Tag Archives: Documentary Photography

Angelique–God’s Messenger

She came among us.

A group of ex-pats, on assignment in Paris, we met each day at a sidewalk cafe near Montmartre to commiserate, and she came among us.

At first, we didn’t notice.

“I’ll have the foie gras,” my friend said. “I’ll have the croque-monsieur,” my other friend said.

“I’ll have the jambon-beurre,” I said. “I don’t have much time, today,” I said.

“Come on,” they said. “A French meal is a cultural experience.”.

We laughed. They said this every day. Three-hour lunches were not uncommon. I would often sit and watch the afternoon light soften into postcard Paris evenings.

“Alms,” she said, her voice soft, barely audible above the noise of traffic and street musicians.

My friends did not hear, or pretended not to hear. They continued their tales of exploits and conquests, stories not yet written, not yet published.

“Alms, she said again, closer.

I lost the train of conversation as I watched her slowly shuffle over the cobblestone, her cup held out, rattling the few coins she had collected, her cane tapping out of rhythm.

“Votre nourriture, les messieurs.” A waiter placed our food on the table and hurried away.

“Alms.”

“Allez-vous en,” my friend said, “Go away.”

“Je ne parle pas français,” my other friend said, as if not speaking french would relieve us of guilt.

The woman looked up. She looked at me.  She was old and bent, crippled, and dirty.

“Homeless,” my friend said.

“Smelly,” my other friend said.

Our eyes met. Suddenly, I could not tell how old she was.

“What is your name?” I asked, not sure why.

“Angelique,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “It means…God’s messenger.” Her voice was light, airy, tinged with a french accent, but with no hint of age.

“Do you have a  message for me?”

“Oui,” she said.

“What is it?” I asked, feeling this moment held deep meaning.

She kept my gaze, then her eyes traveled down over my Columbia shirt and pants and she looked at the cobblestones. It was as if the full moon had set. I could no longer see her eyes.

“Alms,” she said softly. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The moment was gone.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe some great insight from deity, delivered through Angelique, God’s messenger. Perhaps an answer to the perplexing question of what I should really do with my life. I don’t know. I did not receive the grand message I was hoping for.

Gypsy beggar.
Amidst the plenty of Paris, an old woman begs for alms.

The old woman held out her cup, expectantly.

I took a coin from my pocket and dropped it in. It clinked against  the other coins. She looked up again.

“Merci beaucoup,” she said. “Dieu vous protège.” Once again, her eyes were bright, blue. I nodded and she ambled away, clinking and tapping.

“I think Paris should do a better job with the homeless population,” my friend said.

“I agree,” my other friend said.

“Alms,” I heard her softly say. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The Eiffel Tower
A vintage rainy day in Paris.

The Bonneville Salt Flats are Dying

 

Tire tracks on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Tire tracks mar the salt near the Bonneville Speedway. Drive at your own risk.

It seemed like I’d been walking for hours. I couldn’t tell. I lost track of time, long ago. There were signs that others had been here before me, tracks in the salt, but I was alone.

I thought I heard something and stopped to listen. Were my ears playing tricks on me, inventing sounds in the stillness that weren’t there? I couldn’t tell.

My pounding heart was the only sound. All else was stillness. Oppressive, silence.

I was alone.

I began again, and the muffled shuffle of my shoes in the salt beat eighth notes to the sixteenth notes of my heart.

I was thirsty. I needed water.

The Sun glistens on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The setting sun glistens on the water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I had run out . Yet, I could see it on the surface of the salt, shimmering, teasing, taunting. The closer I got the farther it seemed to be.

If I could  just make it to the mountains.

Bonneville Salt Flats reflections.
Water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats forms a near perfect mirror.

Splashes, suddenly. The sound was refreshing. My steps disturbed a sea of glass. The mirage had not retreated. It was real. The surface stretched for miles. My footsteps sent expanding ripples across the glassy mirror, distorting the sky below me.

Bonneville Salt Flats under water.
A thin sheet of water covers the Bonneville Salt Flats at certain times of the year.

I took two more steps and stumbled. The salt gave way to mud beneath it and my shoes remained behind. I fell to my knees and my pants sucked up water, wet coolness, rising slowly up my thighs. I watched the khaki darken with curiosity, as if my clothes were trying to suck waning life back into my body.

Water covering miles and miles of the Bonneville Salt Flats is only a few inches deep.
Shallow water covers miles and miles of the Bonneville Salt Flats at certain times of the year.

Somewhere inside my head I sensed, maybe even knew, I should not drink this water. It renewed these salt plains. But it was so blue, so clear, and the need was so great. My lips were cracked and my tongue was dry.

I could not resist.

Salt Flats mountain reflections.
A distant rocky mountain reflects on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.

I cupped my hands and scooped up the water.  It felt cool on my skin, wet. I opened my mouth and slurped it in. Again, in my head, I knew. I should not have done this.

I was consumed by greed and the reaction was violent. I sputtered and spit. My throat burned. When the brine reached my stomach I retched.

A distant rocky mountain reflects on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
It can be difficult to determine where the earth ends and the sky begins in the perfect reflections of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Falling forward, my body pushed a large wave across the glass and I broke the surface. The water was not deep. Just enough to cover my face. Salt surrounded me and I looked upon my body, reflecting through the glassy side of a mirror.

When these waters withdraw, others will find evidence that I have been, preserved by salt.

The Bonneville Speedway on the Bonneville Salt Flats used to be thirteen miles long. Now it is only seven. It is not known if the cause of the shrinking salt is due to the depletion of the aquifer as a result of nearby mining, or, from seasonal heavy rains. Nevertheless, the land speed records which have been set in years past must now be accomplished in  shorter distances, as time may be running out on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The Colors of Brazil

I enjoy watching the Olympics. I’m especially pleased to see the Olympics in Brazil. I was able to visit Brazil just prior to World Cup. It was a crazy, cultural and colorful experience. I witnessed strikes, mobs, gunfire and incredibly beautiful and colorful scenery. The food was amazing. I ate things I had never heard of.  I met friendly  people and heard styles of music that were filled with life and celebration. My experience in Brazil was amazing.

A Brazilian family out for a stroll.
A Brazilian family out for a stroll.

My friends in Brazil would not take me to the Favelas. They said it was too dangerous. They didn’t want me to get hurt, or robbed.  They didn’t want me to see the poverty, overcrowding, pollution and social problems associated with the Favelas.

Two men in Olinda, Brazil.
Waiting, just waiting on the street in Olinda, Brazil.

Nevertheless, the problems were there. I could feel it in the city. I could feel it in the tension among people. It was present in the bus strikes, the police strikes, the metro strikes. It was seeping out of the Favelas.

São Paulo Police
São Paulo Police strike prior to the World Cup.

We were eating lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. Suddenly the lights in the restaurant went out. The restaurant owner told us we had to leave. They were closing. The mobs were coming. The police were on strike and the mobs were looting and robbing.

We had to go.

Now, the Olympics are in Rio and the world celebrates the games. However, many Brazilians, proud of their country and culture, are excluded from the celebration. They can’t afford it.

Hopefully, these games will be a celebration of the the Olympic spirit which inspires all of us, regardless of country and culture. And, hopefully, that same spirit will help to elevate the quality of life in Brazil and shed light on problems which afflict us all, not just those in Brazil.  Perhaps these games will move an immensely complicated people to search for answers to the growing social ills that color the lives of a very colorful country.

Moroccan Mint Tea

Women on the Bou Regreg River.
A moment on the banks of the Bou Regreg River in Rabat, Morocco, across from the old city of Salé.

“When did we grow so old?”

Fatima scowled as she handed a steaming cup of mint tea to her sister. Jamila accepted the tea as Fatima settled her bones on the river bulkhead.

“I am not so old as you, sister,” Jamila said, sipping her tea. The tea fragrance carried them back to fall harvest in their mountain  village. As young girls, Fatima and Jamila had worked long hours in their father’s fields.

Now, fall was gone and the damp winters of Rabat pained Fatima’s arthritis. They sat in silence, sipping their tea as the green black waters of Bou Regreg sludged past.

“I do not know why we still come here,” Jamila said.

“Because our husbands do not like it,” Fatima replied and they laughed. There are few satisfying rebellions for a Muslim woman and Fatima and Jamila practiced them often.

“What did the doctor say?” Jamila ventured.

“Youssef is too stubborn to tell me,” Fatima said. She savored a sip of tea. “But I know.”

“What?”

“Prostate.”

“How do you know this?” Jamila realized when she asked the question that she shouldn’t have asked the question. Her cheeks colored and Fatima laughed.

“You are too modest, little sister.”

A gusty breeze fluttered the silks of Jamila’s hijab and she drew the scarf tight under her chin. “Mamma had a remedy for such things,” Jamila said, not looking at her sister.

“I know,” Fatima said. “I have been mixing the herbs with his breakfast meal for weeks.

“You have?” Jamila looked up at her sister, eyes wide.

“What our men don’t know…,” and the sisters giggled as girls.

“Has it helped?” Jamila asked and the women laughed again.

“Shush,” Fatima said. “The Imam will see us laughing.”

“As will the All-Seeing-Eye.”

Bou Regreg River.
The Bou Regreg river divides the sister cities of Rabat and Salé, Morocco.

Fatima shivered in the moist river air as the culture of silence settled on the women. She sipped her tea as a lone seagull squawked above.

“How does Saïd at University?”

“Good. Good. He’ll be home in another month.” Jamila watched a fisherman rowing a worn wooden boat against the current. “And how is Asmae and the babies?”

“The babies are noisy, and hungry,” Fatima smiled. “I love having them here. Asmae says that Hakim wants her to come home.”

“It is too soon.”

“That is what I tell her.”

“She must rest, and feed her little ones.”

“So says the Prophet.”

Jamila took a sip of her mint tea and frowned. “My tea grows cold.”

“As do my old bones.”

Hassan Tower Minaret.
Built of red sandstone in the 10th century, Hassan Tower in Rabat, Morocco, was intended to be the tallest minaret in the world

Fatima and Jamila both twisted their bodies and stood up as old women. When the  Adhan call to prayer echoed across the river they looked up to the minaret.

“The Muezzin is in good voice today.”

“He always sounds good on those days when we aren’t required to be there.” The sisters exchanged guilty smirks.

“Next Friday?”

“Until then.”

“You bring the tea.”

They smiled and embraced.

“Allāhu Akbar.”

“Allāhu Akbar.”

The mournful Muezzin’s call echoed across the cobblestones as the sisters plodded toward home.

Rabat, Morocco cobblestones.
Cobblestones, replaced through the centuries, still provide the foundation for streets in the ancient quarter of Rabat, Morocco.

Morocco–Kingdom of the West

On assignment, I flew in to Rabat, Morocco, on a private jet. As our team proceeded through customs, the agents held us up.

What were we planning to do?
What were we planning to film?
Where would we be going?

Moroccan media is tightly controlled and monitored by the Government. King Mohammed VI takes a personal interest in the message of his country. Foreigners can’t be trusted to portray an accurate or truthful picture of life in Morocco.

Hassan Tower, Rabat, Morocco.
Built of red sandstone in the 10th century, Hassan Tower in Rabat, Morocco, was intended to be the tallest minaret in the world.

Rabat is the capitol city of The Kingdom of Morocco. Casablanca, made famous by the movie, is the country’s largest city. For more than a thousand years, the Western Kingdom of Morocco, or Marrakesh, was a powerful African dynasty.

Gun turrets of the Kasbah of the Udayas.
Built in the 10th Century A.D.,cannons of the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, Morocco would fire on Barbary pirates as they sailed up the Bou Regreg River.

Morocco is one of only three countries which have both a Mediterranean and Atlantic coast. From the 16th through 19th centuries, Barbary Pirates attacked ships and traded slaves along the Berber Coasts of Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia and Libya. In 1805, the United States executed a marginally successful military action against members of the Ottoman Empire in an effort to destroy the pirates and free American slaves.  With European colonialism seeking to dominate much of Africa, political and economic tensions grew during the latter part of the 19th century. Moroccan independence essentially ended when France signed a treaty designating Morocco as a French protectorate in 1912. The French governed Morocco until 1956 when Sultan Mohammed V successfully negotiated Moroccan independence.

Mausoleum of Mohammed V.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is the resting place of the late King of Morocco, along with his two sons, King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.

With Mohammed V’s succession to the throne, the spirit of independence and the power of the Monarchy re-emerged in Morocco. Mohammed V ruled for just 5 years. His son, Hassan II, became king upon his father’s death. Hassan II died in 1999 and his son, Mohammed VI, ascended to the throne.

As King, Mohammed VI has implemented progressive changes in Morocco, adopting a new constitution reducing the overall powers of the Monarchy while implementing a Parliamentary government with an  appointed  Prime Minister. Yet, Mohammed VI still wields tremendous power and controls much of the country’s resources.  He personally owns the country’s phosphate mines, which account for 75% of the world’s reserves and he has a net worth greater than the Queen of England.

Fisherman on the Bou Regreg river.
A man watches the waters of Bou Regreg river for signs of fish, while empty boats rest on the opposite shore.

According to the World Health Organization, poverty remains high in Morocco. While Mohammed VI has placed modest emphasis on reducing the widening gap between rich and poor, civil rights abuses, government corruption and economic distress account for an increasingly disaffected populous. On the world stage, The United Nations has criticized Morocco for military action and occupation of a Western Saharan region populated by the indigenous Sahwari people who claim Western Sahara belongs to them.

As we stood in the customs office, the agents explained that we could not bring our equipment into their country. We must return our equipment to the airplane or we would not be allowed to enter. So, we shlepped our heavy black pelican cases back out on to the tarmac and stowed them on the plane.

I keep a camera in my backpack.

Traditional Palace Guards, Rabat, Morocco.
Ceremonial Palace Guards in traditional costume, stand watch on horseback over the official residence of King Mohammed VI.

Politics and customs agents aside,  a highlight of my visit to Morocco was eating lunch at a traditional restaurant which required ritual hand washing before eating.  I held my hands over a beautiful ceramic basin as the Maitre d’ poured warm water from a hand painted glazed pitcher. Another waiter provided a warm towel to dry with. I don’t remember much about the food, but, as we were leaving the restaurant, the Maitre d’ repeated the washing experience by pouring warm rose water over our hands. The scent was strong and pleasing and stayed with me throughout the day.

Now, when I catch the scent of roses, I am transported back to that tiny restaurant in Rabat. I hear the call to prayer echoing across the ancient city and I want to reach in my backpack and check to see if my camera is still there.

Aruba–Bodies in the Sand

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya…
Beach Boys

Palm Beach Aruba Couple from James Dalrymple on Vimeo.

I enjoy the four seasons, I really do, especially Vivaldi’s. When it comes to the weather, I like it warm. Hot. Rarely is it ever too hot. I live in Utah. This week, Thanksgiving week, it is supposed to snow. Don’t get me wrong, I like snow. I even like to shovel snow. I just don’t like the cold that comes with the snow. I would enjoy the four seasons more in Aruba, where the average high temperature in November is 86ºƒ and the low temperature is 71ºƒ. Gentle breezes blow all year round and the temperature never varies by more than a few degrees.

I’ve been to Aruba.
I want to go back.

As our family gathers for the holidays, I give thanks for the warmth of home, family, food and abundant blessings. However, as the snow begins to fly, I will turn my electric blanket up and dream of warm Caribbean waters, tropical breezes and the white sands of Aruba. And, I will return, at least in my blog.

Paris & Children

Sao Paulo Grouping.
Work can be hard to come by in Sao Paulo. Sometimes it is easier to just hang out on the steps of the Grand Theater.

I believe we are brothers and sisters, all of us, sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven.  I have not yet been to every country, but, I have been to every continent. I have found that kindness, love and compassion unite us regardless of political or religious belief. We are, all of us, one family.

Arc de Triomphe
At the tip of the Champs-Élysées, Napoléon’s arch is still the grand entrance to Paris.

So, when events transpire like that which took place in Paris last week, the ground beneath our feet quakes with the shaking of our collective faith. Anger burns, like bile, in the back of our throats and we want to do something, anything to stop the violence.

I acknowledge the existence of evil. There are those who would take without giving, lie without conscience, hurt without reason, compel without care and kill without remorse. Their numbers are growing.

The events of Paris are repeated regularly in places of less visibility, and we do not notice, except when these events touch the outskirts of our neighborhoods or reach the screens of our mobile devices.

Evil thrives when our faith in God and each other is diminished. Mistrust increases when our differences, rather than our similarities are emphasized. Fear takes root when acts of violence claim the lives of our friends and our children.

Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters give away their rights to make a difference as leaders of small and large countries tell us tales we should not believe. We do not build a better world when we ignore an approaching tsunami of self-interest.

September 11 should remind us of lessons taught, though not yet learned. The same God who made us all will not take from us the agency to choose our own paths. Our condemnation will grow from our reluctance to use this agency to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters. Evil grows in the cracks and crags of our own cowardice when we do not rise up to condemn and combat its growing influence.

Bande Village, DR Congo
The men and children of Bande Village in DR Congo.

And they suffer most who are not able to comprehend a world of cruel intent–the children. Yet, it is in the eyes of the children that I see hope. It is in the hearts of the children that I find love, and compassion, and the courage to be good.

I believe God loves us and that he has a plan for us. For some, this plan includes great deeds. For most of us, this plan includes simple acts of kindness. Wherever and whenever I travel, I see evidence of His plan in the eyes of our children.

 

Mat Maker, Yamoransah Village, Ghana

Cedar City Art Walk Image 10.

This is the last of ten images in my show at the Cedar City Art Walk, in Cedar City, Utah. If you haven’t yet seen the show, there is still time. The show runs through the end of the month. If you can’t see the show check out each of the images on my blog. Thanks for stopping by.

Woman works with root fibers
Working with root fibers in Yamoransah village, Ghana.

Her fingers were relentless, working the root fibers back and forth, back and forth, smooth; arms and shoulders made strong with the repetition of mat making. In a crumbling stone building, the women of Yamoransah toil daily to transform roots into food. Mats are a useful by-product.

She showed me how she made them; the same way her mother made them, and her grandmother before her; the heat of West Africa bringing nothing more than a sheen to her chocolate smooth skin, while I was drenched in sweat.

Without words we watched each other work, I with my camera, she with her body. When I motioned for permission to take her photograph, she held my gaze. I looked in her eyes and she did not look away. Our worlds were separated by barely bridgeable miles and Lifetimes of experience. Our lives were mutually incomprehensible. Yet, in this moment I was blessed by her grace. I left Yamoransah with more than I expected.

 

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

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Woman in White, Istanbul

Cedar City Art Walk Image 9.

Woman in White, Istanbul
In coverings of her faith, an old woman waits for answers to her unuttered prayers.

Dressed in white,
in the attitude of prayer,
she rested on a bench in the courtyard of a mosque.

Some great need, a solemn request, or perhaps, a simple expression of gratitude lengthened her stay in the morning shadows.

Eyes closed, head bowed, her lips moved. I could not hear the words, yet, I watched, to see if God might come to her in this place.

She felt my presence and looked up. Her eyes spoke volumes.

Surely, God would grant her request.

 

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

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Lubumbashi Uncle

Cedar City Art Walk Image 8.

Lubumbashi Uncle
After the storm, Uncle watched as we played with his brother’s family.

We’d been invited to visit a family in the town of Lubumbashi. The journey was rugged. It had rained. Roads were muddy. Occasional lighting flashed and thunder cracked. Their home was modest, brick and stone. Uncle sat outside watching us pull up in our Land Rover. He did not speak English. We could not communicate in words. As we played with his brother’s children, Uncle remained in his chair, following us with his eyes, perspiration glistening his skin in the moist afternoon heat. When I asked about his story, they simply said, “He has seen much.” I showed him my camera, hoping for permission to take his picture.

Our eyes met. He nodded, but did not smile.

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

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