Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Americas
2016 – A year in photos
2016 - A year in photos

There’s a military phrase that, despite my aversion to military terms, works well for photography. Some places I visit are clearly “target-rich environments,” in that it’s hard not to capture compelling images because the people and their surroundings are so beautiful. I’m not referring to some misplaced sense of the exotic. People aren’t interesting just […]

#TeamRefugees
#TeamRefugees

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, a unique team of ten refugees participated for the first time in international competition. Their participation clearly showed that bravery knows no borders. To honor their participation and the struggle of refugees and displaced people around the world to survive and prosper, every day during the Olympics I posted an […]

2015 – A year in photos
2015 - A year in photos

When Arthur “Weegee” Fellig, a New York City street photographer in the 1930s and 1940s, was asked what the secret was to his images, he responded, “f8 and be there.” In other words, you gotta show up. During this past year, that’s what I tried to do. From the streets of Pasco, Washington, to the […]

Getting comfortable
Getting comfortable

Photography can be, at its best, an intimate window into people’s lives. Yet intimacy implies proximity. The war photographer Robert Capa understood that. He said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” At a certain point, however, getting close can induce discomfort in the subject of the image, making them change what […]

2014 – A year in photos
2014 - A year in photos

In these waning minutes of 2014, I want to offer my thanks to those people around the world who let me share in their lives for a few moments or a few days this year. Because they were willing to tell me their stories, or let me into their homes and neighborhoods to document their […]

Chaco Women
Chaco Women

There’s a wonderful image that appeared on social media sites recently. It features the current presidents of Argentina, Chile and Brazil compared, supposedly, with their counterparts from 35 years ago. The smiling women versus the glowering men. These contrasting images say a lot about the journey Latin Americans have traveled since Operation Condor, the United […]

Guatemala: Playful women
Guatemala: Playful women

Decades ago, I hitchhiked across the United States, and along the way I stopped at the Grand Canyon. Yet while growing up I had seen so many pictures of it that when I first stepped out on the rim and looked down, I thought, “Oh. This looks just like the pictures.” It was cool, certainly, […]

Advent images
Advent images

Advent is a time of waiting–for the incarnation, for justice, for peace. Over the centuries the church has developed a series of measures to help us develop the practice of waiting, everything from different liturgical colors to candles and wreathes to calendars with little doors to special music (though it’s an unfair fight: for every […]

Jumping Rope
Jumping Rope

When I was a kid at Lincoln Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington, I preferred the monkey bars during recess and would frequently hang there, often upside down, watching my classmates jump rope while chanting some rhythmic rhyme. In that pre-modern universe it was only girls that jumped rope, of course. Any attempt by a boy […]

In praise of literacy
In praise of literacy

Following the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua in 1979, one of the first priorities of the new government was to launch a massive literacy campaign throughout the cities and countryside. Political empowerment of the poor majority demanded the ability to read and write, and volunteers from throughout the world came to help. Run […]

Guatemala genocide trial
Guatemala genocide trial

Manuela Toj knelt in the mud at the bottom of the pit, the three skeletons before her covered with flower petals and burning candles. I knelt beside her, along with several of her neighbors, all of us gathered around the newly revealed skeletons. A Mayan priest intoned prayers for the dead while a young woman […]

Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez

I met Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in January 2000 in the aftermath of horrible mudslides that ravaged the steep hillsides of Caracas and the country’s northern coast. I covered the response to the disaster, and spent part of my time in a steep ravine where the Catuche River flows into the center of the capital. Over […]

Colombian soldier
Colombian soldier

I’ve often said that the hardest part of photography is getting to the right place at the right time. Take a trip I made to Colombia in 2000, for example. I was interested in writing about the U’wa indigenous people. Tired of having their tribal land ravaged by foreign oil corporations, they had threatened a […]

Morales’ morning
Morales' morning

Most of the time I interview people who are powerless: victims of oppression, refugees and street children, sex workers and migrants. I do that intentionally, as their perspective is usually given short shrift in much of the media. Too many officials and wealthy people get quoted. But every once in a while I seek out […]

Brazil: Remembering Dorothy
Brazil: Remembering Dorothy

Antonia Silva Lima lives in a place called Hope. She came to the Amazon rainforest more than two decades ago, like hundreds of thousands of other migrants fleeing from poverty in other parts of Brazil. The settlers moved deep into the forest and cut down the trees to grow subsistence crops, only to be chased […]

Advent waiting
Advent waiting

Advent is a time when Christians practice the discipline of waiting. For many people in the world, however, waiting is more ordinary, the stuff of every day and not just special days. Waiting shapes who they are and how they see the world. For many who wait, impatience simply isn’t an option, perhaps because it’s […]

Honduras: A death in the Aguan Valley
Honduras: A death in the Aguan Valley

We found Carlos Martinez’ body lying in several inches of water in a far corner of the La Lempira palm oil cooperative that he and other peasants had seized from a wealthy landowner that they believed stole it from them. I had come to the cooperative early that Sunday morning, sitting for two hours with […]

Haiti: Hatuey’s legacy
Haiti: Hatuey's legacy

They were easy to spot from a distance because they all had on the same red shirts. As they neared my row, I cringed a bit, hoping they would continue on towards the back of the plane that was going to carry us to Miami. But then two women stopped and asked to get past […]

Washington: Moms not criminals
Washington: Moms not criminals

No one in the trailer park would have opened their door if I’d been there on my own. People were clearly afraid, so they were either long gone or laying low. After all that had happened, opening their door to one more gabacho wasn’t a great idea. Fortunately I had a Latina with me from […]

Haiti: Rubble Nation
Haiti: Rubble Nation

The January 2010 earthquake generated a new word in the vocabulary of Haitians: goudougoudou. That’s the affectionate Kreyol term that Haitians across the board use to name the disaster that ravaged Port-au-Prince and nearby cities. It’s alternately written goudou goudou or goudou-goudou, and is supposedly–if you say it over and over again very fast–the sound […]

Haiti: reconstruction in a time of cholera
Haiti: reconstruction in a time of cholera

In an overwhelmingly tragic landscape, the eye is naturally drawn to any spot of hope. That’s what visiting Haiti was like last week. It’s as if the big picture has been desaturated, all the color removed, and what remains is a stark portrayal in black and white of a population that remains incredibly vulnerable. Yet […]

Cuba: Time to go
Cuba: Time to go

Have you wanted to visit Cuba for a while? President Barack Obama is expected to soon announce a loosening of restrictions on the rights of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. D’uh. It’s the least we can do. After five decades of blockading Cuba, the U.S. has nothing to show for it but hard feelings […]

Haiti: Six months later
Haiti: Six months later

Six months ago the earthquake hit Haiti, and things changed there forever. At this six month’s vantage point, some church relief groups are claiming all is well, so please keep the money and volunteers coming. But that’s a pretty rosy picture that isn’t backed up by facts on the ground. Thomas Johnson, a humanitarian coordinator […]

Honduras: Coup +1
Honduras: Coup +1

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the coup in Honduras that ousted President Mel Zelaya. It’s been a tortuous year for Hondurans, as well as for U.S. citizens who hoped that the Obama administration was really going to change course after decades of doing the wrong thing in Latin America. Yet the right thing as […]