On Jesus, ISIL, and Brokenness

Last Thursday I read reports of ISIL fighters taking over Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria. There was also some footage of people destroying artifacts in a museum in Mosul:

Being a Catholic, I was pretty bummed about the continued genocide of the Assyrians. Having received a degree in anthropology, the destruction of artifacts stung bad. Being a human on Earth, I found the entire situation untenable.

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Here’s the first photo from my conceptual art project, COLLABORATION STOCK PHOTOS, designed to recreate and propagate as many stock photos representing the word “collaboration” as possible.

Here’s the original image:

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And here’s the re-creation:

COLLABORATION STOCK PHOTO 1My approach on this one was slavish re-creation, in part because we had the models, props, and venue at the ready today. I think I may have some more abstract approaches as time goes by.

I would describe this as “happy co-workers collaborating on a fun project. One person stands and draws on a whiteboard, creatively, while two others sit and learn. They are in a bright space. Fuzzed-out  people in the background are clearly collaborating as well.”

If you find yourself in need of a photo like this, download it here in hi-res for free. It is licensed

Want to take part? Fave this tweet:

Or just show up tomorrow!


I’ve got the first shoot set for my new project, COLLABORATION STOCK PHOTOS. My goal is to recreate and propagate as many stock photos representing the word “collaboration” as possible.

I will be attending the next meetup of Connect Chicago, a group devoted to people who work to bring public computer centers, community technology centers, and digital literacy programs to the people of Chicago.

The meetup is about Assessing the Use & Impact of Free Public Computer Labs in Chicago. Sign up here, have lunch, and help me re-create these pics:

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Screenshot 2015-01-27 23.12.29 Screenshot 2015-01-27 23.11.58

Why I Take Pictures

Earlier this week, my youngest son played in his middle school basketball championship game. I got there early, and was setting up my camera. The JV game was finishing up, and it got pretty dramatic.

The game was tied at 26. The visiting team— a set of sixth and seventh graders from a small league that contains no stars, no powerhouses, with no one but their families and stray parents like me watching them— brought the ball up the court.

A kid— I do not know his name— went down the lane and lifted the ball in the air.

I was standing up, at the top of the bleachers, with my camera on my chest. Without looking, I fired off about a dozen shots.

Screenshot 2014-12-18 18.08.47

One of those shots was a moment that mattered:


They held on to win. I was privvy to a moment of consequence for a set of humans congregated in a particular place at a particular time. This is why I take pictures.


New Conceptual Art Project for 2015: COLLABORATION STOCK PHOTOS

Stock photography is abysmal.



Over the last decade or so, I have attempted to change this fact in a couple of concrete ways:

Now I have a new way: my COLLABORATION STOCK PHOTOS project. The first thing you need to know about this project is that it is always capitalized. The second thing you need to know is that you have to take part in this project in order for it to be successful!


The goal of this project is to recreate and propagate as many stock photos representing the word “collaboration” as possible. Here’s how we’ll do it:

  • We’ll find stock photos that are sold to illustrate the word “collaboration”. Here’s some at iStockphoto, Getty, and Shutterstock. The Internet is lousy with shiny happy collaboration
  • Then we will shoot re-creations of the photos on our own. Joining hands, pointing at computers, whatever it takes
  • Along the way, we might even be collaborating!

Let’s do this. Fave this tweet if you want to be a model for COLLABORATION STOCK PHOTOS.