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What photos of children on a beach should look like…

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Today I received my film from our annual family trip to the beach, which included four rolls filled with images of my two boys (ages 3 and 1) and their cousins running on the sand and swimming in the ocean.

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At the same time I am looking at photos of my three-year-old on the beach, the world is furiously debating a very different photo of a three-year-old boy on the beach: the photograph of Aylan Kurdi’s tiny body in a bright red T-shirt and dark shorts, face-down in the surf.

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Aylan, his 5-year-old brother, Galip, and mother, Rehan, 35, were among 12 people, including other children, who died after two boats capsized while attempting to flee their war-ravaged homeland, Syria.

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To hear the little boys’ father talk about what happened in the ocean and how he tried to save his sons is unbearable. I feel a sadness for him I did not know was possible before having my own kids.

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If there is any comfort that can come to the father of Aylan, hopefully it is that because of the photograph of his three-year-old son dead on the beach, the world is now finally paying attention after:

  • four years of armed conflict
  • 200,000 deaths
  • more than 4 million refugees, mostly women and children,
  • and an estimated 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, including 5.6 million children, according to the UN.

What if the photo of this one sweet boy washed up on the beach can help save the 5.6 million other children who are still living in danger?

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What if everyone who saw that photo of little Aylan on the beach signed a petition to allow more refugees in their country and sent a donation to nonprofits who are on the ground working to help refugees?

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So in honor of Aylan Kurdi, I have signed a petition and sent a donation, because I want to live in a world where the only photos of little boys on the beach look like this…paigegreenBeach09022015-000074240006To learn more about how you can help the migrant crisis please click here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/28/world/iyw-migrant-how-to-help/

 

A one year old… one year later…

The photo above was sweet Sydney last year, when she was just a year old. As a one-year-old, Sydney just sat and smiled with her big blue-green eyes at the rapidly spinning world around her and at anyone who happened to pass by.

And one year later… this is the same big-eyed girl, as a two year old…

This year, when I had the camera out, the only photos I could get without her hiding her face behind her hands, were when she was looking through her mom’s purse, or sneering at me for interrupting her.

Even swinging her around, until she was laughing uncontrollably and too dizzy to walk, she still held her newly shy hand up to her mouth.

But finally, with quick and sneaky persistence… I eventually got the photo of the big-eyed girl I was looking for.

The same kid on the same bike… one year later…

Above, is Hudson at his third birthday party, on his brand new bike. This photo was taken on medium format film.

Below, is Hudson after his fourth birthday, standing a little bit more confidently and a little bit taller. This photo was taken with my 35mm digital.

I wish I could say I planned this series… but both photos just happened, because if you want to photograph Hudson then this is what Hudson does at age 3 and 4. We’ll see what he is doing next year.

The Difference Three Years Can Make….

When I took this photo of my friend Juliet, almost exactly three years ago, it was hard to even imagine how much all of our lives were going to change. We had no idea who that little human inside her belly was going to be, let alone who the the next one was going to be, or that in three years they would move out of this house and Arann and I would move in. Life moves so fast and sometimes you don’t even realize how much things change until you stop and look back.

Town Hall in Reidville, SC

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This is Sandra Gowan, the town clerk, and Mayor Gene Snow. And in Reidville, the fight is on and they are begrudgingly leading the fight because the fight involves the “Z” word…..zoning.

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Reidville as it has been known for over 200 years is on the brink of being swallowed by subdivisions. Countryside lost. People are upset. No one wants change but no one wants zoning laws. In this county people want to be left alone. Do not try and tell someone what to do with their land…..but don’t put a subdivision next to my house either…..we want to keep the cows……but we want the right to claim the money that we can get for selling our land. The nation is in a housing crisis, but not in Spartanburg County. Developments are popping up on every corner. The old people are dying and the kids are selling.

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It is a common story but in Reidville, the fight is on.

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