Weekend Photo Challenge: Home (the one to come)


scotland-grave-1

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Home“. (I put up a funny response yesterday. Today is the serious one.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about death recently. I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it’s because of that paradox of sanctification in which God grows us less by medicating us than by exposure therapy. Nothing exposes my inner-atheist like thinking about death and reminding myself of my shocking lack of confidence in the hereafter.

That’s why this prompt for this week struck me so much. Having moved a few times in my life to vastly different places, and with my parents having moved away from the last place in which I lived with them, I still don’t quite know what to call “home”.
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Weekend Photo Challenge: Home(screens) [a quick Android vs. Apple]


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Home“. Tomorrow, I’ll have a serious post on this topic but, for the weekend, I wanted to put up this fun one. Beware: people are passionate about this topic.

For my new job, I’ve been given an iPhone. The generosity of my company is wonderful, but an added benefit is that I get to compare this iPhone with my much-beloved Android phone.

Even after a week of having to spend most of my day on the iPhone, I can safely say I strongly prefer the Android. (I put up a little Facebook status to this effect and it started an amusing comment war amongst a few fanboys that I thought was pretty funny.)

At the end of the day, I know this discussion is all about personal preference and is not an objective argument. But I just wanted to post these pictures up of my two phone homescreens and ask one question:
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Love (beyond death)


grave-bw-flowers

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Love“. The real “challenge” with this theme was try and find something not cliche; something you all would find “novel” and “creative”. As I perused my pictures, though, I fell on this one and all my notions of novelty and “coolness” went out the window. I realized I had a bigger, more important story to tell about love.

I had another client die last week. In my field, this is to be expected now and then, and I’ve had a few of my clients die in the past three years, and even more clients die that I knew from the caseloads of co-workers.

This death this past week has got me thinking about my work, my clients, life, death, and, you know, all those other light and airy topics we so enjoy thinking about (yeah, that was sarcasm). And it got me remembering the photo above.

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Weekend Photo Challenge: Beyond (beauty beyond love)


scotland-glasgow-hill

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Beyond“. Basically, the challenge was to find a picture that guides the viewer’s eye beyond the primary subject of the photo. I’ve chosen the above photo.

In the summer of 2006, between the sophomore and junior years of college (when my hair still looked like this), I did a Study Abroad program in writing art, and architecture in Glasgow, Scotland. It was my first time out of the country, and my first time flying by myself. For all my youthful expressions of confidence, I was still scared.

Anyway, after getting on the plane on one of the runways of Richmond International Airport, I noticed a group of older ladies having to talk across the aisle to one another.

They were funny and loud, but in an inviting way, and not annoying, but the most distinctive thing about them was their thick, barely-understandable Scottish accents. I eventually asked them, and discovered that we were all indeed hitting the same connecting flights, and ultimately heading to Glasgow. They told me to stick with them and they’d help me navigate.

We made the flight, survived the trip, and landed in Glasgow.

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Weekend Photo Challenge: Illumination (of Richmond & my Soul)


Richmond-GrandIllumination

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Illumination“. One of the biggest benefits of this weekly photo challenge is the chance to go through some of my old pictures and bring to mind favorite memories from the past.

The picture above was taken in 2006 in Richmond, Virginia while I was in college. It was after one of my favorite Richmond traditions: the Grand Illumination.

Throughout the winter holidays, the skyscrapers in Richmond are all lined with lights, lighting up the skyline in a way that it is not during the rest of the year. These lights are turned on all at once at something called the Grand Illumination, which takes place in early December. Not only are the skyscraper lights turned on, but the annual Christmas display at the Omni Hotel is turned on also. This display has lit-up mechanical reindeer, a giant Christmas tree, and the bell tower plays Christmas music on the hour.

After watching the Grand Illumination lighting from the bridge to Belle Isle, one of my favorite spots in all of Richmond (see picture below), we drove through the streets to see everything up close. The picture above was taken around the Omni Hotel as we passed their display.

But that’s not all this made me think of…

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The Surprise of Advent: WordPress Weekend Photo Challenge


jesus-suffering-pma

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Surprise“. With Advent having been on my mind (and blog), I thought of this picture. Or rather, to be more specific, the juxtaposition of these two pictures:

jesus-asian-god-pma

On one of my trips to the Philadelphia Art Museum to fight my inner Atheist, after spending some time with that beautiful Jesus statue above (a favorite of mine), I actually walked through the other side of the Medieval Art section to enter the Asian Art section.

I’m sorry, and forgive me if you can’t relate, but Asian Art has never done it for me. I don’t know why. I can see the craftsmanship aspect to it (I guess), but the beauty part feels lost on me. And so, when I go into Asian Art sections, my “art critic” side sort of quiets down and lets other parts of me take hold.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful (humor edition) [casual fri]


Earlier this week I posted a response to this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, which is on the theme of “Thankful“. I wrote what I hope was a beautiful expression of thankfulness that I ran across in my job; I wrote about a client of mine and the slow process of healing that brings us healing in the smallest things.

With that encouragement in mind, I’d like to offer you one of the things I’m most thankful for. What is it? I’m very, very thankful I no longer have the hair pictured below, circa 2006 (for comparison, here’s a current one):

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.

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Weekend Photo Challenge: Healing Thankfulness


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Thankful“. As soon I read the prompt, I thought of this picture.

It’s a client of mine. As a social worker, I have to deal in lots of tough stories (as I’ve written about before). This particular client is an interesting one, though. She doesn’t have too much “traditional” major trauma in her life, but that which she has, mostly, is of her own doing–or the doing of her illness, rather.

You see, she has what we call a “Personality Disorder“, meaning that she’s not really psychotic, doesn’t suffer the highs of mania, nor the lows of depression, nor is she suicidal. Rather, what she struggles with the most is a psychological disease that affects her very personality. She has a child-like demeanor that can be annoying, off-putting, attention-seeking, soul-sucking, and always full of emotional drama.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Renewal“.  This here is a picture of one of my favorite rooms in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s in the medieval art section (a section which, as I’ve written before, carries much significance to my soul).

I still remember the first time I turned the corner and saw this crucifix on the wall. It’s crude, yet so beautiful. It faces another, dimly-lit room in which there is a medieval-era altar on which there was taken countless pieces of Eucharist.

The last time I was at the museum, though, I noticed a bit of symbolism I’d never noticed (and I have no idea why). This crucifix is positioned above a 13th-century knight’s tomb effigy. After spending some time in reflection near the aforementioned altar, I looked back through the arch and for the first time noticed that the gaze of the dying Christ seemed to be settling not on the museum passer-bys, but on the effigy of the dead knight before him.

The Christ’s gaze of sadness and pity no longer seemed to be for his own sufferings, but for the death and suffering of this one that lay before him. This gaze seemed to carry with it not only sadness, but also a stoic confidence that through this act, he would bring an end to this knight’s sleep.

Through this act of loss and sadness, here is a picture now of rebirth and renewal, made all the more meaningful as I took this picture from the steps of that altar, bathed in darkness, on which was consecrated and served Christ’s body, broken for our renewal and light–then, and today.

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.

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Weekend Photo Challenge: Silhouette (Autumn edition)


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Silhouette“. For this challenge, I was able to choose I picture that’s very important to me. Like I said in my previous Photo Challenge post, photography editing is still relatively new to me; but for many years now, the desire to simply take beautiful pictures has been a consistent interest.

This was certainly true for me during my time in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond is a beautiful city, but not in the grandiose way that usually marks the beauty of other American cities. No, Richmond’s beauty is far more subtle, and you find it most clearly exhibited in quiet corners and places that only residents would truly know. In fact, my first Photo Challenge picture was in this vein.

This picture was taken at the very beginning of the fall of 2005. It was my first Richmond Autumn as a resident: having conquered freshman year, there were now no more dorms or still learning the city. I had an apartment near campus and could honestly call Richmond home. The evening of this picture, I stepped outside and found myself captured by the oncoming sunset. I jumped in my car and raced to my favorite in spot in Richmond: Church Hill.

This hill looks out over the entire city (not unlike another hill that plays prominently in my life).This is the hill from which the original founders of the city laid the grid-lines for the streets. The “Church” on this hill from whence it derives its name is St. John’s Church, the very Church from which Patrick Henry proclaimed “give me liberty, or give me death!”.

I made it to Church Hill just in time to take some beautiful pictures of one of the most beautiful sunsets I ever saw in Richmond. It was one of my favorite introvert moments and captured so well the essence of my favorite times of solitude: me awash in beauty.

It was also the beginning of Autumn in Richmond, and I couldn’t help but draw my attention to the trees that were just about to peak in their transition towards death. I took this picture trying to capture the harmony and dissonance that exists when Nature is at the climax of its beauty; when darkness and death lay mere moments away.

Sorry to wax poetic, but this picture captures my own hope for my death and mortality. Even though I fear death so much, my hope is that my own death would exist in what this picture represents: the height of beauty awaiting sunrise, and awaiting spring. It’s appropriate that Henry’s words echoed from these heights, for it’s precisely in this place–and in this moment–that I precisely find liberty in death.

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.

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on blogs that begin and never start… [casual friday]


The blogging platform I use, WordPress, has a nifty feature where you can “find your friends” with blogs also on WordPress. I spent the other day doing this, and ended up really enjoying myself. It was like dropping into random time capsules here and there. I ran across blogs that many of my friends had begun, only to never write a single post. Then, some of them would come back months or years laters and express their desire to start back up again and…well…. just look at this example:
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Weekend Photo Challenge: Big


This week’s new WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Big“. (The post I put up yesterday on the theme of “Happy”, was actually a response to last Friday’s theme, today I put up this week’s new theme).

This is a picture of one of the most most interesting and unique pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen: Philadelphia’a City Hall (you can see it’s uniqueness here and here). I love that building. It is (in as serious an non-ironic of a way) so majestic.

This picture is significant not only because of it’s subject’s centrality in a city I love. It’s also the first picture I took with the now-defunct site/app Picplz (it was an Instagram competitor on Android). It’s also the first picture (that I can think of) that I ever took in downtown Philadelphia. What all that means is that this is the picture that began my love affair with urban photography and photo editing; a love that eventually spawned my Philadelphia photoblog, The Daily Philly, as well as my desire to do this very WordPress Photo Challenge each week.

So, thanks for viewing, liking, retweeting, and commenting.

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy (multi-header!) [casual fri]


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Happy“. The prompt they have offered us is to make a collage of those things that make us happy. So…here’s mine. Click on any of the pictures to bring up the full-size gallery.

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