Category Archives: Philosophy of Street

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.

June 10th, 2018 … Thoughts on Seeing … Inside and Out … Lesson from Minor White

There are a few ways to see photographically. I’m just gonna touch on a few of the most important that I know.  So shall we break this down to:

Seeing the reality in front of us … or seeing the reality in our mind. They are not one and the same and no camera ever invented can join or translate the two and get the desired result.  So, what becomes the issue for us as shooters? I can speak for me and I see things kinda like this.

If I get an idea in my mind and wish to make it come to birth as a print, (I use that term loosely) … it could be said that I had a pre-visualization.  Ansel had a method of pre-visualization that back in the 60’s and 70’s served to isolate most large format shooters from small camera shooters. The idea was to tune everything you know at the precise moment of exposure, how the end result would be. You could see  the image in your mind’s eye and you worked methodically to make the image as visualized in the mind. I did all that. I got everything so precise that it became routine for me to make photos. Remember that song, “Along comes Mary”?

Well along comes Minor. I went to a workshop with a friend and ya know, it was cool. I was still under the mental and emotional influence of Nam. At that point in my life, I didn’t really care about too much. Minor was leaning back on a tree and a few gutsy people sat around him. He had a presence about him that was very spiritual. I am pre-visualizing about photos of Minor and just letting my mind take hold of the situation. A young woman came over and told everyone that a class was getting ready to start. Everyone but Minor went to the class. Minor leaned back against the tree and I stood there just looking around. It was just the 2 of us there. I looked at Minor with respect and a kind of reverence but no fear. I would never no fear my entire life to this very moment. I remember Ding showing me Minor’s works and he had a kind of stillness about him. It was like Ding felt he was in the presence of something otherworldly and he passed that on to me. Ding asked me how I felt about Minor’s works and I said, it’s like Minor’s images are from a place inside him that he taps into. He has a resevour of energy and love and is capable of making the images with that source instilled in them. Ding patted  me on the back and I immediately understood that the sourse was Minor’s heart.

Minor asked me to sit and we started to talk. He asked me”How’s life”? I told him I left it in Nam. That was a gateway answer. We started talking about the military and he wanted to know about every second of my experience in Nam. His eyes peirced my soul with intensity. Then I directed the conversation to photography. I said, Minor, I’d really like to talk just about photography. He said I thought that’s what we were doing. (ya ever see a dog look at you and tilt his head from side to side? that’s what was happening to my mind.) Minor said, what do you think photography is? I couldn’t answer. He told me, from this moment on, photography is about your life. It’s about some people that read you and understand you. You have to find the photos that you believe in. Many won’t cut the grade but regardless, they are all from your heart. In time, hopefully, you will learn to see from the heart and see from the mind and then to understand the difference. Minor said Ansel made photos that were representative of the subject matter. This is natural because he captured the beauty of the natural landscape. Steiglitz made photos that were representational and also that were as he called them, equivalents. I see making photographs as making them for their own value. For me, the photograph is it’s own life, separate from the subject matter. It is it’s own personal reality.

I told him I was an advocate for Ansel’s Zone System. He smiled. He asked me if I liked working so methodically and pre-planned. I said I didn’t really know another way to think and work. He looked at me like I imagine an Angel would look at me. Really seeing my heart and total worth as a human. Then he grabbed my head and shook it and said dump all that shit in there down the toilet. I was at a loss. He then placed his hand on my chest over my heart and told me, that is all that matters. I told him I didn’t really understand. Minor said you can think your way thru life and maybe find a rewarding end. You can FEEL your way thru life and then, there is no question. The answer you seek will be in the images that you Felt with your heart. That I understood. I never saw Minor again but he’s got a space in my heart and mind for all time.

Interlude, The Portrait

I asked Minor if I could make a portrait of him. He agreed but said he had one stipulation. That was that, I never show the photo to anyone, ever. I took that lightly and made the portrait. I used a 4×5 and processed the negative. When it was dry, I showed it to him. He loved it and said, you caught me. I was proud. Then he said, we have a pact together correct? I looked him in the eyes and immediately understood the intent, in a way I never did before.  I told him I will never ever show the portrait to anyone. As I was bgetting ready to drive back to Philly, Minor took my hand in his and grasped it between both his hands. He said, I hope you find peace in this world. My dad died when I was 6 years old. I kinda felt that Minor had some of him inside him. It was like I had tears fom my heart and Minor found a way to let me cry without anyone else knowing. We did our farewells and the last words he said to me was…”The Pact”.

The reason I told ya’s about this is: I became acutely aware of the word INTENT and some intrusions on it. In my mind, there exists a difference between B&W and Color. Not just in the spelling of the words but the real meaning associated with each. I suppose I have adopted and implemented the B&W in my work. I was never really attracted to color and maybe there are some reasons not entirely my own. None the less, I have lived other shooters ideas about things and made some of that my own. Remember Minor telling me about the HEART? Well, I didn’t always pay attention but something was brewing inside It wasn’t a craft beer either. I started to wonder about the photos from my mind’s eye and the photos from my heart. The real issue I wanted to discover was the actual combination photos of the mind and heart. Was I perceptive enough to spot anything remotely associated with either? I asked that question over 45 years and never understood the answer clearly. What I taught in class was…..when viewing your photos, can you recall the precise moment of release and all that was there with you at that time? See, there are many things to confuse the intent of your heart and or mind. See how I went right into color vs b&w, without notice? Well, that’s how it works. Exterior stimulus with effect the inner workings of out heart and mind. We need to have the knowledge that something is happening here, what it is isn’t exactly clear.

Ya know about those pre-conceptions I mentioned? Well, they don’t come from you, they come to you. They instill their rubbish into your heart and your work. They are the poison that others send to you and … us, without the ability to stand for and with our work, will fall prey to the effects of those preconceptions. Is this heavy doo doo? sure it it so get your camera and get your butt out there and make photos. Just stay focused on the 2 main ways of seeing, The Heart and The Mind.

Ya know, maybe it’s also about working for you or for them…hmmmm

… with an open heart and an open mind. I always believed and taught this concept. It’s actually the sword to carry thru life. Afterall, basically, it covers any situation you may come across.

June 9th, 2018 … Work vs Work … Living With some of the Inverse Square Law

…. no, sorry I disagree and it’s my class. Listen, the more you do for your self, the less acceptable images you’ll really love. The more you do for work, or business whatever, the less rejections you accept and the less satisfaction you get. The reason is, the photos represent money and other things. So you become more attuned to the client and perhaps less attuned to your own feelings about what your doing.  This is natural and in no way lessens the intent of what you apply yourself to. The real question I have struggled with is, the difference between work and work. Meaning, work for myself for esthetic and joyful reasons and work for clients. I’m told by many pro shooters that they actually make no distinction between the 2. La dee da, good.  For me there is a marked difference. Olivier calls it mindset. Maybe he’s right and I mean sometimes he’s right about things we do for Inspired Eye. Let’s not give him too many props cause he’s young and it will go to his head and I will never hear the end of it.

I tend to think it’s INTENT. I know I know, I’m always talking about intent. Maybe my intent on this is to get clarity on the intent of work and work. shooter flashback…. a safe one and approved by the VA. Decades ago I was doing weddings and events. I made out ok because it wasn’t my principle source of income, altho, it was nice to have extra money and know that it was extra.  The thing is, that after about a year of doing this stuff, I started to feel a lack of love and JOY for photography. Really, I also felt a lack of joy for my life. Now that’s a common feeling for Vets and I damn sure don’t take it lightly and neither should the Gov’t. Luckilly I knew the difference between my dis satisfaction of life and from my photgraphy.  It was PTSD before they invented it.

Be forwarned and enlightened… the USA there are about 22 Veteran suicides daily. These are the ones that succeeded and not the ones that didn’t. So now the number climbs to a number our politicians should be ashamed of. The disgrace is that they don’t feel ashamed.

….back to the wedding stuff. I was shooting 2 Leica’s, one with color and one with B&W. The stress of working an event with film is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, even a senator, well not all but some. I noticed rapidly over the course of time that I was WORKing and making money but my personal WORK was falling to the wayside. The crazy thing was, that I was doing basically the same things as my personal work. Darkroom work, the same cameras, my same eye and vision, so what was eating at me? I decided to simplify this in a way. I started to do B&W only and make the negatives in my darkroom and then contact sheets. I would give them all to the client. This was a relief because I wasn’t bogged down. I was getting around $1500.00 per event and that was in the early 80’s. Funny thing was that I was getting the same money and I started to just shoot the event and hand the client film. Wallah, done, finito.

I was anylizing the situation very closely. I mean the event stuff was financially satisfying. My personal work was satisfying to my heart and soul.  I started to want to stop the event work because money damn sure ain’t everything. There was a lack of feeling of life in me doing that stuff. Look, I speak for me knowing others are covered in this but I ain’t naming names. I haven’t felt connected to anyone since I came home from Nam. I am detached with my heart and soul. I like to believe myself that I love my kids and family and friends etc. I can say it but mostly, inside, I don’t understand the feelings. Maybe they are normal but to me, it’s all messed up cause I’m destroyed emotionally and mentally.

Knowing this back in the day forced me to stop event work and all money shoots. Quickly I started to do my personal work and I started to feel alive again. Alive means that I started to feel value as a human being. Maybe not to others but to me and I knew that I am alone even around others. I know I will exit stage left and be alone. It’s ok, not afraid to die for real, living scares the shit out of me. So what does this all have to do with WORK vs WORK? I kinda feel that if your reading this, I don’t need to explain.

The beauty of life is in the intent of living. The beauty of living is in the assisting and helping of others. If we can be a beacon of light for others and to guide where and when we can, perhaps this is the key to a healthy life and a healthy mind. What does this have to do with photography? Well, if you get this then you understand, bless you. If you don’t really understand, then I will try to explain if you reach out. Others will help if need be.

So, the moral of this story, the moral of this song, is that one should never be where one does not belong. (Dylan) So I think Linda is right. Maybe I have made my personal work into work work. Maybe others have also. Maybe that’s good and maybe not. All I know is that there is something missing from my photography. Linda thinks it’s the acceptance of JOY. Maybe she’s right. I mean I need to listen to youth because they haven’t been shattered as us oldens.

If you go out to do anything at all and you have a focused intent, doesn’t matter if you accomplish what you set out to do or not. What matters is the realization of the JOY of doing.

I know I went off here but maybe I had too.  Just remember my friends, go where you want and do what you want, just don’t forget to smell the flowers along the way and make sure you feel your heart beating.


May 18th, 2018 Rain Dancing With Walker the Fuji X-Pro2 … The 2 Button Rule For Street

There is a camera strap called the ARTISAN AND ARTIST ACAM-E25R. I use it with some cameras and especially Walker the Fuji X-Pro2. Great strap and great camera. The thing is, the 2 together have a sense of humor. Oh yeah, they do. See, I have Walker on the strap around my neck. It’s raining out and Walker is a trooper for the bad weather. So we be waking and a shooting and then all the sudden, I look at the screen and it’s in multiple shot mode. This is a post coffee incident. So the freak out point is reached quickly. I’m panting and losing my cool, don’t have much to start with but what I have is boiling over. I like my screen to be b&W. I’ll explain some reasons later but Walker and the un named camera strap have had another laff because i see the screen is in color and also I’m shooting in jpeg because the camera is now in multiple-exposure mode.

Now we all know that a camera strap can’t really talk to us but surely can communicate. You ever have a neck ache or shoulder ache from a camera on a strap? Well, that ache and pressure is from the strap, not the camera. If you communicate with things other than living matter, you know that the strap is saying…. damn dude, this camera is heavy and I’m not digging to have to have it on me. So, because you think less of me because I’m a strap, I’m gonna pass along some pain to you. See that guy down there at the end of your arm?   He’s the hand guy and he can hold your camera named or unnamed with or without a strap. Do it and I’ll stop hurting your dumb ass.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand ummm, errrr  issue hanging around. See, the buttons on the back of Walker the Fuji X-Pro2  will change as you walk or whatever. It doesn’t take much of a press to get a nice intrusion in the groove of working.  TWO THINGS THAT ARE A MUST DO WITH THE FUJI CAMERAS.

First, set the camera up the way you want to work. Then set the AF box where you want it. Ok, good….now carefully and paying full attention to the screen….press the joystick in straight and then you will see it is locked in position. The AF box will not move against your side or chest whatever. Press again and it releases the lock.

Second, press and hold the OK button until you see the LOCK on the screen.  Now most buttons with a sense of humor are locked.  The ones that are nice don’t need the lock so you can still access them. You can work without much aggrevation. Press and hold the OK button again and the UNLOCK is shown.

This info is available all over by many photographers. I post this because most here are shooters and have no time to get technical with cameras. They just want to work. (pre button lock experience) Walker decided to change my vision from B&W to Color. I did not ask him to do this. I think he felt I needed to analyze my intent. Oh, before I go any further, I have been known as a Camera Whisperer for some time. How else do ya’s think I can name my cameras and talk with them? Walker is not only one of my partners in photography, he’s also one of my patients and I his.

I’m standing on 10th Street and Market and just breathing. See, Walker decided I need to do color and he changed himself to make me do and see color. I see the screen in color and, well decided, maybe he’s right. Besides, I just wanted to work and knew I could have a chat with him when we got home.

station break but not commercial……. Walker and many cameras can make me think about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it and why I’m doing it. That’s exciting, or is it? Andre’ the Leica M240 is the opposite. I can take him out day after day and never ever see any changes on the camera. If i make a change, ok but Andre’ never ever does, or does he? Perhaps Andre the Leica M240 makes the changes in the most important manner. They seemingly go unnoticed.

See, the Inverse square law, (invented by my great great grandfather, cobble street shooter) says that more is less and less is more. So, he noticed that the digital cameras of the time, I think 1492 cause he documented the arrival of Columbus, had so many features that he needed to think less cause the camera did more. He met a young lad named Oscak Barnack and asked him, Oscar, can you make a camera with less functions that need to be changed and just let the camera work with the HEART of the shooter and not just the mind.

So, Oscar thought what a novel idea and set forth to make a camera to Cobble Street Shooters ideas. Oscar made the camera. No, not just a camera. He made a camera that for all time would place the heart of the shooter in the foreground and always make sure that the process of vision and feeling would override every other intrusion.


The reason that this story is not widely known is because even tho my Great Great Grandfather had great cameras, there was no film invented yet or sd cards. Unfortunately, we dont’t have any records of his work but he sure enough inspired Leica.

Little know tale….. I need to write more about the idea and application of Color vs B&W and i will start that post now and send it before the weekend is over.

April11th, 2018 Ownership


Do we really ever own anything? I don’t think so. We don’t even get to own our mindset. My mind tells me that I may leash a pet. It might obey me and like me and want to serve me. I am the owner and as such I decide what the pet will do to serve me. I will not set it free because I own it. I have ownership rights.

Many years ago when I was young my grandfather gave me an Estwing 16oz nail hammer. The metal was tarnished and the head was shiney from all the nails Pop banged down. I could feel and smell pop’s sweat on the leather. Years passed by and a Pop died but I still had his hammer. I loved this hammer and became very attached to it. I owned my grandfathers hammer. When I retired I put my tools in the garage and the hammer, I threw it into a drawer where it rest after a long life of hard work. That tool and others served me faithfully for most of my adult life. Yup,that tool was great.


I often wondered why with all the meaning and use that hammer and I worked, why is it in a drawer in the garage. Well, it’s a tool. Maybe it has a name it’d it’s functional but it’s a tool. It’s a tool because I own it and say it’s a tool.

Ok, so what’s with this ownership thing shooter. Aight, here’s my thoughts and they are my thoughts and I own them. There’s a musician that’s kinda well known. He sang a song and part of it is kinda like this….”If you love someone, set them free”. I think his name is Sting, maybe.

I think on the path to becoming a human we need to set our heart and mind and eye free. Sure we can attempt to control it all but that would mean the brain is running the show. The brain is  the translator and distributor of everything that comes into the body. We could say that the brain has the rights of control of everything in our body. If the eye, heart and mind are not free than all we see from our work will be the results of brain ownership.

I need to continue this in the next day or two. I just got a message from shooter central processing that my brain is taking the rest of the day off.

Ill be back fast with the work vs work thoughts, have a blessed day everyone ………..

……….end transmission……….


March 27th, 2018 … The Streets … Casual Encounters

Try as I may, I can never figure out how the visual weather effects my work. I get all excited and have a plan and location to work and the minute I get on the bus, I can’t remember my name. Another good reason to name your camera and keep it as a friend. Here’s something that happened a few weeks ago.

I had 9 people in a Saturday morning lecture. Suzanne and Polly and 7 others. They start passing prints around so we all can see what’s going on. Then Brant and that’s his name, starts sitting back in the chair, taking deep breaths and says the remark that puts rocket fuel up my butt. “I’ve seen that a 1000 times.” He looks at some more prints and makes remarks like the previous and like, “you have a good eye, you just can’t see with it.” Then Suzanne hands him some prints and he glances to me as he starts looking at her prints.

So Brant starts making commments and again states, “I’ve seen this 1000 times.” Suzanna kicks my leg under the table to come to her defense but I was anyway without the reminder. So I ask the group to turn the prints upside down and to eliminatte distractions so we can chat. So I ask a question to Brant.

Brant, do you have any books around. Have you ever seen books in a store, a shelf, a library or anyplace? He looks at me in his A-Typical smug fashion. Of course Don, I’m not stupid, so what? Books vary in in size, thickness, color, covers, paper, pages and may other things. All these things add in to make a book exciting and beautiful and interesting but…..

The essence, the heart and soul of a book is the words. The words are the lifeblood of books. It’s what makes the same catalyst become singularly unique.

So maybe you have 1000’s of books, byt each is unique because of content. Photos work the same way and so does many things in life. People are the exact same. Photos generally are on paper of a size and stock from a box from a mill that makes it. What makes a photo unique is the single simple fact that the photographer made it. Looking at photos or words is the exact same thing. The difference is in the syntax of the language.

Photography, especially street is about chance encounters. We travel around, and seem to click from time to time and find a photo or the photo finds us. The encounter is what makes our single breath at the moment of realization and exposure totally unique. Brant, if you placed your camera on a tripod and made 1000 photos without changing position, no two would ever be the same. It’s just like books, all have similar appearance and construction but no 2 are ever the same. This in fact is true with an edition. If you look closely, there are things that make them different. This is not about the details but the obvious.


So the conversation goes around for a bit and Brant says to me. Don. that’s all just obvious and no need to lecture about that.

I take a breath and said…. Brant, you know why you don’t have a boyfriend, because you see everyone as if you’ve seen them 1000s times and you never see the heart that makes anyone unique.

Be blessed everyone …. shooter out……

January 23rd, 2018 … Finding the Un-lost … or … (put your title here)

….. don’t start that crap. It’s real easy to go out there and look for new places to work. It’s stimulating and exciting for sure. It’s like everything is seducing your senses and all you can do is see the magic in front of you. We are like virgins in front of Mother Light. Standing proud and tuned into the oneness of it all. The photos come to us as we become more and more aware of the newness of seeing and feeling. The camera, (you do name your camera, don’t you) ready to make the exposures just as perfect and articulate as can be.

Your a street shooter, there ain’t nothing better in the world. After a walk around, you breathe deep knowing that there, there on the card in the camera, lives the images you saw. made and are excited about to bring to life. Maybe Frankenstein felt this way making his creation come to life. You did it, be proud of yourself, you made photos of the easy side of the street.

What shooter? You best explain yerself old man. What’s this easy side of the street? Well, we all have mental blocks to deal with. Everyone. Maybe you don’t like to address it, or allow others to know you have a block, or maybe be in denial, but we all fall to the cutting edge of the executioner of our creative self.

I remember being 13yo and working with my Grandfather doing hardwood floors. We would come home for lunch and pop would sit in his big chair with 2 arms so he could rest. I’d sit across from him on the sofa and pop would say as he watched television, look at this Donald, it’s like being in Hawaii and in 10 min we will be in Japan, and never have too leave the chair.  Now I’m 68 and I often wonder what I would have done in Hawaii, which I have been too, and Japan and a number of other places that I visit thru other shooters and television etc. I often wondered if I would have made a great body of work and been happy enough to die for.

Then, my mind wakes up and my feelings stir and that itch in my eye gets going and my finger longs for Andre’ or on other other family members…… to be close by. My feet kinda vibrate, it’s not the tremors but the energy that is building. I sit resisting the call and trying to stop myself from succumbing to the call of the streets. My heart rate raises some and my breathing is getting rapid. My thoughts of Hawaii and Japan leave my mind. I start to get peace and tranquility in the knowledge that soon, in just a little while, the exhaust of the traffic, the junkies and the working people, the young men walking around talking together, the woman, seemingly frustrated and inside abused somehow, still radiate the beauty Mother Nature has instilled in them. The homeless that most know me by now as I share what funds I have so we all can eat a little. They trust me because I respect them and don’t care if they respect me.

I am home on the streets. I am home in Philly. I am a tourist thru life, we all are tourist thru life. No one gets a permanent visa. I make photos because otherwise I’d be watching the world go by and not even know I was a part of it.

I admire tourist. They come to Philly and most follow the beaten path set before them for many decades. They find the photos that keeps the memory alive for them when they leave and move on.

I wonder how many photos have been made of the Liberty Bell. I wonder how many variations on a theme there is. I wonder how it’s possible to think that anyplace but home could be better to live and work. Even if you move, in time the new place becomes home.

I guess in my own silly way, I wear ruby slippers. When I go to work, I just have to tap them 3xs and say,

There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home, There’s no place like home, ……….. it’s not about saying it, it’s about living it with a camera in my hand.





























January 16th, 2018 … The Eye, Heart & Mind … and something else but I forget

Suzanne called me and wanted to meet. That’s always a pleasurable experience for me, well both of us., and I was anxious to see her.  So I went to her home on Spruce Street and  we sat and had coffee. Now. Suzanne is a Starbucky kinda lady and has a few of their rot gut dead burnt beans in the house. She also has Pure Natural Organic Kona beans cause I gave it to her for when I am there. She makes me a cup of kona and  she makes herself a cup of rotgut starbucky crapola.  Then she says….Mr Don…at tihs point I know I’m there to work cause when she addresses me as Mr Don, it’s work. She ask me to sit at the dining room table and brings over a box of prints.  So the box has around 120 prints with sizes from 8×10 to 16×20. She looks me in the eyes and says, “your my mentor, my friend and my teacher, make sense of all this”. Ain’t enuff Kona in my cup to get me into doing this, but I have to.

So, I tell Suzanne that we need to re-experience the frame of heart and mind from exposure to now.  Now THE LORD blessed Suzanne with aa amazing heart, brilliant mind and a very clinical way to look at things. She’s a Heart Doctor and excellent at that. This causes her to look at photos more as her patients than the new reality that they are.

We start going thru the prints and I’m curating as I go. I know her and she’s a gentle lady with the heart of a Tiger. I also know that I don’t want to hurt her feelings in a ny manner. If I do the edit hard, she maybe gets upset cause photo’s she cares about are not selected. If I go to easy she will know and thinks I was just doing this to satisfy her. So I decide to just be myself and edit the way I feel it should be.

I pull the 4 16×20’s and look closely. I tell her that the size is wrong for the image. We don’t make large prints cause we can. We make the print to preserve the intimacy and content of the image. We are going deep into the box of prints. They are calling to me for attention. Suzanne sees me diving into her heart and mind and ask me if I’m hungry. My ears perk up and I calmly tell her, of course. See Suzanne makes amazing sushi and it’s better than any restaurant I ever been too. So she’s making sushi and maki and I”m being diligent with her work going thru it very carefully. There are like 10 photos on the third pass thru that continually call attention. We stop to eat and sip some saki at exactly 105F because she’s true Japanesse and insist on tradition.

Now is the moment of reckoning. It’s the moment that she has commissioned to me and the moment of truth for me that shines if I flatter her or get real.  We sit together on the floor. We are looking at prints. I lay 10 in a pile next to her. She looks at me and has that Suzanne loves don as long as don is kind and doesn’t hurt her feelings. That’s not exactly true, more like I have a fathers look to his daughter and just wants her happy.

That’s really the issue here. Do I just paint a pretty picture or do I stand my ground and as a friend, explain my real thoughts? I opt for the 2nd scenario.  She ask me which pile of prints is really worthwhile to represent her. I  point to the 10 and she kinda gets set aback but not visually upset. She ask why just 10 and what do they posess that the others don’t? I explain that when anyone looks a a photo, if you see the scene or whatever is in it, then it may be a great photo but not representative of the eye, heart and mind.

If you look at a photo and see and feel the shooter in the photo, that’s it! She gets quiet for a few moments. Then she says, Don I remember these 10 specifically and how present I was in the moment. It’s like I was in a state of consciousness that was heightened. In my country and my family, we would call this Zen. When this happens to me, I feel like BUDDHA is with me. Well, that is an amazing observation and experience.

I told her that was the reason I selected those 10 prints. She smiled and said she understood completely. I knew that she did. She mentioned to me that she wanted to work how I work. I said she is too young and too refined and elegant to do anything like me. Not in the visual elements but in the intent. My intent is that I am me, I work for me, I show photos because I like to. I am not trying to impress anyone. I am a photographer all my life because I have to.

Suzanne is a fine photographer, 28 years my younger so I feel she needs to experience all that her life will bring to her. The experience was very rewarding to both of us. I love to learn what I teach and I love to gteach what I learn. Most of all, her sushi is amazing……

Peace all, be blessed and never, ever doubt yourself.

January 2nd, 2018 … The Journey To The Land of Inspiration … Thanks to Marie Laigneau

Happy New Years everyone, may you be blessed and have good light.

It started around mid December last. I was kinda just going along but not really inspired and not really caring either. The weather is changing and it’s bitter cold. I hate the cold but love to work in it. Go figure, My elder friends call this an elder moment. That’s a good excuse as any and I seek not to improve that. Anyway, when I get this winter doldrum going, even in warm weather, I kinda have a bug up my butt.  That’s the get your lazy ass out and go work bug.  So the issue is, not that I am aware that I am having a dry season but that I can’t dock in the slip of complacency. The boat of fruitful, emotional, and productive travels, will not rest nor will it ever seek port at the island of lazy and discontent.

So the journey for personal inspiration was under way. I suppose youse alls noticed my absence. I have been on a journey with no destination or goals. I know enough at my age to realize that any journey really is within oneself. I traveled thru the land of lost creativity, the land of sorrows of forgotten images. As I moved forward on my journey for inspiration, I came across the vallet of tears. Here, in the valley, the cliffs on either side are covered with the photos that have escaped the moment of capture. I saw a shadow of Andre’ the Leica M240 in between the boulders. I felt sad. He was just there with no love, no use and he cried out to me….”Shooter, we all love you, we all miss you”..and he faded into the unknown. I needed the guidance and the sheer strength of heart of Atreyu….but alas, he was busy fighting the nothing. I thought I was on my own.

I ventured into the library of forgotten thoughts. It had been a sourse of nourishment for my heart and soul for decades. I felt empty and untrusting of what could be.  I sat back and thought about how to solve the riddle of inpriration. I started to look at the Inspired Eye magizines. See. as co-publisher of the mag, I have every issue. Yes, it’s made to inspire and it was doing that with me.

Now get this straight. It matters not where your inspiration comes from, just that you recognize it and activate it. I saw an interview that I did with a woman shooter. I realized she was my….

Childlike Empress (Moon Child). There was a time when this woman was unjustly juudged by some shooters. I was enraged and came to her defense immediately. This was some time ago. I am not saying she is a hero of mine just a woman that makes photos I relate to. In fact, at this time I related to her work more than my own. That’s inspiration. Her name is and I hope she doesn’t get upset with me is Marie Laigneau The nice thing about being old is that I am not uptight about giving credit to others. Anyway, I saw some recent photos she made and the there was one like a selfie with her Leica in the reflection. Don’t ask wy but all the sudden, I felt a weight lifted that was bearing down on me for weeks.


The point is that regardless of what we feel or believe, we really are not alone. In this time of isolation and dispair, Marie came to my rescue and she never even knew. We need to keep an open mind, heart and eye so that we continue to evolve as humans with a camera. We all, well we all that are real with things have down times. I even teach this in my private workshops. I find it delicious that a person I never really met and have had little web contact with can throw a life raft to me in the sea of sorrows and lost inspiration and not even know she did it. That is poetry of living.

So I thank you all for being here and wish everyone a Blessed Happy New Year. Marie, maybe you will never know how you saved me but I wish you all the best and a safe journey thru your life.

Take care my friends and if you get lost or bored or even tired, someplace is your inspiration and you need not go to far to find it.

December 6th, 2017 … The Excellence of Being

Of course this is a loaded topic but nonetheless, I want to get into it some. There are times that when I am working, something comes over me and I am totally aware of my being.  Some may call the the ZEN. Perhaps it is. I read a series of books that has effectly altered my thinking and feelings about being. This was in the early 1970’s. The author was Carlos Castaneda.  Many say he made everything up but who cares. The world is made up and all we do is choose the parts we want to believe and love.  Anyway, it’s basically about Carlos and his relationship with a Native American mentor named Don Juan.

I think Don Juan had a more focused outlook on life than even the Zen Masters. Different for sure but extremely focused.


Some things Don Juan taught Carlos and me by reading, was that…Death is always on your Left Shoulder. He also taught that if you are doing something, it must be worth your death. If you are in the middle of anything and death comes to you, you must not have wasted life but embraced it and your death. Death must be worth you life and you are able to feel as a warrrior not only thru life but thru death.


What does this have to do with photography? Well, I believe that photography is a cause for going on. So, that being the case, what attitude should I have when working? What frame of heart and mind shall process what my eyes present to them? What is the switch that I can hit that makes things lighter and less important? I have never been able to answer these questions and more. I found that it is better to live the answers than to try to verbally define them.

The independant state  of being is attached to the breathing of photography.

I had a friend for a long time. His name is jack. Jack was a successful commercial photographer. He made a lot of money and was in demand in DC, Phila and NYC. We met at Oscar’s Pub years ago and chatted and each expressed our views on photos and stuff. Jack said I was too serious and asked how much money I made with my camera. I felt kinda second class and told him I had to leave.

It moved me about the thought of equating satisfaction and success with money. I really felt  kinda out of place. Life went on and cameras and photos came and went. One day I was at Logan Square and sitting on a bench. All the sudden, Jack came to me and sat next to me.  I said, Jack, it’s been a long time man. He said, yup,12 years and 2 wives.

I asked Jack what he was making photos of and he quickly stated that he gave photography up cause the money well dried out.  I asked him if he did personal wotrk and he said, never. Then Jack asked me if I still was making photos. I looked at him and said, Jack….if you need to ask that question, you don’t know me at all.

I shook Jack’s hand and got up and walked away. I never saw him again and yet I never wanted to either. The excellence of being is not absorbed from others but born inside of each of us. We all have the ability to produce a life with photos that teases our death. We can’t escape it but we can live the moment of excellence of being so that when the time comes, we depart with a peace that is undescribable to those that do not heed the warnings or the flavor of life.

I don’t expect many to agree with me or even like this post. That’s not the issue. The thing is, now you have an understanding of where I’m at.

So, tell us where your at?