Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Children
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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Sanctuary
Sanctuary

A few days ago, Pope Francis paid an unannounced visit to a refugee center in Rome. He arrived without a motorcade and spent 90 minutes talking with refugees and the staff of the center, which is run by his order, the Jesuits. Afterwards, he urged the faithful to be better stewards of empty church buildings by […]

Timbuktu trouble
Timbuktu trouble

Timbuktu sounds dramatically different these days than it did a year ago, when religious extremists exercised terror, beating women and girls who ventured out of the house without completely covering themselves, chastising men who wore their pants too long, smashing any machine that made music, burning books of science and faith that dated back centuries […]

Angola classroom
Angola classroom

Two weeks ago I mentioned the premise in quantum theory that by the very act of watching, the observer affects the observed reality. This is especially true when a sweaty photographer tries to capture images of a whole room full of kids. Some of them will inevitably stare at the camera. Since documentary photojournalism strives […]

Running away
Running away

Children can be a pain in the butt. They are such adorable little creatures, unless you’re tasked with photographing in a refugee camp. Don’t get me wrong, here, I’m talking about kids who are like me when I was a kid: obnoxious. (Some would suggest it’s a trait I have yet to outgrow.) Let me […]

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 […]

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 […]

Libya: Urbicide in Misrata
Libya: Urbicide in Misrata

Fred Pavey has a rubber chicken. His wife gave it to him. Fred is a British explosive ordnance disposal technician, and when he gets to a place where he has to deal with landmines or bombs or other things that are just lying around waiting to go bang, he inflates the chicken and leaves its […]

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 […]

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 […]

Zipping through the Arkansas forest
Zipping through the Arkansas forest

I’m wrapping up two days of shooting in Arkansas, where the heat and humidity makes me wonder if people willingly choose to live here, or if they are forced to remain here by some ominous sub-plot of the infamous Whitewater conspiracy, serving as drones for the evil rulers of our dark age. I have no […]

Sleepless in South Africa
Sleepless in South Africa

I have acquired some penpals. Let me tell you how that happened. Last year I was in South Africa to work on a couple of stories, one of them on the plight of Zimbabwean refugees who have been exploited, abused and even murdered. In the middle of this depressing story–as are many stories of immigration–I […]

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 […]