Monthly Archives: December 2013

Best video Moments 2013.

Although I didn’t embrace video on @Instagram right away, I can now see it’s potential and plan on using it a lot more in 2014.

Here are my favorite video moments from last year.

The #jj road trip begins the team rocks it out with a little Queen.

The most joyful moment on Bantayan Island and one of the funnest moments I have ever experience with children.

Hope they bring a smile to your face!

Because almost all of the coconut trees had been destroyed on the island, this man had piles and piles of bagged coconuts all around him that he was opening and distributing to others.

Because almost all of the coconut trees had been destroyed on the island, this man had piles and piles of loose coconuts all around him that he was opening and distributing to others.

Michael would be so proud to see that his legacy lasts on even today. Don’t have a basketball? Just grab a coconut and get going . There is always time for basketball in the Philippines. 2of2 series.

In the movie City Slicker there is the famous line spoken by Mitch were he said this about his relationship with his dad… “If we couldn’t talk about anything else, we could always talk about baseball.” In the Philippines it’s all about basketball!

Even when their homes are destroyed and they were rebuilding everything it seemed like there was always time for basketball. 1-2

I always find it so interesting to see what images receive the most likes or comments. Most of the time images that I love don’t get as much interaction. Good thing I am no longer a professional photo editor for a major magazine.

Guess I didn’t learn much durning my 18 years at Playboy Magazine

This Pastor had over 70% of her church destroyed durning typhoon #Haiyan. Only the three walls you see in this picture we left standing.

When we were talking to her about rebuild she said the following amazing statement…”If the walls of the church hadn’t been torn down, I would not have seen the need of people outside of my church walls.” Wow!

The moment I heard these words I knew that this pastor had been a perfect recipient of a new @watts_of_love light.

I can only hope that her new solar light helped her as much this Sunday as it did the night we saw her ministering last. #WOLhaiyan, #givelights

This is my crew from Bantayan island. They were all so great to me and taught me so much.

Although I had to bribe them with a really rare COLD Coke to be nice to me, it was totally worth the few pesos! Actually they were always great to me but, insurance never hurts.

Left to right.
Vicente was my diverer/photo assistant/ interpreter and Filipino teacher.

Rosa: She was my Miss everything! If I need any help she was always willing to do whatever to assist me and was always so kind.

Monika. My 2nd assistant and photo student. Although Monika sometime doubts her photo talents, I really enjoyed teaching her as much as I could about photography. She was like a little sister to me.

Ching: She was like the Filipino mom I never thought I had or wanted. LOL. Ching was so funny and sarcastic so we clicked right way. She taught me so much about the people, culture and disaster relief. She also helped me with my one million mosquito bites!

Thanks guys you all mean so much to me and I miss you very much.

All around Bantayan Island, young boy were responsible to continually spray oil on the moving blades of chainsaws as their fathers cut up the remains of fallen bamboo trees.

The record150 mph wind speeds for typhoon Yolanda torn hundred-of-thousands of bamboo trees down.

The sounds of chainsaws buzzing was everywhere and constant. #WOLhaiyan, #givelight

A brief encounter going nowhere.

With the roof ripped off his school above and debris all around him, I spotted this young boy playing with the only remaining toy.

This sign above him read…Tell me and I will forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn!

This post is for all the teachers that inspired me while in school. John Swindell, Brenda Bergaman, Chris Andriano and Rich Hudik.

To honor those that educate, I would love to hear about the teacher or teachers that inspired you?

Some toys don’t come in a box, gift wrapped, or tied with a bow.

Despite the simplicity and condition of this old tire, I had so much fun chasing 20 children around taking pictures as they pushed it all around their village.

The children’s laughter and joy reminded me that although money can make life easier at times, it doesn’t promise happiness.

Happiness and joy comes from ones own perspective and outlook on life.

Today, be thankful for even the smallest of gifts in your life.

My new great Filipino friend’s Ching and Monica are in Tocloban with others from Operation Blessing serving those effected by the Hurricane today on Christmas.

Monica took this great picture of a field tent and the Merry Christmas sign. Despite the devastation joy still rushes in for many today because of people that choose to be away from their families to serve others in need. That is the TRUE meaning of Christmas.

Thanks guys, I love you, miss you all a bunch and wish I was there to help!

Please take a moment and leave my friend a comment of encouragement and Merry Christmas!

Reposting this image as my favorite shot for 2013. Tag: #jj_forum_0754.

This image was shot in full direct bright sunlight but, with a little editing, I was able to create a much more interesting B&W image. To be honest the original color image is not good at all.

But in photography like baseball “it ain’t over till it’s over!”

Heavily rusted and battered by #Haiyan but still ready to roll.

From one perspective the devastation that occurred at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish was completely horrific!

There was, however, a part of me that thought it was strangely beautiful that I could see the sky open up to the heavens as I looked up while standing in the main entrance.
#WOLHaiyan, #givelights


Every once in a while I have had the great opportunity in my career to photograph someone when they reveal so much of themselves you can actually feel the intimacy while talking the picture.

This man was taking a moment to rest from work when I walked up to him to take his picture.

Without saying a word I motioned to my camera. (1 second)

He nodded. (2 second)

I began taking pictures. (60 seconds)

I stopped.

I put my camera down. (1 second)

We stared at each other. (20 seconds)

Both politely smiled. (3 seconds)

Nodded our heads in agreement. (2 seconds)

We walked away in opposite directions.

Although not a word was spoken, in less then 90 seconds we had shared so much! This man allowed me into his life long enough to tell his story just with his eyes. #WOLHaiyan, #givelights

I nicknamed this the little boy the modern day “Filipino Fonzie!” Aaaaaahhhhha!

He tried to act so cool! He finally cracked a smile and laugh when I offered him a piece if candy and started joking with him.

Fernando the fisherman proudly hangs his new @watts_of_love’s solar light from the top of this shelter.

Since the WGN news feature ran yesterday, many people have asked me about Frenando.

Yes, Fernando was as funny, generous and loving as he looks. And yes, he did offer me all of the food the had caught that day BEFORE he knew who I was or offered him a light. He was an amazing man with a great spirit.

I miss him very much and was honored to have met him on Bantayan Island.



News feature that ran on WGN news last night regarding my work with Watts Of Love. Thanks to everyone that helped me and followed our journey. 

Your entire life is the act if letting go. Embrace it!

When you touch someone’s heart the effects are limitless.

Had the great opportunity to work with Help-Portrait Chicago yesterday. We photographed over 60 + families that currently have a Father or Mother in jail. We worked in conjunction with Angle Tree ministries to help provide each family a printed framed family and child’s portrait. Each parent in jail will also receive a family photo as a Christmas gift!

Such a rewarding day and makes me proud to be a photographer and share my skills with others. Thanks to every that worked so hard and put on a great event. Thanks for having me Help-Portrait, can’t wait to do it again next year.

Also wanted to thank @jeremycowart for encouraging me to get involved when I met him in Chicago two years ago. You have created a great organization Jeremy. Keep up the great work! #helpportrait

Some boats set sail and can see a clear course even in the darkest of times.

Although I returned from the Philippines 6 days ago, I slept for two days straight, saw a doctor on day three because I was SO sick and have been heavily medicated and confined to my bed since. In a nut shell, my body decided to kick my butt.

Finally feeling better but, after looking at some of my images I have come to the understanding that I am processing a lot of feeling and thoughts about my time in the Philippines. Too long to write everything here.
Again, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone that supported me and @watts_of_love. It was an amazing journey and a life changing experience!

On to a new course and direction in life.

This image perhaps best displays the unique human characteristics when destruction, trauma, and coping methods collide.

This father and daughter are standing on their home destroyed by the typhoon and their expressions couldn’t be more opposite. Both are honest and real but, to the contrast could be greater.

Often when I would interact with adults and children on Bantayan Island, they would laugh, joke, offer me something to eat, drink or a seat to join them. These gestures alone moved me greatly.

Although I knew there was great pain, it was often masked by whatever coping skills the person or persons chose to display (consciously or sub-consciously) when I was photographing them.

I did learn on Bantayan Island how truly joyful and generous the Filipino people are to their core. At first, I would always politely decline whatever offering was presented me. “How can I take something from someone who just lost everything?” Or, “how can I laugh and joke when I am standing on rubble that was once this persons house?” Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to be instructed and observed the importance of accepting whatever gestures came my way despite my own feelings and reservations.

Like this father and daughter in this picture, I too often had two different emotions in my heart often at the same time.

The recovery from #Yolanda will take a long time, however, the amazing spirit of the Filipino people will always prevail! #WOLhaiyan #givelights

Is it just me or doesn’t everyone think of the movie Tommy Boy whenever they see the demonstration on how to inflate your safety vest on an airplane? Classic!

Perhaps I am just already jet lagged.

Next stop Chicago! “Rodger, Rodger! Over, Under! Clear, Clarence!”

Saw this nativity scene at the Manila airport. This was the first Christmas decoration that I noticed and stopped to really view since I have been away.

I have no idea how I will process the idea of Christmas in American after my most resent experience.

The idea of buying things for others and receiving gifts has little appeal to me as I prepare to travel home.

This will either be the best Christmas ever for me or the most difficult.

As I leave the people of Bantayan Island, the Philippines and the team from Operation Blessing behind me, I am very aware that I am leaving with more then what I gave. To serve others truly is the greatest gift!

I had no idea what to expect when I left America for the Philippines 16 days ago. I didn’t know where I would go, where I would stay, how I would give out the @watts_of_love lights, what I would see, how I would feel or most importantly who would help me with our mission.

I just went with the support of my family and friends and a sense that a path would open if I stepped out in faith despite all the difficulties and obstacles.
Nelson Mandela once said “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Those profound words now have even a greater meaning to me today.

Thank you Nelson for showing the world what it means to serve and to put those who you serve first. You will be missed but your light will shine forever.

As I look on the Philippine’s Navy boat in this image the famous words of General MacAthur ring in my heart when he was forced to leave the Philippines durning WWII “I shall return!” #WOLhaiyan #givelights

Although there are many stories to tell in the past two weeks, I feel the need to share this one particular story as I get ready to leave the Philippines.

During typhoon #Yolanda this women and her smallest seven of thirteen children stayed in this water jar for protection!

Their bamboo hut was completely destroyed and this was the only place for them to hide from the storm and huge crashing bamboo trees. When I told her she was very brave she said…”No! God is good!” Amazing!

I knew at that moment that she would be a @watts_of_light recipient and that God had brought me directly to her.
What I didn’t know was her husband and five biggest children had gone to the church for protection. She and the smallest seven children did not. When I gave her the solar light, she teared up and began thanking God.

Now here is the the amazing part of the story!

Prior to the storm she didn’t attend church. Her husband did attended, she did not.

She said that after the storm, she knew God had saved her and her children from death. She decide that from now on she would always serve God in her “new life!” #WOLhaiyan #givelights.

Today, no matter where you are or what problems you might be facing, there is ALWAYS a reasons to be thankful. Find find the reason in your life to be thankful, focus on it and give thanks. I promise it will change your heart and circumstances.

Today you choose the picture and I will then write about the child.

What picture do I post?

What needs to be said about the Filipino people that were effected by Super Typoon Yokanda?

These are the question I ask myself almost every time I am taking a picture and then posting it.

I know the power of the image and how you can influence someone based on the selected image.

Each time I photograph someone I capture a variety of expressions. Smiling, embarrassed, sad, laughing, awkward, etc.

Each image conveys a different expression and elicits a different response from the viewer. This is a responsibility I take serious because it is their story I am telling not my own.

I know people prefer “happy” faces, of children however, is that always then image that should be posted?

Sometime we need to face our anxiety and sorrows so we are moved with compassion and respond. Other times we need to laugh and escape.

So today I am posting three different children’s photos and you tell me who’s story you want to hear?

Thanks for helping me with this decision. #WOLhaiyan #givelights