My friend Amine Khoury; a kind, thoughtful, gentle man of letters was telling me one fine fall morning that one of his greatest desires in life was to be able to fully share his love of his native Lebanon, especially Beirut, with the world. 


As we talked, I felt his sadness about the lack of international understanding for the city.  Sitting on his balcony far above the burgeoning populous, a gentle breeze carrying the aroma of the sea, the scents of thousands of flowers, and wafting smells of delicious cooking foods we spoke over strong coffee, wonderful Arabic bread and walnuts.  He explained that if people could just see the love, life and laughter the city contains through children’s perspectives, the world would view the city as the vibrant metropolis it is – full of life, culture, food, music, grace and style. 


Beirut is tucked tightly along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean—a city known for a long time  as the Paris of the Middle East.  As a man who made the first of at least  50 visits to Paris as a 15 year old, more than 40 years ago, I can tell you without question that the comparison fits—except I find the citizenry of Beirut far more affable and engaging than those of the French capital.

Beirut is a visually stunning place. The faces of the people are glorious.  The fashion diverse, yet consistently immaculate. From the apartments overlooking the coast, snow capped peaks are visible much of the year. It’s magic.   

There are of course the scars left by the conflict the place has endured.  Those wounds are slowly being eradicated by booming real estate construction. 

Lebanon itself is a small country, less than the size of Wales, but it’s people have had a massive impact on the history of civilization. From Byblos the ancient Phoenicians exported the alphabet making possible so many of the great literary joys and treasures the world enjoys. Perhaps the  DNA the modern Lebanese share with their ancestors  is the reason they venture far and wide sharing a marvelous sense of, well, simply embracing life with a joy, a fervor for education and the security of close companionship that is especially gained through a commonality of understanding.   

It’s clear that children have a unique perspective, one that is not clouded with bias, and they are excited to share their ideas with the world. It’s Amine’s vision, and passion, and the love for country, family—both personal and his students  that drove us to want to partner with the Eastwood College for the Beirut Through Our Eyes project. 


I’m pleased that this week, we are back in Beirut, helping nine hundred students make a film about their hometown.  Each level of the Eastwood College ranging from pre K to 12th grade will work together to document a different aspect of the city as only they can. The students will share their insights through words written and spoken, images still and moving, dance and drawing. The results of their work will be displayed in a short documentary film, and an iBook.     


Beirut Through Our Eyes is about digital citizenship. It is about teaching storytelling.  It’s about pride.  It’s about sharing. This film festival is a way for the students to spread the joys of creativity, filmmaking, and education.

I hope you‘ll have a chance to follow the progress of  the project on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags #BeirutThroughOurEyes #LiveLoveBeirut #EastwoodCollege #EastwoodSchools.





The Nebraska name game continues……

I was the keynote speaker at the Freedom Awards in Kearney, NE. on Tuesday night.  Great crowd, completely sold out.

Walking to the conference room, Laura and I were discussing how long it would be before I met someone I could play connect the Nebraska name game with.

I immediately connected with my cousin Kip, but Laura claimed he didn’t count.

At dinner, the woman seated next to me introduced herself and her husband.  Thirty seconds into our conversation, I learned my Uncle Ron married them.

After the speech more familiar faces showed up.


Nebraska, the good life.

Flying last night through a very turbulent, apparently angry sky. Or possibly one that had too much chili earlier on…


As I was indulging one of my great guilty pleasures, Garden and Gun magazine, I came across a marvelous little piece by Ace Atkins, a fine Southern novelist — even if he did play football for Auburn, that cut to the chase of what it’s been like working for Sports Illustrated for a huge chunk of my adult life.

He wrote:

“Even after writing 17 novels, I inevitably encounter people at my Alabama book events with the ragged old SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover I was on more than 20 years ago and that’s what they want me to sign.”

As it always is.


Of all the SI covers I’ve shot, these are four of my favorites mainly because the subjects were terrific.

It’s my favorite time of day during one of my favorite times of the year in one of my favorite places.


I’m sitting alongside the Platte River in Nebraska, listening to far away train whistles sliding through the crisp, clear, chill of early morning air, piercing the cacophony of calls from 500,000 Sandhill Cranes getting ready to take flight when the sun creeps across the horizon.

Sandhill Crane Migration 2015 Grand Island, NE

The water and the scene bring my thoughts to my absent friend, Bill Epperidge. Epp was one of a kind. A great documentary and sports photographer. He was the guy during some Life Magazines greatest years.



One night sitting in our Olympic Village cottage in Lillehammer, I casually mentioned to Epp that I had met Bobby Kennedy when I young.

He asked when and where. Epp had an incredible memory.  He remembered the trip and found the image of a young me in a room with a group of kids and RFK in 1967.

Bill and I became great friends in the 1980s, and I got to spend the better part of two decades with my name right next to his on the masthead of Sports Illustrated.  One of my photography heroes and a truly lovely guy.

He was a great storyteller, and a wonderful companion.

He loved fishing, and I just read a fine book, On the Water: A Fishing Memoir, that I think he would have loved.

My colleague from the Miami Herald Carl Hiassen wrote the forward.  I have huge respect for the wide range of work Carl has crafted during a long and prolific career.  Another guy who always makes me think, and smile.

It’s interesting how life takes you in small tight circles.

From the only in Nebraska department.

On our way to Gibbon Sunday night we stopped for coffee. I was paying when I heard Laura exclaim. “Katie Morrow!!!”

I figured she was getting a call from the lovely Katie, but when I turned – carefully so as to not spill the coffee – there in the doorway was Katie her own self.

Right behind Katie was Kevin, resplendent in one of our Nebraska Project T-shirts.

They were headed home to O’Neill from Seward, a distance of about 4 hours.

I know it’s rural out here, and while I realize there aren’t that many coffee shops, there are a few, and so this was a very chance meeting.

K&K are a force. One of them always has the answer for my esoteric Nebraska centric requests. So when I mentioned off hand last summer I needed a song about small town life in the state Kevin looked up from the delicious bbq we were consuming and said “I’ll bet Rachel could do it.”

Two phone calls later a grass covered, well-tanned young woman showed up at the Morrows from cutting the lawn at a town park and well, we knew instantly Rachel Price was perfect.

We soon shot a music video in a meadow outside O’Neill that Kevin arranged for us to use.

That video went viral immediately.

Rachel composed and performed the song.

Back to the coffee shop encounter. Katie casually mentioned Rachel was in Nebraska on part two of her current tour, only 175 miles distant.

After a quick online chat with Rachel—I love technology—we secured tickets to the show, to see her perform l at the Black Cow Fat Pig in Norfolk, NE.

We started at our usual time of 430 am, spent 4 hours on the Platte, photographing the crane migration.



I spoke at the Grand Island Rotary club, especially fun because in the crowd of 300 was my aunt Elsie who just celebrated her 70th wedding anniversary with my uncle Allen.  She waited until after the speech to ask me the tough questions, fortunately.

The crowd was great, these are my people and I owe them a lot collectively.

After I finished I was talking with a group of folks one of the ladies took my hand and said I remember you when you were that 8-year-old boy you mentioned in your talk.

Sure enough she had been a neighbor and had taught with my mom. That was about 50 years ago, and I remembered her as taller—then again maybe that’s because when I met her I wasn’t yet five feet tall and now I’m 6’4. Funny how that works.

Laura finally pulled me away, I’ll talk with Nebraskans all day long.  And we headed out.

It was a very pleasant drive north, farmers prepping their fields, that annual renewal of turning the frozen earth into bountiful fields bringing food to the world.  When you grow up in a farm community there is a special symmetry to this part of the year, a resignation that things are about to get really tough physically and very rewarding spiritually, knowing the importance of how the process works.
We rolled up to the BCFP—where I sadly learned there were no t-shirts available to commemorate our visit. Seriously, how can the name of the place be so awesome and…….well, I digress.

So we’re sitting at Rachel Price’s most excellent concert tonight —the woman can not only sing but she is a fine writer—and halfway through Rachel’s show her father Chuck leans across the table and said “Hey Katie Morrow, did I hear you on NPR today?”

She quietly said, “Yes, you did”

Small town Nebraska. How can you not love it?

Then yesterday we learned that the NPPA had chosen the Nebraska Project has the Second Place winner in Documentary Multimedia Package. We are honored and owe the success of the project to the people of Nebraska, and look forward to continuing the Nebraska Project this year and next.

Copyright © 2015 Straw Hat Visuals Blog.