Education and Technology

Self-Portraits, a metaphor by another name

Self-portraits are a visual diary hidden in plain sight…

or so says me.  (Here is my 2013 self-portrait gallery.)

 (bryan farley)

The Oxford Dictionary chose “selfie” as the 2013 word of the year. A selfie is similar to a self-portrait, but a selfie is meant to be shared on social media. According to the Oxford Dictionary, selfies are usually taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media site. I take selfies, self-portraits and pictures of myself. Occasionally, I take a decent “self-picture,” but I rarely share the images. I almost never share my process. I am only doing so, because one of my photographer friends asked.

 (bryan farley)Most of my self-images can be placed into three categories — Reflections, Themed, and Awkward Self-Portraits (similar to Awkward Family Portraits). I am surprised when a photograph turns out decent, because I am an obstinate subject. Do you know the Pink song, “Don’t Let Me Get Me?” When I photograph myself, I feel as if I am singing that song to myself.… Read the rest


Capoeira – Batizado e Troca De Cordas

Yesterday was just another day at Melrose Leadership Academy… just another Saturday.

The first Festa da Capoeira 2013 at Melrose Leadership Academy of Oakland occured on Saturday, December 14 2013. Capoeristas received or exchanged new belts and medals. (bryan farley)Professor Chipa and his capoeira students performed at Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland, California for the “Batizado e Troca De Cordas.” Melrose Leadership Academy is the Oakland Unified dual immersion elementary school that my children attend. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art/ extreme dance activity.

(SEE THE SLIDESHOW!)

The first Festa da Capoeira 2013 at Melrose Leadership Academy of Oakland occured on Saturday, December 14 2013. Capoeristas received or exchanged new belts and medals. (bryan farley)My son loves capoeira. He loves the activity, excitement and his teacher. All the children enjoy learning how to improvise with people of different ages. The children develop new skills and more pride.

The first Festa da Capoeira 2013 at Melrose Leadership Academy of Oakland occured on Saturday, December 14 2013. Capoeristas received or exchanged new belts and medals. (bryan farley)On Saturday, the children met well-known masters from different parts of the world. Professor Chipa’s master Mestre Sebia from Brazil played with the students. Shortly after I took this photo, he told them that they were the best.

The first Festa da Capoeira 2013 at Melrose Leadership Academy of Oakland occured on Saturday, December 14 2013. Capoeristas received or exchanged new belts and medals. (bryan farley)After the younger students performed, they received their new belts and medals. Many of the children returned to watch the older capeoiristas.… Read the rest


Surprise Answers

I believe that people often ask us the questions we most want to avoid. We may not realize that we are avoiding the questions, and we certainly may not understand our reasons for doing so, because the reasons reveal insecurities. Sometimes, the difficult questions appear easy, such as, “How long have you been a photographer.” That is my difficult question.

Spouting-Horn-

Last night, my nine year old daughter visited my room knowing that I was sick. She said, “Daddy, I have a surprise.” I do not like surprises. I do not find them funny or charming. I especially do not like them on December 7. I am old enough to remember when I was nine and my grandparents would tell me about how their lives were changed forever by a big surprise in Hawaii. After she said surprise, I kept creating unhappy scenarios until I saw the glass of orange juice and handmade “Get Well” card.… Read the rest


Emotion Blur – Part 1

I was dreaming when I wrote this. Forgive me if goes astray…. (Prince 1999)

 (bryan farley)

Before I begin writing, I usually want to know where my article is going to take me, but I know from previous experience, writing is a process. I have actually published a few blog posts, but nothing that has captured the entire year. I still do not know what has happened. Everything has been a blur.

 (bryan farley)

Thanksgiving is my New Years Day. I celebrate Thanksgiving by playing The Fresno High Senate Stogie Bowl. The Senate is the oldest high school club of its kind in the country.  I play football every Thanksgiving with high school students and alumni. I have attended for 30 consecutive Thanksgivings. Some players were born in 1999. I wear clothes that are older than most of the players… I am that old.

 (bryan farley)

Honorary Lauren Melenbacker and Honorary Bryan Farley smoke cigars during “halftime” of the 2013 Stogie Bowl.

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Every Day is Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Until this year, I waited until Thanksgiving to thank people… and then something changed.

more later…

now time to play football.

Here is an old post about Stogie Bowl from 2009. Here is something a little more recent (2012.)

It is later.

Early this year, my former priest, Robert Cromey, challenged me to thank people more often. His simple advice changed my life. Thanking people however, is not always peaceful. It is not easy.

 (bryan farley)

The retired, but active, Robert Cromey at a peace vigil in downtown San Francisco listens to a student journalist during the Spring 2013 JEA/NSPA National Journalism Convention.  (bryan farley)

Life is full of conflict, tragedy and hardship. When life gives you lemons, it is difficult to say thank you if you do not drink lemonade. This last year has been especially difficult. I still cannot explain some of my challenges. Yet I became grateful when I thanked people.… Read the rest


Marketing for Superman and the Devil

One of my students wore a shirt today with the words, “It started with a smile.” The shirt reminded me of one of my previous blog posts as well as a song lyric to (Everybody Talks) “It Started with a Whisper.”

I talk. I talk to myself. I talk to my pictures. They talk back. We have conversations. If this sounds a little crazy, it is only because I am downplaying my confusion. I am like an amp turned to …  eleven? But these START at 11

 It is 11/12/13 and counting

San Antonio's Girl in a Coma played The New Parish in Oakland, California on Monday June 10, 2013. Jenn Alva (bass), Phanie Diaz (drummer), and Nina Diaz (lead vocalist and guitarist) are signed to Joan Jett's Blackheart Records. (bryan farley)

Are these blue suede shoes from the San Antonio band Girl in a Coma? Would you believe me if I told you that I wondered whether I was actually in a coma at the last JEA Convention during photo critiques?

If truth is stranger than fiction, perhaps fiction can teach me something… if only I could tell the difference between the two.… Read the rest


Sonoma County College & Career-Ready Fair

Last week I attended the Sonoma County College & Career-Ready Fair at Windsor High School. Almost ten years ago, I had an idea that high school students in Sonoma County should have a Fall college fair. I worked for a college and when I visited the local high schools, I realized that many schools had eliminated theie college counselors. Students were not receiving information about college. It was unfair.

The Sonoma County College & Career-Ready Fair was held at Windsor High School on September 10, 2013. (Bryan Farley)

You can view more College Fair photos here.

I approached many people with my idea, but only one person had the vision necessary to sustain the event. Chris Vetrano, the assistant principal at Windsor High School, knew how to organize events. With the help of many other community organizers, she has built a successful annual event.

The Sonoma County College & Career-Ready Fair was held at Windsor High School on September 10, 2013. (Bryan Farley)

I attend each year to remember what inspires me. I am inspired by people who are willing to help others. I am inspired by people like Chris who can see a crazy idea and create a successful event.… Read the rest


We All Got Bruises – Mothers of Angels

Ten days ago I visited Martha Tessmer during my trip to Fresno, California. If you count this recent August trip, I have visited Martha and the support group she created for mothers whose children have died, the last five summers.

Martha Tessmer started the Mother of an Angel Friendship Network after her teenage son Donovan died in a distracted driving car accident. The support group is for mothers who have lost a child to death. (bryan farley)

In the previous years, I met with many of the members of the Mother of an Angel Friendship Network. This year, I did not have the energy to call on the all the mothers of angels. During the last several months, I have needed to call mothers individually and seek their support.

Martha Tessmer, the Founder of Mother of an Angel Friendship Network, has not been able to attend movies since her son Donovan died in a distracted driving accident. (bryan farley)

Usually during September I process photos and publish blog posts. Perhaps it is time to reflect on all the photos and create a larger photo book. In recent years, I have written an article with a photo essay for a magazine. I also published a couple photo books. Each project feels insufficient, though important. Last year I visited with Martha and several of the mothers.… Read the rest


On Track – Nine Years Later

The Friday after photographing the Bay Area band Train, I took the Railroad Avenue off ramp and started my new job with Pittsburg Unified School District. I am teaching photography and advising the yearbook at Pittsburg High School.

 (bryan farley)

My first day with PUSD was also the ninth anniversary of the day my father shot himself. Nine years ago, I was lost. (A few months ago, I was derailed by my father’s suicide!) Now, to paraphrase Eric Clapton, I got a feeling that this could be the start of something serious. My heart belongs here and sometimes I wonder if I was meant to be here the whole time.

 (bryan farley)

My father would have loved Pittsburg, California. He loved old Chevy’s. While he may not have enjoyed sing a longs, he took me to see Grease when I was a kid. We ate at old diners that reminded him of his youth.… Read the rest


Melrose Leadership Kindergarten and First Grade Photos

 (bryan farley)

Registration just started for the 2013-2014 school year.  Kindergarten families and first graders register today. (I remember registering our first child before the Spanish immersion program started. We were scared!) Many people worry when they send kids to school… any school, so I thought I would post the galleries  from last year’s kindergarten and first grade classes.

 (bryan farley)

Here are photos of both first grade classes. Except for the photo that includes me, I took these photos in June. 2012-2013 First Grade Photo Gallery. I think a first grader took the photo of me, and I probably should give him credit and ask permission before posting it. (bryan farley)Here is the 2012-13 Kindergarten Photo Gallery. Did you think your kids would have this much fun by the end of kinkindergarten? Tomorrow the second through fourth graders register. On Friday August 16, the  sixth through eighth graders register.   Remember to click the link if you wish to view the photo gallery.… Read the rest


The Dual Immersion Curriculum Development Institute

When I first became a parent, I felt as if I had joined a secret club. Membership included our own version of a secret handshake too. (It is a sleepy head nod.) New parents could identify each other anywhere. We would also commiserate about our lack of sleep and share our humbling experience of becoming a parent. We knew parenting would be rewarding, but we did not know that it would be so difficult. Sometimes we discussed how we finally understood our parents… or worse, how we had become our parents.

 (bryan farley)

Becoming a teacher was a similar process for me. I assumed it was going to be easier, probably because I had worked with young people for many years. I had also been a good student! What could be so hard? It was a good stable career. I liked kids. Besides, there is all that vacation. (Just like parenting has all that free time when the kids go to bed.) Well, if you have ever been a parent who looked forward to Friday night housecleaning, you might understand teachers and all their free time.… Read the rest


Melrose Leadership Academy Spring Performance

Besides learning Spanish and English, Melrose Leadership Academy students also learn presentation skills. In the four years of the Spanish dual immersion bilingual program, my daughter has participated at least nine times during a “presentation expo.” There is always a Winter Expo and a Spring Expo. A few times the students perform twice each season. My son, who finishes first grade next week, has performed at least five times. On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, MLA held the Spring Performance Expo.

 (bryan farley)

As the official PTSA Board Historian for two years, it has been my responsibility to document many of our school activities. Before we had a PTSA, I documented most of the Performance and Academic Expos. I have enjoyed the responsibility. I am able to see the students and educators prepare backstage. I see many of the performers support their classmates. I witness their personal growth.

 (bryan farley)

Our school is a community.… Read the rest


JEA NSPA Spring 2013 Leave Your Heart Everywhere

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon

As one of the local committee members who planned the 2013 Spring JEA National Convention, I was busy creating expectations. After the last convention in San Antonio, I even thought that I would influence the story. Wrong. I did not even control my own computer. I barely managed my own emotions. When the convention ended and people said that they had left their heart in San Francisco, I returned three different times searching for some connection to everyone who had left. I have never felt so disoriented after a convention… AND I LIVE HERE!

 (bryan farley)

John Lennon also wrote “Give Peace a Chance.” I was leading a photography workshop down Market Street when this person crossed the street yelling on his megaphone. With his colorful shirt, peace signs, and megaphone, we could make a good photo, but I think he is an example of the first quote more than the second.… Read the rest


Getting Closer to the JEA Digital Photography Workshop

“If your photographs are not good enough, you are not close enough.” – Robert Capa (1913-1954)

 

 (bryan farley)

I am this guy, Bryan Farley. If you are looking for the Thursday workshop, please find us in Yerba Buena 3, Lower B2 Level

Getting closer is a useful skill, and as we “get closer” to the 2013 Spring National High School Journalism Convention, I have been contemplating Capa’s quote and the meaning of “getting closer.” On the first day of the convention, I will teach an all-day photography workshop where we will practice getting closer literallytechnically and metaphorically.

 (bryan farley)

The 7th Annual National Walk for Epilepsy begins on Sunday April 20, 2013 at the National Mall near the Washington Monument.

Sometimes getting closer is simple and we wait for the subject (or convention) to get closer.  Other times we must adjust. We can change equipment or change our personal perspective. We can research a subject and become closer to the people we photograph.… Read the rest


Photography Portfolios – What Do We Do Next

One year ago today, Mark Murray and I presented a workshop about photography portfolios at the 2012 Spring JEA/NSPA National Convention. He and I have presented together for several years. How we present changes each time, because each convention space influences the presentation. The rooms are different sizes. Some conventions have more workshops and fewer people. Technology constantly changes, so we try to adapt. We try to keep it simple, while at the same time providing valuable information.

Mark Murray and Bryan Farley teach a Photography Portfolio Workshop at the 2012 Spring National Student Journalism Convention in Seattle, Washington. (Bryan Farley)

Mark and I practice simple complexity, a term my educator step-father referenced during the discussion thread of my Simple Man post.  In our presentation, we simplify many fast moving complex dynamics that we cannot always predict. (Dr. Hannah Fry explains complexity science during a short TEDx video, “Is life really that complex?”)  

 

Mark Murray and Bryan Farley teach a Photography Portfolio Workshop at the 2012 Spring National Student Journalism Convention in Seattle, Washington. (Bryan Farley)

How is complexity theory relevant? Well, we still teach students the simple lesson that “First Impressions” influence perceptions; however, photographers cannot control which image is viewed first.… Read the rest


Sausal Creek Trail Field Trip for Melrose Leadership Academy

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.

Tree-Field-Guide-6713

Watching and waiting for the next field trip activity during the Sausal Creek Field Trip.

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


testing comments plugin

feel free to ignore. trying to fix my comment plug ins. many of my imported comments only appear with the following tag

photographing-diversity-2051

(comments imported from blog) … not content

 

So, instead of actually importing the comments on Facebook sites, everyone can only see that there were comments. Not very user friendly. I should have fixed it by now.

 

bf… Read the rest


The Writing Center at 826 Valencia

On Wednesday March 6, 2013, third graders from Oakland’s Melrose Leadership Academy traveled to 826 Valencia in San Francisco.  MLA students attended 826 Valencia’s interactive Screenplay program, which is similar to the popular Storytelling and Bookmaking program the students attended last year.

2013 MLA 826 Valencia-3963-2

Photography Gallery of the Melrose Leadership Academy Field Trip to 826 Valencia Writing Center in San Francisco

On Tuesday, workshop leader Jami Johnson collaborated with Melrose students to create “The Stolen Ice Cream.” Students practice their writing skills developing characters and story concepts. Before the students voted on their title, the students set the story, “Deep in space on planet Banana Split.” With the “Setting” decided, students chose characters.

 (bryan farley)

Characters were identified by protagonist  sidekick and antagonist. The students named these characters Agent Cheese, Agent Doggy and The Foot. For the story, the students learned how to add actions to the script. AGENT CHEESE (stamps his foot) …

 (bryan farley)

Kavitha Lotun, who helped as the group’s typist, encouraged the students to expand their story.… Read the rest


Writing Block Interview Project

I am not a writer. I might write well sometimes, but I often struggle to write a simple coherent email. Three years ago, I was struggling more than usual, so I decided to ask other people how they navigated “writers’ block.”  I began interviewing writers about their process and posting their responses on my previous blog during the entire month of March 2010. I loved the project and learned a great deal from generous people. I have been extremely grateful to everyone who contributed in 2010 and 2011.

Reverend Anne Howard is the Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society, a national Progressive Christian leadership development organization.

Reverend Anne Howard is the Executive Director of The Beatitudes Society, a national Progressive Christian leadership development organization.

Even though I have stopped interviewing writers, the project still lives. In 2012, my daughter visited some of the contributors, including one of my favorite preachers, the Reverend Anne Howard. (Anne’s three responses were posted on March 13, 2010.) The photograph above was taken November 7, 2012 in Berkeley, California.… Read the rest


Melrose Leadership Academy After School Assembly

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.

 (bryan farley)

Melrose Leadership After School Program Assembly

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.

 (bryan farley)

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


Epiphany Riddle

Each year I look forward to January 6. I believe that the new year or the holiday will inspire me. When I started attending church as a young adult, Epiphany was one of the easiest holidays to accept. I believed in sudden realizations, just as I believed in grace and good will towards my fellow human.

This year I have been slow to epiphany.

Reflection of Bryan Farley in San Antonio, Texas

Reflection of Bryan Farley in San Antonio, Texas

I have not lacked sudden realizations. During the last few weeks, I have been an epiphany machine. I often wake up suddenly in the middle of the night. Each time I have a new idea. These ideas have formed one continual riddle.

The 2012 Treasure Island Music Festival is a two day event held on San Franciso's Treasure Island October 13th and 14th. (Bryan Farley)

What is an epiphany without action? Is it anything more than a fantasy disguised as a dream? Do I need a little less blog and a lot more action?

 (bryan farley)

San Diego band, Pierce The Veil, perform at the 2012 Vans Warped Tour.

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Melrose Leadership Academy Oakland PUBLIC School

My two children attend an innovative public school in Oakland. The school, Melrose Leadership Academy, is part of Oakland Unified School District. Many people believe that MLA is a charter school, but is not. Our students learn how to lead… in a district public school.

Melrose Leadership Academy is dual immersion OUSD public district school. Families tour the school as part of the  OUSD Schools Options Process (School Choice). (bryan farley)

During the annual period known as the “Options Process,” families tour schools searching for an educational community for the following year (and years.) Many parents will not send their children to a charter school, so it is important that parents know our status as a district school.  During tours, some parents reported that even OUSD staff have incorrectly identified our school as a charter. It has happened often enough, that I believe the reports, but I cannot confirm that it has happened.

 (Bryan Farley)

I am not necessarily against charter schools as much as I am against the confusion. Why do so many people think we are a charter?… Read the rest


Every Convention Tells a Story – JEA San Antonio

True story:

While I was preparing for my final presentation, a sales person approached me in my hotel lobby. The woman wanted to sell me something similar to a timeshare, “but it was not a timeshare.”  I stopped preparing my presentation while my tea finished steeping.  She continued asking me questions loud enough so that I could barely hear the newscaster discuss the recent CIA Director’s resignation. Then the salesperson inside my hotel asked me, “So what do you think about this David Petraeus thing.” Before I could respond, the salesperson continued,

“I think that Obama is a secret Muslim and he is covering up Benghazi.”

Slideshow Link

I paused before responding… I paused several times. My answer was quite brilliant, and I will share it for you in the comment section in case your hotel sanctions similar sales tactics. For now, I want to illustrate a different point.

Some people will make up “the story behind the story.”

  (bryan farley)

At the San Antonio JEA/ NSPA National High School Journalism Conference, I presented a photo story workshop with Dave LaBelle.… Read the rest


Remember The Audience – Photography Portfolios with Mark Murray

A few hours ago, Mark Murray and I presented our photography portfolio presentation in San Antonio, Texas for the Fall 2012 JEA/ NSPA National Journalism Convention. We have presented together at every JEA Convention since Nashville, Tennessee.  The presentation changes with technology and the city. The students influence or presentation too.  Here is my post from our last presentation in Seattle, Washington.

Cell Phone photo at night of The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas

From this year’s discussion, I will remember “purpose and audience.” At least, I will remember that Mark and I tried to explain to “our audience” the importance of identifying the correct audience.

I often relate a portfolio to music. Photos can belong to the same album and sound different… but not too different. Photos can also sound similar, but not too similar, otherwise listeners feel cheated. We want variety and similarity. Viewers know variety when we see it and we know dissonance when we see it too.… Read the rest