Everyone is adopted… some of us are more adopted than others.
I was adopted 46 years ago today on July 3, 1968. As long as I have known my life story, I have known that I was adopted. I have always loved being adopted. I wish that every child could be adopted, even if each child were adopted by their biological parents.
I like my birthday too, but my actual birthday is more of a myth than my actual adoption day. Obviously, I know that I was born. I have a birth certificate with a birth date, but I feel that I am lacking some evidence. (I can already here my mother’s voice in my head, “What are you saying Bryan? Are you saying that you do not believe you were born on May 16th in Riverside, California?)
I am saying that it does not really matter.
By the time I was six weeks old, my life story had provided me with important life-long life lessons.… Read the rest
Tonight my daughter Emily and I visited Alta Bates Summit Medical Center where she was born ten years ago. Emily called the hospital “Magic Land,” because it “gives life.”
Ten years ago today was the best day of my life, because it was the day I started being a father. There is nothing better than being a father. Ten years ago today I also started taking photographs of my daughter. The gallery I created for Emily’s 10th birthday contains about 100 photographs as of tonight.
Today is also the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ American Invasion. (Their first concert was in Washington, D.C. on February 11, 1964.) While I celebrated the Beatles and an R&B musician who inspired Emily’s middle name, I also listened to a George Strait song during my morning commute. When Emily was four, “I Saw God Today” was the CMA Single of the Year.… Read the rest
When I traveled to Mexico City four years ago, I never expected that I would meet Olympic Gold medalist Tommie Smith one day. Four years ago, I was thrilled to see the outside of the Estadio Olimpico Universitario during a family vacation to Mexico. This year I met Tommie Smith.
The 1968 Summer Games were important athletically and culturally. Bob Beamon won the long jump with a world record he held for more than 22 years. In the high jump, Dick Fosbury introduced the “Fosbury Flop.” Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska won four gold and two silver medals becoming the all-time most successful Olympic gymnast. The 1968 Games are also known for the Tommie Smith and John Carlos Black Power salute.
Last month I started teaching photography at Pittsburg High School in Pittsburg, California. I love teaching, but I miss being a photographer. Fortunately, I was able to be a photographer last weekend when a friend asked me to photograph her family. We met at Mills College in Oakland, California for a portrait session with her husband and three children.
When Libertad (Libby) Rivera asked me if I were still available to take family portraits, I had just started my new teaching position. At the time, I did not realize that I needed to take pictures more than Libby needed to have her picture taken. I did not need the money. I needed to know that I could still take a decent picture.
Sometimes I know if I have taken a good picture before I see it on my monitor. Last Sunday, I did not know if I had any good pictures, but as soon as I saw the first photograph uploaded to my screen I felt alright.… Read the rest
When I started writing A Letter to Fathers Considering Suicide in the Digital Age, I knew that there were no good days for a father to commit suicide. I quickly realized that there were not any good days to discuss suicide. I eventually published on my mother and step-father’s 25th wedding anniversary. I could have waited another day. I love my mom and my step-father, but every other day is horrible. Yesterday was the birthday of one of my father figures who I talk to regularly, including every Father’s Day. I could have posted on the 22nd, but 22 reminds me of Taylor Swift (which reminds me of my daughter), and I did not want to ruin any more music. I could have written on the 20th, but there was an event honoring my father’s good friend. I could have posted on Mother’s Day, or my birthday (the 16th), or my son’s birthday (the 10th)… I could have written on Sunday, but who wants to ruin Sundays?… Read the rest
“The moment that you feel that just possibly, you are walking down the street naked exposing too much of your heart and your mind … that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” “Sometimes life is hard… and when things get tough this is what you should do… Make Good Art”
– Neil Gaiman, University of the Arts 2012 Commencement Address
I may not make good art now, but I am definitely walking in the middle of the street exposed. Many of my friends and colleagues have watched me recently and been unable to recognize me. I have wondered too. I have heard the whispers behind my back… even when I am alone. What has happened to Bryan? Granted, he is usually a little socially awkward, but has he lost it? Well, yes. I had.
And I did not know how TO FIND IT. On Sunday while wandering through a bookstore, I found Neil Gaiman’s book about Making Good Art.… Read the rest
I often tell my son, “Today is a good day. Do you know why?” He does. If he is having trouble, he reluctantly answers, “Because you get to spend it with me.” And it is true. Every day I spend with my boy (or my daughter) is a good day. Yesterday, was a great day, because the first graders from Melrose Leadership Academy went to Sausal Creek to study the restoration project and habitat.
My son loves animals and habitats. For a first grader, he is either obsessed with living creatures or really smart. He studies animals the way I studied dinosaurs. We argue about whether insects are animals. (He believes that insects are in fact animals.) He has taught me that “water spiders” are actually “water striders,” and that the largest dolphin is… ? Wait for it?… Read the rest
A year after I interviewed writers for my March 2010 Open Heart Insert Foot series, I began a similar project with photographers. The 2011 series had the “inspiring” (and misleading) title, March Portfolio and Social Media Project. While the interviews began in March 2011, they continued into mid-May 2011. By new technology standards, I marched slowly. Photographers had already moved away from print portfolios to online photo galleries. Flash was becoming outdated. SEO mattered. A lot. Everything was moving so fast. Facebook, Google, mobile, Twitter … well, maybe not Twitter (this was way back in March 2011). Oh, and the worst joke for photographers? We had to blog! That’s right. We were expected to write. A LOT!
Despite the crazy pace, I met some of the coolest people in the photography business.… Read the rest
Super Bowl Sunday is the one day that Americans forget we hate television commercials. Companies will pay at least 4 million dollars for each thirty second advertising spot during the game. If I understood marketing, I could explain why companies continue investing more money on Super Bowl ads each year, but I do not even know how to market my own photography business.
I am still looking for the right strategy. Perhaps I have a secret marketing plan that I am hiding from myself.
I often tell people that I am not a real photographer. I am not a fake photographer or a bad photographer, but I am an unusual photographer. When I renewed my passport last week and I listed my profession as “photographer,” I worried that someone at the Department of State would deny my application because they know how I work. For instance, last weekend during my photo shoot at the Collosi home, I played wiffle ball indoors with their son.… Read the rest
When parents toured Melrose Leadership Academy during the current school year, many asked about our after school program. Parents, grandparents and guardians asked if our students learned about different cultures. We were asked if our children were engaged and challenged. Most people wondered if there were enough physical activity.
Nobody asked if the parents were expected to dance at our twice annual Expos. Until Wednesday night, I am not sure if we had been and since I am scared to dance, I probably would have remembered. My daughter would have remembered, because she is scared to watch me dance.
When the older folks were too slow to move onto the stage, the younger people moved down onto the floor and we became more comfortable. (I think we enjoyed ourselves.) I often tell prospective families, Melrose Leadership is not for everyone. We are often pushed past our comfort zone into something magical.… Read the rest
Each year when I review my pictures, I am surprised by how many images I have taken. This year I knew there were fewer photographs, because I was injured in an April car accident. I planned to separate the pictures into a Best of Part 1 and a Best of Part 2. Then I saw the March 11, 2012 gallery with Richard Leon’s family… Every photo was magical.
I purposely did not title this post, “My best photo gallery,” because I did not do much. I showed up. The family welcomed me when I showed up. The family revealed their love for each other. Richard and Alice clearly loved each other and their children and grandchildren. For thirty years, they had loved each other. They worked together, probably because they wanted to work together and because they were lucky to be together.
The family knew that there time was limited by Richard’s cancer diagnosis, but the family still seemed to understand that they were lucky.… Read the rest
The last week, I have reconnected to my UC Santa Barbara past. In addition to visiting with a few former University of California Santa Barbara Gauchos, I attended the Cal-UCSB basketball game on the Berkeley campus. Before the game, the UCSB Alumni Association sponsored a Pre-Game reception. On Saturday, I also photographed the Tanner family. The adults graduated from UCSB and recently moved to Alameda with their two daughters.
Nicole is a managing partner of Viva Strategy, a communications consulting firm for non-profits and philanthropic organizations. I have always appreciated Nicole. She is smart, kind and considerate. In the past, I would have spent more time talking to her…
but now she has two wonderful kids.
I brought my camera and my two kids. Everyone played.
Nicole also has a husband who bakes bread and watches football. After my wife arrived, everyone had something to do. My wife talked to Richard about baking.… Read the rest
Six months ago, Alicia Stephens became a mother. This is her daughter and their first Christmas together.
I met Alicia when both of us worked for the Upward Bound Program at the University of San Francisco. Upward Bound is a government program that supports low income first generation college bound high school students. Recently, new non-profits have started replacing Upward Bound, but few programs, if any, have been more successful.
Alicia graduated from college with a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). She advised students in the Upward Bound Math and Science Program. Alicia is still studying science, but I do not understand what she does. I am a technology and liberal arts person, so she may need to explain it.
I have included this slideshow of the day. There is even a photo of our friend Reginald Moore, one of the best college advisers I know. (He is also a competent photo assistant.)
Thank you for letting me into your lives.… Read the rest
A year and one day ago, I photographed Courtney Stout and Nick Maksimowicz in Carmel Valley, California. Their friends organized the wedding, rehearsal and reception. Courtney and Nick have good friends, and by the time I left the Monterey Peninsula, I felt that I had many more good friends too.
I often feel blessed or lucky to be allowed to document important moments. I rarely photograph want to photograph weddings, but weddings are important community events. People have often chased a dream since childhood hoping to find someone who they can trust. Weddings build families; families build communities.
When I edited the pictures, I listened to Kris&Alix, the same musicians who performed at the wedding. “…tired of reaching out, tired of all the doubt… ”
When I reviewed last year’s photos, I rejoiced watching Courtney’s friends help her prepare for the ceremony. I laughed again as eight women celebrated at the photo booth.… Read the rest
When I first met Anne Howard, I lived in Santa Barbara, California and attended Trinity Episcopal Church. She served as the Associate Rector and I sat in the back of the church. I would watch the Trinity families imagining the easy Sunday mornings when I could bring my future family to church. I left Santa Barbara before meeting my wife. I miss Trinity. Sometimes, I miss those easy Sunday mornings when children magically arrived at church and happily greeted their parents.
Last week, my daughter finally met Anne Howard in Berkeley, California outside Pacific School of Religion.
As the Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society, Anne mentors emerging church leaders across the country. This role seems a natural fit. Whenever I am near Anne, I realize that I am in a constant state of emerging. She is one of the few people who can mentor me, just by staring at me a certain way.… Read the rest
Today is the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi.
Saint Francis is associated with nature and animals. Next Sunday, many churches will bless animals during Sunday service. Dogs have become increasingly important for people with epilepsy and other illnesses. I referred to dog therapy in my latest featured blog post for the Epilepsy Foundation of America.
In the blog post, I also included photos from my last visit with my wonderful neurologist.
Delayed by the sun…
The final two bouts of the WFTDA West Region Playoffs were postponed by an hour, because the sunlight interfered with the skaters’ ability to skate. Sporting events have been delayed and canceled for many weather related incidents, but I have never photographed one postponed by sunlight. When it happened Sunday, everyone was happy (and everybody was laughing), except for me. I love natural light and the players at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, California appeared regal.
When the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) postponed the final until 7:00, many photographers began using off camera strobes and on camera flashes repeatedly. Since I have photo-sensitivity, I am easily disturbed by strobe lights. The strobes bounced off Craneway’s tall windows, white walls and reflective derby surface adding to the strobe effect. Fortunately, I captured magical light before games.
I have yet to process several hundred game images from the weekend.
Edit Tuesday (I have noticed on my mobile device, my photo slideshow is difficult to access, so here is the link.)
bf… Read the rest
Laura Robertson Gilbert has been my friend since our older children attended the same preschool. Laura is friendly and engaging. I always enjoy talking with her. When Laura asked if I would be available to photograph her for a new project, I was excited. At a minimum, I would be able to spend more time with Laura and learn about her professional background. During my visit, I brought my camera. These photos were taken during the final part of my visit.
Many people are uncomfortable having their photo taken. (I become self-conscious too.) Despite the discomfort, people are more likely to engage in authentic discussions when having their photo taken. Since I enjoy talking, I usually talk to people while I take photos. I find people interesting and hope that my pictures begin to capture Laura’s dynamic and natural personality.… Read the rest
This week I photographed the Mother of an Angel Friendship Network. It was the fourth consecutive summer visiting the support group. I have grown attached to these women. I have collected great memories and gained insight each visit.
Each year is different. This year felt more like a family reunion. We met at Woodward Park and somehow organized the group into photos. Everyone seemed to enjoy the sessions, but this would be oversimplifying the meaning of the support group. More photos to follow….
… Read the rest
I want to smile more (maybe even laugh).
Earlier this month, I found the “Before I die” mural in downtown Reno. The Black Rock Arts Foundation installed two interactive murals in downtown Reno and I photographed one with my phone. This phrase was a variation of the question I have been asking myself on the eighth anniversary of my father’s death. “Now what?”
Eight years ago, my father died. He actually died on the 16th, but since I uploaded the photos three days ago, I have still been searching for the answer to the now what question. In the months before he took his life, I smiled often. My daughter was born six months before he died and she was a happy baby. I was a happy parent. After my father died, Death seemed to follow us. Sadness consumed our lives.
I rededicated myself to being the best father possible. I fail often and I try hard.… Read the rest
Four years ago today, I completed my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology. I submitted my research project and final thesis on August 8, 2008 to coincide with the twenty year anniversary of Marshal McLuhan‘s book “Laws of Media: The New Science.” McLuhan was a popular media or technology critic in the 1960’s.
His arguments are still relevant.
“Today the business of business is becoming the constant invention of new business.” Marshall McLuhan
In the last four years, Facebook has gone public. Twitter is no longer a joke. Skype has become a verb… with a smart phone application. Steve Jobs died and the iPad was born. Instagram became a thing. My kids play with technology and adults use FourSquare.
How did this happen? How did it happen so easily?
In the rush to create new business, education is often an afterthought. Google recently released Curriculum: Understanding YouTube and Digital Citizenship.… Read the rest
Napa seems far away from Oakland. Napa Valley is not really part of the Bay Area, but Napa is closer to Oakland than other Bay Area cities. If traffic is light, I can make it to Napa in about an hour. On Friday, I went to Napa to spend the night with my wife. We worked during the day and visited downtown Napa on Friday and Saturday.
I have been experimenting with my new cell phone camera. At the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, I photographed an interesting French antique at Heritage Culinary Artifacts. I returned the next day with my real camera, but the piece was being packed for a new buyer. The blackberry photo was also taken with my Android cell phone.
The Oxbow Public Market hosts a Saturday Farmers’ Market.… Read the rest
I attended UCSB and lived in Santa Barbara for twelve years. Two weeks ago, I returned with my daughter to meet many of my good friends. I wanted her to meet the people who shaped me and to learn how to create community. We visited my old school and my old church. My daughter met my old friends. It was one of my all-time favorite weekends.
I planned the trip around Sarah Fenstermaker’s farewell party. Sarah was the Women’s Studies Chair when I became UCSB’s first male Women’s Studies major. She is leaving Santa Barbara for Ann Arbor where she will direct the University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender. When Sara and I first discussed my becoming a Women’s Studies major, I do not think we realized what I was giving up. I also did not realize the life-long relationships I would gain and that my own daughter would meet Sarah’s daughter.… Read the rest
About three years ago, I changed my diet. I forgot how much I enjoyed restaurants until my recent visit to Washington, D.C. when I ate at Vapiano three times. The last two times I photographed the chefs.
In 2011, during a family visit to Washington, DC, my wife and two children found Vapiano. My kids still remember it. When I visited this year for a late dinner, the atmosphere was more energetic. Perhaps the “European lifestyle” encourages families and young adults to enjoy the same restaurant. I love the healthy food, happy chefs and open light.
Light is important.… Read the rest