It doesn’t seem right (to me) to blog about superficial things when there is still so much raw suffering going on 120 miles away. So I stopped at a church on my way home from work and took a couple of photos.

But…I have to say…I was appalled at the behavior of the crowd at the University of Arizona’s memorial for the victims of the Tucson massacre last night. Cheering, catcalls, whistling, shouting, applause any time Arizona or the U of A was mentioned seemed inappropriate. There were 14,000 people inside but I don’t consider that there were 14,000 mourners. I think it was very strange and rude to the families of the victims and others close to them to behave in that way. I thought the President gave a very inspiring speech/eulogy and that he displayed the proper decorum for such a somber occasion. He even seemed stunned a few times at the response from the audience. It was not supposed to be a pep rally even though it was held in the basketball arena.

So, I’m relieved I’m an alum of Arizona State University and not U of A. The behavior of the crowd at ASU’s stadium in May 2009 when the President gave the commencement speech was far more civil than last night’s constant rowdy outbursts and graduation is a joyous occasion. I don’t think a mass memorial for several victims less than a week after the murders occurred can be such a raucously fun event as it appeared to be. Souvenir t-shirts were even draped on all the chairs and those were supplied by the U of A (at no taxpayer expense, at least).

So, once again, I want to say, we’re not all like that.


How Can Photography Change the World?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and just needed to get my ideas focused (intentional pun).

Globe 2

Recently I’ve been reading Bill Clinton’s book, Giving, as well as another book called The Soul of Money (which I heard about on Kelli’s blog, a young woman who makes constant differences in the world). Both books, on different levels, are about what you can do to give back and transform your own life in the process.

President Obama was here the other night and I went to hear him speak at Arizona State University and giving was his main theme, too.  And, I have worked for a large nonprofit for many, many years and for 5 of those years I worked for the fundraising part of it.  I know what giving $$ can do and I think it’s important to give to groups one feels strongly about.

Also there is a blog I read everyday called How I Changed the World Today.  The writer, Julia, does something every single day to help the world.  She doesn’t write about it to brag or to sound important but to hopefully influence others as well as to motivate herself to give in some way everyday.

But face it, much as I would like to give to a lot of groups, I can’t, because I’m not rich. I give to some and would like to give more to them and others.  But Bill Clinton (and President Obama) speak of giving your time, your effort, etc.–not just your $$.

Money Machine

So…I’ve been trying to think of ways I can “change the world” through photography and/or blogging, both things I have fun doing.

Nikon Fisheye

Here are some I have thought of and I would love to hear if you have some other ideas on this subject:

1. Contribute your artwork to fundraisers.  I have done that about 5 times and find it really fun and fairly rewarding when your work sells. The only problem with this is there just aren’t that many around or at least it’s hard to find out about them so it’s just an occasional thing. I’d like to be doing it a lot more.

2. Contribute your photography services to a nonprofit.  A lot of them hire professional photographers to shoot their events, their donors, the staff, the recipients of their services, etc., but I would think the smaller ones would rather use free services…especially in these hard economic times when some charities are going under.

3. Sell your photos yourself and donate proceeds to charities. Indicate that is your purpose before you sell as that may further influence buyers to purchase your work.  Try to sell ’em on your blog.

4. Blog about your favorite charities, use photos of their facilities (if it’s a zoo or museum or an actual physical place), in the hopes of getting your readers to donate.  This I have done several times.

5. Give a gift of photography to someone who needs it. On another photoblog I read, just today the writer, Toni, mentioned that her next door neighbors’ son was unable to have his senior portraits taken because the dad had lost his job and they just couldn’t afford it.  So she is shooting the kid’s portraits as a gift.  She suggested calling local high schools (the guidance counselors) and offering your free services to kids who can’t afford to pay for their photos. This is a great idea but probably one I wouldn’t do personally at this time as shooting portraits is not my strong suit.

6. Or like Julia, who I mentioned in paragraph 4, blog about doing something everyday, even if it’s a small thing, so you force yourself to do something as well as possibly inspire others.

7. Be a photojournalist.  We can’t all work for TIME or even our local paper but we can do it on a smaller, more local level by championing a cause…and putting it on our blog, or in an art show at your school, if you’re a student, maybe your church, a coffeehouse, somewhere…Maybe you could have a box out for people to donate canned goods to your local food bank or shelter when they come to your show. Tell the local paper about your exhibit, get the word out.

8. Make photo gifts and birthday cards for your friends, thereby saving $$ (which you could even then donate) or reaching an agreement with some of your friends (as one group of my friends and I did this year) that we would give monetary gifts to each others’ favorite charities in our honor instead of giving gifts as we normally do–but still get together to celebrate the birthdays, of course.

Here’s another good blog for ideas to change the world as well as an interview with a photojournalist who wants to do just that.

My view of the world from my front porch:

View from Front Porch

I’m involved in this same discussion on a photography forum where others have contributed more suggestions. Check it out.

Do you have any other ideas?


May 13, 2009-Tempe, AZ

It was hot! It was a long, boring 4 hour wait from the time we got into Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University until Commencement 2009 began.  It wasn’t too much of a hassle getting there in the car, by light rail, and walking (getting through Security took all of 3 minutes) but it was sort of a hassle getting out of there, especially when you’re fried after a long day.  Was it worth it?  Yes!!!!!!!!!

Commencement 2009

It was exciting, awe-inspiring, other words I can’t think of.  Just to be in the same space (extended space, of course, since we were nowhere near him) with President Obama was a stirring experience. His speech was tailored to the controversy at ASU over not receiving an honorary degree.  He was gracious and funny about that but it led to the main points of his address to the graduates…”what building a body of work is all about–it’s about the daily labor, the many individual acts, the choices large and small that add up to a lasting legacy. It’s about not being satisfied with the latest achievement, the latest gold star–because one thing I know about a body of work is that it’s never finished.  It’s cumulative; it deepens and expands with each day that you give your best, and give back, and contribute to the life of this nation. You may have set-backs, and you may have failures, but you’re not done–not by a longshot.”


The President also said, “I’m talking about an approach to life–a quality of mind and heart.  A willingness to follow your passions, regardless of whether they lead to fortune and fame. A willingness to question conventional wisdom and rethink the old dogmas.  A lack of regard for all the traditional markers of status and prestige–and a commitment instead to doing what is meaningful to you, what helps others, what makes a difference in this world.”

Well, I could go on and on…it was wonderful, I didn’t want to leave, and we stayed until the end, until the fireworks were set off on “A” Mountain (photo below of “A” Mountain earlier in the day) and echoed loudly around the stadium.  If you missed it and would like a transcript (which I noticed is lacking a few extraneous remarks he made), let me know and I’ll email it to you.

A Mountain

Do I regret I didn’t take my DSLR? Not exactly because I already had enough stuff to lug around in the heat and I was worried about the camera getting bashed in a crowd or lost. What I do regret is that the extra batteries I took for my point and shoot were also dead once the batteries in the camera died.  So I got zero shots of the President.  We mostly watched him on the jumbotron anyway since we were so high up.  But I do wish I had gotten a decent photo of Air Force One as it flew directly over Sun Devil Stadium enroute to Sky Harbor at 5:50pm.  That was an exciting sight and just the beginning of an inspirational evening…magical, even.

Oleander 2


3 Digit Temps

Planet thing

We’re in the midst of several continuous days with over 100 degree temperatures and may break the May record. Yippee, that’s never good news in Phoenix. Two more days until the Obama Event at ASU where we will be standing outside in the beating sun for several hours waiting to get through security. I’m hoping–and thinking–it will all be worth it in the end but…with the constant chatter about it from the local media…it’s a little hard to not be slightly apprehensive. And the predicted traffic situation is a whole other issue.

These flowering plants won’t be lasting too much longer in this heat. One last blaze of glory and they’ll dry up.



The vinca will probably survive and thrive throughout the summer with a lot of water.

Vinca Close-Up

And I was excited to see today that our mesquite tree, native to the desert, had blooms on it. Although we’ve had the tree for years, we’ve never seen it bloom before (in fact, I’ve never really noticed other mesquites blooming either).

Mesquite Bloom

Today’s fisheye experiment.


Think cool, calming thoughts for us.


Got ‘Em!

Pretty, aren’t they? They were a recent gift.


What’s that in the bowl?


Yup, we’re going! I’m in the Alumni Association and they offered tickets to members so I went and picked them up this afternoon. Commencement isn’t until evening but we have to be there early so I’m hoping it won’t be too hot.  My car thermometer said 106 degrees today around 4pm, toasty.

Anyway…I think it will be exciting; it’s not something one gets to do very often.