May 29, 2008

the poetry is in the details

hints of my recent wanderings...

there is a poem somewhere here in it all

May 27, 2008

Chronic Malnutrition

As I'm starting to plan my next getaway adventure abroad, I'm reminded of my last. David and I wandered Guatemala for a little under one month in January. The more eyes that see these photos, the more people know something I didn't before my trip: Guatemala has the highest rate of childhood malnutrition in the Western Hemisphere, more so than Haiti.
One of our many stops took us way off the gringo path to Eastern Guatemala, an arid, impoverished region. By a stroke of fate after hiking from one town to another, a man drove up to us asking where we were headed and offered to take us by a malnutrition clinic up a winding dirt road. Within minutes of hopping out of his truck and thanking him, I was face to face with Elda, a 2-year-old whose weight and ability betrayed her age. She looked and acted like a 6 month old. An underdeveloped 6 month old, instead of an underdeveloped 2-year-old.
She weighed less than 20 pounds after more than 60 days of being fed almost every hour.

Dejad en paz a los niños y no les estorbeis de venir a Mi. [Matthew 19:13-14]

Unlike most toddlers her age, Elda does not talk. She cannot stand or sit up. She suffers from chronic malnutrition and has lived in the clinic, away from her mother and family, for two months. She is fed formula, vitamins, meals throughout the day.Her legs are missing the pudge and dimples on healthy children her age, but, beyond the obvious external differences, Elda's brain missed the important nutrients and nutrition it needed to develop normally. She is one of many.

According to UNICEF, an estimated 53% of children who die under the age of five in Guatemala die as a result of complications due to malnutrition.Before a child is born, the odds are against her. Her mother never ate the right foods to feed her fetus. Her mother is most likely short (like many of the Mayans in Guatemala) due to suffering from malnourishment, as well. With failed crops and coffee exports, families live off tortillas and beans.
Guatemala has the highest rates of malnourished children in Central and South America.
In fact, it has the highest rate in the Western hemisphere.
It is estimated that more than half of Guatemalan children under five suffer from malnutrition. In 2001, the clinic we visited in rural Jocotán reported 25 starvation deaths.If you're interested in helping this clinic, now is the time as June is the peak of the hungry season, which is year-round. They have more hungry children than bowls to feed them. My contact there is:
Gloria Calderon
Dispensario Bethania
Jocotan, Chiquimula, Guatemala

May 23, 2008

white noise

i listen to the whitenoise
it purrs through the night

not because i can't sleep

because you can't

or couldn't

a red light flickered above my bed
the smoke detector
watching with its red eye

i thought, for a moment,
it was
out of the corner of my eye
a firefly

trapped in the jar
of my room

fluttering above

i'm discomforted
by my comforter

i'm missing you

since feeling is first

jackie and i walked with asha just before sunset last night
through the perfume of gardenias

(also, one of my favorite people just launched her website: so go take a gander)

May 19, 2008


i will preface this by saying i have never been athletic. i danced elementary through high school, but never played team sports. well except when i was 5-years-old-- i played soccer for a season and spent every game drawing in the dirt with my cleat on the field completely oblivious to rules or even where the ball was.

i shot soccer tonight, which was a treat because i rarely shoot sports and haven't shot in a long time. lemme just say, these young women made the chronicle's wednesday night kickball games seem very, very weak.

May 16, 2008


i got to hang out at the set of the filming of Kerberos last weekend during a hostage scene. (david is working as DP on the indie action movie all month--he's center, purple).
even though i knew the shots fired were blanks and the blood was fake, it was easy to get wrapped up in the intensity of the scenes.

May 14, 2008

portraiture woes

it really depends on who you are, but i can be very demanding and bossy.
however, when it comes to photography, i am uncomfortable telling people what to do. for this reason, i love documentary photojournalism and tend to despise portraiture. i enjoy figuring out where to place myself so the light, person, action, scene all add up to a great documentary frame. for some reason i have trouble translating this into portraiture. i'm told by a good friend that portraits can be fun if you just use all the elements that you wish for during a documentary shoot, whether it be nice window light or a cleaner background or interesting layers. use the control you've been given.
well, if a portrait subject is comfortable and expresses they'll do anything for the portrait, i can loosen up and have fun. but same goes for the opposite, people who are being photographed with expectations of it being a quick shoot or who don't like having their photo taken rub off on me and i try to rush and escape the discomfort.
lately, i've become a bit more confident with portraits, which is lucky because i pushed for and was given a portrait column on teen cliques. (i'll post the teen column shots once the column stops running.) i want to get better at lighting and knowing how to make people relax and how to tell them what to do no matter their discomfort with having their image taken or their expectations. i'm working on it. people at the newspaper can often tell which photos are mine and i hope to develop a portraiture style of my own, as well.

here is a frame from a last second singer/songwriter portrait assignment i got yesterday. the musician told me he was game for anything after the reporter told him about some of my cooler photos in his memory. so after i shot a solid obvious playing guitar frame, i experimented with the stairs...

May 11, 2008


Mothers have unbelievable strengths. Unknown to them even, I think.

The image below is from a project I worked on last year. Diana, 5, had just undergone surgery to remove a chemotherapy port in her chest. Diana, like most 5 year olds, is a wild little spitfire. Diana, unlike most 5 year olds, had cancer. I never saw her mother flinch. She rolls with the kicks and punches with ease.

"I did really well my first two years of school and I thought, Can I do both? Can I be a good student and become a good physician and be a good mommy, too?' " Amanda Matthews said.

Amanda Matthews holds her daughter Addie, 10 months, in her North Augusta home. Mrs. Matthews gave birth to Addie in the summer between her second and third years in medical school. She did rounds and surgeries with swollen ankles, while 7 months pregnant. Since then, she's done well enough balancing motherhood and medical school that she won the Georgia Woman of the Year Scholarship for her academic and volunteer work and graduated Friday.

Thursday Frank, my mother's partner, graduated from nursing school. A party, with bluegrass music, twinkling lights and friends, was thrown in honor of all of his hard work.
On the way home from Columbia, after the party, I stumbled upon a Christian radio station where they discussed a wife's responsibility to empower her husband. Behind every great man, stands a great woman.
That applies with Frank.
But much more so, that applies with me, my brother, my mom's countless students.
Behind a great child, stands a greater mother.
Cheesie, yea. But the older I get, the more I am in complete awe of my mother's endless patience, compassion, wisdom and willingness to help people.
I wrote this about my mom 2 years ago. it still holds true.

this is a quiet moment between laughing and dancing, toward the end of frank's graduation party. the band was winding down. my brother and his wife sit to the left, my sister next to them and my beautiful mom on the right.
here's to great moms. (including my wonderful step-mom Gina!)
Happy Mothers Day.

My equally smart, equally goofy mother and Frank dancing in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

May 7, 2008

Gossips, Dogs, Horses, Baldies, Colors, Crosses, Oh My!

lately, i've gotten pretty bad about saving my daily photos... these are a couple that have been sitting in a folder on my desktop.

an illustration on high school girls who gossip:
from a feature on a local musician and piano salesman's home:
Chevelle Candians at the Audobon Society's Carriage Drive:
Education Students play word games with children at the Boys & Girls Club:
A Cross Walk:
Police officers shaved their heads for their coworker (center) who has cancer:

May 3, 2008

my love story.

first i fell in love with this man's smile
then his photographs

then his mind... and beard.

and here's how it happened:

act i.

2 years ago, on cinco de mayo, this boy appeared.
i'd gone to college with him a year and a half before. i'd taken a photo class with him, he was chief photographer on the photo staff i was on at the college paper. yea, there might've been a slight crush, let's call it a mild appreciation for his beaming smile, but that was about all.

act ii

he reappeared at such a strange time in my life. a time perfect for his re-arrival.
since i'd first met david, i have always been drawn to his eye. he sees color and light like no one else i know. i love that we'll both see the same beautiful scene in such different ways. he was my favorite photographer i knew, mostly because he shoots in a way i don't and can't.
anyways, i was living in a very small town, working more hours and assignments than i ever had -- sometimes without time to eat, and with no friends. one day, weeks, maybe a month or two, before cinco de mayo, he called me. it was actually quite strange and out of the blue for him to call me. since college he'd called me only once, about a year before, to ask about becoming a vegetarian. and that was it. i'd bumped into him at a party a little before the phone call and the smile was even brighter. but that was it. the random phonecall, the one out of the blue, was such a brightness. we ended up talking for hours. he told me the next night that he'd never talked to anyone on the phone that long. he hated phones. yet, he called me again. every night. he'd go into his backyard in the dark and call me, under the stars. i started calling him. more. more. loving his sweet sensitivity and his easy laugh.
then i suggested he come visit. a trip to the beach was in order. (thank god there was a beach near that sosmalltown.)
he was in athens, over 8 hours away, growing tired of the familiarities there. i was starving for company, a break in the stress and a fellow photographer who was equally passionate about photojournalism.

he came.

act iii

my memory of his arrival is just like a movie.
which is strange.
my memory is usually more of snips and snapshots.
i don't tend to remember moods or motions very vividly.
but this memory is different. maybe exaggerated. maybe not even completely true.
certainly not something i could wholly describe, no, not the way it fondly plays in my head.
after hours on the interstate, crossing two state lines and secretly stopping at a gas station to buy me pinwheels, he told me he was turning onto my street. i told him i'd go outside and wait. (let's be honest here, i was anxiously awaiting his arrival since he'd surprisingly announced he would visit.)
i was so nervous.
i had no idea what him eagerly agreeing to come meant, but welcomed any familiar face to my lonely town.
wearing my ratty hot pink slippers, i stood in the dusky evening on the sidewalk, peeking down the street.
he pulled into the gravel lot across the street. his tires grinding against the rocks instantly became second violin to my pounding heart.
i tiptoed to the middle of the street.
heart racing. standing on the yellow dashed lines.
(it's racing now. just remembering.)
he got out of his car, walked right up to me, in the middle of the street, and hugged me.

as if that was something we'd always done.

i melted.

two years ago. cinco de mayo, 2006.
he was mine. just like that.