Friday, March 30, 2007

On the Airplane

Twenty-eight straight hours of travel, from Jerusalem to Portland. At least there were some things to photograph on the plane.
Yeah, kid, I know. We all feel like that by now.

From Tel Aviv to London, there were many traditional (ultra-orthodox) Jewish families, and many, many children.

My seat-mate Ela. We talked at length about Israel, her life there, her family, the Arab-Israeli conflict, her 2 years in the IDF, school, safety, etc. It was helpful to get an idea of regular life in Israel. A sweet girl with a lovely accent. Of all the places I've taken portraits, this was the first on an airplane at twenty-some-thousand feet....

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Thursday, March 29, 2007


We've been in Jerusalem for several days, and while the city is overwhelming, it's also fascinating. As with most of Israel, literally layers up on layers of history are beneath every step you take here.

The Temple Mount is a far more massive space than I'd ever imagined. It is quite disappointing to have Muslim mosques on top of a spot that has such significance for Jews (and Christians). Such tension is apparent in much of Israel. The above photo was taken there. I think it's kind of a bizarre picture, but I guess that's fitting.

As is the case in most of the world, one thing tends to diffuse tension and unite cultures: playing children. I caught these kids talking and playing near the exit from the Temple Mount into the Muslim Quarter.

Perhaps the most well-known and well-loved places in Jerusalem: the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall, for the Jews who pray loudly there). Many people--Jew and Gentile alike--come here to pray, hope, and stuff written prayers into the cracks of this 2000 year old edifice. The wall is the western portion of the incredible Temple Mount built by Herod; each one of these hand-hewn stones weighs multiple tons a piece. (We were shown one that weighs as much as a fully-loaded Boeing 747....)

Not only is the Western Wall courtyard a place for prayers, it is a popular place for Bar Mitzvahs. At any given time 5 or 8 were in process. Here you see women (on the women's side of the courtyard) watching and participating in the Bar Mitzvahs on the men's side.

And then you have the Sukh. Throughout the Old City (the castle-walled portion of Jerusalem framed in during the Crusades) are narrow streets of narrow shops selling all kinds of goods: spices, candies, jewelry, electronics, shoes, fresh juices, etc. etc. Above: a shopkeeper opening his shop door; below, a woman purchasing candies.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

A Little More Kenya...

While I'm taking an afternoon to 'rest' here in Jerusalem, I'm still editing photographs taken in Kenya last week. Here is a selection of images I am enjoying:

Each day, a few members of our team worked with children in the slums, playing games, singing songs, coloring, and having generally a rather good time. The kids loved it almost as much as the adults.

A school notebook, from Pastor Esther's little school for disadvantaged children in the slums.

A little still life from Pastor Esther's church building.

For the most part, Kenyans walk, bike, or bus everywhere. Like so much of the world, they display an amazing ingenuity in their ability to pack great quantities of goods on the back of very small vehicles....

One morning, we had to arise at 4 am, to take a bus to Nairobi for a safari. The only thing I enjoyed about getting up that early was the early morning light.

Want to see some exceptional photos of wild animals in their native habitat? Go to the library and check out a National Geographic book. This, above, is among the best offered to me at the Nairobi game park in the middle of the day with my heavy-lidded eyes. Actually, I did get a handful of fine images from this safari.

A Beautiful Land

I have to admit, my first day in Israel, I couldn't quite see why so many Psalms praised the beauty of the land. It's much hillier than I had expected (although here they call mountains what at home we call hills...), and covered with rocks and boulders. But the further we have travelled here, the more I see its praiseworthy beauty. Someone has said, "When God went to create the world, he decided to create a scale model, and called it Israel." There's truth in this; within very short distances, it is possible to go from sea to mountain to valley to desert. A great deal of variety (not to mention history) are packed into this small country, and every twenty minutes of driving brings to view a new geography.

It's spring here, and the flowers are in full bloom. The above field of wild poppies is in the Jordan River Valley. The near side is Israel; the other side of the river is the country of Jordan.

One of my favorite adventures so far on the trip was swimming in the Dead Sea. The lowest point on the face of the earth, the Dead Sea (also known as the Salt Sea) is composed so heavily of minerals that nothing grows or lives in it. Its mineral composition also makes the water so dense that you can sit down in it and float. Which was great for me, since I don't normally have a floatable bone in my body. That was a real delight, to lie in the water, without effort or fear, and bob like an apple.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Sea of Galilee

I've been in Israel for several days now. It's fairly overwhelming to be in a place where you're constantly exposed to about 5000 years of history. Sorting it all out is difficult. But it's obviously a special place, the crossroads of the world, really.

At Hell's Gate (an ancient temple area of Greek influence, dedicated to Pan) in Caesarea Phillipi, I had some fun photographing children from a local kibbutz. Seeing so many historical sites is fascinating, but photos of piles of rocks gets old. It was enjoyable to see some life amongst the ruins.

These two images are from the Sea of Galilee. It's a fascinating area, with so many historical, meaningful places within walking distance of each other. The area is very hilly, and I frequently imagine Jesus walking and boating about, disciples in tow.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I was given a walking tour of the Langas slums by Pastor Esther, a dear woman working there with poor children. She takes in children, teaches them, feeds them, helps them get into schools, and much more. Below you'll find a few images from Langas, as we walked and talked through the area. See if you can find my self-portrait....

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More Eldoret

One of our buses that carts us around....

People waiting patiently at the free medical clinic....

A new friend, Barnabas, who works in housekeeping at the hotel....


We spent a few hours in London on Sunday, between flights. It was a very quick tour, on a beautiful, sunny, spring day. A few favorites:

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Eldoret, Kenya

Well, having made it to Kenya, through 4 airplanes and a lengthy bus ride, we are in Eldoret. A beautiful, beautiful country, sunny, with friendly people. It's good to be here.

Yesterday I photographed the dedication of the Open Arms property, a groundbreaking ceremony for the grounds that will become a medical clinic for the villagers, an AIDS orphanage, and more. In good African tradition, the ceremony started about 2 hours late, and people kept arriving throughout the day--probably about a thousand of them, all arriving by foot or bicycle.

Part of the festivities included a ceremonial procession and dance by the local Callingen tribal ceremony. This is their leader.

I can only say I was jealous of this young man's repose; it was a long day. And unlike me, he doesn't have to worry about sunburn....

As I was working, this man, David, invited me to his home. With his wife, we walked the red dirt paths, through barbed wire fences and fields, to their beautiful little farm. Over tea, we talked about farming, looked over their Bible and hymn book (in Callingen), and watched a few minutes of lions bringing down a zebra on their 9-inch black and white television (powered by a 12-volt car battery). A sweet couple, and the highlight of my day.

On the way back from lunch at the local Chief's house, this woman asked me--with hand gestures and words I could not comprehend--to take her photograph. No, the locals (except for this woman) don't all dress in furs and have large holes in their ears, as this woman does. But who can turn down a request to take such a photograph?

Portland travel photographers.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Off to Kenya

It's fitting that I photographed Bob and Kitty Magee today. I was hired by Seattle Pacific University's magazine Response to create a portrait of this dynamic couple. They helped found the Bible Study Fellowship in Africa and the Middle East, while they were based in Nairobi, Kenya. A vivacious couple, full of energy and very hospitable.

The fitting part: I leave for Kenya in the morning. I'll be photographing there for a couple weeks, with Open Arms International. I traveled with OA to India a couple years ago, documenting their medical relief work after the tsunami. This time I'll be documenting their work with medical clinics for street youth and others in Kenya, as well as their Small Business Conference, Women's Conference, Sports Camp, and more. Plus, they're dedicating their 52-acre property, on which they will be building an orphanage and medical clinic. Pretty cool stuff.

After Kenya, we'll be off to Israel for a week. Keep an eye on the blog here for updates. As I am able (if I am able), I'll try to post interesting images and stories from the trip.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Snow Fairy

A couple weeks ago I photographed at a local middle school during Spirit Week. The particular day I was there was Create Your Own Superhero Day. What a delight to watch the kids come in with their own superhero costumes, names, and superpowers. I took a lot of photographs.
One particular favorite, above, is of a demure young lady who came in as the Snow Fairy. Her superpower is to magically take the coldness out of people so their hearts are warm. My heart is warmed just looking at her and her lovely costume.

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