Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blog Roll Addition: John Densky

This past summer, I had the pleasure of meeting John Densky, a freelance photojournalist based in London, ON and Montreal. I added his site to the blog roll. In two days I learned a lot from John, and it is possible we may collaborate in the future. Hooking up with John and Larry Towell at the Home County Folk Festival on the same weekend was amazing ... I remember being ecstatic afterwards, telling my wife that "this was one of the best weekends of my life." She was glad, and I was glad she didn't ask "better than the weekend we got married?" LOL ... Thanks, sweetie!

It's not fair, but here is the "fearless" Densky, photographing a giggling daughter ... Giggling because of what her camera will capture on self-timer. Peace.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Living by the Sydenham River

When I worked at University of Western Ontario, one of the residences was Medway-Sydenham Hall. Sydenham was taken from the Sydenham River, which winds its way through SWO (Southwestern Ontario), with its source near London, emptying into Lake St. Clair.

The previous blog entry about growing junk food had additional impact because not only do I know the area somewhat, but one of my favourite photographers, Larry Towell of Magnum, lives close to the Sydenham in Lambton County.

Larry Towell
Home County Folk Festival
London, ON
July 2009

I met up with Larry at the Home County Festival in London this past summer. It wasn't planned; he, his wife and a son just happened to be there. I had attended the first festival 35 years ago and hadn't had the opportunity since. It turns out Larry and Ann have been attending ever since I left London in 1977.

If you don't know Larry's work, a "gentle" way to get into it is his marvelous book The World from My Front Porch. There you will find, through Larry's excellent writing as well as his photographs, the attachment his family has to the land near the Sydenham. Juxtaposed with the junk food article, the images of Larry's children growing up in an idyllic setting where they used to be able swim in a Sydenham before it became sick and unfit slam home the awful and sad reality of a junk food society.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eating ourselves (and the planet) to death

As cheap food has proliferated (i.e., junk food), obesity has increased, overall health decreased, and the environment suffers. That is not news to anyone, and no one who is informed and "in their right mind" would deny it. The god of cheapness is a lie, but it is an idol far too many choose to worship.

Today the Toronto Star published part 1 of a 3-part series ... Where We Grow Our Junk Food. The significance of this piece is not just its content, but also the incredible writing itself. It is so well structured, with clarity of writing that I asked myself, "Who is Margaret Webb?" It turns out Margaret Webb has impressive credentials (the photo is NOT from the farm outside Barrie where she grew up ... there are no mountains near Barrie ... Blue Mountain is more like "Blue Bump"!) and no doubt seeking out more of her work will be rewarding.

Growing up in the US Midwest where corn and beans are king, I am all to familiar with the denial that exists when vested interests are confronted with the disaster of cheap food. Not only do the agribusiness royalty not cotton to having their empires threatened, but the spin-off economies are substantial. Of course, a sane food policy would be even better for the everyone, but who can envision that when they were blinkers?

I have two nephews on my wife's side, one of whom is really, really angry, mostly about the state of the world. His Facebook wall is covered with anti-government, anti-authority, anti-Obama rants. While I could discuss contrary views with him, it struck me that what is really important is the anger itself ... and that instinctively he knows that the system is really screwed up ... the whole agribusiness/cheap food/advertising conglomerate is one of the subsystems that is killing people and putting our future at risk. What is unfortunate is that like a lot of people of his age (18-ish), he has not had the rearing and training to handle the anger itself, to translate the anger into positive energy. I don't blame him for that.

Perhaps this type of well-written piece can help provide a foundation for action for him and others.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not Just Zuiko/Olympus

Konica Hexanon AR 40/1.7.