I photographed the Melrose Leadership Academy kindergarten classes again. This year, I asked principal Moyra Contreras to join our portrait session. This is Moyra’s last year as the MLA principal.
If not for Ms. Contreras, I would not have had access the last ten years to document the school’s growth. As a photographer, I am continually grateful to Ms. Contreras and the rest of the school community for allowing me to work on this project. I would probably thank everyone more, but I don’t want to draw too much attention to my good fortune.
If not for Ms. Contreras, the dual immersion district school may not have become a reality. Navigating OUSD and the community requires emotional intelligence that I will never develop.
The first class of kindergarteners that I photographed are now in high school. This year’s kindergarten students have just begun their journey. In education, we don’t measure much of what is learned in school… we don’t measure what I can see in the photos, and how the young students have learned to represent themselves.… Read the rest
Oh District, my District.
It’s been said that if the people lead, the leaders will follow… but what happens if they don’t. What happens if the young people pick up a megaphone and the district does not answer the call?
During the seven day Oakland Education Association strike, students often led protests and rallies. The students were inspiring. They reminded many of us why we teach. On Monday, March 4th, the Oakland Unified Board of Education reminded many of us why we lose confidence in our educational leaders.
See links to galleries at the end of this post.
Day 3 – Marching on Broadway
If not for the support of the students and community members, the Oakland Unified School District would not have agreed to the pay raises for the teachers. If not for the teacher pay raises, the district would not have cut programs… at least that was the argument when the school board voted to cut popular programs earlier this week.… Read the rest
In 2009, the first two classes of Melrose Leadership Academy dual immersion kindergarten students started school. Last month, the first two classes of 8th grade MLA dual immersion students finished middle school. I photographed the June 7, 2018 promotion ceremony and a celebration dinner the day earlier.
When we started at the school, we could only imagine the first 8th graduation class. Now, these students are part of the school’s legacy. I have included photos from the first kindergarten graduation as well as photo galleries from the Promotion Ceremony and 8th Grade Party.
I have collected nearly 100 photography galleries in my MLA Photography Collection. I started photographing some of the graduating Melrose Leadership Academy students when they were still in pre-school. My daughter was part of the first kindergarten class; my son started two years later. My children did not finish at MLA, but they are also part of the legacy.… Read the rest
This is the first school year that one of my children have not attended Melrose Leadership Academy since the school began it’s dual immersion program in 2009. I have been taking pictures of the school before my kids started attending.
During the first year of the dual immersion program, my daughter was a kindergarten student. I began photographing all the kindergarteners. When my son started at MLA, I continued photographing the kindergarten class.
When the school moved to the new site, I kept taking pictures. After my kids left the school, I did not know what to do. Eventually, I decided that I would continue. My kids may have left the school, but I will always feel connected.
This year, Harold Lowe helped me when I photographed the kindergarten class. Harold has three children at MLA. Harold and I have become friends; our children are friends too. To view the gallery from this year, click the link.… Read the rest
Last Sunday, Oakland Pride held the 2017 Oakland Pride PARADE in downtown Oakland. This year was either my third or fourth year attending the parade.
I posted after attending the 2014 parade and again after the 2016 parade. Both years I started the parade with my church, but last year I lost the group early. This year, I stayed with our church group for the Sunday curbside service while other groups prepared for the parade.
While we held our service, I felt part of the crowd and part of the counterculture simultaneously. I imagine that the #peetniks felt similarly. Their counterculture was commercial yet retro.
The older I get, the less I understand about Progress. Some days, the hare wins; other days Slow and Steady wins. Progress moves slowly and swiftly, if it moves at all.
September 10th was also World Suicide Prevention Day. (The first WSPD was held the September before my father committed suicide.) Even though I did not see anyone from a suicide awareness organization at the parade, an organization could have attended Oakland Pride.… Read the rest
Last week Anne Lamott discussed her new book Hallelujah Anyway at Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland, California. A Great Good Place hosted the event; I took some pictures (that you can see here).
I was excited to see Anne. In 2014 I was on the other side of the country when she visited Oakland. I wrote a meandering blog post that referenced a few of her books and avoided any mention of my impending divorce. Last week, I had already started reading her new book about “rediscovering mercy” when I noticed that I was one of the only men in the audience. It was shocking.
I am often one of the only men… or one of the only white people or one of the only people with a disability. I often seek activities where I will be an outsider, but I feel like a visitor. The Lamont event was different.… Read the rest
This is the eighth year that I have photographed the Melrose Leadership Academy dual immersion kindergarten students. I have photographed every kindergarten class since MLA introduced the Spanish bilingual program. My daughter was in the first class; my son started two years later. I have also photographed other activities, often as the Historian. (See the MLA Collection of Galleries.)
MLA is an OUSD district school. We have created something special in a place where failure is expected. If I did not have my pictures, I would question whether we ever built the school. Some days, I still wonder if I am hallucinating.
One of my mentors, Jim McNay, recently sent me an article about long-term projects from the Magnum Photo Agency site. The authors provide “Five lessons in developing and sustaining a long-term photographic project.” The first lesson: have a mission statement. Why is this story important?… Read the rest
Last month I photographed the Hot Couture fashion show at Oakland’s Crucible. The 2017 Hot Couture fashion show was inspired by the artist Prince and called “The Beautiful One’s.”
This is the fourth consecutive Hot Couture that I have photographed and I tried to be inspired by Prince. I created an 84 image photo gallery. Prince released the album and movie Purple Rain in 1984. “The Beautiful Ones” is a song on Purple Rain.
While “The Beautiful Ones” is not my favorite Prince song, it probably captures my feelings about him. The song captures the contradictions. He was an artist who was passionate. (“You were so hard to find”) He was a passionate artist who yearned to “paint the perfect picture.” He was like all the beautiful ones, “You always seem to lose.” We lost him too early.
When Prince died, I lost something. One year ago today, Prince performed in Oakland.… Read the rest
The McClymonds High School Warriors won their first state football championship on December 17, 2016. On Friday January 6, 2017, Oakland celebrated at City Hall and West Oakland.
I attended their last playoff game with my son and his friend. (McClymonds lost to Sacred Heart Prep in the Northern California final on 12/12/15.) I also photographed one of their home games the previous year. (My post with photos was called, “Back at Mack to Pay it Back.”)
Even though I did not attend any games this year, I have been to Mack many times. I brought my daughter to the parade. When she was younger, her track team competed at Mack. My friends have worked at the school. If my life had turned out differently, I would have taught at Mack during this year’s state championship season.
McClymonds is called “The School of Champions.” Coincidentally, I attended a high school in Fresno that was also “The School of Champions.” Fresno High are also Warriors.… Read the rest
Updated December 29, 2016; originally posted December 9, 2016.
I have started writing at 11:25 pm. About this time one week ago, a fire started in a warehouse two miles from my home. Thirty six people died.
I visited the Ghost Ship Fire memorials in the Fruitvale District a few times this week. Even though I brought my camera, I felt more like a community member trying to make sense of the tragedy. For this post, I created a photo gallery. I also categorized the post in the journalism section, although I wonder if there is a better category.
I have photographed death and dying. This felt too close and too big.
Local, regional and national news organizations covered this story. In Oakland, the Ghost Ship Fire will remain an important story for many years.
I wonder how the young people will remember the fire. Will the young people become afraid to act or emboldened?… Read the rest
Twilight, lost my way
Twilight, can’t find my way
In the shadows, boy meets man (from U2’s Twilight)
Last week I photographed Inventing Our Future 2016 at Chabot Space and Science Museum in Oakland, California. The three day event was the Fifth Annual Integrated Learning Summer Institute sponsored by Alameda County Office of Education and other regional partners. The conference emphasizes how art can improve education across the curriculum. I have attended the last four summer workshops.
As the photographer, I visit all 33 workshops. I also meet the morning plenary speakers. I follow each day’s theme as I follow the schedule. On day one, we explored “compassion for self and others.” Several of the workshops focused on trauma. How do we help ourselves? How can we help our students?
Each year, I listen to music while driving to the workshop. This year I listened to U2’s first album Boy.… Read the rest
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.
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.
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.
When I attended an art educators meeting last month, I claimed that art is an afterthought… it is an add on.… Read the rest
Last weekend I photographed the 2015 Girls Inc of Alameda County Taste Event. You can view my final photo gallery of 161 photos and you can scroll through this post and preview several of the images from the event in downtown Oakland.
I photographed the 2014 Taste fundraiser last year too. It was also at the Rotunda. I have included the blog post. I am also including the photo gallery. Last year, the event started at the Girls Inc’s Simpson Center across the street from the Rotunda.
I did not taste much of the food this year, but I photographed the preparation. I hope I captured the excitement on both sides of the curtain.
The auctioneer was excellent again this year. When I was in high school, my mother worked for an auction house, so I know the rhythm of a good auction. This experience probably helps me photograph an auctioneer, especially when there is a good one.… Read the rest
Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand…
And you can tell right away at letter A….
Stevie Wonder, “Sir Duke,” album “Songs in the Key of Life”
Where do we begin?
Last week I photographed the three day Inventing Our Future Integrated Summer Learning Institute at The Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California. The Alameda County Office of Education’s Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership organizes the ILSI so that area educators will be better prepared to integrate art into their curriculum. After I photographed last year’s conference, I wondered if educators would love connecting with each other as well as the content. This year I will remember how students inspired me to wonder about a different question.
How does one distinguish between Courage and Good Art?
The institute is one place where everyone accepts that art education is important. I can relax and learn from others without feeling that I must continually justify arts integration.… Read the rest
When my 11 year old daughter began kindergarten at Melrose Leadership Academy, I had a simple idea. I thought I could photograph each kindergarten class as long as my children attended the school. I live in the neighborhood. How difficult could it be?
As I tell my photography students, simple and easy are not the same. “Simple” is difficult and my simple idea has become more difficult this year. I teach in a district an hour away from my home. We have the same breaks, so I don’t have a week to visit the school.
There is another complication. I try to create something different each year. MLA was at a different site the first three years, so those pictures all look different from the more recent images. Each year I wonder how I am going to create something interesting. Last year, I gave the kids magnifying glasses. This year, the students photographed me with my smartphone.… Read the rest
This is going to be a short post, but I could probably write a book… except I am not an author. (Sometimes I forget that I am not an author and I write too much.)
Last week I attended an event where two best-selling authors, Gayle Forman and Jay Asher, promoted suicide awareness and I remembered that I am a survivor of suicide. It is not as though I had forgotten, but sometimes I become disconnected to that part of my life. It is easy to forget because I belong to many other families and I am involved with all of them. Besides, there are times when I forget that any of this is real. I listened to a couple fathers who lost daughters to suicide. That made it a little more real too.
One of my college friends recently posted an Abraham Lincoln quote (or maybe it was attributed to Mark Twain) that people too easily accept that which is posted on the internet.… Read the rest
One month ago today, Libby Schaaf became Oakland’s 50th mayor. The Inauguration Ceremony was pure Oakland. She rode into office in a Burning Man snail car; she was met at the Paramount Theater by sharp dressed protesters and journalists. (I would like to think that I was both a sharp dressed protester and a journalist, but those days have probably passed me by.)
When I photographed the Inauguration Ceremony, I felt “cautiously ambivalent.” There was an odd tension between the protesters and the newly elected officials. The elected officials were probably more optimistic. They invited their children and parents onstage during their speeches. Inauguration day is full of hope. (Did the new board members realize that they had become part of The Establishment?)
I could have photographed the protesters all day. The heightened tension combined with intense visual imagery. The bright colorful walls and stoicism emphasized contradictions. (Additionally, one recently re-elected city council member appeared to protest her own inauguration.)
Desley Brooks is now my Oakland City Council person after recent redistricting. … Read the rest
Before I continue writing about Hot Couture 2015, I should include a disclaimer. I wore a beanie both nights to the annual fashion show at The Crucible in Oakland.
I know enough about photography that I thought about “The Fashionable Gordon Parks” and his fashion photography while I shot and edited. Parks photographed runways without flash photography. He used movement to his advantage. His New York fashion pictures captures something real and artistic. Perhaps that is the nature of fashion. It is art and reality.
Last year when I photographed the fashion show, I was inspired by designers. Occasionally I return to my three posts from last year when I need motivation.… Read the rest
One month ago I was invited to attend my second Kwanzaa Celebration. I photographed the event at the Partnership for Affordable Housing in Oakland, California on December 26, 2014. I returned with my two children last week to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.’s birthday. The Partnership for Affordable Housing operates a transition home. While I was photographing the Kwanzaa Celebration, I kept thinking about my first Kwanzaa and how everyone is in transition.
In 1991, I did not have a place to live. I had assumed that I would be finishing my final year of college, but then my financial aid was unexpectedly cut and I did not have a place to live. A family invited me to their home for Kwanzaa and I enjoyed the company. I still remember the grateful grandmother tell me how to avoid growing old. (Die young!) I also remember their concern for me.… Read the rest
On Saturday September 13th, 2014, I photographed the 1st Annual Taste fundraiser for Girls Incorporated of Alameda County. The main event was held in the Rotunda Building in downtown Oakland. Guests gathered at the Girls Inc. main headquarters across the street before dinner and the live auction. (HERE ARE THE PHOTOS)
I asked to photograph the event. I had photographed the 2012 Women of Taste fundraiser, and I was impressed with the organization. Though the 2014 version of “Women of Taste” was different, I still wanted to contribute. I explained some of my personal reasons in my blog post two years ago. Those reasons still exist.
Before the event, one of my friends asked me why I wanted to photograph this year’s fundraiser. I never know how to answer these types of questions. Usually, I answer honestly, but I omit some of the more compelling reasons. Why was a Women’s Studies major?… Read the rest
Have you heard the expression Pay it Forward? In the right context, it is actually a nice idea. People deposit acts of kindness into a karma bank, and somehow the universe knows when we need a return favor. Sometimes I “Pay it Forward,” but I did not visit McClymonds High School on September 12, 2014 to Pay it Forward. I am a sports fan who loves history. I will never be able to pay back the McClymonds community for their contributions to sports, art, and civil rights.
When I arrived at McClymonds High School in Oakland to photograph the game between the McClymonds High Warriors and the Selesian High Pride from Richmond, I found my friend Coach Joe Cokes. Joe was one of the coaches when my daughter ran track. Coach Joe and I visited the locker room and started taking pictures. Here are my photographs.
I have been inside McClymonds several times and each time I am intimidated, and not because of the location, but by the history.… Read the rest
Last week I attended the third annual Art is Education summer institute in Oakland, California. The Integrated Learning Summer Institute: Inventing Our Future was held at the Chabot Space and Science Museum from August 12-14, 2014. The Alameda County Office of Education’s Alliance for Arts Leadership organized the event.
For links to the galleries and notes, visit my More Than Kids blog where I have started keeping Notes on A Blog.
Chip McNeal opened the first day with a quote from astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson that underscored the theme of the three days.
“(W)e are all connected to each other… It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”
By seeing the world this way, Neil DeGrasse Tyson feels “quite large.” Perhaps art educators would benefit by viewing our work similarly. Are we limiting ourselves when we say that education starts (or ends) with art?… Read the rest
My two children attend Melrose Leadership Academy in Oakland, California. MLA is a Spanish dual immersion K-8 school. Our school is part of Oakland Unified School District. In previous years, I have posted more frequently about our school, but this year I have been busy teaching photography and yearbook at Pittsburg High School. Both school districts finish their year next week. In this post, I will share a few events I photographed during 2014.
When I walk into the school, I “read” the signs on the wall. I see many of the signs when I am editing my photos. There is one sign that I seem to see more than any others. It reads, “Somos responsables de nosostros mismos y de nuestra comunidad.”
We are responsible for ourselves and our community
I do not speak Spanish, but I can look at my pictures and see people caring for each other.… Read the rest
On Saturday March 1, I attended two season openers. One was a campaign and the other was a sporting event. There is probably a cheap joke here, but neither event felt cheap.
In the morning, I attended Libby Schaaf’s “Libby for Mayor Oakland Campaign Kickoff.” (I took a few hundred pictures; here is the edited photo gallery.) In the evening, I photographed the Bay Area Derby Girls Season Opener. The events felt similar. There was music. There were people from different ages and backgrounds. Young people held signs. Older people cheered. Everyone seemed committed. Positive.
As someone who pretends to be a journalist, I do not officially endorse anyone, but I support many people and causes. I support Libby. Before she was elected to City Council, she supported my kids and neighbors. I support people who help my kids and neighbors.
People at derby support me and my kids.… Read the rest