Tag Archives: Street Photography

Spice Bazaar–Istanbul

Before my eyes could adjust, the smell was upon me–pungent and powerful. My eyes were stinging with scents I did not recognize. Inside the ancient spice bazaar, crowds were swirling, the noise was disorienting. Shop keepers smiled and nodded at weathered women. Women scowled back in negotiation. Shouting began as a wave that crested and broke over exotic shops in the tidal rhythm of the ancient spice trade.

IMG_2930_Burka
Islam is the most populous major religion in Turkey. Although no longer required, many women still wear the burka in public.

I raised my camera to capture the confusion and she froze. Perhaps she thought her burka made her invisible. Amidst the current of chaos she had been invisible. I would not have noticed the androgynous shape among the many shapes in motion.  It was in that moment of pause that our eyes met. Her eyes were all I could see. Sights and sounds and people were swirling about us and I could see her eyes.

Sadness.

I think that’s what I felt. I’m not sure if that’s what I saw.

She raised her hand, translucent against her robes and I took the photograph. We stood there for moments, centuries swirling before us. I could not see beneath her coverings. I had no desire to violate tradition. But in that moment, in her eyes, I could sense a depth of inner life, hidden beneath the burka; hopes, dreams, struggles, desires, hiding in the Misir Carsisi Spice Bazaar, in Istanbul.

Just a Few More Minutes in Venice, Please

Venice is beautiful, rain or shine. The sun was warm and the sky was blue for the 90 minutes I spent there. I was fortunate. The weather changes every few hours.

IMG_8680_Gondola PrepVenice is romantic. If you find yourself in Venice with someone you love, take a Gondola ride. ‘O Sole mio…

Venice is old. Walk the cobblestone streets on stones older than the renaissance. See nightmarish masks on display in the shops. Now worn for carnival, the Medico della Peste mask became a symbol of the  ravages of black death from dark ages.

Venice is sinking. Originally built on 117 islands separated by canals, scientist think the fabled city is sinking by approximately 7 inches per century. It may be that you want to get your scuba diving certificate.

Venice is vibrant. Whether you know her as the Queen of the Adriatic, the City of Water, the City of Canals, the City of Masks, the City of Bridges, or the Floating City, the radiant colors of Venice will entice you to stop for a visit, and, perhaps, to stay for few minutes.

Venice, Italy, 1

IMG_8584_Fresh ProduceThe sun was up, but it was still early. Most of the shops were not yet open. Sleepy shopkeepers were drinking coffee in the morning light–steam rising from their mugs. Tourists were beginning to mill about, anxious to find bargains.

I had to catch a plane in two hours.

I often regret not having enough time to spend in beautiful places. Sometimes that regret prevents me from enjoying what I can see. If you only had an hour to spend in one of the world’s most visited and storied cities, what would you do?

Antonio Vivaldi, recognized as one of the greatest baroque composers, was born in Venice in 1678. He attempted, quite successfully, to capture the Four Seasons in four violin concertos. I didn’t have enough time to listen to them.

So, I took my camera and tried to capture the moment.

Eiffel Tower Lights

The longest night of the year. Darkness. Winter. Rain. Snow.

I’m looking for, longing for the light.

A beacon from the City of Lights calls to me.

The Eiffel Tower, built in 1889, pierces the dark of night and illuminates the light of love, by day.

Over 1000 feet high, the Eiffel Tower stood as the tallest structure in the world for nearly 40 years. Originally criticized for his design, Gustave Eiffel created the iconic symbol of France which has become one of the most recognizable and most visited monuments in the world.

Last night, as I shop-vac’d nearly 100 gallons of rainwater from an outside window-well at my house, I thought, for just a moment, that I could see a beacon light piercing the clouds, lighting the way. I was back, back in Paris, standing under the Eiffel Tower, eating nutella crepes. Then, the rain turned to snow and a cold drip ran down my neck. I hate it when that happens.

Even on the longest, darkest night of the year, even in a storm, the Eiffel Tower still lights the famous City of Lights. I guess just I’ll have to look at my pictures.

Magic in Marcy en Beaujolais, France

First of all let me say, I don’t drink wine. I don’t drink alcohol. However, I do love grape juice.

_MGL7969_70_71_FarmlandOn assignment, I was staying in a bed and breakfast in Marcy en Beaujolias, a tiny village in French wine country, not far from Lyon, France. Not wanting to miss out on seeing the country side, I went for a walk early one morning. I only had an hour before I had to leave, so, as usual, I was in a hurry.

_MGL8018_Rock Wall WindowThe morning was beautiful. The late September sun was casting long morning shadows on stone walls and stone balconies built in the twelfth century. I was transported in time. As I walked, I quickly ran out of village and found myself in the midst of a gorgeous, hilly vineyard countryside. _MGL7916_7_8_wine country vineyardThe grape harvest was in progress. _MGL7943_Red GrapesThe vines were heavy with rich, red grapes, dripping with morning dew. Some of the leaves on the vines were changing from  brilliant green to autumn red, indicating the close of another season.

_MGL7949_Vineyard MasterAn old man, carrying a bucket hand picked and tested the grapes, while a modern, somewhat out of place, harvester, striped the rows of luscious fruit.

On the harvester, another man sorted grapes and plucked the leaves from the harvest, in preparation for processing. The scene was magical, beautiful. I lost track of time as I walked a narrow lane through the vineyard. _MGL7926_7_8_Vineyard RowAs I walked, a truck filled with grapes pulled up next to me. An old man beckoned me to “come, come.” I approached him and he motioned for me to get in the truck. He spoke as much English as I spoke French, next to nothing. The old man’s face was lined with wrinkles, leathered over the course of many seasons in the sun. His hair was gray. His beard was gray. His eyes twinkled. I climbed in the truck. He smiled as we drove through the vineyard. He would point to things as he talked. I enjoyed the view and the lilting sound of his voice, but I had no idea what he was saying.

_MGL7975_Country RoadAfter about fifteen minutes, he backed into an ancient stone building. We got out of the truck as the old man pointed out important parts of his winery, talking non-stop. _MGL7985_Grape offloadingAnother man, younger, shorter, but just as weathered, joined us with a smile. The younger man held a pitchfork in his hands. They pressed a lever and the bed of the truck rose, dumping grapes and juice into a vat below the truck. As the younger man forked the grapes from the truck the older man pointed out a large vat with a spinning mixer, turning and mashing grapes. _MGL7979_Grape VatThe rich fragrance of grape juice was intoxicating. I could tastes the juice in the air it was so think and delicious.

As I took pictures, the old man motioned me to follow. We went down a stone staircase into darkness. He flipped a switch and I was surrounded by gigantic wooden wine barrels. IMG_3422_Wine VatI think he was telling me that this was where they aged the wine. We went further underground into a wine cellar with an arched stone roof. Here, he showcased the Beaujolais wine he was so proud of._MGL7999_Wine Cellar Entrance

After looking around, he led me back up the stone steps into the light. The truck was empty, time for another load. We got back in the truck and he drove me back to the village.

_MGL8000_PierreBefore I left the truck, I asked his name. “Pierre”, he said, “Peter, in English.”  We shook hands and I climbed out of the truck.  Pierre drove away with a smile.  _MGL7925_Vine StakeI stood there, basking in the morning sun amidst the fragrant vineyard of a magical valley deep in the heart of France.  I marveled at the unexpected adventure I had just experienced. Pierre, like his father before him, and his father’s father’s father before them, has been making wine his entire life.  _MGL8083_4_5_Beaujolais Wine CountryOn this day, perhaps unremarkable for him, yet most remarkable for me, Pierre offered a magical glimpse into a tradition that crossed the ages, jumped the stone fences  and bridged our cultures through kindness.  I will not forget his friendship.

So, if you happen to be in Marcy en Beaujolais on a sunny morning during grape harvest season, be sure to take a walk through the vineyards. Look for a gray-haired man with a twinkle in his eye. While I don’t drink wine, I can, wholeheartedly recommend the grape juice.  And, I can say from first-hand experience, there is still magic in the world and kindness without fear.

Seattle–It’s my birthday

I was born in Seattle, at the Swedish Hospital to be exact, September 14, 19..  I’m not embarrassed to say the year; however, people think I look younger than I am. As more birthdays accumulate, I think I’d like to keep it that way.

_MGL6368_69_70_Viewpoint SkylineMy parents were pretty excited to have me. My older brother had been an only child for fifteen-plus years. My parents didn’t think they could have any more children.  When my Mom told my Dad, “It’s time,” my Dad got in the car and started driving, without my Mom–sorta like in the movies. When he came back, my Mom was packed and ready. Both my Mom and my Brother got in the car and my Dad took off. The story goes that he drove ninety-miles-an-hour all the way to the hospital. When he got to the hospital, he pulled into the service station across the street and said, “Fill-er up. And, check the oil.” It took my Mom nearly twenty hours of labor to bring me into the world, so I guess my Dad knew he had time. My Mom didn’t see it the same way, so, my arrival was marked by typically stormy Seattle weather, both inside and outside the hospital.

_MGL6318_Safeco Field Wide ShotI don’t live in Seattle, any more. My Dad has passed away, and my Mom’s memory has faded. But, I still go back, whenever I can. I’m a Seahawks fan. I’m a Mariners fan, except when they play the Dodgers, and I still think the skyline is one of the most beautiful in the world, especially when the sun shines. I’m connected to the place where I started, the place I grew up, the place I called home when I made choices that still define who I am.

Now, when I do go back, I take my camera, I suppose, to capture the images that still show up in my dreams.

Sierra Leone–Malaria meds and a touch of Melodrama

I sat on the balcony of a nice restaurant having dinner with a Doctor and his wife who were serving a medical mission in Sierra Leone.  A large orange sun was slowly sinking into the cool blueness of Freetown bay, and, in spite of the heaviness in the tropical air, I felt a relaxing peace.  The blaring horns and raucous city noise below us were quieting. If it wasn’t so hard to get there, I thought, this might be a nice place to come on vacation.

“Did you take your malaria meds?” the Doctor asked me.

I began to notice the tiny whine of mosquitoes joining us for dinner.

“I did. Yes. Of course.” I had to think back to whether or not really I did take my pill that morning. I thought so, yes, maybe.

“When we first arrived, we had over thirty cases of malaria each month, among the missionaries. Now, with better precautions and proper meds, that number is down to only four.”

My skin began to itch. I buttoned the collar of my shirt, even though I was sweating in the heat.

“We no longer allow the missionaries to hang their laundry outside to dry,” the Doctor continued, “because a certain type of fly they have here buries it’s larvae in the wet laundry. When you put your clothes on, the larvae buries into your skin. You develop a sore and then, two-weeks later, the flies come out.”

Gross.

I looked down. To be honest, I wasn’t even really sure what was on my plate. A few moments ago it had tasted okay, acceptable, good even. Now, I wasn’t hungry.

I looked up at the doctor. “Here,” he said, handing me a packet of pills. “Take these if you start to feel sick. They’ll help. Then, go to the doctor as soon as you get home.”

“Would you excuse me,” I said, “I think I’ll turn in early.”

He smiled. His wife smiled. I rushed from the table as the Doctor said something I couldn’t quite make out.

Later that night, after brushing my teeth with bottled water and taking another malaria pill, just to be sure, I turned out the light and climbed into bed, pulling the mosquito netting close around me. Closing my eyes, I heard it again, that unmistakable tiny whine. That’s when it came to me, what the Doctor had said as I left the table.

“There are many ways to die in Africa.”

As I slowly fell asleep, I was sure there were giant mosquitoes landing on the netting surrounding me. I vowed never to hang my laundry outside to dry. And, I thought that a staycation might be a good idea this year, just as soon as I got home–if I got home.

Sierra Leone–Tragedy and Prayer

IMG_4914_Freetown Sierra LeonSierra Leone means Lion Mountains. Legends say that when European explorers first arrived in Sierra Leone, they could hear thunder in the mountains and thought it was roaring lions.

In 1991 the roaring changed from thunder to rockets as civil war broke out in West Africa. The “blood diamond” war devastated Sierra Leone and killed over 50,000 of its people. The war ended in 2002 but the country is still recovering. The people still remember. The scars are very real.

Now, Sierra Leone faces another crisis.

Ebola.

According to the World Health Organization, this recent Ebola outbreak began in neighboring Guinea, and then spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Associated Press reports that over 1,000 people have died in the outbreak, with Sierra Leone losing over 300 people to the deadly virus. Many more are infected. There is no cure. Two Westerners and one Spaniard have received treatment using an experimental drug and appear to be recovering; however, no one from Africa has yet to receive this treatment.

Fear, heartbreak and anger are growing. Neighboring countries are closing their borders. Quarantine and containment appear to be WHO and Government best practices.

I’ve been to Sierra Leone, twice. Recently. It is a beautiful country, with beautiful people. Yet, it is also a West African country. And, there are many ways to die in West Africa.

As I won’t be going back to Sierra Leone anytime soon, I share these pictures from my recent visits.

I offer prayers for the safety of my friends in Freetown along with prayers for the healing of the sick and the healing of the land.

Faces of Brazil

I’m usually shooting video on assignment. Too often, stills are second priority and I never have enough time. However, when I go out in the streets, I have this compelling desire to capture the essence of the street–documentary style–a story in every frame–a thousand stories in a single image. I don’t consider it stealing, although, I try to take the spirit of a place with me.  I try to be invisible so that I and my camera don’t interrupt the realness of the moment. I rarely succeed. At least, that’s how it feels. Sometimes I get lucky and freeze the moment I was seeing in my mind.  People are my favorite and hardest to shoot. I love to capture the stories that are written in the lines of faces and hands, or, deeply etched on the soul through the eyes–stories I can only invent–stories you will see differently. Perhaps our own stories are written by the ways and means with which we see the world.

Brazil is exciting, vibrant, constantly moving. The scenery is diverse and beautiful. So, too, are the people.