specimen is not a little detail. In fact, this guy was at least 8' long -- a monster fern. Monsterous Ferniferous (a botanist I am not).

It didn't take me long to notice that everything grows big in Indonesia. Including the spiders. I saw an enormous web this morning - must have been 3' x 4'. I am not kidding. While I was admiring this amazing and intricate web (over my head), I failed to notice the spider sitting in it -- dead center. He was bigger than my hand. Yes, I snapped a photo of him. I'll spare you the visual. It's creepy. I'll save it for my Halloween 2010 post.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Ticket 2 Ride



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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Island Color #2

IslandColor#2

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Island Color

IslandColor

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Whistling Face

Whistler_web

OK OK. Now I'm done. It's time for me to drop it and move on.

I have a mentor that goes crazy when I don't take my photography seriously. He's a brilliant photographer. However, I'm not wound the same way he is. I need some balance and whimsy. In fact, I try NOT to take myself too seriously. This "face" exercise would drive him insane (if he knew I had a blog*). For me it's an exercise that keeps my eyes tuned up for more serious things. I'll be on assignment in Indonesia soon -- the subject matter will be far more serious. I'll be ready for the transition thanks to this whimsical little exercise.

* I actually keep my blog pretty quiet, believe it or not. Those of you that have found me have found me mostly by osmosis. Nevertheless, I'm delighted that you found me. This will be our little secret. :-)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oh! (Surprised Face)

Oh!_Face

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A special thanks to Hindsfeet. She turned me on to the quote you see at right. You should check out her blog. She's a brilliant writer... and thinker.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Face

HappyFace

On second thought, perhaps this is Evil Happy Face... or Creepy Happy Face. What kid WOULDN'T be creeped out by this? Maybe it's just me (a childish adult).

Tomorrow: OH! Face (Surprised Face)

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sad Face

SadFace

When I was a kid, I would see faces in all kinds of things that were not faces at all. Some of them would frighten me. Had I seen the face below as a kid, it would have scared the bajeezus out of me. I still see faces and other abstractions in every-day objects. I guess a career as a commercial photographer is a good thing in my case. I am grateful that God blessed me with a quirky sense of vision. As a kid, not so much. :(

Blessing&Curse

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Stop by tomorrow for a Happy Face... of sorts.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Give - Updated

In my post yesterday, I revisited the story of seeing a little orphan boy wearing my son's PJs and how emotional that was for me. In fact, lightning has struck more than once. This is a photo of my son in 2004.

Smile_LiveLonger

I photographed the young fellow (below) in June 2009. The shirt is not a coincidence.

Same shirt. Five years later.

Smile_LiveLonger_2

It's a bit faded, but it's still doin' its job. What do ya say we check out our closets this weekend. I'll bet we can find a ton a few things that we don't even touch anymore. Let's take that stuff to The Salvation Army, Goodwill, the soup kitchen or some other outreach program of your choice. C'mon. Let's just do it. It's not that tough. It will make someone's day... and YOURS, too. I promise.

Smile. Live Longer.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Give

_DSC3273

I assisted my friend Lisa as she photographed a special project yesterday. During our time together, she reminded me of this post -- another one of my favorites. As mentioned earlier, my favorites tend to be the ones that help me to "get it right".

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The photo above will look like an ordinary snapshot to you, but it's not ordinary to me. To me, it is one of my most meaningful photographs. It represents a significant day in my life. When I saw this little fellow in his green and white pajamas, my eyes
instantly welled up with tears....and it changed me for life.

This little boy is a resident of the City of Refuge Children's Home. His birth parents are nowhere to be found. By the Grace of God, he has found a home with 60 other children at an orphanage atop the Blue Mountains of Jamaica...safe from the homelessness, violence and chaos of the mean streets.

Oh...and his pajamas? They once belonged to my son.

My wife has given gently-used clothing to the orphanage for years now. The donations have always been a gift of love from my wife. As for me? At the time, I probably viewed the donations as a tax write-off. Thankfully, my heart has been profoundly changed by the most compassionate person I know -- my wife, Kay (below).

_DSC3565_4some

Seeing my son's pajamas on this little boy jump-started something inside me that I didn't know I had. What was once
a tax deduction in my mind, has now become a small but meaningful contribution to a living, breathing child of God. And in the process, I've emerged from my cocoon -- a rebirth of sorts.

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Do you realize just how rich we all are? Even when times are tough, we are richly blessed.

  • 800 million people on our planet will not eat today. Will you?
  • 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. Do you?
  • 92% of the world's inhabitants don't own a car. Do you? Maybe two?

If you answered "yes" to any of the questions above, those who answered "no" will think that you are rich.

That clothing you haven't touched in months...those canned goods that have been sitting on the shelf because they're not your favorite...give 'em up! Chances are you won't miss them. Call a local soup kitchen or an outreach center and drop off your items. We can make a difference! We can help in some small way. Someone needs those things way more than we do. You could impact someone's life today. And ya know what? It will make YOUR day...and maybe even your life.

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." -- Arthur Ashe

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Purple Eraser... revisited

PurpleEraser
I originally posted this on March 17, 2009. Many folks have commented on it, both online and in-person. I have been asked to repost it. Seems like a good way to begin my second year of blogging. In fact, I may repost a few of my personal favorites over the coming days. Some of them are good reminders for ME... to do the right thing(s).
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This little fellow is a resident of the City of Refuge Children's Home. He likes to be my assistant when I visit. Being my assistant means that he follows me everywhere. Does he assist with anything? Not really, but I love having him around. He's a super kid. We've become quite close over the past few years. He calls me "Uncle Dan" and I love that.

When we last visited, my wife asked him what he would like for Christmas. We asked him to make us a list. On the final day of our visit, he presented us with his list. In one hand he had his list written in pencil and in his other hand he had a purple eraser. He first handed me the list... and then the eraser. Then he said, "Uncle Dan, I don't expect you to give me anything on my list. You can erase as many things as you choose to. I would be very thankful if you choose to give me one thing."

Wow.

Clearly, he's not your typical 7-year-old. Four years ago he was a homeless child wandering the mean streets of Kingston...perhaps sleeping under benches and in cardboard boxes. Look at him now. He's teaching Uncle Dan a few things.

_DSC9377_PurpleEraser

I asked him if I might keep the eraser. I keep it in a spot where I am certain to see it every morning. It is a good reminder....

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