Tag Archives: photography

Portraits of our Oldest Inhabitants

Every portrait tells a story. Famously, a picture is worth a thousand words, but how many years? Photographer Beth Moon searched the world for the oldest remaining trees and made them the focus of a beautiful series we first caught glimpse of on Bored Panda.

Some of our favorite images?

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See the full collection here. And take a moment to pause and notice the life happening all around you!

#WorldAdoptionDay

Borrowed kindly from Instagrammer Mvolz8
Click for source

Sunday, November 9th was the very first World Adoption Day and people took to the technosphere to share their stories of adoption and family. Sponsored by Adopt Together, an organization that helps families crowdfund a process that can sometime price in the neighborhood of $25,000, they asked that in honor of the day, people draw a smiley face on their palm and share it via social networks. What started with a team in Los Angeles turned into an explosion of more than 10,000 photos on Instagram alone from all over the world including Patagonia, Kuwait and the Duck Dynasty. Continue reading

10 Stunning Photos to Celebrate Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Today is Canada’s national holiday marking the enactment of the British North America Act, which officially united the country. Towns throughout Canada, as well as communities of Canadian ex-pats around the globe, will be celebrating their country’s nationhood with parades, carnivals, fireworks, and more! Canada is known for producing some amazing things – from maple syrup to amazing hockey teams to Frank Gehry. What we love most, though, is the country’s majestic, unbridled beauty, as captured by these stunning photos. Enjoy!

Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, British Columbia
Capital, British Columbia
Capital, British Columbia
Central Kootenay, British Columbia
Central Kootenay, British Columbia
Kananaskis Lake, Alberta
Kananaskis Lake, Alberta
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Lake Moraine, Alberta
Manitoba, Manitoba
Manitoba, Manitoba

 

Manitoba, Manitoba
Manitoba, Manitoba

 

Quetico, Ontario
Quetico, Ontario

 

Yukon Territory
Yukon Territory
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Yukon Territory

What do you love most about Canada? Will you be celebrating Canada Day?

“A Beautiful Body”: Reclaiming Beauty from a Backward Culture that Devalues Mothers’ Bodies

Motherhood brings love, joy, and children into women’s lives. It also brings responsibility, body changes, and considerable sleepless nights – these are parts of the bargain. One thing it should not entail, but often does, is body shame and low self-esteem. In pregnancy and motherhood, women’s bodies become vessels of life. They are the sites of ultimate creativity and abundance, and there is no shame in that.

But then come the stretch marks and scars, the loose skin and soft breasts, and it’s hard not to look at yourself and feel alienated from the image of beauty our culture promotes. This phenomenon has inspired photographer Jade Beall to reclaim women’s natural beauty in her series “A Beautiful Body.” The project began when Beall entered into the world of motherhood and, as way of coping with the changes her body was experiencing, began posting photos of her post-pregnancy body to Facebook. The response was overwhelming, Beall writes on her website. There was clearly a deep longing for and desperate lack of widespread representations of real mom bodies, in all their beauty and life-giving power.

Thus Beall began photographing women in all stages of pregnancy and motherhood, some with big baby bellies, some with newborns, some with grown kids and years-old stretch marks kissing their soft tummies. The degree of enthusiasm for this project led Beall to embark on publishing a book by the same title, now available for pre-order. The book will contain photographs of mothers (like the ones above) along with each woman’s personal story of finding beauty and strength in spite of media-enforced stereotypes.

It speaks to the world we live in to see so many women crippled by feelings of shame and inadequacy. The materialist, superficial culture we live in outlines a narrow box with the label “Beauty,” and anything that doesn’t fit into it gets brushed aside. This leaves us feeling responsible for our own lack. But the reality is that these labels and values are 100% arbitrary, empty, and meaningless. Thus the task for all of us, as Beall’s series demonstrates, is to reframe our lens; to reclaim our bodies, as well as our aesthetic values, which have been co-opted for so many years by a media culture that has no real interest in our well-being.

What do you think? Are you inspired by Beall’s photo series? Please share your own photos and stories in the comments below and on social media!

 

All photographs by Jade Beall.

Daring Photographer Takes On the World of Mental Illness Behind Bars (Slideshow)

KSR - CPTUPhotographer Jenn Ackerman is nothing if not a boundary-pusher. Her work delicately treads the line between art and ethnography, offering glimpses into worlds that both trouble and intrigue us – from beauty pageants to dying inmates. Alongside her husband and creative partner, Tim Gruber, Ackerman captures the beauty and grace that can exist in even the harshest conditions, as demonstrated poignantly in her photo series “Trapped.” This project, inspired by a NY Times article on the growing population of inmates with mental illness, brings viewers into the stark world of someone trapped both physically and psychologically. It’s a place none of us would want to be, but one in which Ackerman immersed herself for the sake of shedding light on this little known side of the prison system. Ackerman writes:

My intention was to make that made the viewer feel what I felt when I was inside the prison. I took a more personal and emotional approach to this project than I ever have…I left the prison everyday wanting to help these men that have nowhere else to go. There were days that I was extremely scared and others that I left thinking how much someone on the outside missed them. Some days, I had to remind myself that many of these men had done heinous things. There were also days when I was reminded that some of these men have faded into the system with no hope of getting out…

For most of these men, they have been outcasts of society and rarely heard. So they had a chance to share their story and have someone listen that actually cared to listen not just focused on treatment or safety. My intention is to spark calls for reform for the treatment of the mentally ill and the prison system in the US.

On the project’s website you can watch the feature video, which includes a combination of action footage, still images, facts about the conditions of mentally ill inmates, and audio from an interview with the warden from the prison Ackerman photographed. The content is unsettling and at times hard to watch, but it is an important step toward shedding light on a community that might otherwise go faceless and nameless. Their stories, at least, will not remain trapped.

 

Photo credit: Jenn Ackerman

Seeing Is Believing: How To Improve Your Relationships Through Perception

234/365 - 1 <3 photography 6/10By Dr. Andra Brosh

I like to take pictures with my very fancy camera. I love shooting photos because it’s one of the few places in my life where only my perspective matters.

When I’m taking pictures I lose all self-consciousness about how I see things, and can completely immerse myself in what I believe to be true and perfect. It’s my photo, my angle, and most importantly my point of view.

You may not know it, but your perspective of the world is extremely valuable. How you see things is just as important as how you feel. An even more important concept, however, is that your ability to share a different perspective from your own is one of the most valuable qualities you can have. Taking it even one step further, your ability to see things from another person’s perspective is an essential skill in maintaining a healthy relationship.

As human beings we have a very deep and basic need to be seen, and to have our experience and perceptions validated. When we are told that our point of view is “wrong” a little part of us dies inside, and we begin to question what we believe to be true in the world.

When you and your partner share an experience with each other that is perceived through each of your unique vantage points, neither of you are right. Denying another person’s perceptions, or questioning the validity of their perspective leaves them feeling misunderstood, insecure, frustrated, and angry.

Perspective is very closely aligned with empathy, but they are different. Empathy is the ability to step into another person’s situation with the intention of understanding how they feel. Sharing a perspective requires you to stand behind the other person, to look out at the world through their eyes, and to see what they are seeing.

It’s like looking through their camera once they set up the shot.

Sharing a perspective does not equate with agreeing, and it doesn’t mean your perspective has to be eliminated. It’s simply an opportunity to step back from what you believe to be true, so you can see something different. Accepting and acknowledging these ideas about perception will shift how you relate in the world, and it will also build an incredible sense of intimacy in your present relationship.

Here are three tips to share another person’s perspective:

  1. It’s all in the language. Avoid saying things like “That’s not true” or “Don’t be ridiculous” when your partner shares their experience. Try saying something like “I can see how you might see it that way, but…” or “I’m having a hard time seeing it the way you do, can you help me understand?”
  2. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to see things. Your experiences and perceptions of things are subjective. You get to have your view, and your partner gets to have theirs. If you feel the need to be right, your next step is to work on letting go of this unrealistic expectation so you can be more open.
  3. Use empathy and compassion to get there. When we are in a heated situation or feel strongly about something we often lose sight of the other person’s perspective. Using your imagination, and seeing that your partner is feeling just like you will allow you to step back, and be more objective.

* * *

picofme2Dr. Andra Brosh is a Clinical Psychologist, writer, and thought leader. Her unique perspectives on life, love and connection stem from her own personal wisdom, and her knowledge of psychology and philosophy. Dr. Brosh’s work is founded on the fundamental truth that we are all wired to be relational beings, and that with the right guidance and tools everyone can find happiness and fulfillment in their interpersonal relationships.

“We Are The Not Dead” – Amazing Photos of Soldiers Before, During, and After War

Even with a fairly widespread understanding of post traumatic stress and other effects of war, it is hard to really know what soldiers go through in defending their countries, apart from what we see on the news. The stress they undergo in training, the many horrors they may witness, the friends they lose, the struggle to reintegrate with civilian life…It is an experience unlike any other, which undoubtedly imprints itself on the minds and psyches of these men and women – and perhaps in their faces and eyes, too?

This is exactly what photographer Lalage Snow captured in her harrowing series, “We Are The Not Dead.” Over the course of 8 months, Snow photographed British soldiers before, during, and after deployment in Afghanistan, with accompanying quotes from each individual portrayed. You may notice how dramatic the transformation is in some of these young men and women’s faces, some of them just in their early 20s or younger. Without trying to read too much into the portraits, let yourself first just observe their faces and appreciate the honesty in Snow’s composition:

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Private Chris MacGregor, 24

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Private Dylan Hughes, 26

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Private Becky Hitchcock, 23

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Corporal Steven Gibson, 29

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Private Matthew Hodgson, 18

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Private Jo Yavala, 28

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Lance Corporal Sean Tennant, 29

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Second Lieutenant Adam Petzsch, 25

One thing you may notice is pupil dilation in many of these soldiers’ eyes. Along with increased heart rate and blood pressure, pupil dilation can be a large indicator of stress, anxiety, and trauma. This would make sense given what these individuals went through over the span of just a few months in combat, as expressed in many of their quotes. But even understanding some of the science behind the transformations doesn’t make the visual any less potent.

Are you a veteran, or do you have any friends or family who have fought in war? Does Snow’s photography mirror your own experience?

Photography by Lalage Snow

Artist Transforms Dollar Store Junk Into Alarmingly Beautiful Photography

web14Take a stroll through your local Dollar Store, and see if you feel inspired to create art. We’re not talking about the 99 cent coloring books and cheap water-coloring kits, but something on a whole new level of artistic reappropriation.

That is precisely what photographer Antonia Basler did for her senior thesis project when she visited Dollar Stores around Brooklyn, gathering unglamorous and throwaway items for subjects of a still life series. At first glance the photographs are stunning and bizarre in an Andy Warhol-meets-Salvador Dalí way. On closer inspection, one notices plastic cutlery, sardines, toy guns, rainbow dusters, and more – not your typical subjects of fine art.

As Basler told Co.Design:

I would spend time in the Dollar Stores and be equally repulsed and attracted to the stuff there. I wanted to shoot them away from their environment, in a more clean setting.

Basler’s work isn’t a romanticized look at everyday objects, nor a critique of modern consumerist culture. But it does challenge the ways we perceive these seemingly banal objects and suggest that aesthetic value can be found in unlikely places. Here is just a sampling of photos from Basler’s Dollar Store Series:

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Check out the rest of the Dollar Store Series at Basler’s photography website, and let us know your impressions in the comments below!

Photo credit: Antonia Basler

Why It’s Important to Enjoy the Art Around Us

If I were to ask you, “What subject matter in school is deemed most important?” What would your answer be? Math, science or art?

Sunny Blossom (Toan Lam)

Art? Doing this for a living was never even an option in my household — it was a taboo subject. “Be a doctor, lawyer or engineer,” my parents would ingrain in my brain. In my parents’ eyes, the definition of success were those professions, in that order: doctor, lawyer, then engineer. I chose the fourth – failure (in the eyes of my immigrant parents, journalism seemed like failure).

Power Light (Toan Lam)

Reading and writing, my passions, were not as revered as mathematics and science. I would read everything out loud. In the shower, I would read shampoo bottles – “Rinse, lather, repeat.” I remember what brought me joy was acting out the characters while reading my favorite childhood books. It’s no coincidence that I became a journalist, founder of Go Inspire Go (we use the art of storytelling to inspire action) and college instructor.

Rainbow Drops Coit Tower & Telegraph Hill (Toan Lam)

That’s why this GIG Spark, produced by high school student Aaron Long resonated with me on many levels, personally, professionally and even spiritually.

Through Aaron’s GIG Spark, he wants to inspire us to look around and enjoy the art around us in San Francisco. Don’t live there? No problem; Aaron wants you to look around and enjoy a tree, some street art or something that catches your eye.

Water Cloud Reflections/Aquatic Park (Toan Lam)

How did he do this? In a creative way, of course! Find out how he inspired folks in his community to be present and enjoy the art around them through this GIG Spark (Lesson on Compassion) submission. His goal is to inspire you to notice (and enjoy) the art that surrounds you.

Gigster: Aaron Long
Where: San Francisco
Spark: Notice the Art Around You

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkixQoxFAuw]

Like many GIG Spark videos, this seems fun on the surface and it is. But on a deeper level, being creative isn’t nurtured in our society. I recently discovered this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation. Specifically, he speaks about the importance of creating an educational system that nurtures creativity. This TED video is full of inspirational gems.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY]

I often wonder what I would be doing had I not pursued my passion work. One thing’s for sure – if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be as fulfilled and full of joy. Special thanks to Aaron for being aware and inspiring presence in this adventure we call life.

City Dew Drops (Toan Lam)

Take action:
1. Stop wherever you are. Look around and take a deep breath. Enjoy one thing around you.
2. Get creative. Like to bake or paint? Do it, then give it away to someone in need. Small things like this make anyone’s day.
3. Nurture the artistic talents in a child’s life.

We hope this video inspires you to be present and enjoy the art around you — and use your power to help others. I’ve been practicing enjoying the art around me by taking pictures on my Go Inspire Go Instagram account. I always snap cool scenes and things that inspire me because I want to share it with our viewers (tagged with an inspirational message).

Be You Naturally (Toan Lam)

Note: Thanks to Mom: who turned over a new leaf and supports endeavors — because she feels my passion for GIG. Also, I know (and feel) that my father, who on his death bed told me, “You’re wasting your life, you need to quit that reporting stuff and become a doctor,” has had a change of heart and is somewhere above, looking down and smiling at me. Smiling because I followed my heart and chose to redefine his definition of “failure.” Thanks to my parents for taking the risk — to uproot their successful lives — so my siblings and I could redefine the American Dream. No. 4 ain’t so bad!

Bay City Chain Scape (Toan Lam)

GIG Spark was developed to create compassion through the exercise of brainstorming, problem solving and experiencing the joy of using your power to help others. Rachel shares her thoughts about what this particular experience meant to her:

“Something GIG Spark taught me? Don’t stop yourself from doing something just because you think it’s not going to change anything. Whether what you do is monumental or small, whether it affects a million people or just one person, what’s important is that you did something. It’s human nature to resist change, but at least you presented a chance to plant a seed of change in someone’s mind.”

Copollalights (Toan Lam)

About Go Inspire Go (GIG):

GIG is about inspiring small actions that ripple out to meaningful changes. As we’ve experienced, the ripples continue to billow out, one story, one person, one act at a time.

FEELING INSPIRED? Make your own GIG Spark and share with us. We may share it with the world.

As part of GIG’s mission to inspire our viewers to discover their power, we developed GIG Spark: A Lesson on Compassion. The goal is to spark action in everyone that witnesses your good deed. We want you to identify a problem in your community and be the change by capturing your action in a short 1-1:30 minute video. Use your passion and creativity to produce a GIG Spark and inspire viewers with your story!

What can YOU do?

Follow us on: Instagram, Twitter & Facebook

How A Celeb Photographer Found Yoga and Never Looked Back

It’s no secret that yoga is a popular pastime among celebrities and socialites. Being mindful and living a healthy lifestyle has perhaps never been so celebrated as it is today. But what about when a big shot photographer – who has captured the likes of Andy Warhol, Billy Idol, and The Rolling Stones – turns away from his glamorous life in pursuit of a very different path?

Check it out in the latest episode of URBAN YOGIS on The Chopra Well.

Michael Halsband made his entry into the art world at the height of rock’n’roll photography. The list of people and bands he has photographed, collaborated with, and even traveled with is remarkable. The beauty and richness of celebrity life captured Michael’s imagination and aesthetic sensibility, and that passion comes across in his exquisite photographs. But glamor fades and stars age, and Michael began to look around ask himself, “What now?”

In URBAN YOGIS Michael describes an encounter with Coldplay’s Chris Martin – the result of which convinced him to make a radical shift in his life. Michael began practicing yoga with Ashtanga yoga instructor Eddie Stern and never looked back. By quieting his mind and working on strength and flexibility, Michael could feel himself changing, inside and out. Others in his life commented on the transformation, as well. And even his photography took a turn.

Boiled down to its essence, the photograph became, for Michael, a candid, honest representation of humanity. No screaming fans. No fancy sets. No elaborate poses. Just an 8×10 camera and an unadorned face on the other side of the lens. Simplicity, purity and truth to echo the spirit of his yoga practice.

We’re reminded of something Deepak Chopra says in many of The Chopra Well’s videos. Liberated from all our masks and pretensions and egos, he says, all that is left is consciousness. It’s a common theme – separating the wheat from the chaff, determining what is truly meaningful and what is superfluous (or just bonus!). Deepak believes the most basic question in human experience is, “Who am I?” and from this derives the rest of religious and esoteric musings. And as one of the oldest forms of spiritual practice, according to archaeological evidence, yoga has been the perfect vehicle for Michael to explore that essential question.

Consider your own beliefs, practices, and passions. What is the defining thread? What is essential, for you?

Subscribe to The Chopra Well for more inspiring yoga stories, every Monday on URBAN YOGIS!

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