Wednesday, October 29, 2014

With the Dalai Lama (Part 3 of 3)

After spending last week in Vancouver BC photographing the Dalai Lama -- a man who is perhaps the most tireless proponent on our planet for human kindness, compassion and nonviolence -- I am very sad to be back home, where news of America’s most recent school shooting dominates the media. 

I sit at my computer, editing the pictures I shot of the Dalai Lama’s teachings and appearances last week, while my local NPR station tells me the details that are emerging about  an act of gun violence at Marysville Pilchuck High School that left three young people dead and two injured.

My pictures are of the Dalai Lama, leading Tibetan Buddhist prayers for peace.
Others show him when he waded into a crowd and blew breath onto the eyes of a woman with vision problems. In another encounter, he tenderly touched the face of a boy in a wheelchair.

There are happier pictures too: 
His Holiness, posing with two officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
And laughing at one of his own jokes during his teaching.
And speaking to a gathering of Tibetans, a Tibetan flag behind him.
And waving good-bye to me as he departed.

The Dalai Lama has written:

“Relinquish your envy, let go your desire to triumph over others. Instead try to benefit them. With kindness, with courage and confident that in doing so you are sure to meet with success, welcome others with a smile. Be straightforward. Try to be impartial. Treat everyone as if they were a close friend. I say this neither as Dalai Lama nor as someone who has special powers or ability. Of these I have none. I speak as a human being, one who like yourself wishes to be happy and not to suffer. If you cannot for whatever reason be of help to others, at least don’t harm them.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

With the Dalai Lama (Part 2 of 3)

Everywhere I went in Vancouver last week I saw them: Young, old, Asians and Westerners.  Many were holding ceremonial scarves called katas which they hoped to present if he came by, but most I suspect would have been happy just to catch a glimpse of him. Many seemed joyous, but one group of women I saw were overcome by the emotion of the moment and were weeping.

All were waiting for His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. And the respect and affection that people have for the man was obvious.

Yesterday I posted pictures here of Tibetan monks as they made preparations for the Dalai Lama’s visit; and tomorrow I will share pictures I made of the Dalai Lama. 

Today’s photographs. however,  are of everyday people who came out to see the man of peace, winner of the Nobel Prize, but who insists that he’s just “a simple Buddhist monk.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

With the Dalai Lama (Part 1 of 3)

Ask any photojournalist what he or she values most when covering a story or event, and,  most likely, the word you’ll hear in reply will be: “Access.”  Being able to simply hang out someplace where people are engaged in something we find interesting and to make unposed and unchoreographed photographs ...well, that is the scenario that allows us to do our best work.

I spent five days last week in Vancouver, BC, photographing a speech and a teaching given by  His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and much of the the time I had access.  Except for circumstances when I was in very close proximity to the Dalai Lama himself -- where security personnel understandably controlled the situation -- I moved around freely and made images as they presented themselves.

This was the third time I have photographed His Holiness, and it is always amazing to be around him.  To me he is a truly spiritual presence. 

Nevertheless, I must say that my favorite part of last week was the time I spent hanging out with about 15 Tibetan Buddhist monks as they did behind-the-scenes preparations before the Dalai Lama even arrived in Vancouver. The monks chanted and recited prayers, but they also moved furniture, built a throne for His Holiness, and fashioned traditional, celebratory artwork  and decorations.

Today, tomorrow and Wednesday I'll share  pictures I shot last week in Vancouver, and what you see today are images of my dear new friends, the monks, going about their work as I went about mine.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Speechless Babble

I did a three-day, two-night backpack trip in the North Cascades last week, and the 22-mile round trip outing humbled me -- not because the hike was too difficult for me (it wasn’t,) or because I did not make good photographs (I came away with a number of images I like very much.)

I was humbled, rather, because I was in the kind of environment that made me feel small and insignificant.  It was BIG country that I visited, with towering, cathedral-like peaks,  and deep, heavily forested valleys.  There were spectacularly beautiful larch trees, too, their needles brilliant yellow and gold in Fall color.  At every turn in the trail, every time I crested a rise or dropped into a lake basin, there was something visually stunning.

I spent three days, often speechless, sometimes babbling to myself like a crazy person: “Wow. Wow. Wow.”

Friday, October 3, 2014

Gone 'Round the Bend

Two friends and I made a trip to Bend, Oregon last weekend, a Pacific Northwest outdoor mecca I had never visited before, which is weird, because that North Central Oregon locale is My Kind of Place. There are a b'zillion trails and beautiful, snowy peaks in the Bend area, so that one can hike, mountain bike, or climb by day. And by night, Bend has enough brewpubs to keep a thirsty outdoor guy or gal smiling for a lifetime.

It is a six-hour drive from Seattle to Bend, so the area is much further afield than I prefer to travel when I have a hankerin’ to play outside. I try to be aware of my carbon footprint, you see, so North Central Oregon is not a place I’ll visit too often.  But, if you look at the pictures I’m posting today...well,  you’ll perhaps understand why this photographer does hope one day to go back.

I shot the above image on Sunday on the rim of the summit crater of South Sister, which, at 10, 358 feet of elevation,  is the third highest peak in Oregon. The first picture, below, is sunset that same evening in Bend.

The other images were made Monday morning at Smith Rock, a place that one could spend years and years photographing and still barely do it justice.

What a weekend!