Michelle and Maureen

Sunday Ms Dowd of the NYT did a column on the oddity that Iowa with it's gay marriage acceptance was usurping the coolness of places like California and New York...and noted how
Obama may be behind the curve on all things cool in Des Moines, perhaps in need of more gays around the oval office....or better said:

“If more homosexuals were in the Obamas’ lives, there is no way Michelle would have worn a twin set when she met the queen.”

I Killed a Dog Today

I ran across some hunters in a parking lot just inside Murfreesboro. They had a deer tied up in the back of the truck and a small gathering of admirers (it was a 10-pointer). I made a quick decision to stop and pulled through the lot, parked close by and pulled the camera out of the back. No problem taking a picture, they said, and the shooter jumped up on the truck and posed. I drove to Fayetteville and back this weekend. Picked up Herb at the farm on the way down, and told him my story. "I hate that," he said. "I don't have anything against the hunting, but they don't have to tie them to the hood of their car or hang em over the back and parade em through town. They could put em in the back and cover em with a tarp or something."

All the way down, I saw one dead deer after another on the side of the road, and thought how big and needy this herd must be. And how petrifying it must be to be caught on a highway.

I dropped Herb off on the way home, came around a curve and a medium-sized dog walked in front of my car. It seemed to be slow motion in an instant. But I remember making the decision to hit him. I was doing 60, there was oncoming traffic, two cars on my bumper, and a ditch three feet off the shoulder. If I had hit the brakes, I would have still hit him, only they would have locked and I'd be rolling across a field. Swerving would be a similar story. So I gripped the wheel harder, and then came the thud.

My air was sucked out, and I can't remember feeling that sad in a long time. I put the car on cruise control, and was shaken the rest of the way. I'd killed a dog.

Remembering Fred

It's funny what you keep. We throw away a lot of things that would still have purpose for many, and we hang on to seemingly useless things, often only because of some sentiment somewhere along the line. My father died when I was 17, and more than 30 years later I have an odd assortment of his belongings, that I don't pay much attention to. Most are in boxes in the attic. An assortment of military hats and belts and clothing from his marine days and time in Korea. Some books, often pen and ink art tombs on rendering techniques. Some of his drawings from engineering school at NC State. I have an old Fayetteville High School T-shirt from his school days. It is not in the attic. It's in my chest of drawers along with all the other clothes I really wear. When Walker was young, I draped it over him, when he was so small it hit the floor. I don't even know why it was important to hang onto the shirt, or take my son's picture in it. But I did and I have it. The picture and the tee shirt. It's too fragile to be worn, but it still lives in the drawer, like my life's paper weight. And one pair of shoes I've kept. I think my father loved shoes. And I think he loved the idea of looking dapper. He had good ties, dress shirts in nice colors, and seersucker suits in summer. But always good shoes. So I hung on to this pair of black and white wing tips. I don't know why other than they appealed to me. I couldn't wear them, surprisingly too small. And I'm sure I was early on my way to becoming a shooter and thought somehow they'd be something to shoot someday. Evidence to be captured that my dad was alive and well and stylish, though I remember so little of him now.

So I pulled one out of the studio closet the other day when I was working a Tank watch shot for a magazine. Here's to new memories.

(click on photo to enlarge)

Decisive Moments and the Cooke House Girls

Earlier this year, an image I shot a few years back was picked for a juried show in Richmond. One of the curators called with the news, noting that three of the five images we'd submitted were picked to make up the 20-photograph show. "The judges also picked one of your images as best in show," he added, "and it wasn't really a hard choice. They all felt drawn to the moment and strength and stripped-bare honestly of the photograph." It means a lot that people may like your work, but this was an image in particular that I have looked back on and loved that I was there and all the buttons worked.

That the juried panel (including a curator for the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and David Allen Harvey, the venerable and God-like shooter for decades at Nat. Geo), found it their favorite was very special.

I remember the afternoon, sitting on the back lawn of the old and grand oceanfront house down the street. Relatives of this cedar shake compound had come down from Vermont for their annual summer visit, other friends had joined the group and the yard was full of children including my own. I was casually shooting some of the activity and visiting with parents. One pretty girl eased up and stood posing for a second in a summer dress, when her friend came along to eye the situation. A younger toddler was passing through the frame, and on a different day I might have waited for him to pass. Instead I clicked through it, and there it was, a moment of preening and jealousy on a summer day in the grass.

(click on image to enlarge)

Dogs in the Surf

Just moved into September and what must be the Fall around the corner. We've tried to get the dogs to the beach everyday. On the weekends in the mornings, weekdays mostly in the evening. Sometimes Walker takes the younger Henry by himself. Sometimes he and I take Henry and Lucky. And then sometimes, like tonight I go with both of them on my on. This is the most harrowing. I spend the one block journey to the beach trying to hold on for all our lives (on the return they are gentlemanly, tired and enjoyable). But once across Atlantic Ave and free of tether, they bound off nipping at each other racing toward the sea. Sometimes I have a camera, and sometimes they give me one perfect formation. The single mindedness of a Lab and a tennis ball. Two neighbor dogs join Henry and Lucky and the chase is on. But the great gift they give, they couldn't realize. Without these two dogs cajoling us as the afternoon gets long, we might not go to the beach everyday. And we'd deprive ourselves of the very reason we came here. Crashing water and sand and dunes with waving grasses, breezes that give way to perfect endings and dreamy skies.

(click on image to enlarge)

Ted Kennedy

Found this line from Ted Jr.'s eulogy particularly resonant: "Even our most profound losses are survivable.... It is what we do with that loss -- our ability to turn it into a positive," that matters. Forwarded from a friend.

My Son at the Bus Stop

I was away on shoot when Walker had his first day of high school. It was a half day walk through for rising 9th graders, to see the school, walk the halls and get a leg up on the routine that starts in earnest next week after Labor Day. So I wasn't there at the bus stop to see him off and witness how he started his day. It wasn't until two strangers knocked on the door that evening around 10pm that the story emerged. Mike and Robin Katz introduced themselves and handed me a bag with cookies and letter. They said their son Joey was also at the bus stop that morning, nervously awaiting his own first day at high school. Challenged by autism, he was facing a new school in a new town. Walker had picked up on this, and befriended Joey on this their first day of high school. After walking them to the street and hearing them tell me what a great kid we had, I returned to hear my son reread the letter to a teary mother. What a great way to start the year. Here's the letter.


Moving from Ohio to Virginia was huge leap of faith for our family. Robin grew up here, but when she was just four years older than you are now; she moved to Ohio and has only returned to the area for visits. Michael and Joey have lived in Ohio their entire lives!

As I’m sure you know, parents always want the best for their children and they try to shield them from pain while giving them the freedom they need to grow and experience life themselves. Joey is our youngest and this morning faced going to a new school in a new city, without knowing a single person. As his parents, we were concerned about this, and walked to the bus this morning with Joey with heavy hearts.

Our walk home from the bus stop this morning (and again in the afternoon) was much different. Our hearts were full with joy and optimism. This was because we met you. You are a wonderful young man. You appear confident and your actions show great compassion for others. You brought more sunshine into our lives in one day than you could ever imagine. Surely your parents are proud of the young man you have become.

We have enclosed some sweet treats for you and your family. These cookies were made by a company in our former hometown. Again, we thank you for your kindness and look forward to seeing you and your family in the days ahead. We are leaving town early Thursday and will not return until late the night before school starts. Enjoy the rest of your summer and we will see you at the bus stop!

Summer shoots on the Eastern Shore

Hard to believe it's mid August and the summer is fast moving to fall. On the Eastern Shore some weeks back we photographed Shanna and her son. A school teacher and waitress at the restaurant just up the street from our house, she grew up on the shore and lives just down the road from Onancock.

Picture World Hope

Christie Kelly and I have been working with two friends on the west coast to start a new business initiative that would link photographers, film makers. designers and marketing gurus to non profits to help them increase their awareness, and ability to raise funds. PWH is the brainchild of Kathleen Hennessey and Barb Ries. I joined the collaboration last winter and we've been working on our own website before venturing out to find clients. Many thanks to Megan Reed, who helped us with the design and programming. Have a look.

A trip to the Stars.

Here's to the joys of summer, and the adventures of rockets and beetle spaceships. Where on just the right night when balmy breezes push cotton candy smells across the dusty fairgrounds, there's just enough magic to soar past the ferris wheel, circle back for one last wave to mom then zoom on to a night of adventure. Buckle up cowboy, your world is circling.

(With acknowledgement to the Wachapreague Volunteer Fireman's Carnival on the Eastern Shore.)

Modern Love and my sister

My younger sister sent me an email about an article she read along with some thoughts of her own. I am intrigued by what stirs people to forward something and talk about. As if its a small way of knowing what stirs people's souls. So look at this two page article and enjoy. Along with my sis's comments below.

I was really struck by this article for some reason, even though I'm no longer married and it didn't directly relate to my scenario. it stayed with me after I read it the other night, though, maybe more from the perspective of being a person in 'mid-life'.

I guess I just thought she wrote eloquently about what a struggle it can be to undergo so much change and angst and self-doubt as you get older -- and that that's even harder when you're simultaneously trying to be not only a good partner but a good parent. how many people have you seen completely abandon the trappings/the scaffolding of their lives thinking that will fix the way they feel and then end up with the same angst, plus all the fallout from the divorce?

all of that aside, of course I know all too well that sometimes it is the relationship that's causing a lot of the pain and it's not just a matter of sticking with it and working through your individual 'stuff.'

the one glaring/annoying thing was that I thought that her speech to her husband didn't sound like something a human being would say; it was way too calm and clinical ... like something a completely detached psychotherapist would say, instead of a human being in pain. I'm guessing the actual conversation was not quite so calm, and maybe she couldn't print the exact words she chose...

try to remind myself of the two Big Life suggestions I was thinking of painting on a sign for my A.

1) Be kind.
2) Pay attention.

The first one seems to be damned hard for some human beings to pull off, particularly with the people they're really SUPPOSED to be the most kind to... the second one covers a lot of ground, I think .. paying attention will keep you safe, make you successful, ensure that you don't miss out on a lot of very cool stuff around you that most people don't notice AND paying attention usually helps you be kind, as you notice when people around you are in particular need of it.

Okay, I'm done now. Sis.

The Consequences of War

In an article from yesterday's NY Times

"The number of suicides reported by the Army has risen to the highest level since record-keeping began three decades ago. Last year, there were 192 among active-duty soldiers and soldiers on inactive reserve status, twice as many as in 2003, when the war began. (Five more suspected suicides are still being investigated.) This year’s figure is likely to be even higher: from January to mid-July, 129 suicides were confirmed or suspected, more than the number of American soldiers who died in combat during the same period."

The Health Care Scare

Everyone's up in arms over the Obama administration's proposed health care overhaul. And while I won't pretend to be totally tuned in on all it's nuances, the biggest concern seems to be the price tag: It costs too much money. It will bankrupt our children. And the level of care will be diminished. Maybe so, but let's back up. This initiative I believe grew out of a well-meaning concern that some 47 or so million people in US can't afford health care. I certainly think it's a noble idea to want everyone in this country to have health insurance and access to the best in health care.

So to those folks who claim we're moving too fast on this, and that the price tag is too high, I say "where were you in the run up to the war with Iraq?" I heard not near the push back to slow down the process in going to war. The Bush administration did a brilliant job in making Congress and nation feel as though this "inevitable" war was needed in the fastest possible terms (before we could blink). Even today, few people debate the continued cost of hanging out in the Middle East. So lest you think I digress, let me get to where I'm going with this.

If we can afford to go to war with Iraq, we can afford to insure all Americans. A quick look at the numbers.

Monthly spending in Iraq in 2008, $12 billion. That's right, $12 billion a month
Cost of deploying one US soldier for one year in Iraq $390,000.
Lost and unaccounted for in Iraq, $9 billion in taxpayer money.
Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces.
Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings.
Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion
Amount paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items - $20 billion.
Portion of the $20 billion paid to KBR that Pentagon auditors deem "questionable or supportable" - $3.2 billion.

The numbers and staggering tragedy have seemingly lulled us into some apathetic stupor. With all the troubles at home including unemployment and the housing crisis, perhaps we can't blame the American public for turning its attention inward.

Bottom line, lets say we take $47 million dollars out of the $900 billion spent or approved for spending in Iraq through the first half of 2009, and give each of the American uninsured $1 million each to put in escrow to pay healthcare premiums for the rest of their lives. Then we take another (number out of the air) $1 billion dollars to pay for the actual healthcare these individuals may need throughout their life. Done. So for about 1/10 of one percent of what we've spent in Iraq, we could have essentially solved the problem of the uninsured in America.

I know there are those who will say it's not that easy. Because that's an easy thing to say.