Favorite Five Friday: Verbs

Each Friday I’m going to list a topic, My Favorite Five ____, and each Friday I hope you’ll join in the conversation by sharing your Favorite Five.

Here goes…

Favorite Friday Verbs

What are your favorite five verbs (at least this week)? If you’re like me, they probably change often. Don’t strain your brain too much. Just see what comes to mind in five minutes or less and drop them in the comment box. Your participation will be like a virtual high five for Favorite Five Friday, and it will inspire me to start thinking about next week’s topic.

Thursday’s Picture of the Week: China

Photo of a man doing tai chi in Rutan Park in Beijing, China

Behind the Scenes: The year is 1995 and Jeffrey is photographing on assignment for The New York Times Travel Section in Beijing, China. He’s there to do a story about Ritan (Temple of the Sun) Park.

This expansive park is one of the oldest sites in Beijing and is like an oasis in the midst of a teeming metropolis. Commissioned by Ming Dynasty emperor JiaJing in 1530, it is filled not only with massive trees, gardens, pavilions, and small lakes, but many places for people to gather and recreate. Tai chi and ballroom dancing are common forms of exercise found here.

When Jeffrey comes upon this elderly gentleman wearing a traditional Mao jacket, fully immersed in the solitude of his early morning ritual, he knows he has captured the essence of Ritan Park and also created a wonderful symbol of ancient China–still alive and well in modern day Beijing.

At its core, tai chi is a martial art (also referred to as shadow boxing), but it is now commonly practiced to strengthen and promote mind/body health. Jeffrey loved how the man was entranced in the shadow of his own dance, and how the traditional Chinese red wall and green tiles melded with the shadow and gesture, creating pure harmony.

This image was created with a Nikon F4, a Nikkor 85mm lens and Fuji Velvia film.

Postscript: A week after it was published as the cover of The New York Times Travel Section, Broadway’s legendary song and dance man, Tommy Tune, wrote a letter to the editor extolling the artistic merits of Jeffrey’s photograph and how he captured the magic of the moment.

“It was quite an honor coming from Tommy Tune, whom I admire for his artistry and accomplishments in the field of dance,” said Jeffrey. “The fact that he would take the time to write a letter to the editor…there really is no higher compliment.”

Name That Photographer

Name That Photographer GraphicSee if you can NAME THAT PHOTOGRAPHER from the following five clues:

1) He was an American photographer born in 1923.

2) He once said, “If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible.”

3) His portraits are easily distinguished by their minimalist style, where the person is looking squarely in the camera, posed in front of a sheer white background. He is also distinguished by his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height.

4) His obituary published in The New York Times said that “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century.”

5) His son was famous for writing a book about an exotic and distant land.

Find out if you know the correct answer by clicking here: ANSWER. After you take a peek I’d love to know what you think of this legend’s work. Which are your favorite photographs? If you’d like to see more, click here: MORE PHOTOGRAPHS.

The Art of Gratitude in the Blogging Community

If there were one word to best describe the blogging community, it would have to be “SUPPORTIVE.” In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve been bowled over time and time again by the extreme kindness, generosity, and unwavering support of fellow bloggers.

And now I’ve been knocked over once again–this time with awards from several writers whom I enjoy and respect immensely. Each brings brightness and creativity to the web, and makes blogging not only uplifting, but infinitely fascinating.

Kreativ Blogger awardDeborah Batterman at The Things She Thinks About has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Deborah is not only a talented blogger, but the author of a wonderful collection of short stories, entitled, Shoes, Hair, Nails. She is perhaps the most generous author/blogger/social media whiz I’ve met–continually creating exceptional content for her own site and also sharing relevant, entertaining and just plain cool stuff with us via Facebook, Twitter and SheWrites. I have no idea where she finds the time to do all this, but it’s definitely worth seeing what Deborah is up to. Click on the links above or follow her on Twitter: @DEBatterman.

Candle lighter awardMelissa at Play 101 has nominated me for the Candle Lighter Award.

“The Candle Lighter Award is an award for a post or blog that is positive and brings light into the world.

The Candle Lighter Award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and who never stop dreaming, who do not quit but keep trying.”

It is a tremendous honor to receive this from Melissa because she exemplifies this award. Melissa is an extraordinary writer (former journalist, news anchor, all around smarty pants—in the best sense). She writes about life and children, and always leaves you wanting more. Not only is her blog filled with thoughtful content, but the comments she leaves on other blogs makes you yearn to write (and think) as eloquently as she does.

Hug Award GraphicArindam at Being Arindam has nominated me for the HUG Award (Hope Unites Globally). Arindam is a blogger who lives in India and shares his universal views on love and life through his words and pictures. His posts are always heart-felt, adding a glimmer of insight and hope about the broader world. I’m honored to receive this award from him.

The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they: Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness.

“People do not have to give up or compromise their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs to qualify for the Hope Unites Globally HUG Award©. They qualify for the HUG Award© when, without bias or prejudice, they use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.” (see this link for all the information regarding this award: HUG).

The Kreativ Blogger Award asks that I share seven things about myself with you that you don’t already know. This link tells about as much as anybody could ever possibly want to know about me: A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful (click on it if you’re interested).

The best part of receiving these awards is nominating others and paying it forward–sending a virtual hug and a high-five to fellow bloggers. Please check out their blogs and see why I’m thrilled to be nominating each of them.


Tracey Baptiste at Knitting with Pencils

Kay Bess at Sometimes Life…doesn’t turn out like you planned.

Brenda Moquez at Passionate Pursuits

Jessica Winters Mireles at Allegro non Tanto


Amber Dusick at Crappy Pictures

Harper Faulkner at All Write

Cindy Brown at Everyday Underwear


Sifting the Grain

Nancy MacMillan at Blog of a Vet’s Wife

Tina Barbour at Bringing Along OCD

Thursday’s Picture of the Week: Cambodia

Photograph of a boy in Cambodia with an AK-47 gunBehind the Scenes: It’s 1989 and the Khmer Rouge are still fighting in Cambodia. Pol Pot’s official reign of genocidal terror has ended, but the aftermath of the “Killing Fields,” as it was coined in the grizzly 1984 film, still lingers.

Jeffrey is in Cambodia with Harry Rolnick, a foreign correspondent for the Bangkok Post. They are there to tell the story of the restoration quietly taking place at Angkor Wat Temple Complex. A handful of scientists from the Archaeological Survey of India have begun work on Cambodia’s most important archaeological site.

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple complex moon riseAngkor Wat, an ancient city built by King Survyavarman II in the 12th century, has taken a beating from years of neglect and non-stop fighting. Khmer Rouge guerrillas have looted temples, decapitated sculptures, and sold the spoils on the black market to raise cash for the war. The site’s exquisite Khmer architecture, which is often compared to that of ancient Greece and Rome in importance, has also been strangled by the encroaching jungle. Vines and roots have damaged structures, causing many of its sandstone temples, reliefs, and statues to crumble.

The restoration of Cambodia’s most important site (and symbol) is a tiny glimmer of hope for a country that has not dared to hope since the Khmer Rouge murdered approximately two million of its people (one quarter of the population).

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple Complex SoldiersBecause the U.S. still has not established diplomatic relations with Cambodia after Pol Pot’s reign of terror, Jeffrey and Harry must first fly from Bankgok, Thailand to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to obtain a visa to enter the country. A few days later they will backtrack to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, then they will catch a puddle-jumper plane to Siem Reap, the province in which Angkor Wat is located.

After a hard and fast landing (to avoid gunfire, they are told), they head to the Grand Hotel, the only hotel operating in the area at the time. Tourism has been at a standstill for more than a decade. When the bellman of this dilapidated establishment leads Jeffrey and Harry to their rooms, Jeffrey notices that his bed is pushed awkwardly into a far corner. When he asks about it, the bellman explains, “That is for your safety—in case there is gunfire. Bullets will not be able to hit you over here if they come through your window.”

Photo of Stone statues at Angkor Wat Temple Complex in CambodiaThe next day an interpreter and several Cambodian soldiers meet Harry and Jeffrey on the outskirts of Angkor Wat. The complex is over five hundred acres, and they must walk through the jungle to the temples where the archaeologists are working. The men are told under no uncertain terms may they leave the single narrow path they plying. Live mines litter the landscape everywhere else. Nearby gunfire reminds them that this is no idle warning.

Jeffrey and Harry walk cautiously and stick closely to the Cambodian soldiers who know every inch of the area. The emptiness of Angkor Wat and the heavy air blanketing the jungle creates an eeriness that makes the back of Jeffrey’s neck prickle. Harry continually looks over his shoulder. Even the slightest snap of a twig from a jungle creature or birds taking flight makes them pause. Jeffrey can’t help wonder, How do we know the Khmer Rouge haven’t laid another mine on the path last night and how do we know we won’t be ambushed now?

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple Complex in CambodiaEventually they arrive where the archaeologists are working. The interpreter introduces the men and points out many of the sites wonders, including giant Hindu sandstone faces, exquisite bas-reliefs, and temples covered in roots more massive than each of them. It doesn’t take long before Jeffrey is able to create a powerful visual story about what is taking place here.

After spending the entire day at Angkor Wat, they make their way back out to the other side where a car is expected to be waiting for them. As they reach the outskirts of the site and walk along a road near a small village, they come upon a young boy carrying an AK-47 rifle. This barefoot youngster, who is wearing nothing more than threadbare shorts, is protecting his village against the Khmer Rouge. As he walks under the weight of his gun, his onyx eyes reveal a life that has already witnessed far too much.

Jeffrey can’t help but think back to his own carefree childhood, and tries to swallow the sadness rising in his throat as he gets down on his knees to create this boy’s portrait. He can only hope that peace will come soon to Cambodia, and with it, a return to childhood for this young “man.”

This photograph was created with a Nikon F4, a Nikor 24mm lens and Fuji Velvia film.

Postscript: Jeffrey has returned to Angkor Wat on assignment two more times since his first trip in 1989, and each time he has witnessed it coming back to life more and more. Restoration is now nearly complete and Angkor Wat has been listed as a World Heritage Site, along with Cambodia’s largest tourist attraction. The best part is that Jeffrey has never come across another child carrying an AK-47 rifle in Cambodia.

If you want to learn more about Angkor Wat, click HERE.

Photo of Angkor Wat Temple Complex in CambodiaPhoto of Angkor Bayon at Angkor Wat in CambodiaPhoto of Angkor Wat Temple Complex restored reliefPhoto of a young monk at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

The Answer to Name That Photographer

Clearly I made yesterday’s photography quiz WAY too easy. As many of you guessed, the answer is ALFRED EISENSTAEDT, a legend affectionately known as “Eisie.”

Portrait of Alfred EisenstaedtFor those of you who don’t know about Eisenstaedt, you will make your life better if you take a moment to discover his work. He was a master in every sense of the word.

Here are a few links to check out his way of seeing the world:

This beautiful YouTube video-Masters of Photography (click on link to see it) is well-worth watching.

Or you can simply click on this Google search of his images. and marvel at the breadth of his portraiture–from Marilyn to Einstein to Kennedy. Or take a peek at this  Wikipedia page and learn a bit about his background.

Here is my favorite Eisenstaedt photograph: Children at Puppet Theatre, Paris, France, 1963. It sits next to my desk so I look at it every day. I will never cease to be amazed at the diverse range of emotions expressed by these children while they are all experiencing the same moment.

Photo of Alfred Eisenstaedt's Children at Puppet Theatre

I will leave you with one of Eisie’s quotes, which I think not only relates to photography, but to writing and many other aspects of life as well.

“Once the amateur’s naive approach and humble willingness to learn fades away, the creative spirit of good photography dies with it. Every professional should remain always in his heart an amateur.”

- Alfred Eisenstaedt

PS: If you missed yesterday’s quiz, take a peek here to read the clues and learn a few more fun facts. The next quiz won’t be nearly as easy!

Name That Photographer

Put on your thinking caps, photography fans! I’m starting a fun new quiz. See if you can NAME THAT PHOTOGRAPHER by reading the following five clues:

1) He was a Jewish German-American photographer born in 1898.

2) In 1936 he became one of the four original photographers at LIFE magazine, where he produced 2,500 assignments and 92 covers.

Photo of V-J Day in Times Square, 19453) He was best known for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day in Times Square.

4) He once famously said, “It’s more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”

5) He lived to the age of 96 and photographed President Clinton and his family on Martha’s Vineyard when he was 94 (the last photos of his life).

Bonus clue: He created one of my all-time favorite images ever in Paris called, “Children at Puppet Theatre.” It sits right next to my desk and makes me smile every day.

Write your guess in the comment box, then check back tomorrow morning (March 20th) for the answer.


The Luck of the Irish

Photo of shamrocksOn St. Patrick’s Day it’s often said that everybody is Irish. I’m no exception—even if I am only half Irish.

With my fair skin and freckles, and a maiden name honoring the color of shamrocks and leprechaun duds, you can bet I’ll be celebrating all things Irish this St. Patrick’s Day.

Mostly I’ll be celebrating the luck of the Irish, which I’ve often felt I’ve been blessed with much of my life.

Don’t get me wrong or think I’m bragging when I say this because, believe me, I’ve had my share of heart-shattering moments just like everybody else–where I’ve practically had to duct tape my aorta and ventricles back together to keep functioning. Still I’ve always felt ridiculously lucky (all you have to do is read my posts about why I ended up in Aspen (part one and part two), or my post about how I met my husband to understand why).

Here’s another perfect example: several years ago I decided that I was finally going to write a novel that had been kicking around in my head for years. It was time to stop thinking about it, and just do it, as the famous Nike advertisement once espoused.

So I began.

Scene after scene poured out of me and onto my computer. The characters consumed me, the words swirled through me; I even began hearing the soundtrack for my book playing in my head as I wrote it. It was magic.

But then I re-read the pile of chapters I had quickly amassed and realized I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

After writing into the wee hours one night, on a whim, I decided to go online and take a look at an adult education course catalog for our local community college. The school listed several writing classes, but only one fit my schedule: it was called “Write from the Start,” taught by an instructor named Cork Millner. The catalog merely listed the course title, but no description. I wasn’t sure if this would help me with my novel, but I liked the sound of it, and thought the instructor’s name was charming and quirky (or at least impossible for him to be mean).

This is the lucky part: the class started the very next morning. It was like a sign sent from the Lucky Irish Heavens. Clearly, it was meant to be, so without another thought I jumped off my safe, cozy “do it later” cliff and pushed the SIGN UP button.


The next morning as I got ready for class, I was buzzing with the challenge of a new adventure, but also feeling like an awkward sixth grader on her first day of school. The reality of what I had signed up for suddenly hit me. Nerves made my coffee taste like dirt and my hands turn to ice. I hadn’t been in college in years…okay, make that two decades. I’d been busy running our photo agency.

Between the butterflies in my stomach and the rain dumping outside my window, I could barely force myself out the door. To top it off, when I arrived at school the parking lot was full, offering an easy excuse to bail on the whole absurd idea and go have coffee instead.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” I tried to bolster myself as I circled the surrounding blocks multiple times looking for parking.

“The best things in life have always happened when you’ve taken a risk,” I continued until I finally found a spot. “Just do it,” I mentally blasted myself as I pushed the door open and stepped out into the pouring rain.

By the time I finally made it to class I was not only late, but drenched and worn out from the effort. The instructor looked at me with raised eyebrows, and a half smirk-smile as I slinked to the back of the room trying to find an empty seat.

Then he wrote his name, Cork Millner, on the chalkboard, followed by the word CREATIVE NONFICTION.

WHAT? Nonfiction? Crap. My Irish luck suddenly felt like anything but.

I guess this wasn’t meant to be after all, I moaned to myself. I want to learn how to write a novel, not magazine articles or memoirs.

I thought about creeping back out the door right then, but sat paralyzed in indecision and pride. I’d already made a pathetic entrance into the class. I couldn’t bring myself to make a humiliating exit too.

So I stayed. And I listened. And I looked around. In no time I realized that the witty and seasoned instructor standing at the front of the class, who also happened to be a former Navy fighter pilot and the author of numerous books and hundreds of magazine articles, could teach me a thing or two about the art of writing, no matter what type it was.

Thus began one of the luckiest leaps of faith I’ve ever taken. Not only did Cork Millner teach me the most important things I’ve learned about structure, imagery, and the business of being a writer, he also taught me dozens of things I didn’t even know I wanted, or needed to know: particularly that creative nonfiction is my passion.

Blogging, sharing Jeffrey’s photography adventures from around the world and creating an ecclectic mix of health, fitness, food and feature profiles has filled my creative cereal bowl with a pile of sweet, colorful Lucky Charms.

It was lucky that I discovered Cork’s class. It was lucky that I did not bail on it when it was easier to go have coffee, and it was lucky that I stayed open to possibility.

Because of that, an extraordinary mentor was dropped into my life–one who offered me the perfect amount of encouragement, criticism, and wisdom, all at the right time.

Not only that, but Cork’s class also offered a place to meet and learn from dozens of other writers far more talented than me–all kindred spirits who cannot not write, and who feel compelled to share their ideas with the world. Many of these people are doing extraordinary things in addition to writing—like helping people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, working to eliminate plastic bags in Africa, helping families grappling with cancer,  or showing people with dyslexia that it’s possible to become a professional writer.

Photo of author, Cork Millner

Cork and his class will always remind me that luck rarely comes without taking risks, and even more important, the harder I work, the luckier I become.

So here’s to celebrating the luck of the Irish, and a man named Cork for whom I will always be grateful for making a staggering difference in my life (and no, that’s not because I’ve been nipping on Irish whiskey).

Thank you Cork, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody!

Drop me a comment! I’d love to know who or what in your life has made you feel lucky!

Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs Now on Kindle

Steve and i book coverJeffrey and I are excited to announce the launch of our ebook, Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs. 

It is now available for Kindle devices at Amazon.com and will be available for the NOOK, Sony Reader and iPad soon.

We hope you will be one of the first to download Steve & i, and if you feel inspired by what you read, please leave a review on Amazon.

Of course, we’d be thrilled (and eternally grateful) if you would tell others about it too.

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon now has a free app you can download for both your Mac and PC. Here are the links: Kindle for Mac. Kindle for PC. If you have an Amazon account you can purchase the book and read it on your computer. You can also download a free Kindle app for your iPhone. Just go to the app store and batta boom, batta bang, you’re all set.

Our book is priced at $2.99 and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to several leading cancer research institutes because…well, as you know, cancer sucks, and it took Steve Jobs’ life far too soon.

Book description: When photographer Jeffrey Aaronson received a call from Newsweek in 1984 to photograph Steve Jobs, he had no idea who Steve Jobs was or what impact Jobs was about to have on his life or the world.

Steve & i: One Photographer’s Improbable Journey with Steve Jobs tells the captivating story of a young photographer and a young entrepreneur, and the friendship they forge when they are both twenty-nine years old—just as Aaronson is beginning to offer the world a new view through his lens and Jobs is beginning his mission to change it by introducing the most user-friendly personal computer ever conceived.

This 38-page little powerhouse of a book is packed with personal anecdotes and rarely seen photographs, which not only chronicle the launch of the first Macintosh personal computer, but also capture the essence of Steve Jobs the man before he became the icon.

It’s a must read for those who want to experience and be inspired by a side of Steve Jobs that few people have glimpsed.

Early reviews of the book read…

“A critical moment of shared inspiration is captured in this short but sweet profile of an intimate friendship between two highly motivated young men, forged immediately in trust and professional integrity. A rare, honest glimpse into the ensuing creative sparks that fly in the early blossoming careers and bonding of two visionaries who decide to be inspired by others AND courageously follow their callings and dreams. Bravo!”
-Bill Black, Director of Photography, Reader’s Digest

This is not just a story about how friendships evolve from humble or chance beginnings.  Rather, it’s an object lesson about mutual respect, curiosity, and a passion for excellence as the ingredients that propel true visionaries. Bravo, Jeffrey Aaronson, for enlightening us with the quieter, gentler side of the genius Steve Jobs. ”
-Larry C. Price, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist

“This is a sweet little book about a hugely talented and creative photographer’s relationship with a hugely talented and creative entrepreneur. With warmth, insight, and keen appreciation, Jeffrey brings back to life a man who for all his reputed prickliness and short temper was capable of simple, deep friendship.”
-Bob Morton, Former Editor-in-Chief of Abrams and the Aperture Foundation

“Photographers and Apple fans alike won’t want to miss this moving portrait of a private but profoundly influential man.”

-Russell Hart, Former Executive Editor American Photo

Artists with a Sense of Humor

If humor is one of the highest forms of intelligence, then clearly these street artists are brilliant. I hope you are as bowled over as I was by these creative minds.

Photo of street art wall with straw

Photo of street art cheerleader

Photo of street art cigarette sewer

Photo of street art face and branches

Photo of street art shoe crosswalk


Photo of street art wall face

Photo of street art chalk tiger

Photo of street art kids chalk walk

Photo of street art eyes wall

Photo of street art more people climbing steps

Photo of street art scissors cutting street

Photo of street art sink hole with bicylist

Photo of street art steam roller

Photo of street art face on bombed building

Photo of street art love shadow

Photo of street art afro tree face

Photo of street art blue waterfall

Photo of street art guns and pencils

Photo of street art face skyscrapers

Photo of street art pastel steps

Photo of street art titanic building

Photo of street art treehouse building

Photo of street art zipper tree

Photo of street art subway steps

Photo of street art three friends

Unfortunately, I do not have the original source to properly credit the photographers or the curator of this delightful collection of images, but here’s a big shout out to Hensley Peterson for forwarding this piece to me via email. If anybody knows the original source, please let me know.