August 20th, 2018 … A Walk Thru The Shadows in the Valley of Death

…. I know, it’s bloody hot and I’m sweating my ba…back off. I look at Polly and she’s in shorts, a crop top, and Asian flats. Her long hair is bone dry. Meanwhile, I’m hot and sweating and wearing shorts and a Vet Tee Shirt, all cotton. We both have our Leica’s and I’m with Andre’ the M240. Polly has the unnamed M10, pity. We are walking to the Art Museum and we see a dead cat on the street. She looks like yuch. I start thinking, here’s a woman that can cut a person open and hold their heart and life in her hand and not even think yuch. A dead cat and she has tears. We sit on a bench cause we are tired and need a rest. we all know that I could go on for hours walking but Polly being younger needs a break. So not to make her feel some kinda way, I start breathing heavier and ask for a break…

I asked her why she was so upset about the cat and fully understood that I would get a proper answer. Polly tells me that, “every single cell of life ever born is a part of us. We are attached to all things living. When someone or something dies, we have a loss within us. We don’t always feel that loss because at the very instant death presents itself, life grants a new being to be borne. We don’t always pay attention to this phenomenon, but we live it nonetheless.” I put my arm around Polly’s shoulder and asked her…  Polly, do you really believe all that? She said no Don, not at all…….I live it. She asked me, you have a wealth of knowledge about photography, and life….do you believe it? I looked her straight in the eyes, no luv, I live it. She grabbed my hand and said, let’s go, old man, we still have a ways to go.


Polly told me her younger, 28,  brother was coming to the USA because he wants to be a TransGender. She told me that he wants to stay here and of course get the money from Polly for the transition. She wanted my opinion. Well, Polly, ya know each one of us gets one life. The choices we make in life set the course of our journey. It also sets in motion how we and our life affects the others we come in contact with. We are responsible for all that we touch in the world. I know that many TransGenders commit suicide. Many Vets do the same, like 22 a day, every day always. It is said that PTSD moves a soldier to that direction. The Soldier needs help to discover a single reason to stay alive. Not many reasons, but 1 single reason and with help, that may turn to 2 reasons. Believe me, 1 reason is a lot. 2, is a gift.


I wonder if a son says to his dad, I want to be a transgender. I imagine that the dad would be freaked out. His on with tits and a girls ass, etc. What would his family and friends think? Dad prolly thinks, what did I do wrong. So the son walks around feeling like something is missing in his heart. He joins the service cause that’s a manly thing to do. The son wants to be the man his dad will be proud of and becomes a grunt. Maybe he gets deployed to Afghanistan. Maybe after some time, he gets wounded, or his legs off or maybe he dies defending his teammates and his country. His dad gets a Flag and a letter explaining how proud the country is of his son’s service and how he’s a hero and dad should be proud of his son. After the funeral and dad is sitting in his favorite chair, where he used to hold his son and make him feel loved, and special, I wonder if being a TransGender would be so terrible. I wonder if there’s anything in existence that dad wouldn’t do to hold his son in his lap again.


To me, this seems like a waste of lives. The son dies for what he believes in but not everything he believes in or what believes in him. Dad gets to think and feel about the loss of his son for the rest of his life. Probably looks at me and squeezes my hand and says,” thanks”. I don’t want my brother to die but he will never see my family again. He will be forbidden. I look at her intently and ask, and you, how will you deal with him? She says she loves her brother and will do all to support him. She asks is that right Don? Polly, maybe he will need help with woman’s clothes. Polly pushed me and laffs out of control. That might be fun. My sisters and I always dressed him in our clothes and made him our living doll.


People have the right to be whom they feel they are and even to change. I’m a firm believer of that. I’m also a believer that if you’re a pedophile., murderer, rapist etc, maybe you have the right to be that but we as a society have the right to terminate your existence.

You may be any member of the LGBT community and the society that criticizes and condemns you also has the responsibility to respect you. What does this have to do with photography? Well, I’ll speak for me. Photography is about life and life is about photography. They call the mainstream photography “Street”. It is, no doubt but the true definition of street is “Life.” Acceptance of someone or something that is not agreeable to us is difficult and many can’t do it or fathom another that can. Polly’s brother will no doubt have a nice life here in the USA. His sister is the purest heart I have ever experienced in my life. She obviously will nurture him and make his life mean something. The sad part is, his brothers and sisters and parents and family and friends in Japan, will only ever see him thru Polly’s photos.


I went to the course of this blog because Polly is a dear friend. She needs me to help her find the peace that she wants and her brother also. A lot of youse will say, shooter, what’s up with all this gender stuff? I’ll tell ya what. Many of you are soldiers, photographers, teachers, friends whatever. If my heart ever decides it’s had enough, I want Polly to be the one that is at my rescue.

15 thoughts on “August 20th, 2018 … A Walk Thru The Shadows in the Valley of Death”

  1. A very thought provoking post Don. I feel sorry for Polly. If she doesn’t help her brother she’ll feel bad. If she does help him go thru with the whole Trans thing and he ends up committing suicide she would feel terrible and her family may blame her for helping him. A complex situation. Looks like your role is to just support her in whatever decision she makes.
    Some great images here Don. Take care out there!

    1. Dave, you are exactly right about the situation. I will have her read your comment shortly. It’s the truth of truths.
      Good Light my friend.

      1. It seems that the safest position for Polly and her brother to establish is that they both individually and collectively own and share the solution to this dilemma; through this shared ownership, hopefully, compassion, understanding and acceptance is instilled, secured, and exercised by other members of the family. There’s no easy predictor of what the future holds for all concerned because life is fluid and dynamic, but it is sincerely hoped the whole family come to own and share the safest outcome being sought by their family member that’s most affected by the issue and it’s solution. In sum, the whole family need to take ownership, both for Polly and her brother …

        1. Sean, you’re a highly trusted friend. I will have Polly read the comments and maybe it will help guide her. Of course, there’s a lot I didn’t put in the post but, enough to get the story underway.
          Thanks as always….
          cheers, Don

  2. Just subscribed – glad I did. Former Philly guy, Drexel ’67. Thanks for sharing your images and thoughts, best wishes to Polly & her brother. Going to try your 7′ rule for Color Skopar 21mm on X-Pro1.

    1. Bob, Thanks for everything. The 21mm Skopar is a great lens and the X-Pro is close to the finest camera made. I’ll write again soon and try to keep it going again.
      Take care….

  3. We have one life. We should all feel comfortable in our skin, no matter what. Brother, son…transgender, we all need the love of family. Think how much, how many problems could be solved. Love of family. Love.

    1. Keith, it’s easy for you because you have a son that loves you and you love and you spend time with him like a father friend. Love of family, I think Polly’s brother lacks that in his life. Of course, I didn’t expose all and maybe in a later post, I’ll tell more. I can tell you this, Polly told me that if brother goes thru with this, he’s banished from the family forever. Your a man of character and love and Ethan is about as lucky a boy as ever was.
      Namaste’ Keith

        1. Keith, I agree completely. These are people that when the eldest daughter married a Black Man, a Sailor from Ohio, they will not see the daughter or grandchildren. It’s only been 11 years.

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