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2016 Spring Performance Expo – Melrose Leadership Academy

I have been photographing performances at Melrose Leadership Academy longer than many people have been taking pictures. Earlier this month, I photographed my 14th “Performance Expo” at my son’s dual immersion Oakland public school. You can access the Spring 2016 photo gallery here.

 (bryan farley)

I am an educator as well as a parent, so I probably view these performances differently than some people. I look at the educational and developmental value. As a photographer, I am continually looking for the visual opportunities. Every time I photograph the performance expos, I find opportunities and value.

 (bryan farley)

Earlier this year, I shared some photos from previous expos. In the January 2016 post, I also wondered if educators could create a standardized test for collaboration. You have probably heard the phrase, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”  Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone is working on the standardized test yet, so I keep dreaming.

 (bryan farley)

When I attended an art educators meeting last month, I claimed that art is an afterthought… it is an add on. A few years ago, there was an educational term, “writing across the curriculum.” It meant that students should write in all subjects so that kids could become literate. This was a fine idea, (and I supported writing in writing) but writing across the curriculum was probably not supported by research. Education researchers know that students learn many different ways. It would make as much sense to “art across the curriculum” or “move across the curriculum.”

… or to “Dance across the curriculum.” If only I didn’t have a fear of public dancing.

 

A Suicide Memorial Day

Sometimes I participate in magical thinking, even when I participate in fundraisers. On Saturday May 21, 2016, I participated in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Originally, I had also planned to participate in the Stroll for Epilepsy earlier on May 21st.

 (Bryan Farley)

When the dates for both events were announced, I thought it was a divine message. three years before both events on May 21, 2013, I wrote “A Letter To Fathers Considering Suicide in the Digital Age.” The blog post explains how I experience my father’s suicide. The experience is a struggle… a struggle that has given me many gifts, including the strength to talk and write about epilepsy. When I wrote the May 2013 post, I didn’t realize it would become one of my favorite pieces, because it is extremely personal and vulnerable. Now I realize that it has become one of my favorites because it is personal and vulnerable.

 (Bryan Farley)

I am not always vulnerable. I have been fighting for so many years, I thought God or The Universe wanted me to attend both events. I thought that if I were a good father, I would also bring my kids. I wanted to be there for the people with epilepsy and the survivors of suicide and for my children and… then a few months before the fundraisers, my body broke down. It became difficult for me to hold my camera, because I have something called “frozen shoulder.” It sounds like a bad metaphor for someone who is unwilling to be vulnerable… or for someone who is so busy trying to help ghosts that he forgets about those closest to him.

 (Bryan Farley)

Despite my shoulder injury, I took these photos of The Overnight, but each picture hurt. The weekend before The Overnight, I needed to visit the hospital, because I couldn’t walk. (probably a kidney stone) The night of The Overnight, my kids could have walked longer than I did, although they are not allowed to walk the entire route until they are 14.

 (Bryan Farley)

Sometimes 90% of magic is just showing up, and I may have captured some magic at the opening ceremonies. California Highway Patrolman Kevin Briggs (l) and Kevin Berthia spoke during the opening ceremonies. I may have seen them about ten years earlier on The Golden Gate Bridge. If I didn’t see them, I saw a few people very similar. In 2009, I wrote about The Photograph that Defined My Style. In that old post, I mention a photograph I did not take a few years earlier. I am glad that I waited to photograph them on the stage instead of the bridge.

 (Bryan Farley)

My father was a California Highway Patrolman. I have wondered how his profession affected him. What happened to my father when he met people he couldn’t save? How did he feel when he notified parents that their children died? How did he carry the burden? As my father’s son, I have also wondered how I am like my father. When I started having children, I noticed little things. Sometimes I would tell similar jokes. I could hear my father’s voice when I spoke. Sometimes I walked like my father. How do I carry his burden?

 (Bryan Farley)

Once the walk started, I wondered why I was walking. Was I walking for him? Why was I walking for him? Suddenly I realized that I was walking for my children. I also needed them to know that I was walking for them and that I wouldn’t leave them, at least not the way he left me.

So I told them… and then I took them back to the hotel and stayed with them the rest of the night.

 (Bryan Farley)

NOTE: I edited this post on May 31, 2016. I originally posted this on May 30th. I have also added Notes on a Blog at http://www.morethankids.com/. The direct link is Here.

 

The Photo Book of Questions?

Must news be new?

Is five years too soon?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a photo book worth?

 (bryan farley)

Five years ago, I taught at San Marin High School in Novato, California. From the moment I applied for the position on August 16th, 2010, until my last day at the school, I made powerful images. I started to belive in “photo gods.” I felt that if I just showed up with my camera, I would find a picture.

 (bryan farley)

During the last few months, I have been physically unable to take pictures at the same speed. Instead of making pictures, I have been making photo books. I created one book about the 2011 San Marin Boys Basketball team. In 2011, the team won its first North Coast Section championship in school history. Eventually, the team lost in the CIF State Tournament.

 (bryan farley)

I used Adobe Lightroom and Blurb to create a 110 page hard cover photo book. I called it, 5 Years Ago, 4 Games in Division 3 and I sent it to Coach Craig Pitti. I neglected to include my name anywhere on the book or envelope, but he figured out who sent it. He had seen some of the photos, but he hadn’t lived with them the same way that I had.

 (bryan farley)

Of course he had the memories… and now he has the book. Five years later.

If you wish to see the second version of the book, here is a link.