Photo of the Week: Lightening with Lightning (Timing is Everything)

On our Brazil trip down the Amazon River this summer, Lisa was performing surgeries while I joined the boat crew for a visit to a village further up river.  On our evening return to pick up Lisa and the medical crew, our boat went directly into a massive storm.  I stood on the top of the boat and watch us plow in to the storm front.  The wind hit so hard that it blew parts of the boat off the roof and blew out the window wipers on the command deck.  We were immediately called below.

Night storm lightening flash

It was now pitch black, with rain we could not see through–even with a spot light.  Unsafe to continue traveling up the river, we had to pull directly in to shore and land the boat while waiting out the storm.  Lightning and thunder rock the night.  We could see nothing.  I got my camera and tried various combinations of exposure and shutter.  It all came down to luck.  I couldn’t get long enough flashes of light to know how the camera would react.  On top of that, the boat was rocking slightly, making it difficult to get a steady image.  One photo turned out.  It was actually quite interesting to see–the camera could see what the eye could not.  From the boat, we could not make out what the land looked like.  One surprise in the photo was how much the red boat light illuminated the shore and trees, giving the image a more eery feeling.

With lightning, timing is everything–essentially all luck.  I got lucky with this one and it made for an interesting photo.



If you are in or near the Pepperdine community, I hope will join us for the Challenge Slavery event with USAID, Google Ideas, International Justice Mission, and Not for Sale.


If you are outside the Pepperdine community, you can watch the live stream of the event by following the link below:

Watch USAID Challenge Slavery Event


Thursday: USAID, Google Ideas, IJM, and Not For Sale at Pepperdine

This Thursday, Pepperdine University will bring together faith and community leaders for a conversation about the role of the faith community in leading the movement to end modern day slavery.


Dr. Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will announce the launch of, a USAID initiative aimed at tapping the collective power of college students and faith-based organizations to combat modern day slavery. The event will also feature a panel discussion with experts from Google Ideas, International Justice Mission and Not For Sale.

Join us at the event!


Date:  October 11, 2012

Launch Event: 4:00-5:30 p.m., Elkins Auditorium, Pepperdine University

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Photo of the Week: “Waiting for His World to Change”

Waiting in Jail in Uganda

My photo of the week again from the archive on my recent trip.  I took this photo and liked it, but once the color was corrected, it’s power really came through.  This was another boy we met in the prison in northern Uganda.  They just sit and wait all day.  The look on his face captured the pain of waiting, wondering what’s next, and wishing you were back home in school.  The light is from the doorway and I particularly like the way it illuminated its outline on the back wall.  The lighting is what makes the photo.  After our work, the boy has his case dismissed and went home.  I shot the photo with my ultra-wide angle lens.


Photo of the Week: “Boys Behind Bars”

Boys behind bars.jpg

I am starting a new blog series, “Photo of the Week,” where I will share a photo from my archive and tell the backstory.  Some may be recent photos and others may be old photos that I’ve rediscovered through new post-production techniques.  Simultaneously, I’ve changed my photography workflow, so I’m going back to revisit and re-master favorites from the archive.  Photos will come from a diverse range of themes, but predominantly a thread I plan to curate, “Images of Justice.”   I’m not a ‘photographer’–those are professionals.  I’m just a lawyer using a camera to tell a story.

“Boy Behind Bars” was shot at a tiny, rural prison in Uganda.  After our juvenile justice work concluded, I went back out for a final visit and brought my camera along.  It’s often too chaotic to shoot when we have 10-15 people visiting out there.  On this trip, it was only three of us, so it was calm and I could capture routine moments of the day.  I spent some time talking to these boys in the jail–many were accused of pretty serious crimes and I was locked in the cell with them for awhile.  We had a good chat and they agreed to let me take their photo.  I wanted a photo of them through the bars with the lock and I got exactly that.  I like the colors and I like the asymmetry of their positions: looking between bars, looking around bars, hands up, hands down, shirt on, shirt off.  Yet, their current conditions are the same.  Both boys were acquitted and/or released after our work.



Where Did Summer Go? Highlights from a Season Gone By

This summer was a blur–different, I would say, than any summer before.  I wanted to reflect on this summer if only for my own sake and reflect on some changes and highlights.


For me, thee big event of the summer was the May release of my book, Go & Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time.  Two years in the making, it was fun to finally see it come to fruition.  The strangest part of the experience was sharing intensely personal experiences in a public forum.  But, it’s good–the message resonated with people and, I hope, helped some.  I received messages from readers I didn’t know across the country and as far away as South America and Asia who read the book.  It’s interesting see see where a message can go.

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Village Life on the Amazon – A Photo Essay

We visited several tiny villages last week on our boat trip down Brazil’s Amazon River.  I wanted to share a short photos essay from my favorite village.

Amazon reflection

Amazon Reflection – I could not build a better movie set.  In life, I think reality rarely lives up to the mental images forming the way we hope a place looks.  When it actually, it can surprise us.  In this tiny riverside village, the scene looked like the movie set I would want to design, yet it was authentic.  It surprised me.  The sky was brilliant and wate was still.  I captured this brilliant reflection amidst some interesting boats.

Church, child, and rainbow

Abstract Church – This photo comprised a rare moment where three things I would want to photograph lined up in one shot.  At the forefront of each village, immediately after the main dock, stands a church.  Most are fairly plain, but this one had interesting abstract lines and angles.  A cool building.  Then we got a beautiful rainbow (double if you look closely).  Then, this little girl–with a pink balloon we gave her–walked right in the foreground.  I think there’s something symbolic about the church, God’s promise marked by the rainbow, and an innocent child.


The Staircase – Hills seemed rare in the Amazon.  If you saw one, you could expect a village on it–the only natural way to protect against the annual rise in the river.  This photo was the long walk, and climb, in from the dock (our boat–a floating hospital–sits at the end).


Cross Silhouette – The cross in front of the church at the forefront of the village.  I love the colors in the sky this evening.  Our boat moors at the end of the dock.

Handing out crosses

Village Kids on the Dock – I just like this angle and the colors.  It’s from the second floor of the boat looking down on the dock where dozens of kids from the village came out to see us off.  They crowded the dock climbing up on the boat and railings.


A Week on the Amazon River

This past week, Lisa and I travel to the Brazilian Amazon for a fascinating week on the Amazon River as Lisa participated in medical work in rural areas.


Our local church, Malibu Presbyterian, takes an annual trip to the Amazon River.  They load up on a large boat and head out to rural villages where medical care is thin or non-existent.  Since Lisa (a nurse) first heard about it, she’s been wanting to go.  The experience was more than we expected.

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Photos from the Amazon River Trip in Brazil

Brazil Photos are in process.  In short, we spent about a week on a medical boat traveling up and down the Amazon River.  The medical team perform performed 18 clef palate surgeries in a remote village over three days.

Here are photos from only the past two days on the river.  More coming soon!!













See the others as they come:

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Off to Brazil!

20120805-010043.jpgThis week, Lisa and I are off to the Amazon River in Brazil. We are joining a group from our church involved with a medical project in remote villages along the river. Lisa will be applying her nursing skills and I’ll be assisting her! Not sure how often I’ll be able to post–likely not for 5 days until we are off the river. More to come!


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