Monday, December 29, 2008

UN International Year of the Potato 2008

As 2008 comes to a close, I decided it's time to pay tribute to the United Nations International Year of the Potato (IYP), with the following image, captioned...

"A Latvian Potato Farmer markets her spuds at the Riga Market."

I was moved to capture this image because of the woman's striking resemblance to...well....a potato!

She watches over them with a humble pride, like a new mother admiring her offspring. Every few moments she would pick up a couple and move them around, perhaps to display the most beautiful ones on top. The more I studied her, the more I wanted to buy her potatoes.

Her hands say that she personally pulled each and every potato from the dirt, and her face says that she has been doing this her whole life. The pouch around her neck says that her life depends on the potato.

The selling of a potato requires no fancy marketing, no flashy signs and no shiny plastic packaging with "pre-washed" stamped on the bag. The potato simply is what it is, and the world doesn't question it's value.

For this Latvian woman, the potato is her labour, her livelihood, and her love. It shows.

By the way, 2009 has been declared the International Year of Natural Fibers. I'll have an entire slideshow for that coming!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Published in The Rough Guide to India!

Here's my image of a lone man facing the rising sun at Varanasi:

And here's how it appears in The Rough Guide to India (seventh edition):

(full page color between p. 1016 & 1017, photo credit line on page 1436)

The first line of text on the page reads:

"For most Indians, the presence of the divine is a daily fact of life."

Well, it is for me too. A daily fact of life. But, one's awareness of divine presence is a very personal thing, and far too precious to be defined by any guidebook, religion, and certainly not by me.

When asked, I tell others that I'm a very spiritual person, but I'm not religious. I leave it at that, and find they must question themselves before they will further question me. If you know me on facebook, then you already know my stated religion: "All of the Above." I think it's called tolerance.

Where do I go to church? When I am out in nature, smelling a mossy forest, star-gazing in the night skies, or surfing in the ocean, that's my church. That's where I am in the presence of the divine. Nature is divine. I respect and worship it...religiously.

And what of faith?

This December has proved to be quite a month - first, being published in National Geographic, and now, Rough Guides! Quite a finish to a year that began with a blind leap of faith. I was spending more than I was making, investing my time, money and heart into the wrong people for the wrong reasons. I was let down, I was burned, I was disappointed, and I was even beginning to doubt myself. Well, that didn't last longer than a split-second, but it's enough to know when it's time to let go and move on. And that's where faith jumps in and takes over. Faith. Faith in oneself, faith in the universe, faith in the divine, faith in God - call it what you will and direct it where you will, but if you've got faith, then consider yourself lucky because, sadly, not everyone does.

By the way, faith is not defined by religion. If you look it up in any dictionary and even on Wiki, you will find the first definition of faith has nothing to do with religious practice. Faith is not defined by science either, there is no concrete evidence of faith. That's the cool thing about faith - it cannot be defined by religion or science, yet neither would exist without it.

I had to look it up several times and in several places to be sure I wasn't just putting blind faith into my own perception of faith. I mean, who am I to define what religion and science cannot? Well, Wiki, Webster and a bunch of other dictionaries have done it for me, so, I'll take what fits and present my favorite definition here:

Faith - sincerity of intentions.

Wow. Read that again. Faith is the sincerity of intentions. I love it.

And I found three more words amongst the definitions that deserve honorable mention:

Trust. Confidence. Steadfastness.

Wow. Read those again. Don't you love it? Faith is awesome.

Faith, it's simply a daily fact of life.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Published in National Geographic!

....National Geographic Adventure magazine, that is, in the Dec/Jan Year End DOUBLE ISSUE (which means you have two months to pick up your copy at the newsstand!). Here's what you'll find on page 40, and also as the feature image thumb on the link above:

(By the way, the photo credit line appears on page 42)

But National Geographic editors aren't the only ones with a good eye for a great take on Machu Picchu (the market is saturated with Machu Picchu images). The next image sequentially from the shoot was the first to be licensed and published this year, also a full page, by tour operator Jim Berkeley of Destinations & Adventures International. The whole brochure is stunning and gorgeous, but this is understandably my favorite, page 83:

Since the scan does not do it justice, you can visit DAI TRAVEL to order your free copy of the brochure, which features several other images of mine, like these, from China and Argentina:

I have to take a moment here and just say that Jim Berkeley is an all around great guy. He's been a loyal fan of my photography, hand picking my images for the captivating brochures of DAI Travel since 2002. He's also a highly respected travel industry guru and a wonderful person. Be sure to pay his website a visit to see more images!