Kerala India


trader at sunset on Kovalum Beach, India
Coastal Carolina Life  just published an
article I wrote and photographed about
south Kerala, India.  SouthKerala (a PDF version,
which shows the layout)

There is actually a funny story behind this article.
Last December(2011) I went to India for a month
with a friend.  I was not on assignment, but of
course I couldn’t resist taking pictures.  It was
a challenge to carry all my clothes and my
camera gear in a back pack for a month.

Most of the trip was in south Kerala with its
beautiful beaches, ayuvedic centers, rich cultural
events, such as Kathikali, the ancient dance drama,
and Indian classical dance and martial arts.
Other highlights were a visit to an ashram, an
overnight birthday trip on a converted rice barge,
and a sojourn in the home of a Keralite family.
I also enjoyed many visits to an amazing diversity
of religious sites–Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jewish,
and Jain.

It was a journey of stunning landscapes, lovely people,
exotic food, and rich cultural displays.

This summer, while driving across the US midwest,
I received an email from Carolyn Males, the new
editor of Coastal Carolina Living, asking if I could
supply an article about India, complete with
photos. So it was that I found myself madly typing
on my laptop about moist tropical Kerala  as my
friend drove thousands of miles across the parched US

I found it enormous fun to once again write and
illustrate as I had many years ago.  So far I’ve
received the most comments about the Ayuvedic
foot massage.








Epidaurus Greece
Dreaming at Aesclypian Temple, Greece

Being around so many creative artists, I feel drawn to exploring with different media, not just photography.
Sometimes exploring means a journey inward instead of to another continent. A dream, a vision, a painting, can become the passport stamp. Exploring can be traveling to Greece with Jungian therapist and dream tender JoHanna McNamee and going on an inner journey of dreams and visions.
Exploring  means painting with abandon or making a clay mask on a hot summer day.
Exploring means combining photographs, paints, fresco to create an image.  Here are some still-wet experiments with different media such as gel emulsion transfer, fresco, painting, and clay, using photographs and Photoshop as a basis.
Exploring can also mean going to the edge of our known understandings.  An example is “The Next Level of Living,” a short video about a man dying of a malignant brain tumor and how it transformed him, his family, and friends.

Currently I’m exploring audio portraits about enduring relationships.

Arches National Park, Utah
digital image of Arches, Utah

digital image of Arches, Utah

I have galleries of mixed media images called Alternatives-Mixed Media.
Also, check out the work of mixed-media artist Peggy Doig.

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Over the years I have been exploring ways to manipulate images.  Some of these are through photoshop alone.

Some combine alternative mixed media, which  include photographs that I have digitally created, paintings, gel emulsion transfer, or fresco.

These are some ways I am exploring by manipulating images in photoshop.

I created this explosion of lizards from a photograph I took of a collared lizard at a Mesa Verde, CO parking lot.

Arches National Park, Utah
digital image of Arches, Utah

Check out my gallery of mixed-media/alternative work, which includes images digitally manipulated in photoshop as well as gel emulsion transfer images, enhanced by handpainting, clay images and fresco.

JoHanna McNamee gives workshops in clay figure and maskmaking. Sedona artist Peggy Doig gives workshops on mixed media. See her website at essence-studio.


Hannibal Oral History Project

Students interview elders about racism in America’s Hometown…

Hannibal Oral History Project

I was asked by the Hannibal Community Partnership for Reconciliation (CPR) to teach middle school students how to interview their elders about racism in Hannibal, Missouri.  They had a team of 18 racially diverse students interview both Caucasians and African-Americans about growing up in “America’s Hometown, birthplace of Mark Twain.

A grant was provided by the Disciples of Christ Church,  Rev. Minnie Smith opened up the Willow Street Church to have the workshops and interviews, and community members gave donations.

On this project I was an educator as well as a multi-media director; I  was the program facilitator as well as the producer for the documentary.

I drove three days from Arizona to Missouri to teach the students about interview techniques, audio equipment and editing software.  I brought out a portable studio to make portrait images of the participants.  Most importantly, I worked closely with the CPR project task force to do team building and create dialog in the community.

The greatest challenge of making this documentary was creating a meaningful narrative from more than 600 minutes of recorded interviews from 10 interviewees and 18 students.

The solution was to work closely with transcripts to build a compelling narrative, which was divided into stating the problem of racism, showing how the students were able to ask tough questions, and finally the students describing what they learned and their visions for change.

The result is a  20 minute documentary that combines personal stories, vintage photographs, portraits, and images of the participants at work.  More importantly the youth are enthusiastic about the project and what they have learned not just technically but about their peers and elders.

The hope is that this documentary will continue to raise awareness in the community between ages and races.

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DMZ Phoenix

JC Shaba
JC Shaba

Time to Serve Those Who Served

The Justa Center  in Phoenix Arizona helps homeless senior citizens get vital documents, a source of income—whether it is employment, social security, etc., and a safe place to live. About a year ago they asked me to do a video about homeless senior veterans. The result was this multimedia documentary which premiered at the fundraiser Bets for Vets November 2011.

There were several challenges to this documentary. The obvious one was tracking down people who live at no fixed place, with no phone or other means of contact.  Another challenge was documenting their environment, a dangerous area known as “the zone,” the combat zone. Another formidable challenge was getting people who would permit photographs and interviews.  Most people are not proud of this time in their life when they are reduced to living on the streets.

Fortunately I was often able to arrange meetings at the Justa Center. Several former combat vets gave me tours of “the zone.” They watched my back as I shot pictures. As for getting permissions, people were so grateful that the Justa Center helped them get back on their feet, that they agreed readily to portraits and interviews. Not only that, many people opened up about their lives in ways that humbled me.

Post production also presented challenges.  As always, I was looking for good, legal music. Songwriter Chris Lux  gave me permission to record him singing his original song, “Cadillac Street.”

The most important challenge was time, or lack of it. So many veterans were incredibly forthright as they described their military service, their struggles upon coming home, and their reasons for finding themselves homeless, including ptsd, hospitalizations, addictions, and the recession. It was painful to cut out many moving stories in the interest of keeping a shorter piece.

My goal is to edit short audio portraits where more of these courageous veterans can come forward with their stories.


“Cadillac Street” written and performed by Chris Lux

Photos: Laird Brown , Pam Taylor

Video: Walt Carr, US Navy Reserve; Pam Taylor

Malcolm Burns, US Marine Corps, Vietnam
John McNamee, US Navy, Iraq
Eduard Uzumeckis, PhD, US Army, Vietnam

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