Vision Is Better

Jan 8th

2014

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CategoryPosted in: Postcards From..., Travel, Vision Is Better

Postcards from Lalibela

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A week ago a group of us landed in Lalibela, Ethiopia about the same time as thousands of orthodox pilgrims were arriving from all over the country. We spent the last week in this high dusty town, walking among the centuries-old churches, all carved from the red rock on which this town sits, and waiting for orthodox Christmas.

Unique in ways I’ve not encountered anywhere else in Africa, Ethiopia is hard to describe to those who haven’t been, and Lalibela is even more so. After being exiled to Jerusalem by his brother the king, Prince Lalibela eventually returned to his home with the intention of building an African Jerusalem, and this town – some 2600 meters in the mountainous north of Ethiopia – was where he built it.  Churches here, all intricately carved from the rock, and joined by tunnels and bridges, are alive; they throng with life, the priests and pilgrims moving to the rhythms of a faith practiced here for many centuries. The walls are hung with tapestries, the floors covered in carpets, all of it lit from high carved windows and the odd bare bulb, placed wherever the rock allows. It’s crowded and dusty and full of mystery and humanity.

No surprise then, that I love it here. On Christmas morning we woke early to welcome the sun with the thousands of pilgrims, gathered around one of the larger churches, singing and hanging out in growing blue of dawn and the yellow of candlelight. I helped an elder pilgrim down a steep hill, only to get to the bottom and find it was he who was helping me and wanted payment for his services. From my perspective I paid an old man to let me help him down a hill. Merry Christmas. Then I sat with the masses to watch a preacher hurl his sermon into the crowd while the sun began its climb into the sky, and felt like I could have been sitting at the feet of John the Baptist, all wild-haired and full of fury. There’s nowhere in the world I’ve been that’s felt more like a journey back in time.

Coming out of one of the churches a man greets me with a smile and says something I don’t quite catch. We try a few more times and my ear keeps missing. One last try and I get: How do you like the churches? What do you feel?” Perhaps it’s just a quirk of using a language not completely his, but it catches me off guard. Not “what do you think?” but rather, “how do you feel?” I feel wonder, brother. I feel wonder.

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Dec 30th

2013

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CategoryPosted in: Life Is Short, News & Stuff, Travel, Vision Is Better

2013 Retrospective

Kenya, January 2013. It’s the nature of time to go too quickly. Maybe that’s one of the reasons photography works so well for me: in making time one of our raw materials we pay more attention to it, honouring it down to thousandths of a second, more present, more perceptive. I wish paying more attention […]

Dec 19th

2013

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CategoryPosted in: Life Is Short, News & Stuff, Vision Is Better

Christmas Presence.

In the coming days, if you’ve not done so already you’ll see all kinds of articles about making better holiday photographs. They’ll be filled with advice from the banal and obvious, to the dubiously helpful. Mostly they’ll be written to drag people to their blogs, and increase traffic, when those same people should just shut […]

Dec 13th

2013

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CategoryPosted in: Life Is Short, Vision Is Better

Space for Wonder

The other day a friend and I threw our cameras into the Jeep and drove deep into British Columbia’s Squamish River and Elaho River valleys. Temperatures were unusually low for around here and there was an invigorating chill in the air. So busy from the launch of the new Craft & Vision website, I’d forgotten […]

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