Tag Archives: photography

Capturing the Imagination

Hillary Award Picture

Fiesta de la Trashumancia by Hillary Sturgeon

“I enjoy photography” is a better sentence, but it gives the impression that I understand something about the art, which I don’t, so I simply say, “I like taking pictures.”  That I have a decent eye for a good shot (and Instagram filters) provides some nice gets from time to time, but that’s about all I’ve got.

My youngest daughter, on the other hand, has long been light years ahead of me and can now claim that she is an award-winning photographer.

This is the eleventh year that the College of Arts & Sciences at Seattle University has hosted a photography competition titled, “Imagining the World,” and tomorrow night when this year’s exhibition opens in Kinsey Gallery, Hillary’s photograph, Fiesta de la Trashumancia, will be featured as the first-place award winner in the Study Abroad category.  I am sad to be 2500 miles away from the awards event, but I look forward to seeing the exhibit during graduation weekend since it will be on display in the gallery throughout the summer.  Hillary’s photograph will also be the cover photo for the book that is produced each year featuring all of the award-winning photographs.  I might be a little proud.

I credit our friend, Cecily, with planting the original photography seed in Hillary’s heart during her teenage years and then Malibu High School’s photography department for helping develop her talent (alongside Cecily).  Following high school, Hillary spent an entire summer in college as a photography intern in Kenya and obviously did not waste the opportunity to capture incredible moments while studying abroad in Spain.  Recently, she returned from a service trip to Mexico with some extraordinary photographs, too.

Imagining the world?  Yes, indeed.  I imagine there is more to come.

Hillary has not become a photographer by trade—yet, at least—and considers it a hobby, but unlike her proud dad, she knows what she is doing.  I like taking pictures, but Hillary enjoys photography.

image in spanish department

On Display in the Spanish Department (Seattle University)


Jeremiah’s Joy

My daughter, Hillary, is in the middle of a summer photojournalism internship in Kenya and recently published her first blog post and set of photographs.  First off, she didn’t have to show up her dad by out-blogging him on the very first post, but what can you do with these millennials?  And second, her photographs are simply stunning.

With no actual reason, I immediately set out to narrow the 150 pictures to my favorite one.  This proved impossible.  There are several that feature little kiddos that are just too awesome.  Like, for instance…


But my quest continued, and I succeeded in identifying two photographs that go together in my opinion to tell a powerful story.

As its website explains, “[t]he mission of Made in the Streets is rescuing children from the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs, loving them fully, equipping them to earn a living and sending them out to a new life.”  It is a beautiful thing to observe firsthand, and what is full of beauty are the children.

Now don’t be mistaken.  This is not some make-believe world where staff members ride in on unicorns and pick up innocent children off puffy clouds and ride off on rainbows while angels sing.  No, it is messy work, and these children have seen and done and had done to them terrible things.  But what is striking when hanging out with these rescued kids are their good hearts in spite of such a painful past.  Their smiles are contagious.  Their basic human dignity is unmistakable.

Which is why I narrowed down my daughter’s works of art to two particular photographs.  The first is of a young man still living on the streets, and I love this particular picture because his smile betrays that good heart although he remains in the frightful streets of Nairobi.


But there is a second picture that in my mind completes the story.  It is Jeremiah, the first student I met on my trip earlier this summer.  Jeremiah is a big boy, close to my height and twenty times stronger.  He could be intimidating, but he is just the opposite—a kind, thoughtful, funny, tender young man.  Jeremiah sits in the front row of his classes and is an eager learner.  He likes to act in drama productions.  He is a good friend to many.

Hillary took a picture of Jeremiah being silly, and I absolutely love it because at one point Jeremiah was that young man in the other photograph, living in abject poverty but with a smile that betrayed his good heart I’m sure.  And the “after” photograph powerfully shows Jeremiah’s joy.


(And, I can’t help but say it given the title of my entire blog, I love that he is looking up.)

Pictures. Or, How Instagram Might Unwittingly Save Our Collective Soul.

I blog, tweet, share, post, connect, friend, update, and everything else related to social media, so my occasional rant about how technology may be destroying the world comes with zero credibility.  If we’re all going down, at least I am on the train with everyone.  It is bad enough that for many of us “work” and “email” are now interchangeable concepts, but my greater concern is that “social media” and “life” might follow suit.

I immediately understood Facebook.  And LinkedIn.  And blogging (via my friend, John Dobbs).  And, with a little effort, Twitter.  But Instagram confounded me.  I found it Instaweird.  But like a sheep with a Smartphone, I signed up, and now, surprisingly, think Instagram might represent hope for the future—simply because it is all about pictures.

My interest in photography came late because, well, we were poor, and listen closely boys and girls, it used to cost actual money both to purchase film AND develop the pictures.  When digital cameras arrived on the scene, I joined the revolution.  After splurging on a clunky camera, sets of rechargeable batteries, and a bag large enough to carry small pets, I was free to take as many pictures as I wanted without the worry of paying for multiple reminders of my terrible skills.

In that glorious freedom, I started venturing to new places—just to take pictures.  There was no rule that said I couldn’t enjoy nature or a park or festival or sunrise without a camera, but there was something about capturing a place or moment in a photograph that led me out into the world on adventures that simply wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

This is why I have Instahope.

At least, given the terrible development of living our lives heads down staring at a screen, Instagram encourages us to venture into the world to see what there is to see.  Sure, after we take a picture, we stare at that silly screen to fret over filters and tags and the like, but at least we are there, occasionally looking up.  And that is something.