Miss Mary In Her Own Words

Miss Mary Carter
Mary Carter

On August 8, 2011 Mary Carter of Hannibal Missouri turned 108 years old.

      1. Miss Mary's story


Two days before her birthday she was interviewed by high school student Mia Buckner, Rev. Minnie Smith of Willow Street Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and Faye Dant, executive Director of the Hannibal African American Life and History Project.

The sound man was student A’Shyrune Deal Linwood.

Miss Carter spoke about her personal life and Hannibal’s racial heritage.
The interview is part of the Hannibal Oral History Project, under the auspices of the Hannibal Community Partnership for Reconciliation (CPR).


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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The Peace Maker

A Palestinian Peace Maker in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Palestinian Sami Jabber and his family moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where they opened a café called Alfanoose, The Magic Lantern. It has become a popular gathering place for great Middle Eastern food, music, and international camaraderie.

I created this story for a Santa Fe Workshops  class on audio storytelling, given by Bob Sacha.  It was my first foray into recording interviews for a visual story. We used soundslides a program to make slideshows on steroids.

The challenge was taking pictures and doing interviews in a limited amount of time. I prefer to devote a great deal of time so people can feel comfortable and there is emotional depth to a story.Jabber himself turned out to be the solution. He gave me free access to photograph and gave several short interviews. He and his wife are genuinely warm and personable.

In the end, I was a bit disappointed with the resulting story. However, Jabber was delighted with the DVD I presented to him.
I found that the real story, one I didn’t have time to do, was about an organization they support each year called Creativity for Peace. Based in New Mexico, it promotes understanding and leadership among Palestinian and Israeli young women.

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Bev Jenai in Her Own Words and Images

Bev Jenai Afro American Artist
Bev Jenai


Bev Jenai, (www.bevjenaiart.com) a multi-talented African-American artist  working in Sedona, Arizona asked me to produce a book about her and her work. I dutifully showed up, notebook in hand, and asked her, Who are you?

A creative, complex woman, not slowed down by stereotypes or small boxes, she launched into her story.  I quickly realized the challenge of portraying the breadth of her talent.

She has such an incredible range of creativity: oil paintings, charcoal drawings, pastels, sculpture, as well as dance and writing.  She has painted the children of Ghana, the people devastated by Hurricane Kaltrina, as well as portraits and sculptures of President Obama.

She contributed to  “Go Tell Michelle: African-American Women Write to the New First Lady,” written for and presented to Michelle Obama.  She is  featured  in “A Time, A Season,” a compilation of  prominent African-American artists,  presented in honor of Oprah Winfrey.

She gave me and I read her poetry book, “Kin’lin for the Soul: for Those Who’ve loved, and Dared to Love Again.”

Suddenly the solution became evident.  I asked Jenai to write a poem about herself.  Using her own words as guides, I was able to shoot portraits and lay them out  side by side with her work to give an enhanced image of this creative woman, in her own words.

Click here to view this photo book.



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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Social Change

Nicaraguan Girl
Nicaraguan Girl
Social Change through Multimedia Documentaries.

Multicultural diversity has formed me. From childhood within a United Nations community in New York City, to covering civil unrest in Central America and living and working in Thailand and Peru, I find it natural to relate to people of many cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, and beliefs.

Although I began with “hard news” photojournalism, my strength today focuses on in-depth features.

I take the time to research a social issue, whether it is Americans struggling with racism or rural poverty, Peruvians or Burmese surviving civil strife, or people worldwide living their beliefs with integrity in a changing world.

Rather than do a quick in-out interview and photos, I take time to get to know the people I’m interviewing, photographing, or filming–time to establish trust and to really hear their stories– time to sensitively portray how they  overcome adversity.

Time to put a person’s face to mind-numbing statistics.

I seek out people who are traditionally marginalized, “voiceless;” often people find a voice as they tell their story.  This could be homeless senior citizens, “at-risk” teenagers, a Peruvian weaver who could only “tell” the story of his people at war through his tapestries, or Afro-American elders who know the effects of subtle racism.

Most people are grateful whenever someone not only listens to their inner truth but also portrays their inherent dignity.

Although I work with visual stories and audio stories, I believe multimedia documentaries are the most powerful means of presenting a narrative.  Integrating visual images, animation, video footage, interviews, and music surpasses linear text.

Recently I trained a group of racially mixed young teenagers how to interview each other and their elders about a difficult social issue: racism.  Students, who were struggling academically, benefitted from this non-linear way of learning and relating to others.

Multimedia documentaries can educate, move, and inspire us in ways traditional text cannot.

I create compelling authentic narratives that give voice to the “voiceless,” move viewers, and inspire social change.