Plastic Rabbit Eggs

Easter is by far one of the strangest holidays, at least how we celebrate it now. Many symbols we associate with it are of non-Christian origin, it’s floating date was decided in an ancient meeting, and the cuisine is a hodgepodge of foods from all over the world. Personally, I like rabbits, spring vacation days, ham and all that. But the plastic egg hunts are right near the top of my hardest-things-to-photograph list.

Bogotá, Armenia, Salento

Selection of photos from Colombia, during a week-long trip I recently took with my parents. Our long-distance friend, Diego Mendoza, was marrying Angelica Bonilla in Bogotá and they invited us to attend. We took the opportunity to spend a few extra days visiting Armenia and Salento, also hiking a day in the Cocora Valley. The food was wonderful, the weather cooperated when it really mattered, and the people we met were all very patient and helpful.

I took all of these with an iPhone or Canon G10, a refreshing departure from the 5-lb Nikon and bag that I haul around for work. I wanted to both test the range of those cameras as well as force myself to experiment with a different shooting style.

Powwow

On Sunday I literally happened upon the annual Monacan Nation Powwow in Elon, Va. In the back of my mind I knew it was happening this weekend but I never quite got around to planning a trip to see it. So when I saw huge signs advertising the powwow I immediately pulled in. Unfortunately, I was informed that there were only a couple dances left so if I was going to make some photos I would have to act fast. Enter Scott Strazzante and the iPhone. Let me explain. Chicago Tribune photographer Scott Strazzante has been pioneering iPhone street photography where he shoots from the hip and is able to capture very close-range candid shots of people on the street without disturbing them. I decided to try my hand at his technique. Although I would have loved more time to experiment, I was pretty happy to come away with the following photos, all shot from the hip with my iPhone except the second. This photo, of Lipan Apache descendant Robert Soto, I took after a brief but informative conversation with Soto about his elaborate outfit.

Riding with Grace

Even though I had never been to a “biker church” when I took on this project, I somehow found exactly what I expected. Simply put, rough looking guys from all walks of life, meeting in a less-than-traditional space for worship. But I wasn’t prepared for the fervor and passion that filled the tiny space; pastor Billy Powell’s hoarse voice bounced off every wall of the dingy thrift store converted sanctuary where old armchairs (all for sale) accommodated the overflow guests. Just like the days when he was a scrappy fighter in his motorcycle “club,” Powell meets his new duties head-on and follows through. I can’t say for certain where he spends the rest of his days, as he is almost impossible to track down outside of the church (I heard he works at some construction sites as well as a tattoo shop), but I met people from 20, 30 miles around who had come in to hear him preach and share about his new life, serving the Lord. At his handlebar-adorned pulpit is, to me, where this story is certainly centered.

 

Birkat Hachama

I covered the “Blessing of the Sun” the other day, a Jewish mitzvah that only occurs once every 28 years, and put together a short video for the P-D. It was one of those events that again made me realize what I love about this job: to enter a culture that I otherwise wouldn’t know anything about and embrace my own curiosity for the way other people live. (I often wonder about the line, or lack thereof, between journalism and sociology…)

This shot is an odd outtake that struck me a few days later, kind of a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a photographer/videographer in a place like this. We stick out like sore thumbs, especially with all our gear, but being respectful and open-minded allows people to feel comfortable with you in their presence.