Archive for 'Travels'

Last summer my daughter Havana and I were driving along Highway 20 -- one of the prettiest stretches of Blue Highway in America -- across the top of Nebraska. Approaching Cody -- A Town Too Tough To Die -- we saw a small football field nestled between hills just outside of town. It pulled me straight in like a visual magnet. As I stepped out of the car, I was mesmerized. The air was so fresh. That giant crystal clear blue sky was littered with puffy white clouds. Gentle prairie sounds hummed all around. I walked across the field and stooped to pick a blade of the sweet long grass. I knew I had to come back in autumn. As it has been my entire life, a good chunk of my focus this fall would be football -- in Nebraska. cody It's about the game, but more about community.  Life in a little Nebraska town. My story and film about the Cody-Kilgore six-man football team is now on

My life runs in circles. Books lead to planes. And then to cameras. Then back to books and found images. Long flights the past three days. Jacksonville to San Francisco. Then San Francisco to Salt Lake City to Paris. Then Paris to Beirut. The last absorbed in Lynsey Addario's fine new work, It's What I Do. I rolled off the plane at Charles DeGaulle Airport and was greeted with massive photographic prints by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Beirut_004 One of the first books I studied as a young artist was HCB's Decisive Moment, a seminal work in the annals of photojournalism. It was just reissued after decades of being virtually impossible to find -- I bought two instantly when I found out. DecisiveMoment For many Paris is the city of love, and I certainly understand that. The art, fashion, food and history are magnificent as well. For me, it's a place to make images, to appreciate photography, and a place of writers and journalists. I was in and out of Paris quickly, not enough coffee, not nearly enough food, no love and only a few photos. Such is life on the road sometimes. The good news is that I will return, hopefully sooner than later.

Up and out to Lebanon, another of my homes. Beirut_006 In Beirut, I was greeted by Joelle, Michel, Queen, and Aimine Khoury. The Khourys are family to me and with them every day is an exercise in grace. I am well travelled to be sure but this past 12 months I've felt an extra connection to my boyhood home of Nebraska. Driving in from the airport at night Michel told me that I would have an excellent view of the city from my room, unless the windows were too dirty. He continued that it had been raining and the day before and a dust storm had blown in from Eygypt. To a rural Midwestern kid, even though I've visited 138 countries or so, that still sounded very, ummm, out of the ordinary. Beirut_002 Beirut_003 Beirut is an incredible place, to make images Beirut_001

Taking back to the skies shortly headed home to cover 500 miles of cars turning left at the Daytona 500.
Circle continues unbroken.

The annual Education World Forum began yesterday in London. The conference opened with this film we shot this time last year.

St Elphege’s Roman Catholic Infant and Junior Schools are located about 12 miles south of London. These are neighborhood schools, drawing their pupils from the London Boroughs of Sutton and Croydon. The population of Sutton is approximately 180,000 with 15.2 percent ethnic minority residents. The population of Croydon comprises 363,000 residents with 38.8 percent ethnic minority. Within the school, the proportion of ethnic minority pupils is even higher at more than 70 percent, reflecting the local community. That proportion leads to a richly varied school population, with many different first languages. The diversity provides wonderful opportunities for children to learn first-hand from different cultures, different religions, different traditions and different languages. This short film celebrates that diversity.

Yesterday was Boxing Day. Havana and I were on the bullet train bound for Osaka. We blasted past Mount Fuji.

It seems like just yesterday when she was born. One of my favorite and most important of the more than 10 million images I've made in my career happened right after she appeared.


Now her 14th birthday is right around the corner.

We're traveling through one of the places I love most, and a land she's asked to see for more than a third of her relatively short life. It's a pleasure share with her.


She's learning again how important friends are. Our first day here two friends, Karou and Rie, took time led us through Harajuku and Roppingi Hills, giving generously of their time and consideration.

Two days ago, Christmas day, Gen broke away from work and took us through the city on an itinerary he created for Havana. He's my favorite creative director and one I've worked with on four continents over the years. Talking with him always makes me quite reflective and introspective. The twinkle in his eyes always brings a slow smile.

Watching Havana navigate a foreign land is fun. When she took her first step, I was in the room.

Her first day of school I delivered her, wide eyed and excited. John Hiatt's "Circle Back" playing premonitionly on the sound system in the car. I remember thinking that the things he referenced would all happen, I just thought it would happen slower.

Which circles back to this trip.  I'm on the road, a lot by anyone's standards. When I'm home, we go for long walks and talk about our worlds.

One of the people I turn to regularly for advice counsels me that my world is vast — as is her’s — and that changes perspective, and that I especially need to pay attention to that while I am working and teaching.

I've always been on the road — I was 14 the first time I visited Europe and the Middle East. Pretty exotic for a kid from rural Nebraska.  I was hooked immediately.

Havana got a much earlier start, and I think she'll be on the move for a long time too. She was on planes regularly hopscotching the country before she started preschool. She's spent time in Paris, Zurich, Istanbul and Tokyo. She speaks regularly with friends living in Europe.  I envy her future.


I learn a lot about communicating from her.

It helps me refine my message — something that's fairly critical to a storyteller.

Directly and indirectly we talk about what's important information and what's not.  How delivery is key.  Fast is crucial. Directness is extremely important. Subtly not so much.

She's an analog girl connected digitally to the world. She reads 1,000's of pages a week of properly printed materials, makes her own greeting and holiday cards with ink and paper, and yet she lives attached to her electronic umbilical cord — her iPhone is never far from her grasp.


It's that combination of near and far, new and old, fast and slow that I'm reaching for.

LogoNP After six months of shooting and traveling around the prairie lands, I'm excited to announce the launch of Straw Hat Visuals' new artistic and storytelling endeavor -- The Nebraska Project.

To me, Nebraska is not only my birth place, but a rich terrain for the imagination and the journalist. It is a place of cowboys and poets, buffalo and meadowlarks. Often overlooked as the middle of nowhere, Nebraska is actually the center of everything, providing sustenance and grit for the country.
Some stories are small, like the 60 year romance between Rodney and Delores, and some are as big as the Nebraska sky itself.
There are many more stories to tell and ways we can together preserve and record the beauty of America’s majestic frontier.
I hope you enjoy our project and learning more about Nebraska - the land and people who make it great.

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