Monthly Archives: September 2015

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Covered in black ash and soot. These Haitian women gather and transport coal in hug plastic tubs on their head from the market to their homes. The cutting down of trees and burning of wood as a source of fuel and light has been a major problem in Haiti. Using coal is very expensive and dangerous.

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The joy that overwhelmed this women the first time she was able to hear the bible played in her native language through her new solar light and MP3 player was truly amazing to witness!

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“To educate a girl is to reduce poverty.” Former UN secretary-General Kofi Annan

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This wonderful Haitian grandma who was blind and very, very sick struggled terribly to get out of bed when we went to check on her. Although she personally would not benefit from light illumination (her children and grand children did) she was so thrilled to be able to listen to the USB audio bible and radio built into her new light. When we asked her how she liked her new light she said it was great, “I have always felt Jesus in my home, now for the first time in my life I can hear him.”

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Are you talking to me? Are YOU, taking to ME?! I didn’t THINK you were F***ing taking to me!

These few words famously delivered by Robert Dinero in the movie Taxi Diver perfectly describe the type of looks I get from most of the people when I first approach them to take their photos when traveling abroad.

Trust me I get it! If I had some strange, sweaty, funny looking foreigner, approach me with a camera in front of their face wanting to take my photo, I don’t think I would be too receptive either.

Ah, but that is the exact space that I love to live in. I seriously love this moment of tension between me and the person I want to photograph. Normally, I have been draw to the person for some unique reason. Could be their clothes, their eyes, the light, an emotion they are expressing, might be anything but, I saw it and in a flash of an eye, I want to capture it!

Now here is the really hard part… Once someone is observed in their “natural” or “honest present state,” it disappears the moment they are made aware of it being recorded. Sometimes if you are fast enough you can capture it. On very rare occasions that person may present me with a gift and keep doing whatever inspired me. Most times, the wall of tension presents it’s self immediately between us.

It’s in this moment that things shift and becomes 90% psychology, and 10% photography. Although I use a variety of approaches to connect to people, the greatest thing that works for me is showing personal confidence. Some how through my facial epressions, words, sounds or body lanughage, I let that person know that they can feel confident that, their emotions, their moment, their story is safe with me to share.

Now, if only I was confident enough to get Robert DiNero in front of my camera.

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GYENYEN DAN NOU! That was my total go to Haitian line for the past few days.

What’s the translation you ask? Show me your teeth. Not smile for me or say cheese but, show me your teeth! Why this particular sentence worked I have no clue but, once I saw the response, I used it quite often.

Next time you’re in Haiti and trying to get someone to laugh, loudly toss out a “Gyenyen dan nou” and watch the reactions. I promise you will not be let down!

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The WOL team educates and demonstrates to a group of new light recipients how the money they save not buying “white fuel” or kerosene to light their homes at night can now can be used to buy chickens, pigs farm seed. This poster was a great way to visually educate the Haitian people how their new solar light can help break the cycle of poverty. Light=Opportunity

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Sometimes if you don’t laugh you just might break.

It’s late, very late! Plus, it is hot, humid and there is NO movement of air at all in my room. It feels like I have a heavy wet blanket over my face. Plus, I just can’t stand laying in my own sweat any more staring at the lifeless mosquito net above me. I just need to face the harsh reality that although I am exhausted, I can not and will not sleep again tonight.

Now what do I do? No TV to watch. No book to read. No internet to surf. No fridge to open to consume a late night snack to sooth my frazzled nerves. Nothing, nada, zip! Now what?

My only option with out waking any of my WOL team members is to write. Ah…the cruel irony of life! The thing I dislike the most is the only option I have to pass my time till the roosters begin to crow and the sun comes up. Speaking of roosters, does anyone know why roosters always crow BEFORE the sun comes up? Dives me crazy.

Beauty can be seen in all things. But seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. —Matt Hardy.

I loved this quote the moment I read it because it gave me a place to put some of my conflicted feelings when photographing the people I do on these trips. I know the people we serve have very difficult lives and they have so little in life, however, what little they do have visually stimulates me.
I love how carefully they place their cups, plates and bowls that may not match. Or how they sweep the dirt area in the front of their doorstep. I love the fashions and clothing they all wear with pride. It all fascinate and stimulates me and I love to capture it all.

I can only hope that my photographs show their dignity and humanity with honor and respect.

And… cue that rooster! Hello morning.