Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Church
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 […]

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 […]

Europe welcomes refugees
Europe welcomes refugees

When I heard the news that some governors in the United States were trying to forbid the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states, I remembered the wet infants I’d been handed on Lesbos. As rubber rafts overloaded with refugees floundered in the surf off the Greek island, photographers weren’t exempt from helping to get […]

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 […]

South Sudan – Is there hope?
South Sudan - Is there hope?

Cecil the Lion is dead. In an act that has been rightly criticized all over the world, a Minnesota dentist traveled to Zimbabwe and paid a lot of money to wound the iconic lion and then chase him for two days before finally killing the animal and skinning him to take home a “trophy” to […]

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 […]

South Sudan: New nation, old problems
South Sudan: New nation, old problems

When fighting broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, in December, Asanta Jantana quickly gathered her seven children and fled for another part of the country where she hoped she could find peace. They hitched a ride on a truck for a day, then walked the last 12 miles to her brother’s house in the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Abyei: On the border of two Sudans
Abyei: On the border of two Sudans

When violence breaks out between two different groups in Africa, it’s common for western media reports to characterize what happened as “tribal violence” or “ethnic conflict.” Such nomenclature is mandatory for writing about Africa, wrote Binyavanga Wainaina in his landmark 2005 essay How to Write about Africa. Such reductionism makes complicated scenarios easier to digest […]

Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees

People have continuously lived in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria, for more than 5,000 years. In 2003 I went there to research a story about efforts to preserve the twisting labyrinth of narrow stone-paved streets. I intentionally got lost, and spent delightful hours just wandering, repeatedly trekking into dead-end alleys and having to retrace […]

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 […]

Egypt: Advent in Tahrir Square
Egypt: Advent in Tahrir Square

It is Advent in Tahrir Square, where people are waiting. They’re not sure for what, but such is the nature of Advent, to wait for freedom and deliverance amid uncertainty. The people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square are both afraid and hopeful at the same time. That’s Advent in a land where Arab Spring has […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Gaza: Life blockaded
Gaza: Life blockaded

It’s like a prison in many ways, surrounded by high walls on three sides, gun towers overseeing the free-fire stretch of scorched earth and rubble warning anyone, including farmers who once tilled the land, from getting close. On the fourth side, the west, the Mediterranean inexorably draws the eye to the horizon, but it, too, […]

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 […]

Southern Sudan: Before it’s a CNN moment
Southern Sudan: Before it's a CNN moment

In Sudanese villages along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there are homegrown militias that use rather primitive technology–bows and arrows and spears–to fight off attacks from the Lord’s Resistance Army. Yet at the same time, the Arrow Boys take full advantage of modern electronic technology to pass on critical information. Mobile […]

Southern Sudan: Advent waiting
Southern Sudan: Advent waiting

It’s the first Sunday of Advent, and I’m somewhere over the west coast of Africa, sitting in a cramped economy class seat on a 17-hour flight from Johannesburg to Washington. I’m trying to get into the zen of waiting, if for no other reason than I have no choice but to just sit here. And […]

Southern Sudan: voting excitement
Southern Sudan: voting excitement

I’m in Southern Sudan for a couple of weeks, writing about the work of the church in the lead up to January’s referendum on independence. These are heady times in some ways, as people long oppressed by the government in the north feel their way toward nationhood. There’s a rocky road on the other side […]