Category Archives: Photography

Through the Headlines

Here is a look at Nepal simply through newspaper headlines. I think they speak for themselves.

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Faces of Kathmandu

One of the most important parts of this trip to Nepal is meeting real people. The more we truly see them and get to know them, albeit often briefly, the more we grow to love the people and not just the country. Sonia and I have a growing fondness for the Nepali people. They are humble, warm and welcoming. The following are some of the interesting men, women and children we met in Kathmandu. Some of the best photos are taken by my wife. She has an eye for really “seeing” people.

Bricklayer

Brick Layer: I told this man I liked his shirt and asked if I could take a picture of him. He was so happy to be asked, he stopped what he was doing and posed with this huge smile on his face. They were rebuilding a fallen wall of a school that one of our missionary friends attended as a child.

Woman_on_Sidewalk

Sidewalk Saleswoman: When you walk down many of the streets of Kathmandu, the sidewalks are filled with people selling everything. And I do mean everything. Everything from fruit to jewelry to rubber slippers to fried spicy meat to sweat pants to cellphone accessories. This woman happened to be selling spices along with her friend. Sonia admired the rich tone of her skin and asked if she could take her picture. The woman shyly obliged.

Suga

Instant Intimate: This young man, named Suga, was crammed next to me on the minibus during rush hour. There were 16 people in this tiny little van. It felt like the small car that dozens of clowns squeeze into at the circus. He is a website developer. Bright and open. His English was excellent. Most Nepalis speak quite a bit of English learning through the school system. I had a great conversation with Suga. How could I not? I was practically sitting on his lap!

Nepal_Soldiers

Tough Guys: These guys were moving into a disaster area with great intent until I asked if I could take their picture. The one on the right quickly called his buddy back and suddenly gave me tough-guy military face. Kind of reminded me of my first driver’s license picture. His friend obviously missed the memo not to smile.

Boy_Working_MinibusBus Hustler: Minibuses drive along the street and young boys shout out the window where they’re heading to. If you want to go in that direction, they stop to pick you up. Sometimes the boys literally jump out of the open sliding door and walk alongside the moving bus to further convince people on the sidewalk to come with them. This young salesman was the best we met. Persistent and charming. It cost us 20 rupees each to go most places. That’s 20 cents US!

Nepal_Baby

Beautiful Baby: One of my favorite pictures, taken by Sonia. This baby’s mother approached us for money. We helped her and then she agreed to have her baby’s picture taken. A digital photo cannot fully capture the exquisite beauty of her eyes.

Man_by_Bus

Man in Anguish: This man kept holding his head and rocking. It was painful to watch but so indicative of the feelings of many people. I have to confess this was an unsolicited candid shot from my hip.

Kids_in_Water

Typical Boys: There were many people living in tents is this large public park. When we entered, we saw some of the boys jumping into this inactive water fountain. The water was extremely filthy but they were having a blast. Typical boys no matter what country.

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Context

DSC00080This is Rudy. Obviously, he was ecstatic to have his picture taken. I have always enjoyed photography but recently my interest has narrowed to focus more on street photography. Since I will be doing more traveling in the near future, I wanted to learn how to creatively capture the people, culture, architecture, landscape and even animals that I encounter. I am definitely not a professional but have enjoyed learning a new technique and creative perspective. One of my favorite street photo blogs is by Eric Kim. He has a depth of knowledge and shares it in a down-to-earth way.

Classic photojournalism is shot from a 35mm perspective. There is a reason the old film rangefinders would come standard with a fixed 35mm lens often with a max 1.8 aperture. It was unassuming, fast and able to capture people in the context of their natural environment. I am currently using a 30mm f2.8 pancake lens attached to a compact mirrorless body for my street photography. It’s the closest I could come to a small 35mm given my limited parameters of size and budget.

It’s easy to get caught up with the equipment but in the end it always comes down to the image. How can you capture your environment in a way that is both accurate and memorable? For a very brief time, I was interested in shooting landscapes but lost interest in capturing backdrops without people. After having children, I was interested in shooting close-ups and portraits. But again, over time I lost interest because cute faces are nice but eventually I wanted to remember the circumstances surrounding the photo. What makes street photography unique is that it records people in context. Context is vitally important. Without it, we fail to capture the moment because life doesn’t unfold in a vacuum.

Take for example, Rudy. His face is very ordinary but captured in full context, it makes for a more meaningful picture. He’s tightly tethered to his owner’s chair on a busy street where no one’s paying attention to him. No wonder he looks that way!

RudyContext is key not only for photography but also for growing in love. Love always has a context. This may not sound profound, but it is for me. Subconsciously, I assumed growing in love happened instantly and quietly, almost in private. That if I simply asked God to make me more loving, he would somehow pour “love juice” in me and “tada!,” I’d be instantly compassionate. But love rarely develops that way. It forms within a tapestry of people and relationships. More specifically, it mushrooms in the tension and conflict of these relationships.

If a tender heart is my prayerful desire, then the Father will often allow me to be in relationships where love is not natural or easy. This is not limited to my enemies but most often includes my closest friends. No matter how good the relationship is, eventually there will be tension. Suffering in relationships is love’s context. At times, my contexts have included, adoption, marriage, fatherhood, pastoring, sonship, brotherhood and friendship.

This paradox makes love feel awkward. The harder things get, the more I realize how loving I am not. The more I realize this, the more discouraged I get. The more discouraged I get, the more frustrated I get that God is apparently not answering my prayer. Yet, it is when I finally come to the end of myself that I truly begin to beg for God’s love to flow through me. Owning my inability is an invitation for God’s love to slowly fill the deep voids of my heart with that which I lack desperately. Surprisingly, it’s just when I think my heart is hopelessly wilted that God’s love sprouts from the ashes of my scarcity.

This shouldn’t surprise us. God’s love for us was not sealed in a Heavenly vacuum. The context of the Father’s love was the pain of this broken world. God became flesh and dwelt among us. He lived with us. He suffered like us. He died for us. So if we want to love like He does, then why wouldn’t our path be similar to his? Why wouldn’t it include suffering, sacrifice and surrender? This is the way of the gospel. It is the shape of love.

What I appreciate about street photography is that every day life is the backdrop. Rather than a clouded studio background, street photography captures people in everyday settings. While it is nice to have photos of birthdays, weddings and trips to Disneyland, those moments are not what fills out most of life. Street photography forces us to stop and remember the unique gifts of the ordinary in life. In that case, every moment can be a special occasion worth capturing.

Because love bubbles up in the affairs of daily irritations and annoying conflicts, growth can happen anywhere and anytime. All of life can be the context for God’s love to grow in you. In fact, in the most trying seasons, growth can be subversively continuous. No wonder it’s so exhausting! If you’re currently in one of those seasons, remember what may feel like a problem may very well be God’s answer to your prayers. Rather than fight it, instead embrace it. It might be the context of love God has tailored just for you.

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