Abroad Blog of the Week: Through Harold’s Lens

I’m keeping my intro to this Abroad Blog of the Week short, because the interview is just so good. Personally I have been mesmerized by the photos of Harold Green on Through Harold’s Lens. I’m positive you’ll be captivated by his answers as well.

How does taking pictures while traveling impact how you travel? 

My needs as a traveling photographer traveler are different from just a casual traveler who wants to shoot “look where I have gone photos”.

Before launching, I have to deal with what cameras, lens, hard drive and other camera gear to take. On various journeys there are weight limits too. Small planes used on African safaris, etc.

Security is always an issue. I sure don’t want to get to my destination and find my portfolio of camera gear missing. Therefore, all of it goes in my airline carry-on bags and in my photography vest. I’m talking about around 30-35 lb. of camera gear plus my personal items. Heavy, schlepping in some airports.

At my destination I love exploring with my wife, Rita. It takes me time and patience to create most of my images correctly. This often runs counter to the faster exploring needs of my wife.

Rita also loves to go shopping for items from the culture. These are most often best found in the local markets. This I love. For it is in the small markets, alleys and souks where I can establish relationships and create up-close and personal photographic images of the people and the local cultural items.

AFRICA. Botswana through my lens: 30-35 lb. of camera gear plus my personal items makes for some serious schlepping in some airports.

AFRICA. Botswana through my lens: 30-35 lb. of camera gear plus my personal items makes for some serious schlepping in some airports.

How do you approach taking a stranger’s photograph? 

The key is building a relationship and trust.

In large cities and well-traveled areas, I simply ask the stranger. Most people are very honored that I want to photograph them. In this day of more heightened security, they truly appreciate you asking. Very seldom have I been refused.

Most of my travels take me into off the beaten path and into various remote areas, towns and villages. I find that the people there are often just as curious about me, as I am about them. So I work extra hard on building a relationship using the tools I have on hand: my camera, iPod, harmonica, etc.

Bree Bree Indians. Costa Rica. Carefully I walked on the wobbly vine bridge over the gorge 150’ feet below to the village of the Bree Bree Indians. The village is in the trees. Their animals lived below. Up the vine ladder I climbed into their home, filled with many children. Different language. Build trust! I sat on the bamboo floor at their eye level. Pulled out a small harmonica from my photography vest. Played a few short, catchy tunes. The children’s eyes were glued. Ah music, the universal language! Gave a child the harmonica to play. He loved it. All the children wanted to play it. The harmonica got passed around. Trust built! My camera went into high gear. Bree Bree children captured. I gave them the harmonica. Always carry a few.

The Maasai. Tanzania. I casually strolled through the small Maasai village. The adult Maasai looked to the ground and gave me questioning glances from the sides of their eyes. Seeing curious Maasai children, I took a few images of them. Then, I showed them their picture on the LCD screen in the back of the camera. They loved seeing themselves. I took more images. The Maasai adults watched. Then I carefully put the camera strap over a Maasai child’s neck. Showed him how to take a photo. He clicked. Many times. All the kids wanted to see the LCD screen and use the camera. I placed the strap over each child’s neck and let them shoot away. The adults gathered around closely. Trust built! For the rest of the day the Maasai were comfortable with me and my camera. I was even invited into a Maasai home just after the birth of a little new Maasai.

AFRICA. The Serengeti through my lens: Involvement with trust. I had just finished individually photographing over 30 of the most lovely Maasai women. They loved it and all wanted to see images of themselves on my camera. They were all huddled around me. I hung the camera strap around one Maasai woman's neck and told her to take a photograph of me with one of the other Maasai women. This is the fun result.

AFRICA. The Serengeti through my lens: Involvement with trust. I had just finished individually photographing over 30 of the most lovely Maasai women. They loved it and all wanted to see images of themselves on my camera. They were all huddled around me. I hung the camera strap around one Maasai woman’s neck and told her to take a photograph of me with one of the other Maasai women. This is the fun result.

Peruvian Indians. Chile. The indians from Peru were privately and quietly chatting among themselves. Their eyes carefully looked at me. Two were playing music. Pan flute and vibes.  Standing there with my camera, who was I?  At the end of one Peruvian song I turned on my iPod, buds in my ears, and began to dance to my music. They were very curious. Next I shared one ear bud with an indian and let him listen too. Together, we smiled and rocked to the rhythm. Then I shared my iPod and buds with another indian. He smiled and rocked too. Next my iPod, music and ear buds went around the tribe, all to smiling rocking indians. Trust built! My camera went into high gear.

These kind of techniques have worked for me from the mountain villages of Thailand to the rice fields of Vietnam to the war-pocked lands of Cambodia or with the Nomads on top of the dunes of the Sahara.

Many of my journeys are to very poor countries. I do not pay a person to take a candid photograph of them in a public place. I feel this sends the wrong message. Often later in the day, I make a donation to the school, medical facility or tribal leader, therefore my donation is not tied to shooting photography of the people.

What can photography teach us about culture?

Photography allows us to expose what one culture believes to another.

My photography allows me to go beyond the WOW of a scene! It allows me to engage very personally and in-depth with a culture, rather than to just be an observer on the outside. Photography teaches me the skills of building trust. I enrich myself by learning about other cultures and I learn more about myself as a person.

I am able to share my cultural experiences with others. I often take the viewer behind the scene of an image with a capsule short story. By taking a low-traveled viewer beyond their front doorstep and into the up-close and personal side of a culture, I feel I can help eliminate misconceptions and give them an opportunity to view our world through an open mind.

I often go into the local markets in a culture and purchase native music. As I am performing Post Production on my images, I always play the music from the region. This helps me re-live my cultural experience with a richer visual and audio aspect.

Often my images capture aspects of the culture I did not initially see. An image within an image. Thus I am being exposed to something culturally new. Something I never originally saw.

share my photography of cultures with others most often in a non-commercial way. My Photography Blog www.throughharoldslens.com does this. My Facebook page: Harold Green Sr. also does it. If I have a photography show, 100% of the proceeds go to charity. I have put together photography presentations of a particular culture for a teacher to use in her geography classroom located in a poor Texas school district. The feedback adds personal depth and enriches my life.

AFRICA. The Serengeti through my lens: Building a relationship and trust. I spent two hours photographing these Maasai 15-year old boys out alone for six months on the Serengeti learning to be Maasai warriors.

AFRICA. The Serengeti through my lens: Building a relationship and trust. I spent two hours photographing these Maasai 15-year old boys out alone for six months on the Serengeti learning to be Maasai warriors.

What is your next big adventure?

Due to other commitments, at this moment I do not have a big adventure booked on my photography guide. It will happen!

I am researching photographing the people, customs, villages and lifestyles along The Amalfi Coast in Italy; trying to capture the legendary herds of wildebeest as they migrate across the crocodile infested waters and lion dominated shores of the snaking Mara Mara River where the northern tip of the Serengeti meets the Kenya border in Africa;  the tribes of the Omo in Ethiopia, Africa and the cultures of the Indian communities in Peru.

What advice would you give a novice photographer when traveling?

Whenever I purchase a new camera or some new camera gear, before my journey, I take time to familiarize myself with all of it; how it works, what can it do, all the buttons, etc. I do not want to spend time on my journey with my face buried in a manual or questionably studying the buttons on a camera. On to Greece, I purposely left my new Nikon camera at home for this reason. Things happen fast and you have to know what to do. Now. Plus, I want to be able to see and explore the culture.

I always remove the camera strap with the camera’s name and cover the name on the camera and lens. By eliminating the names I am increasing my security. I put a very secure, non-slip camera strap on each camera and always wear it around my neck. All of my cameras and camera gear go in my airline carry-on bag. My camera is always with me, morning, noon and night. There’s an old adage: “you will see the best shots when you do not have your camera”.

I always take the road less traveled when going through a new culture. I do not pre-judge. I am not afraid or hesitant and stick my nose in everywhere.I am always polite and patient.

When I see a scene I want to shoot, I focus on the item that drew my eye to that scene. I work on not being tempted to widen my lens to include more aspects that are in the theme.

I prefer candid photography vs posed. I don’t put a family member or friend in my images unless there is a reason. I don’t have a need to say “I went to ?” if I have the photos. I want my scene to be the focus, not the traveler. I find this to be a more interesting image.

Contact: 

I hope some of my thoughts will help others. I am always open to comments and questions. I can be reached through my Photography Blog www.throughharoldslens.com

My Facebook page: Harold Green Sr. I live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

My email: haroldgreen40@gmail.com

I hope that my images and comments will inspire others to travel and explore other cultures of our world with an open mind. Thank you for inviting me to be your participating guest on Aboard Blog of the Week.

Have Fun Clicking and Writing,

Harold Green

Calling All Expats: Opportunity to Lead Students Abroad

I love that through this blog I have met so many great people around the world. It has only enhanced my ability to be global from home by extending my international network. For all my lovely expat readers and friends that I have met through the blogosphere, I have an opportunity that wanted to share.

I am looking to hire expats as On-site Program Coordinators for our short-term faculty-led programs through CISabroad. If you are someone who is currently living outside of the U.S. and would be interested in guiding a group of college students and their professor around your host country, this is the perfect gig. The primary role of this position is to facilitate the in-country implementation of the assigned program and provide safety/emergency support as needed. During the program, the On-Site Program Coordinator is responsible for managing the day-to-day logistics of the assigned customized program and providing in-country support to both the leading faculty and CISabroad students. These positions are contracted and last anywhere from 10 days to 4 weeks. We cover all travel expenses, food, housing, and provide a small stipend.

If you or someone you know might be interested in working with me at CISabroad this spring/summer, I would love to answer questions. You can check out the position and find directions to apply on the CISabroad Career page.

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Friday Global Giving: Become a Rosetta Stone Supplement

I feel like this week I’ve been reading all kinds of posts about the growth and maintenance of languages. Moment Matters wrote a great post about Mandarin being the new global language. I also really enjoyed Loving Language’s post this week about the importance of the US becoming a multi-lingual nation. Yet even as there is push for learning and protecting languages, English remains in the highest demand by language learners due to it being the coined “global language”. For this reason, teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways for native-English speakers to live abroad with a legal work visa and a little money in their pocket. For anyone interested in exploring  the life of teaching English abroad, there are some great examples in the blogging world. Some of my favorites include:

  • Quinn in Morocco – she teaches English to children in Morocco through the Peace Corps
  • Our Dear Lady Expatriate – has been teaching English for several years, first in South Korea and now in Cambodia
  • Travel Thayer – an English teacher in an elementary school in South Korea

But teaching English is not limited to those of us that want/are able to live abroad. As I’ve worked with the refugee community in Oklahoma City, I’ve realized that for non-English speakers living in English-speaking countries, their needs for language training is extremely great. And there are tons of opportunities for us to help meet this need in our own hometowns. Here are just a few:

Teach in a Classroom Environment

Many religious groups, libraries, and non-for-profit organizations offer English as a Second Language courses. These courses typically meet once a week and are led by a certified TEFL instructor. If you are not TEFL certified, you can often still volunteer in the classroom helping the students with excises and practice conservations.

Serve as a Language Partner

If you prefer one-on-one interaction, becoming a language partner may be the best fit. This is a great way to build a relationship with a recent immigrant and can be mutually instructive if you are willing to learn the native language of your partner. If you prefer to do this virtually, The Mixxer is a site that helps match you with a language partner anywhere in the world.

Become an Online Language Coach

If you’re unable to find a language partner program or ESL course to volunteer in, another easy  opportunity is to volunteer online. Organizations like I Want to Learn English train volunteers to help English language learners practice their skills and ask questions. All you need is a computer and internet.

LanguagePartners5

While Rosetta Stone is certainly a helpful tool for a newly settled immigrant to learn the language, there is nothing like having a real person to help with pronunciation and context. If you’re looking for a way to give back and volunteer for the new year, helping someone learn English could be an ideal choice.

For more information on teaching English, check out this guide done by Colorado State University: Teaching Guide: ESL Volunteer Guide. It is a well-done resource.

Hennaed

On Tuesday night a group of students got together to talk study abroad. One of the students had recently returned from India and asked me if I would be willing to help do henna at the gathering.

DISCLOSURE: I have NEVER been hennaed, let alone used henna.

But I was willing to give it a shot. In the end, it was much like piping a cake. We looked up designs online and in an hour I tattooed five of the students. Overall, I was pretty excited about how they turned out. We all decided this would be a great activity for a birthday party or ladies night. I just need a bit more practice!

Abroad Blog of the Week (revisited): Healing Pilgrim

I first featured Healing Pilgrim as an Abroad Blog of the Week just as I was starting Global from Home. The pictures of Amit hanging upside down doing yoga, the explanations of various traditional medicine, and the process of healing by engaging in the culture of Ubud, Bali, they all attracted me. At that point I wasn’t doing interviews, but over the past few months, I have gotten to know Amit better through her posts and comments. Now I consider Amit a friend of the blogosphere and was determined that I needed the interview to go along with the first post. Healing Pilgrim is amongst my favorite blogs – one in which I feel transported by the writer. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

What attracted you to Southeast Asia to begin with?

There was something about Asia (not just SE Asia!) so otherworldly, so ancient and completely different from where I grew up, that it appealed to me on many levels. For example, although I can’t explain the source of this particular desire, I simply knew – in the same way that you know what you are hungry for, which ingredients you want to use for a sandwich – that I would have to travel in Nepal, Laos and Mongolia.

How has your perspective on travel changed since your accident?

I can see more clearly now. I pay more attention – to what goes on around me, as well as what goes on inside. I trust my intuition and instinct in ways that I didn’t before, and I honor the angels and guides that I’m now certain protect me and hover nearby. I am inherently as adventurous now as I was pre-accident, but I’m more limited in my mobility, so I appreciate disability, the challenges of aging and finding creative solutions to still getting around.

What cultural aspects of Ubud still surprise you?

Regardless of the increasing influx of tourists, offerings, temple festivals, family and banjar ceremonies are still very much an intrinsic part of life in Ubud – less so, in other parts of Bali. I’m also constantly amazed by the array and output of creativity, and how Western elements and beliefs are woven into the fabric of their lives; often with surprisingly innovative results.

What has living in Bali taught you about healing the mind and body?

Letting go of control. Being open and grateful to what I have rather than what I wish I did. That which is ‘unseen’ is equally significant, sometimes more so, than that which is ‘seen.’ There are SO many ways to heal ourselves, and going natural is the optimal way to go. And that if I believe that my body (and mind) is healing, then it will be so…

What is your favorite yoga pose?

Since I began to learn and practice Iyengar, I would have to say that I love – as does my body – doing inversions, preferably those that involve ropes. A close second is warrior, because I feel strength coursing through my body. And if I can throw in a third, savassana 😉

What advice would you give the traveler who is going through a healing process?

Breathe deeply. We are never taught about the importance of deep breathing in our healing process, in oxygenating our bodies and minds. I would also say that healing does not have a finite point so it’s a worthless (and frustrating) endeavor to find it. Trust that your body does want to heal, it just needs time, guidance, the most nutritious foods possible, exercise, rest and an acceptance that you are now exactly where you are supposed to be.

How Do You Say It In [insert language here]?

There is a sweet little girl I work with regularly whose family has recently come to the US from Myanmar. English has not been a breeze for her but she is working hard and it is coming along. Today her third grade homework was to read a story about a tiger and then continue the story and answer the questions. We had read the whole story but when it came to making up a sentence or two to finish it off, she was stuck.

“How do you say tiger in your language?” I asked. “Kya” she responded. “Well, write that,” I said. In her imperfect print she wrote out “In my language a tiger is called kya.” This started a conversation amongst the other kids on how to say tiger in other languages. All of the sudden I heard tiger in Arabic, Georgian, Russian, and Spanish. I even added in Italian for good measure.

Siberian Tiger – taken by National Geographic

I think this will now be a regular question I ask these little ones. It helps them connect with their home country, teaches the other children and me something new, and keeps them speaking their native tongues.

Want to know some other ways to say tiger? Check out Wiktionary’s list. I’ve included a few for practice.

  • Afrikaans: tier
  • Amuzgo: kítzia
  • Belarusian: тыгр (tyhr)
  • Burmese: kya:
  • Czech: tygr
  • Finnish: tiikeri
  • Georgian: ვეფხვი (vep’xvi)
  • Hindi: बाघ (bāgh)
  • Irish: tíogar
  • Japanese: 虎 (torá)
  • Rohingya: bag
  • Russian: тигр (tigr) 
  • Swahili: chui-milia 
  • Zulu: ingwe

I love that Letizia took a trip to China via a book. What a fabulous way to be global from home. Check out her review of China in Ten Words by Yu Hua.

reading interrupted.

I haven’t been to China yet but I went on a little voyage through space and time to take my mind off of the hurricane and its aftermath.

I had read a few good reviews of Yu Hua’s China in Ten Words and its bright yellow cover had been sitting on my desk for a few months.

As I prepared for Hurricane Sandy, I set aside a few different books to read.  I wasn’t sure what kind of reading mood I’d be in so my selection included:

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, John Steinbeck’s America and Americans and Yu Hua’s China in Ten Words

Yu Hua explores his relationship with 10 words (such as “People” and “Writing”) and through this exploration tells a history of China interweaved with his own personal stories.

I was delighted to find that one of the words he writes about is ‘reading’.

One passage in particular…

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