Tag Archives: art

It’s not a standard practice for a pot of clay to ask it’s potter, “Give me Vision”. I place a constant pressure on myself to create because it’s what I love, sometimes how I love and it’s how I think. Its ingrained in me to tell stories visually. I create films in a way that is growing with the vision he is giving me, which isn’t always clear and that makes me go crazy sometimes.  I’m learning that my perspective varies from my to eternal in an instant when I am reminded of the promises and makings held in certain faith.

I am in an incredible season of testing. The test centers around letting go of my life list of things I would change.  The list isn’t even worth going into but I wanted to explain how today was a blessing in reminding me where to place my hope and how the placement of my hope determines my attitude in my situation. I really want to be joyful no matter what.

No call is clearer that what he reminded me of today, “God crafts amazingness from my brokenness. He actually uses my brokenness to make amazing things. He makes all things work together for my good.”

I expect challenges in my life. I also expect the success from God and the variety of ways that success will come in. I am not only willing to step into this season knowing it will produce endurance and fruit but am encouraged and empowered as I keep stepping through this season as I see my flesh wage war.  I believe it is a good thing to see the battle between flesh and spirit.

It is impossible to be physically or emotionally ready or prepared for a season like this but, leaning one foot forward, equipped I become through the ever present inheritance found in Jesus’ promises. But that step isn’t so clear sometimes. I try so hard to interpret where God wants me to go next. Each time the lengths of my worry begot illogical thinking. And for some reason I am surprised.

“You will lack nothing” he reminded his disciples and me. “When I sent you out without food, clothing or money, did you lack anything?” The disciples and I answer, “No.”  I was sent to my wife. I lack nothing. I was sent to Detroit. I lack nothing. The list continues.

Yet, even with this knowledge, sometimes I desire to see around each infliction. It shakes me and I want a quick self made way out. I look for motto, “I feel like I should be happy all the time”. Fakeness sucks.

Today I had four moments where I felt like I lacked. Each moment was quickly rendered false; one by the truth of his word, one by the power of testimony from my amazing wife who told me about what she learned in church, one by wisdom from my awesome brother in London, one by prayer backed by remembering what he has already spoken.

David sang entire songs about his despair and had verses reminding his soul to place it’s hope in the Lord. Psalm 42, 43. Read it.

vs 3. Tears are saying, “where is your God? Tears have been my food day and night.” Man that dude is sad. At that time he was asking for a savior. The difference with us, is that we have one. All justification, peace, love, identity and wholeness is found in him.

Psalm 42, 43 personalized/interpreted by my words and the words of Pastor Cliff at Woodside Detroit:

I am asking for water that gives life and you wash over me with water so powerful that it brings death by a drowning so significant the calendar shifted when it happened.  In his steadfast love, I live like I need less death and more love.  I live crying out, “Please show me your love”.  Instantly overwhelmed by circumstance my rock seems to have forgotten me. Emotional pain. Why is my soul forgetting the truth i can recite at any given moment. Fight for me God! I’m trying to live for you and create for you and love for you and live for you. I am trying so hard to make my identity in the sent Savior you gave me. Save me!

His waters quiet and whisper, “I have”.

Where is He!

HE is Here. God has Him here.

The past year and half has brought a new understanding to me: God loves us enough to allow us to go through things to show us what our hope is in. My hope was in soooooo many things that weren’t Him. His grace has revealed that and now has broken those chains.

After his awesome sermon, which pissed a ton of people off but made Jesus stand while at the right hand of his Father, Stephen was taken to be killed. Looking up, through his oppressors throwing stones at his head, past his critics, with un approval all around him, with grace and thanksgiving and peace, he declared, in the most un oportune time possible, “Forgive them God, they don’t know what they are doing.”

Thats legit. What pain do I have? Why down oh my soul? God so good.

We will not be free of pain and suffering in this life time but we are free from the slavery to pain and suffering with the knowledge that all pain and suffering will be abolished at the coming of Jesus.

Thus, after reading the word today, praying, listening to the faithfulness of my wife’s love for God, listening to wise men talk about Jesus in my community, I can say this, “The vision I have is for now and in this now, Christ is working” and with patience given to me I will press on and wait for him to pull me out of this test I am in with Him by my side.

May I encourage you to place all your hope and justification not in what you can do but in the already finished work of Jesus Christ. The rescue Jesus offers will promote a performance in your life unmatched by what is possible in all possible human achievement.

Now, at the end of this day I can see that everything that is fighting against my soul is illuminated by the Spirit who reveals that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Not only where I am supposed to be, but that my life isn’t about me, but is about serving others bc that is how Jesus lived.

Nothing, no critique, no affirmation , no anger, no words, no aggression, no film, not even the sweetest frame has any saving or destroying power.

The vision will come.

And in other news, Be honest and patient with your clients.

Below are photos of children and orphans in Ukraine who have been left by the government to raise. They make up the majority of the crime and human trafficking victims. It’s important to remember such peoples while the rest of the world watches the Eurocup down the street.

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Ranchstyle Mountain Bike Festival

I had the privilege to design a flyer for this year’s Ranchstyle Mountain Bike Festival with my wife. It is a weekend for women’s bike riding. My wife got asked to help the main lady putting on the weekend. She brought her vision for the layout to me and over the next few hours I worked and ask her for more direction. It was an awesome time. So proud of it because of the artistic flow my wife and i had together on this.

One of my favorite parts of the poster is the dirt in the left hand corner.

A vendor holds up 9 dollars bills with Obama's face on it.

Photo thought of the day…While organizing content for my website, I came across the photos I took when my brother, his Swedish wife and I took the 4:30am train down to DC to watch Obama be sworn in. It is an amazing experience putting my first website together bc I get to look through all my work and have a platform to show my photographs and video. Check out From Slavery to History on my website.

Here are some lessons I have been learning over the past week summed up in one-liners.


-During a New York Times shoot I was in a very small town with one intersection photographing a mail box. I was hired to photograph a mailbox. And it was stressful because I could have done it wrong. I paused, with encouragement from my wife, stopped, stood, and realized that all I could see what what I saw. So I took the picture of what was in front of me.

-Content is still king. It is easy to get wrapped up in producing to please others or for hits, for my own idea of success or for what I can hope to become. All of those motives have given me a portfolio of diverse work but have left me to understand that I am starting a new now that I have recognized that the only motive I should attach to exists simply within what has created me.

-The key to failure is trying to please everyone.

-Comparison is death when it becomes how the way I value my work. Constant comparison marginalizes my work by influencing me to believe my work is only valuable when it looks like some other work I have seen.  Comparison leads to a constant game of catch up. An important part of production is to relax and value what is in front of me and give it the time to be produced into it’s fullest potential.

Work + Faith

-God has called me into a specific calling. Even though other filmmaker’s and photographer’s careers look very attractive, I have my own path that will lead me.

-The young rich ruler that the bible references has no recorded name 2000 years later. He had a name once but what he built his life around, his identity was what he became known for and is remember by.


-There is no separation between work and faith.

-I am having to believe that God is doing something great in me. I undervalue his work often and with the gift of my wife I have begun to understand how important I am to Him.

-While asking God to point out the idols in my life he has spoken in many answers. For a long time I was working to become known, to have my work known, to have identity in more than just me. He revealed that I am a master of masking my search to be included in this world with the good intention of being a Christ follower. Even while preparing my new website and blog I had to check myself that I wasn’t just preparing to be famous by setting up a system by which to be famous.

-I am learning there is so much joy in the Lord as I abandon hope in the mirages of this world.

-As God’s creation, we are made to search for Him and his son Jesus. All of creation screams his glory. I search as often as I can for everything that was created through Him, totally not giving Him glory, but holding up all he has given me and could give me as my hope. And then He reminds me He is there and all everything everywhere is to point to Him.

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It’s easy to be discouraged while creating/producing your film. I am in the visionary part of a film I want to complete from a few years ago. I spent all day writing down ideas and few hours from last night. I got to the computer and started connecting the dots from my scrambled journal pages. The farther I went the less all my thoughts made sense even though I really thought I was on the right track. The weight of discouragement came heavily on me. I took a break and came back to work another 15 minutes and then everything came into place. I realized that I have felt like this countless times and pretty much every time I have had to power through and search for the next step and I have a break through. Therefor, I now know that when the discouragement feeling starts creeping in, I should embrace it with courage, like the dude exploring the scary abandoned building above, and be excited that the break through is right around the corner, whether I see it or not. Hope this helps. Check out my new website at

dear diary digi edtion…

today sucked….you have to hand file the angle, and polish, by hand, polish…
i spent alll day

my head.

where is a cup of coffee, i want to dunk my phone

i feel angry.

i bought $7 spray paint at a store and it was supposed be good for 1200 degrees.

all my plates my plates melted, that makes a better story but didn’t really happen.

really it was a great day, oh wait no, i was pissed.

i’m working for myself so i can only get mad at myself, so now i am fired.

for now…

i give myself too many breaks and i work on saterdays.

i don’t want to take too long…one coat should be enough, and cory agrees.

this should work…with copper, but i didn’t read the directions. you should be able to spray this junk on..

amonia might have been needed.

did i touch the plate too much? how thick is my metal.

so all day i was supposed to prep this final project on dietric bonhoeffer and the spray can that.

so grille paint wasn’t what i got, come to think of it, i got high heat paint.

i just want some chamomile.

This is from the journal’s owner, Mary, to all her friends who will write over the next 30 years.


Gladly I’d twine a wreath for thee
From friendships fair unfading tree
And bid it bloom unceasingly

To slain thy hours of loneliness

but where shall this rare plant be found.
does it eve grow, on the earthly ground
or only grace some heavenly mound

amid those lovers of happiness

It sometimes blooms neath suns bright skies
But when misfortune blasts arise
Quickly the sunshine friendship dies
and leaves but dull formality

Some bird of origin divine
I’ll seek to form this wreath of thine
plucked from the withering bond of time
to bloom for thee eternally

nor i alone this wreath will twine
but all thy friends who trace a line

in this nespitle (?) of thine
shall form this wreath for thee

this album then a wreath for thee
and every name a flower shall be
a pure bright gem of constancy
sacred to love and memory

Mary E. Harlow

Welcome to my blog. I am a filmmaker and photographer. I currently have a head ache. I love Detroit, and well, now that my video is out, many Detroiter’s have expressed that they don’t love me or my video. Most people consider word choice more than meaning. Too few actually acquire the freedom to photograph. To photograph what comes along the way is to be living with a camera in hand. What am I but just another chamber of Detroit’s orchestra.  In my city, Shooting only adds to the music. Passing prophets for your purpose makes your works more than your meaning.

When you find your name on Michael Moore’s homepage, that is when you know you have done something polar. The Wall Street Journal purchased my content and my story on a dump truck that was hanging forever out of a fourth floor window at the Packard Plant and ran it front page in today’s paper. An editor told me it was the first time ever a photographer had pitched a story to the WSJ that they ran.  I am interested in telling my side of the story.

I just returned from doing a film series in China on the renewable energy sector to show to Congress/the Obama administration when I learned that this story was actually going to be in the WSJ. Not only in, but on the front page. If I didn’t have to edit all day tomorrow, I would tell you more about China, More about how I got to the actually film/photograph this dump truck event, and how my laptop with all my china work on it was stolen in SF today, only to be returned in 2 hours. Maybe more tomorrow.

PS. I am available for freelance work in Detroit/the world.

     Local empty store front advertising real store with cardboard cutouts of a pig and sausage, a few boxes of cardboard cheese and cardboard milk. This was placed to show what Detroit could be with investment.

Photography this week; Local empty store front advertising real store with cardboard cutouts of a pig and sausage, a few boxes of cardboard cheese and cardboard milk. This was placed to show what Detroit could be with investment. Below; on the set of Red Dawn.

My Story comes out tomorrow in the New York Times about the pro life movement here in Michigan. It is the work I am most proud of because it was three days of quick photography, daily deadlines and lots of car travel. I think 7 different locations. The hardest part was my new macbook pro failed. And my backup computer failed. And the model the mac store gave me to replace failed (thanks Snow Leopard). 3667 images for the story. Damien Cave, the writer, was awesome enough to let me transmit from his computer, while he was typing the story.

It will be a lens blog, listed below, a audio slideshow and a photo story in the paper.

The Lens Blog is a blessing to me because it was unexpected. I will write more later. Right now, off to prayer.

Damien, a writer for the New York Times, holds a white board while my photo subject holds a photograph she took of an aborted baby. Make Shift photo studio.

Damien, a writer for the New York Times, holds a white board while my photo subject holds a photograph she took of an aborted baby. Make Shift photo studio.

On a side note, it has been a most amazing day today. Rainy, which hindered the tempers of the children who were going to fight. I did not photograph any fight today nor did i see any police.

I met the president of a camera case company last year on a plane. He saw my crappy camera bag and told me he would send me a new one from his company. A year later I have nothing but that is cool with me. But I figured I would call the company and find out if the offer was still there. So I did, I explained everything. The company said that the guy was no longer with the company but that they would send out a bag of my choice. I sent them two examples of the bags totally a lot of money that I was going to buy and I received an email back that both bags would be in the mail for me for free.

All I can say is that when God has something for you to do, he equips.

I also thank Daryl Lang and PDN for getting my story about yesterday out to the other photogs out there.

Red Dawn set

This is just in from a reader who wanted to share his story..I find it very important because i didn’t see all of the fight. I find this issue very important to remember so conversations can be had to encourage communication between conflicting cultures, peoples, friends, family and communities. 
“i am an ex student of hamtramck high and once one of them immature kids in those fights the story you speak of i was there and there was 11 black guys and more than 150 arabs and your footage and story shoould have showed how the police mased the eleven black guys despite they were using self defense to keep off a very huge crowd of arabs the story you wrote shouldve contained the facts that blacks were being disciminated against not arabs im not racist most of us were friends (arabs @ blacks) but not to steer of of subject and it was a great story but your evidence was weak and you had no good resources to support your strory when you write on a subject like this it is touchy even with it being so many years ago im sorry but please get facts straight”
The report below is only my experience, and the more people who tell me their story, the more the actual facts of the day can come to light. Thank you for your responses. I want to only tell the facts.
If anyone who reads this thinks their story would help others understand what is going on in Hamtramck, for anyone there who wants to tell their story through images, I would love to document your life through photography to help tell the story. I am a photographer who works for publications including the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and others. It is my number one goal to report with honesty and integrity. Please visit and click through the images to see my work. 
Thank you,
The police took my camera and erased an approx 15-20 images, none of which I believe could have been viewed as negative towards the police. I have 12 images  left and 2 videos. here are some of the images and the story. This story is a work in progress and will be updated as I have time. look to the comments for how advice was given by more veteran pros. I did not write all of this to complain but to inform others about how i was treated and more so as a news piece about what happened to these kids. They are the ones I really care about.

A newspaper in Hamtramck is doing a story on this and asked me for a reaction to the police response to my story. Here is what the police said not verbatim, “The camera was left in the car and we asked whose camera it was and the journalist said it was his and the other kids said it was theirs so we took it.”  Which is not what happened. The video with the arab kids ends with me leaving the car with my camera. I have the rest of the 10 minutes of footage on my computer which ends with the police driving with the camera on in the car. Read more under the video.

I am reviewing this legal form to see what my rights are.

Female student hiding and crying.

Female student hiding and crying, in an ally way looking towards the street where the police were spraying, talking on phone.

Nearing the end of the fight, some kids yell at police and later are detained. There are 10 more minutes in the video of the police ride that is not shown in this film. The camera was still recording which was not my objective as the police officer drove the kids to station.  In the video at 1:03  there is a moment when the police car arrives by the kids and I take a photo while in video mode. If you click the shutter release button while recording video with the Canon 5d Mark II the video will pause while the camera records the image. A shutter will sound too. I do not have this moment when I clicked the shutter. I should have a photograph of that moment, but the police erased it. Neighbors who watched this scene that I was in said that the police had sprayed all races equally and did not subject one more than another to the mace or interrogation.

Students walking away from fight talk about the fights. Two of them didn’t want to be on camera but were ok audio taping. So I took frame grabs just for visual reference.

Hamtramck is a city within the city of Detroit and has 26 nations living in a very small area of two miles by two miles. It was a Polish majority to the point that Pope John Paul stopped by in his trip to America.

Walking around one day, I saw a fight forming and I ran with my camera to photograph. There was a large group of Arab kids walking in a very tight group, maybe 50 of them in total. I photographed that from afar (photo erased by police) and watched the police trail the group of kids away through side streets. I walked through some alleys and jumped a random fence after taking the photos shown above of the kids running. I interviewed a few black students walking away form the fight and then walked towards the police controlled intersection. I found a group of about 15 Arab (sorry for the generalization) students who had been maced. I introduced myself and told them who I had shot for in the past. The group of Arab kids were taunting the police officers before I arrived with curse words and yelling, and eventually the cops came by and sprayed us down with mace. The kids kept on saying one of my clients that I mentioned. The kids ran away when the cops came. The group split and some ran back to my position. The cops came over and sprayed the area again. I went in the car with the kids to follow the story but more to escape the crazy amount of mace in the air. The car hadn’t moved and the cops came up and got us out of the car. They took my camera immediately after I told them I was a photographer.  I was told to have my hands on the trunk. We were there for what seemed like 30 minutes as the cops yelled at the kids about respect and tried to cross interrogate them.  I told them that I was a freelancer they asked me who I had shot for and I told them. They then asked well if you shoot for them (citing examples of organizations i gave him) why don’t you have credentials? I told them as a freelancer I didn’t have credentials. I wasn’t carrying my NPPA card. Come to think of it I don’t think i have received that yet. The cop then told me that I need to get another day job if all i did was follow kids causing fights. I don’t think I will cite examples of whom I have worked next time I am asked in this type of situation. It was used more against me than I could have thought of.

I understand now that the choice to get into the car was not a wise one when the cops were around. Like I said, I thought it was the best choice at the time.  My hands were on car on the account that I was “guilty by association”. I don’t that that is a law. I wanted to ask, “Aren’t I innocent until proven guilty by association?” But I didn’t.

On the way to pick up my camera an hour later I ran into the mayor, the former chief of police and the superintendent campaigning in the streets. I did not know who they were when I asked them for directions. I told them my story and the mayor called the police without me asking her for the release of my camera. The former chief of police asked me my thoughts on how the police handled the situation and I told him my thoughts that were not negative. Then the superintendent asked me my thoughts and I told her that we live in a broken world that needs fixing.

I biked to get my camera at the police office. When I arrived the police officer behind the desk, who was not at the original scene, tried to reprimand me. He told me my 1st amendment rights were “Canceled” when I didn’t leave the scene when the cops told me to. Well the cops didn’t tell me to. “Its like calling fire in a crowded theater”, the police officer behind the counter said.

They gave me back my camera after 20 minutes. I biked to my church to continue a film I was making for my church. Turned on my camera and the screen popped up, “No Card”. I was like, “What the junk?” The cops had taken my card. The cops gave me the camera without the memory card in the camera. I should have checked at the station. I biked back and they said they didn’t know where it was and couldn’t find the memory card even though it had been there a few minutes ago with only a few police in the building. The main police officer behind the desk that I was working with couldn’t believe that someone had taken out the card after he, who was in charge, looked at the images. He was called into the back with a whisper from the police officer who originally took my camera. I did not see whom actually whispered but I assume it because he is the one who went into the back of the station to look for the card. Many times he repeated that he had no idea how to open the memory card compartment to take out a memory card. In his words, “I have no idea how to work them things.”

About 20 minutes later they said they found it in a cops pocket who was driving home to a suburb.  The officer behind the counter said it had been taken out of my camera in a mix up between shifts and that the officer with the memory card was on his way back and that he would arrive in 20 minutes. I found it quite strange that possible “supporting evidence” was in an off duty officers’ pocket on the way to his home.  1.5 hours later the police officer who originally took my camera, told me to get another day job, told me i was guilty by association, met me at my church down the road and handed me my card and said it was all his fault. I told him I forgave him. I reviewed the card to find the images of police and some of the arab kids had been erased and those images couldn’t be recovered by a software program. I am assuming that the police did not erase my 2 movies because they saw the first frame of the movie as a bad photograph.

Picture 18running from mace

Image cropped significantly to show a point in a scene when the cops sprayed mace on students near teachers.

Habib taunts the police.
Habib taunts the police because he and the other Arab kids in this crowd felt the police were racist. Later after I was released, the neighbors said the boys taunted too much. One neighbor commented that the cops were not spraying one race more than another.

There was a  fight between the black students and the arab students at the high school in Hamtramck last year that i was told was about 150 vs 150 students. In another fight over a bike, I tried to break it up by talking calmly between the two cultures and that time, love prevailed.

but for now, i am so frustrated because of the police stories not matching up about my memory card and since the images were erased without them telling me, I felt lied to. The most frustrating part is I am trying to tell stories that will change people. The more I am cut down by those who don’t want the truth to be told, the stronger the desire to fight for the provision and documentation of truth becomes in my heart.

I believe the police did what they thought was best at the time. It was very aggressive atmosphere. I did not ever lose my temper or raise my voice. I could understand why they took my camera, why my hands were on the trunk, why I was asked questions. I can not understand why they erased images and can not understand a few others things.

Personal thoughts; About my faith, I will say that it was strengthened today. God’s plans are bigger than me, bigger than my plans. The images are gone and I am safe. The way that things went down at the police station it seemed very likely that the police made a story up in front of me about where the card was. The fact remains that there are children tomorrow who feel they need to find security in their appearance and their status and that the eye for an eye judgment system is the main determining factor to fight or not to fight. I have not covered any wars and have only had my life threatened twice before. I have only been maced twice before. The scene wasn’t that crazy, it was more unexpected. It is my goal with truth and integrity to creatively achieve engaging storytelling.

Thank you to all journalists who have emailed me with advice for next time. I consider my work at the professional level, always allowing room for education to better my craft. Welcome photographers from Thank you for your interest in this story.

Journalists-Spread the truth.

frame grab of cops taking a young arab kid into the police car.

Picture 20

I unfortunately wrote over the card because I was on deadline for another assignment and had to use the card. I did not use much of the 16gb card but later went back and tried to recover the files and they were already written over. Everything happened really fast and it was a very tough decision but I had to use the card.  Recovering the files through software did not occur to me quick enough.

from the National Press Photographers Association..

My understanding (and again, you want a lawyer to give you proper legal advice relating to your situation) If police take someone into custody, they have a right to take a camera for safekeeping. There may also be limited rights if they had probable cause to believe that it had evidence of a crime. But they do not, under any circumstances, have a right to delete images, or to demand the deletion of images. In fact, that could be viewed as destroying evidence. Destroying evidence can lead to a presumption against the party that destroyed the evidence.

In fact, you might find out if any of the kids were arrested. If so, be sure to tell their lawyers that the police deleted images which may have contained evidence that would prove or disprove wrongdoing. Having their case affected is the primary way that police officers are encouraged to stay in line.

You should also consider filing a complaint with the police department. They might not have a policy relating to handling of cameras and digital images. If they don’t, this incident is evidence that one is needed. Use your connections with the mayor and others to encourage such a policy.

Picture 36