the work of other people: me, through justin hackworth's lens, and a video by katherine center

Photo by Justin Hackworth

I mentioned yesterday that Justin and I traded photo sessions while we were in Salt Lake City this past weekend; so today, I thought I'd share some of my favourite shots he took of me.

Photo by Justin Hackworth


Photo by Justin Hackworth

Photo by Justin Hackworth


Photo by Justin Hackworth

Like most people, I suppose, I generally hate having my photo taken -- but I have to say I love these shots with a white hot passion.  Justin is really good about connecting with his subjects, so they feel very comfortable and natural as he shoots them; for that reason, these shots feel more like "me" than any shots I've ever had taken of me.  Ever.  Thanks so much, Justin.

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In other news (and in lieu of today's song of the day), check out the truly beautiful video below, written and put together the lovely Katherine Center for the upcoming Mom 2.0 Summit (and if you pay attention, you'll see some of the actual images that will be in my book):


(I'll be speaking at the Summit -- will I see you there?)


Have a great weekend, everybody.

love thursday: witness

While I was in Salt Lake City, I had the chance to meet the immensely talented Justin Hackworth, a wedding and portrait photographer based in Provo, Utah.  Justin was also on my panel at the Altitude Design Summit (discussing photography on the web), and I cannot begin to tell you what a lovely person he is without embarrassing myself by gushing.  In addition, it was just so interesting talking with him, particularly because we come to photography from different places:  he's always been a professional photographer who recently started a blog; me, I used blogging to help improve my photography.  In any event, we really clicked (ha! see what I did there?), so I was pretty thrilled when he suggested we take portraits of each other.



Right before our panel, I had the chance to meet his lovely wife of almost 10 years, Amy; after we were finished, I showed her a couple of the images from the display on the back of my camera that I had taken of him.  "Those are great," she said.  "I'm so happy to have them -- we have very few pictures of him, or of us, for that matter."

"You want to take some now?" I asked.


"Well, you're here, he's here, I have my camera, it seems silly not to, don't you think?"

"Wow ... sure! Thanks!"

And so we went back to the lobby, and I shot a few more.






What's amazing about the above images is that none of them were staged in any way -- they just sat down together, and we were all talking and I was just shooting, and these were the images that resulted.  And it occurred to me that this is probably why Justin is so successful as a wedding photographer:  because this is a man who clearly knows love.

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Happy Love Thursday everyone.  Please feel free to leave your stories or links to your words and images of love in the comments below.

And may you know love today.

Song: It's love by Jill Scott

guest photographer: irène nam

Photo by Irène Nam

(While I'm winding up working on my book, periodically over the next few weeks I thought I'd have some guest posts by a few photographers who I really admire for your viewing pleasure.  Today, meet Irène Nam.  She's another artist whose work I've been following forever, in part because she's really astounding: she was born and has always lived in France, but Korean was her first language, and she writes masterfully in English.  I've found her so exceptional, in fact, she's going to be featured in my book.  Read on, and you'll see what I mean.  -- Ed.)

Photo by Irène Nam

“What brings me the most joy, that’s what I do.”


I’d always figured that being a writer and photographer would require a lot of discipline, work ethic, and a sense of certainty in my own strength. But I’ve learned that there’s also a sense of humbleness that every artist must accept and approve of in order to find balance, and true joy in what they do. 

Realizing that I can stop writing for the rest of my life and very few will notice, no one will die and yet I would not have failed has relieved me from the discontentment and hopelessness I experienced and thought were legitimately part of the job. 

And now I write because I know my voice matters. I write because words have the power to heal. I write because some days I actually think that I’m good at it. But most importantly, I write because this is what brings me the most joy.

Photo by  Irène Nam


Song: Stay (I missed you) by Lisa Loeb.  Today's song brought to you courtesy of Irène.

haiti: this time it's personal

Those of you who have been reading Chookooloonks for a while know that for the past two years, I've spent a summer weekend each year with several good friends on the west coast, just resting and retreating.  The first year I went, back in 2008, I only knew two of the women, and one of the first new friends I made was Myriam.

I immediately liked Myriam.  She has a warm, generous spirit and a wicked wit; in addition, we share a common trait:  whenever we speak of our mothers, we immediately slip into our native West Indian accents.  You already know I'm from Trinidad & Tobago; as it happens, Myriam is Haitian.

When I learned of the earthquake in Haiti two weeks ago, my thoughts immediately turned to Myriam.  I sent her a one-line email, copying the rest of our group:  "Myriam, is your family okay?"

It was several hours before we heard back from her:

Hello Loves,
I have been trying to write this email to you most of this day. I don't know what to write about this devastation happening to our sisters and brothers on that tiny island.
I do have family in Haiti, aunts, uncles etc. As of yet, we are not able to make contact.


We all stayed close to our emails, and a few days later, Myriam sent us this:


As of today:
My uncle Victor and Tante Mado both separately support two schools in Haiti, both have been demolished,  many dead.. My uncle is housing as many children from the school as he can, all are disconnected from their own families. The shortage of water and food is chaotic and the trauma experienced is only just beginning to be understood.
My Tante Mado has 52 school girls without homes, living at the remains of their school.  Another aunt, continues to wait for communication with her sister whom she was on the phone with when the quake started. It's very confusing what the best help is right now as it seems nothing is enough. Communication is so difficult, we are getting reports of deaths without any real confirmations. It is possibly the worst freakin game of grapevine every played. My heart just aches and aches, while my head spins with thoughts of how to empower myself and use all of my resources.
In speaking with family, funding is the most vital. Some are thinking beyond the disaster recovery to rebuilding homes, schools and churches...


Now, under normal circumstances, I would never ask you guys to give money to a specific cause -- I know that you all are incredibly generous, and I've received many comments and emails from you over the years about the charities and organizations that you passionately support; for this reason, I've never felt it necessary to entreat you to give to any of the causes that are specifically important to me.  But these don't feel like normal circumstances: in this case, my good friend is asking me for help. 


And so, if you'll indulge me, I invite you to click here to read Myriam's story, and if you're so moved, please consider donating by clicking the ChipIn button you see there.  Donations are taken via PayPal, and seriously: if all you feel you can spare is one dollar, it will be gratefully accepted.  Feel free to spread the word via email, your twitter accounts or your personal blogs, as well.  And you can always check back there (and here) to see progress and how the money is used.


Photo of Myriam & me by the talented Tracey Clark.


Thanks in advance, everyone.  Your consideration means a lot to my friend, and it means so much to me.


SongAny other day by Wyclef Jean, featuring Norah Jones

approaching salt lake city

I'm back from Utah. 

I left for the Altitude Design Summit and Salt Lake City really not knowing what to expect:  all I knew was that Salt Lake City is near the mountains and that its population is largely Mormon; I was also highly amused that the Utah state bird is the "seagull," and there isn't a "sea" for 500 miles (turns out they like the crickets).  And admittedly, I was a bit intimidated attending a conference filled with people who spent their time studying good design (really, what does one wear to a conference like this?). 

What I found was a city that was exceedingly friendly; I thought Houston had cornered the market on friendly cities, but seriously, Salt Lake City rivals.  The people at the conference weren't just folks who liked pretty clothes or interesting art; these were people who were committed to good design making an impact on emerging markets, saving the environment and improving the way we communicate -- and that's before I even get to the things I learned that strongly relate to my approach to photography, and may affect the way I use this site as a result.  These were people determined to share what they knew and draw inspiration from each other.  It was all such a pleasant revelation.

But I still never got over the shock of stepping outside and seeing huge, snow-capped mountains.  Those things are crazy, man.



SongGet down on it by Kool & the Gang.  I was reading an article about disco in this month's Vanity Fair on the flight back, and James "J.T" Taylor of Kool & the Gang was quoted.  I've had this song running through my head since.

You're welcome.

beautiful different

The vivacious Maggy. Outtake from the book.


I think the funnest parts of writing this book are the conversations and laughter around finding out what each person's "Different" is. 


Seriously.  It's such a good time.


As it happens, I think I've completed taking all the portraits and photographs I need for the book -- now it's all down to the words.  But right now, as you read this, I've taken a very short-notice, impromptu trip to Salt Lake City, to speak at the Altitude Design Summit. Some of my favourite design bloggers are supposed to be here, so I'm hoping to just bask in their creative juju before coming back and really hitting the word processor next week.

In the meantime, have a great weekend, folks.  Here's to your fun, funny, beautiful Different.

love thursday: unexpected kindness

This past Saturday, I received the lovely pitcher you see in the image above from Alison, a woman who I'd never met before.

Is it me, or don't random acts of kindness sometimes take your breath away? 

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Happy Love Thursday, everyone.  Please leave your stories or links to your words or images of love in the comments below.

And know that when you are unexpectedly kind to someone, even if you don't know them -- probably especially if you don't know them -- it means more than you can imagine.

guest photographer: jen gray

Photo by Jen Gray

 (Last week, I mentioned that I was going to post a bit less frequently while I work on my book -- so for your viewing pleasure, I thought I'd have some guest posts by a few photographers who I really admire.  Today, meet Jen Gray.  I've been following her work for years, and was thrilled to finally meet her two years ago on a trip to the Oregon coast.  I'm so proud to call her a friend, because I adore Jen, and because she's a woman who really lives her life out loud.  I think you'll love her too.  -- Ed.)


If you have had the chance to roam around the grounds of Ernest Hemingway's home in Key West, then you are well familiar with the cats which reside there. Hemingway was given a six-toed cat from a sea captain many years ago, and several of the cats who currently live on the grounds are descendants of that original cat.

I have spent a lot of time sitting in the gardens at this museum. Each time I go, I find a new little treasure I had missed the time before. It might be a figurine in the dining room, or a little nook back by the pool, or in this case, it was one of the 6-toed cats...

Hemingway wrote, “All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.”

This line is one of my favorites, as it reminds me whether I am taking a photograph, or collecting a story, or walking down the old horse trail, to act as if it is something brand new. It makes the experience completely different, and allows me to always discover new treasures ...

... Today I wish for you the blessing of seeing someone (or something) as if you were seeing them for the very first time.


SongLove me still by Chaka Khan.  Today's song brought to you by Jen.