My photographic life

A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.
 
—Dorothea Lange

My photographic life began when I was 7 years old on the Southside of Chicago, 1946, just one year after World War Two ended and the US unleashed the first use of nuclear weapons, a period I do not recall but which produced life-long motivations. In that same year, my father Fran gave me my first camera. Seventy two years later, I photograph along several lines: politically-based addressing such knotty topics as the climate crisis, racism (an issue greatly deepened thru my participation in the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage Pilgrimage in 1998-1999), and injustice in Palestine-Israel (begun in 2003 and continuing with a series about people and their descendants Israel expelled from their ancient villages and towns to form the new state, “The Ongoing Nakba”); our precious environment all over New England and much of the US including Quabbin Reservoir, Alaska, and California; indigenous people begun while living on the Lakota Rosebud reservation for one month in 1984; among others. I work with Extinction Rebellion on the Media-Messaging Team and with the Israel-Palestine Working Group of New England Yearly Meeting.

Kodak Brownie camera
Kodak Autographic fold-out camera

Quakers have been enormously supportive in many ways—prayers, criticism, direction, use of my photos, and financially. Much of my photography derives from Quaker theology and practice, most notably John Woolman who visited his then-neighboring Indians (believed to be hostile) in Pennsylvania in 1761, and who strongly addressed racism, even among Friends. He walked his talk, a key principle for me. Dorothea Lange photographing the Great Depression with a Great Heart is a major inspiration. Many in our monthly and yearly meetings working with many tools on various topics, often using art effectively, have mightily influenced me.

Beauty will save the world.

—Fyodor Dostoevsky, “The Idiot”

Dorothea Lange, Texas, circa 1934
Six Tenant Farmers Without Farms, Hardeman County, Texas, 1937

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2 thoughts on “My photographic life

  1. Hi Skip, Peter, Alexander and I are in Deer Isle, Maine for 2 weeks and today is a rainy morning, so I am spending some time online. Your photographs are more than beautiful; they have soul and beauty. I am moved by the narrative passages also. I will continue to spend time viewing your work in this amazing collection of your photographic life. I loved the photographs of the hawks at Mt Auburn Cemetery and know that Peter will appreciate those also (I am upstairs so didn’t run down the steep stairs to show him). Take good care, warmly, Pattie

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    1. patti, warm regards to you, peter, and alexander in deer isle, one of the most beautiful and soulful spots on this planet. your words touch me deeply, thanks so much for viewing and commenting. such remarks are fuel as powerful—more powerful—than my morning cup of coffee.

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