Friday, January 30, 2015

Wheel of Life

It's been eight years now that I have been making photographs of the Tibetan community in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. I look back at images I shot in 2007 and I am blown away to see that, in what seems like the blink of Father Time's eye, little kids have become teenagers, teenagers have turned into young adults, and a few of the community's elders have passed away, going on to Whatever is Next.

This week I received word that a beloved 82-year old Rinpoche (a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism) had died at his home near Seattle, and a funeral service would be held to honor him. All community members were invited, including me. I let Rinpoche's family know that I would attend and pay my respects,  and that, as always, I'd have a camera with me. If the family wanted me to photograph the event, I would do so.  If they'd rather I not take pictures, I would sit quietly.

One of Rinpoche's sons said yes, please do take pictures.

The image above is a portrait I made of Rinpoche this past summer when I photographed his daughter's wedding. The photographs below were shot last week at the funeral.

This is history-in-the-making I am documenting for the local Tibetan community, the Wheel of Life as it turns.

I hope the images reflect the respect and love I have for my adopted community.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sweet Sunshine

Despite what you might have heard, it does not rain all the time in the Pacific Northwest (our summers here are actually quite nice.)  Why, in the months of July through September,  we often have at least two or three days when the sun comes out and those of us who live here dig around in junk drawers, trying to remember what it was that we did with our sunglasses.

I joke.

Our winter season, however, is a different (grayer and wetter ) matter. It IS true that our days now are cloudy and rainy often enough that, when the sun makes an appearance, we PNW -ers do take notice.

A number of times recently I have walked into our kitchen and have seen wonderful light -- light that seemed worthy of a photographic journal notation.

Some people use a pen and paper to keep a diary, and I even know folks who make beautiful journals using watercolors. I, of course, have used a camera my whole adult life to record the News, and these days the news is sweet, welcome sunshine.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Playing Favorites

While most folks in Seattle were crammed into a mega-noisy football stadium or planted in front of television sets Saturday to watch the Seahawks playoff game, my friend Neil and I traveled to Central Washington for what we called a "Seahawks Avoidance Hike." Not that we have anything against football, mind you…we'd simply rather go hiking.

Swakane Peak in the desert country near Wenatchee was the venue we chose for our own particular sport. And, though the day turned out to be foggy and far-off views were limited, there were awesome and amazing things to see up close that necessitated MANY photo stops. In particular, the frost and ice that had formed on ponderosa pine needles and desert sage was REALLY something.

So many visual possibilities presented themselves on that hike that now, as I try to decide what to post here, I simply can't make a professional,  "tight edit" of the day's images.

Perhaps, rather than heading for the hills Saturday,  I should have stayed home and watched football. Then I wouldn't have this "problem" of having to pick favorites from too many pleasing pictures. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Man with a sign

Walking on the streets of downtown Seattle, it is unfortunately a common, everyday thing that one encounters people who appear to be homeless, have some kind of sign asking for money, or both.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking through downtown and I saw the man in the photograph I'm posting today.  As I passed the man, I glanced at his sign, and his face. I kept walking, but then I stopped. I went back to the man.

"I like your sign," I said. "I grew up in the 60's. I remember when Life Magazine did news stories about people who were called 'hippies.'  Could I take your picture?"

"Sure,"  he said.

In the years I worked as a newspaper photographer,  I never gave money to someone so that I could take their photograph (that would not have been journalistically ethical.) Furthermore, it is said (I can't exactly say by whom) that, if one gives money to a street person, our gesture somehow encourages people to live on the streets.

The fellow did not ask for money, but I felt I should give him something. I only had $3 in my pocket and I gave it to him.

"Good luck to you, brother," I said, and I continued on my way.

It occurred to me then that, like many of those who live on the streets, I now had no money in my pocket...though, for me, that situation was only temporary. I walked on, mindful of my good fortune.