Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Asia
Nevertheless, she persisted
Nevertheless, she persisted

When Elizabeth Warren insisted on reading a old letter from Coretta Scott King on the floor of the U.S. Senate on February 7, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ordered her to shut up. In a classic example of mansplaining, McConnell commented on her silencing by saying, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” It instantly […]

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 […]

Nepal Quake + 1
Nepal Quake + 1

One year ago today, within a few brief seconds, the floor of the Kathmandu Valley shifted five feet to the south. It was the earthquake everyone knew was coming, but few had prepared for. In the year since, the survivors have lived in “temporary” shelters for one monsoon season, then one cold Himalayan winter, and are […]

Pilgrimage to Hiroshima & Nagasaki
Pilgrimage to Hiroshima & Nagasaki

It’s safe behind the camera. There’s enough stuff to think about–aperture, shutter speed, framing–that I can usually stay somewhat detached from the emotion in front of the lens, be it grief or anger or levity. But what usually occurs at a professional distance has a bad habit of sneaking up on me later. So it […]

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 […]

Indonesia: Tsunami+10
Indonesia: Tsunami+10

People throughout South Asia will soon pause to remember the giant waves that ten years ago this month swept over thousands of coastal communities, killing hundreds of thousands of people and leaving millions homeless. This is the story of several of those communities. Immediately after the December 26, 2004, tsunami, I flew to Sri Lanka to […]

Philippines: After the typhoon
Philippines: After the typhoon

Tacloban was ground zero for last November’s typhoon in the Philippines. Although its residents have been hard at work cleaning up the mess the super storm left behind, a walk along the city’s ravaged waterfront is still a powerful emotional experience. As I picked my way through the rubble on Valentine’s Day in February, there […]

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 […]

On the Beach
On the Beach

Sometimes when I look at an image that I captured years ago, I get a feeling that is totally unrelated to whatever you may see when you look at the image. Take this photo from the remote Indonesian island of Nias. I had gone there a while after the big tsunami to document how islanders […]

Philippines: Misery Mountain
Philippines: Misery Mountain

High on the slopes of fog-draped Mt. Diwata, far above the Compostela Valley in northern Mindanao, more than 40,000 people cling to the hillsides because of what lies under the ramshackle community of Diwalwal. It’s gold, and since its discovery here by Mandaya indigenous people in the late 1970s, Diwalwal has resembled parts of California […]

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 […]

Pakistan: Mortenson lessons
Pakistan: Mortenson lessons

Greg Mortenson certainly told a good story. When I was on the road for two months last year speaking about my work, I repeatedly encountered people who had read his books and were inspired by what he had experienced and accomplished. Yet there was always something about his story that bothered me, and now we […]

Incredible India
Incredible India

Not long ago a principal purveyor of stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV and AIDS, the Christian church has become in many places around the world a leader in providing both care for people living with the disease as well as advocacy and education to reset the culture’s response to people infected with […]