Paris as a whole is, of course, impossible to capture. But Paris on a small, personal scale is captivating.
The first cab at the taxi stand down the Boulevard St. Germain from my hotel was Mary Kay Cadillac pink (no kidding). Madame driver was a cheery, somewhat older woman. In the taxi, she thoughtfully found an Edith Piaf tune to play for me. A pretty fabric basket filled with bon-bons (her word) hung between the two front seats. Dangling from the seat backs were stuffed Mickey and Minnie Mouse dolls. On the backs of the rear passenger seats, pillows in a floral print fabric were suspended...
At the end of my first day of photography in Paris, I watched couples dance the tango along the Seine. Several circular stone dance floors line the shore of the Ile. St. Louis, a most Parisian city amenity.
Some couples were obviously regulars and had been dancing comfortably together for a long time. Other couples seemed to find each other on the spot. Younger folks with faster vibes, louder tunes and a tad more energy occupied dance floors down river. Outfits varied from dresses meant for dance, sometimes dated, to come-as-you-are casual.
Tango viewing brought back memories of our own brief...
Our train trip to Giverny, a day trip from Paris and home of impressionist painter Claude Monet, was the equivalent of placing a few toes in someone else’s shoes. Monet’s paintings must be among the most familiar on the planet. Going to Giverny gave them a context, and a glimpse into the connection between the artist and his environs.
We left Paris from Gare St. Lazare, the train station Monet painted multiple times. Now a modern, functioning transportation hub, the main shed of Monet's paintings is still in place. As we left the train at the Giverny station, the next stop was Rouen, where...
Our adventure in China began with a bang.
After an hour-long drive from Dali, a city of about 60,000 in Yunnan Provice, we stepped out of our bus on the outskirts of Xizhou, a village of about 2,300. We were surrounded by fragrant, blue-green garlic fields, tended manually and mostly by women. Across the field, a funeral procession of perhaps 30 people slowly walked down a dirt road, setting off firecrackers enclosed in red paper with gold Chinese characters. They were carrying a body to burial in tombs among the foothills on the other side of town, about a kilometer away. The firecrackers warded...
Why travel to Western China? It was the last area to see Western influences and an opportunity to see old China. Yunnan Province is the most diverse in all of China, with 25 of the 56 recognized minorities located there. Many minorities practice their own religions.
Our day trips were usually to explore temples, including:
Temple Park in Dali, site of three temples dating to 800 a.d., and a series of eight temples built by the government in recent times.
Taoist temples tucked into the woods along a mountain path
A Buddhist rain temple in misty mountains, and
In Shangri-La, largest...
Work is an odd topic for folks who are largely on vacation. However, most of us spend a good chunk of our lives wherever we work. And work settings – shops or desks – are evidence of what we do.
Of course, shops had a plethora of goods that were new to us, as well as goods that are foreign at home and domestic in China. Back home, I sought out the largest Asian grocery market, and the domestic/foreign designations were switched again.
I developed an affinity for unoccupied desks and work spaces. These personal spaces were arranged to suit someone's sense of order or disorder, and process,...
A still life. Such an oxymoron. If it were alive, wouldn’t it move?
Here and there, I found still lifes among the exotica of China. I aimed for an interesting image and not just a record an object. Subjects vary: humor, the luxury of beauty, evidence that someone took the time and energy to create something. A burst of color in unexpected places.
More often than not, there's movement and energy in the image. Many raise intriguing questions. Who was here? Who made this? Why?
For me, portraits are both challenging and rewarding. At their best, the viewer identifies with the humanity of the subject, leaping over differences in culture, language, age and life perspectives. In these portraits, people had the trappings of a vastly different culture and yet familiar themes come through. Faces lost in thought. A lively conversation among friends. Pride in culture and heritage. A protective grandfather with grandsons. A traditional Chinese medicine clinic. Road construction workers. A calligrapher practicing Chinese characters. The camaraderie of brothers in a religious setting.
On a dreary March day in Minnesota, I saw the description for the October 2016 photo workshop "Finding Gardens" in San Miquel de Allende in Central Mexico. What was not to like? I’ve always enjoyed plants and gardening, and had never been to Mexico.
Plus, the instructor was Sam Abell, retired executive photo editor of National Geographic. About 20 years ago, I took a workshop with Sam in Sante Fe, New Mexico. I could easily spent a week listening to his tales about photographing for National Geographic. One is always fortunate to find an inspiring mentor and teacher, but how many times does...
Years ago, I saw this company perform in Minneapolis. Never did I think I’d have an opportunity to be so close to professional dancers. The more time we spent with them, the more they became individuals, instead of forms moving in unison on stage. And my photos became portraits. Some dancers were more confident than others. Some were absorbed in their movements. Others were performers ever aware of the audience. Top-notch dance clothes and familiar brands said this company had traveled abroad.