Name That Photographer

Name That Photographer GraphicSee if you can Name that Photographer from the following five clues:

1) She was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1895 to second-generation German immigrants.

2) She contracted polio when she was 7 years old, which left her with a permanent limp. She once said of her altered gait: “It formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me and humiliated me. I’ve never gotten over it, and I am aware of the force and power of it.”

3) She lived most of her life in Berkeley, California.

4) She was very shy, yet independent and always interested in people.

5) She is best known for her documentary work of the Great Depression and Japanese internment camps like Manzanar, and she co-founded Aperture magazine.

Leave your guess in the comment box and check back tomorrow to see if you are correct.

Thursday’s Picture of the Week: Los Angeles Riots

Photo of the Los Angeles Riots in 1992

Behind the Scenes: It’s late April 1992 and all hell is breaking loose in South Central Los Angeles. Four LAPD officers—three white and one Hispanic—have just been acquitted of brutally beating black motorist, Rodney King, and the verdict has ignited a firestorm of rage in the black community. After years of police brutality, racial injustice, and economic disparity, hundreds are rioting in the streets.

Jeffrey watches this fiery scene unfold on television, his stomach churning, especially when he sees an innocent white truck driver, Reginald Denny, pulled from his truck and maliciously beaten when he’s stopped at an intersection; then later hears of another man, Fidel Lopez, a Guatemalan construction worker, who’s robbed, beaten and maimed—his ear nearly sliced off and his genitals and torso painted black.

Growing up in the Los Angeles area, Jeffrey is disturbed to see this unfolding in his own backyard. The brutality seems more like something he’d witness in a lesser-developed country; one without a democratic or judicial system in place.

When the riots intensify the following day, with thousands now protesting, looting and setting buildings on fire, Jeffrey gets on a plane and heads to Los Angeles. After covering human rights issues and cultural conflicts around the world, he feels compelled to turn his lens on what is happening in his own country.

Landing at LAX, he gets a rental car (with the extra insurance, this time), then drives into the miasma. It’s like a war zone. Four thousand National Guard troops are patrolling the streets, many in Humvees, all with rifles.The smell of smoke and ash assault Jeffrey’s nostrils as he steps out of the car near the intersection where Reginald Denny was beaten.

The muscles in Jeffrey’s neck ache with tension. Even though every kind of law enforcement officer has been brought in from around California to stand guard and try to gain control of the situation, he knows that unlike most other countries where only the military owns guns, anybody is able to own and use a gun in our country. Sniper shootings have been rampant.

In the mix, the Korean American community has been hit hard with looting and has taken up arms trying to defend its livelihood. Gun battles have broken out across Koreatown.

Jeffrey’s intention is to examine the social, cultural, and economic reasons contributing to this explosive situation. When he comes across firefighters putting out the remaining embers of a torched building and an officer guarding them from snipers, he knows he has created a symbolic photograph of this complicated moment in time–especially with the sentiment scrawled in red across the wall.

This photograph was created with a Nikon F4 camera, a Nikor 24mm lens and Fuji Velvia film. It was published in Newsweek, then later as the cover of Architectural Landscape magazine in an issue dedicated to urban renewal.

Where were you when the Los Angeles riots broke out twenty years ago ? Do you remember? And do you remember what your thoughts were at the time?

Favorite Five Friday: Qualities

Last week I made you think hard for Favorite Five Friday. This week it’s easy. Simply take five minutes or less and jot down what qualities you admire most IN OTHERS. Here are my Favorite Five:

Favorite Five Friday Qualities

At least when it’s not honesty, integrity, creativity…or….

Drop your five in the comment box! I’d love to know what you think.

Is Social Media Killing Your Creativity?

Last night as I lay in bed counting sheep, two questions continually swirled through my mind.

  • What has happened to my creative mojo?
  • Why do I perpetually feel rushed, unfocused and unable to finish what I start?

It seems like months since a rich and textured story has poured out of me with grace and fluidity (at least on my best writing days). Now it feels like each word, thought, and gesture is clumsy and forced—as if I’m madly paddling down a river on a clunky, handmade raft, bumping into rocks all along the way.

Some would chock this up to writer’s block. I would disagree.

I would hand this dubious honor to the curse (and blessing) of social media.

Huh?! Whatcha talkin’ about Willis?

How could Facebook, Twitter and the likes change the flow of one’s creativity?

Simple. There is so much information out there now that our senses are being dulled like stones being tumbled along the bottom of a raging river. As the current of news and ideas continually grows wider and more intense, we are unable to keep pace with the pummeling flow.

I read somewhere that 290 million Tweets are sent each day, over 200 billion videos are viewed each month, and an estimated 100 billion photographs are now shared on Facebook. That’s a whole lot of sharing, and that doesn’t even include blogs or other forms of social media like Digg, Delicious, Tumblr, Squidoo, LinkedIn, or Pinterest.

To switch metaphors (because, as I mentioned I’m struggling with focus), social networking is like standing in the middle of a massive cocktail party in which everyone is talking loudly–all at the same time. Everybody is sharing their latest exciting adventures as well as their greatest discoveries, their juiciest gossip, their funniest jokes, their most heart-warming stories, and their mountains of indispensable advice. The din is mesmerizing. The only problem is that it’s so noisy it’s often difficult to decipher what anybody is saying. It’s also nearly impossible to gather your thoughts to contribute to the conversation in any meaningful way.

After leaving the party, you likely feel dizzy and a tad unfulfilled as random bits of conversations still float through your head. When you get back home and try to write, you realize you’re suddenly nursing a hangover from this gathering. It wavers between a dull haze and a nagging headache. As you rub your temples and try to keep your mind from jumping from thought to thought, you attempt to settle into a creative writing rhythm. It doesn’t happen though, so what do you do? Check your email, of course. Responding to a friend’s or colleague’s message is much less taxing than creating an original thought on a blank screen. Then one thing leads to another and viola, you’re suddenly back in the middle of that noisy party again.

Some would say, “Get a grip, girlfriend. Just turn it off. Drop out. Get back to your creative center.

And they would be right.

Well, sort of.

As an author, social networking provides an important outlet for connecting with readers and like-minded writers. Since I joined the world of blogging and social media last year, I have met some truly phenomenal people—people like you—many of whom I never would have met otherwise. For that I am grateful. Your support, enthusiasm, and generosity have added value to my life in ways I never would have imagined. I genuinely enjoy connecting with you.

The problem is that because you have been so supportive and I’ve come to enjoy you so much, I want to reciprocate. I’m interested in what you’re up to and look forward to reading your latest book, blog post, and Facebook entry. I want to comment and share with others how talented you are. I want to send you a virtual high five for receiving a rave review or winning a much-deserved award. Most of all, I want to say, “thank you.”

But all of this takes time, and a different style of writing, which splinters my focus and makes me feel perpetually rushed and distracted. Instead of writing long, delicious prose, I’m focused on writing brief, clever comments, and communicating in 140 characters or less. I no longer lose myself in a story I’m writing, inhaling the details of the imagery, exhaling the textures of the characters and dialogue.

So what’s a girl to do to get her creative mojo back?

The obvious answer is to turn off and drop out, but that’s tough for somebody who likes to mix it up and party with talented people. Perhaps create first, party later? I know what else I must do. It’s what I always do when I need inspiration: read. Finding a calm eddy in the torrent of social media and immersing myself in the world of literary fiction will no doubt stir my creative soul once again.

So tell me, do you feel like social media is killing your creativity? What is your approach to it all? Are you able to participate in virtual social circles, then transition into a different way of thinking and being creative? Drop me a comment. I’d love to know what’s buzzing through your mind.

 

 

Steve & i eBook Website Launched

While my blog was being transferred over from WordPress to my own site this past week, I took the opportunity to create a new website for our eBook, Steve & i. The URL is: www.steveandi.com (click on it to view it).

Steve and i website screen capture

I’d be thrilled if you’d take a peek at the site and give me your two cents by dropping it into the comment box below. Constructive criticism is welcome (even if it’s nitpicky) because as Steve Jobs once said, “None of us are as creative as all of us.”

To my published author friends: besides badgering your friends and family until they can’t stand you anymore, what are some of the best ways you’ve reached your readers? If you have any tidbits you wouldn’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for all your support everyone!  Learning the ropes has been quite an adventure! The book is off to a great start…and that’s all because of you.

 

Anybody out There?

Yesterday The Art of an Improbable Life made the switch from WordPress.com to its own hosted site, and it appears that in the process all of my followers may have disappeared. Yikes!

I’m hoping you can help me figure this out. If you automatically received this post today, would you be so kind as to leave me a comment and let me know? I truly appreciate your support! Crossing fingers and toes you’re all still out there!

 

Favorite Five Friday: Places

Thanks for making last Friday’s Favorite Five so much fun. Here’s this week’s topic:

Favorite Five Friday Places

Where are your favorite five places? It could be in far off lands, the chaise lounge in your backyard or simply somewhere in your imagination. Drop me a comment. I’d love to know what places inspire you most! Oh yeah, and please don’t strain your brain (it’s Friday, after all). Take five minutes or less and see what comes to mind first.

The Answer…

To Yesterday’s “Where in the World Are You?” Photo Contest is:

MICRONESIA

This was a tough one! Thanks to all of you who participated in the contest. I loved all your guesses, and I especially loved having so many first-time commenters (is that a word?) leave their two cents.

Unlike Bali, Tahiti or Thailand, Micronesia is not a common travel destination, so I can see why nobody got the correct answer.

The official name for Micronesia is The Federated States of Micronesia. It consists of four island states: Yap, Chuuk (Truk), Pohnpei (Ponape), and Kosrae–all in the Caroline Islands (I know, islands within islands are a bit confusing). Take a peek at the map below to get your bearings, and just know that Micronesia is located about 3,200 miles west-southwest of Hawaii, above the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Map of Micronesia

Jeffrey was photographing a travel story here many years ago for Continental Airlines and captured the fisherman in yesterday’s photograph as he cast his net at sunrise on the island of Kosrae.

When I reviewed Eric Weiner’s book, The Geography of Bliss last November, I asked Jeffrey to rank some the happiest places he’s worked in the world, He described Micronesia as being the 4th Happiest Place. If you’d like to know why and see a few more photographs, you can click on my previous post: The Geography of Bliss (once you click on it, scroll half way down to get to Micronesia).

 Fisherman in Kosrae, Micronsia
Photo of Truk Micronesia

The most significant change to Micronesia since Jeffrey worked there in the late 80s is the impact global warming has had on the island chain. Micronesia, as well as many others in the South Pacific, are alarmed by the rise in ocean levels, which threaten low-lying islands with flooding and, eventually, submergence.

Now that has a way of putting our environmental issues into perspective!