There's a big dark town, it's a place I've found
There's a world going on underground
They're alive, they're awake
While the rest of the world is asleep
- Tom Waits, Underground
In January of 2018, I went back to the holy and historic city of Lalibela for the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas celebration.
Over the course of a week, pilgrims start to arrive from all over Ethiopia, and all over the world, some by airplane, some by bus, and some on foot from their home villages at the end of a two month journey. They come to visit and pray in a church complex that was carved out of solid rock eight hundred years ago.
The first time I was there, most of my photos were about trying to describe how the place looks. This time, I wanted to communicate how the place felt to me.
It’s hard for me to put into words how wonderful, overwhelming, and magical of an experience it is. These photos are an attempt to get at how it felt to me to be there, in ancient churches, filled with 50,000 pilgrims.
The work here is the culmination of a year of introspection, exploration, and hard work to figure out why I was stuck and what was next.
All of this is of course a snapshot of where I’m at now, not the final statement of where my work is going. At least, I hope it isn’t.
I don’t like snow.
Some of my friends are sure it’s because I grew up in Hawai‘i; others are certain there’s some traumatic experience in my past that’s to blame. But there are plenty of people from Hawai‘i who spend all winter skiing, and so far as I know there’s no deep hidden trauma keeping me from enjoying the delights inherent in frozen water falling from the sky and covering the land with a death-blanket of icy horror. Perhaps I’m just being unfair.
Regardless, living in Seattle, I don’t often have to deal with snow beyond a few hours of annoyance, which suits me well. Usually snow in the morning turns to rain by the afternoon and the whole thing washes away in a few hours. This made it all the more shocking when Seattle spent two weeks in December of 2008 largely immobilized by an embarrassingly small amount of snow. At the same time, I was on vacation for a few weeks after a difficult few months at my day job, and had been planning to spend part of that time roaming around the city relaxing and making photos.
It’s a cliché to describe one’s art as therapy, but in this case it’s completely true. Getting the frustration I felt out of my head and into my camera was the healthiest thing I could have done under the circumstances.
A collection of photos of friends, family, coworkers, and friends who are circus freaks.
Through one connection or another I’ve spent some time over the years shooting production stills for independent films in Seattle.
The benefit to me, of course, was getting to photograph the production itself, which is always a rich opportunity to make interesting photos.
In January of 2014, I visited the Ethiopian city of Lalibela. We were there over the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas celebration, when tens of thousands of pilgrims filled the streets and churches.
I put together a Magcloud publication called Christmas in Lalibela that goes into much more detail about the history of Lalibela, the experience of being there, and my personal concerns about objectification.
You could certainly purchase a copy of if you like; however, you can also read the whole thing online, absolutely free.
I went back four years later. The photos are very different.
Memorial Day weekend, 2017. Pacific Beach, Washington. While Seattle had a glorious, unseasonably warm and sunny weekend, we experienced three days of some of the thickest fog I’ve ever seen. As a beach trip it was kind of a wash, but photographically, I couldn’t have been happier.
In September of 2015, I spent a week in Luxembourg for work. When I was making my plans, I realized that instead of flying home through Charles DeGaulle, I could take the TGV down from Luxembourg, stay a couple of nights in Paris, and then fly home Sunday… for less.
And so my 40 hours in Paris was hatched. I got a cheap 4th floor AirBnB in Le Marais, there was a solid restaurant across the street I had dinner at twice, and had breakfast at the bakery around the corner. I didn’t go see any of the “sights” - I spent 28 hours just walking around, drinking coffee, making photos, and responding to the city.
In February of 2015 I got to spend a few weeks traveling around Laos. The country was beautiful, the cities were amazing, and the people were gracious and friendly. And, it turns out, obsessed with bocce.