Nazia Mirza.jpg

I had the privilege of taking photos of Nazia Mirza and her awesome family a couple months ago. I, so luckily, came across Nazia when I was volunteering photography for Muslim families following Tr*mp's initial attempts at a Muslim travel ban. To me, photographing awesome, families that were targeted by his policies was a way of humanizing people that Tr*mp, and so many others, wanted to paint as dangerous and not sharing in what they believe are Judeo-Christian values. 

Nazia and hubby.jpg

Not only was Nazia’s family extremely warm, fun, and kind, but I later learned that Nazia is doing/has done incredible work to bring awareness to and combat female genital mutilation (FGM) in her former sect of Islam. She was featured in a New York Times article about the subject, describing her experiences as,"To me it's very much like a rape survivor. If you don't say anything, then how are you going to expose it and bring awareness." She continued, "It violates you as a human being and it shouldn't be done, end of story."

In the same way that the #MeToo social media movement has spread, speaking-out about the dangers, stigmas, and the loss of security that she felt as a victim in her sect is critical to helping others empathize, denounce, and move forward with their lives.

It's clear that Nazia has an enormous amount of strength and courage and I was so fortunate to photograph her!

Keep up the amazing work, Nazia!!!

Nazia and Family.jpg

Indiana Adventures - Part 2 - Sadness and Hope

I'm simultaneously nostalgic and relieved to be back in Austin after that whirlwind trip to the Midwest. In Part 1 of our Indiana Adventures to Camp Palawopec, I was super excited to share some of the special moments that happened at a place that was so meaningful to my development. What I omitted in acknowledging, and also what is omitted from the photos below in this post, Part 2, are my feelings of exhaustion, sleeplessness, and sadness.

Before I get started, I apologize for temporarily turning a photo blog into a journal entry. For those that don't see our day-to-day life, I don't feel like it's fair to only post photos that are happy and weird, but don't say much about how I'm feeling behind the camera and how that's affecting my abilities to be a good husband, dad, and friend.

Henry playing in the rain in Carmel, Indiana

Henry playing in the rain in Carmel, Indiana

I've been in quite a funk lately and I'm troubleshooting how to dance my way out of it. Since the inauguration of our president in January I've had feelings of being overwhelmed and of being helpless. It often feels like the wars that many in the GOP are waging are against the innate Christian values that I was raised with*. Instead of inviting the most-vulnerable to the table to share in our feast, our politicians (and at least 46% of voters) have decided that the most-vulnerable in our communities should be condemned to the fringes of our societies, to jails, and detention facilities. That they should be robbed of medical care, voting rights, family planning, economic assistance, education assistance, school lunch programs, protections against hate crimes, and no longer allowed to dream of citizenship.

These two just own my heart

These two just own my heart

It's felt like the incremental gains in the rights of people of color, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people without economic opportunities are being tossed away like the chaff from the wheat. And all my feelings of helplessness, and sadness, and fear just came to a head two weeks ago (...and I know that as a white, married, cisgender, educated, insured, man of economic privilege I'm the least vulnerable to the current administration's policies).  

Keep on climbing

Keep on climbing

In a lot of ways, volunteering my photography over the past 7 months has been my way out of my sadness hole. It's allowed me to interact with just FRIGGIN' AWESOME people like the folks at Central Texas Pig Rescue (blog post), Healing with Horses, Caritas of Austin, Austin Justice Coalition, Muslim families in Houston (additional blog post), immigrant families in Austin, LGBTQ families in AustinThe Trail Foundation, The Blanton Museum (blog post coming soon), Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, and Casa Marianella. Opportunities I most-likely wouldn't have sought out without feeling the clouds of oppression that this administration has held over our vulnerable communities.

So, I guess that this is a two-pronged post: 1) I want to acknowledge that I'm profoundly sad on a day-to-day basis for the folks whose livelihoods, rights, opportunities, and families are under attack; and 2) that the best way I've found to bring myself out of my funk is to volunteer and get involved with awesome people and organizations.

I love you all. Thanks for reading! Keep making the world a better place for the people in your communities!

All photos in this blog post are available as prints. Just fill out the print request form and we will work together to get one created to fit your space and needs!

I'm also available for hire. Just fill out my contact form and we will kick off the process!

*I was raised Catholic until middle school when I dropped out of the church all together. However, culturally, I still feel very attached to Catholicism (like going to sanctuary, volunteering, helping the most-vulnerable, and giving what you can to those that need it most) though I'm sure many would not find what I practice to be Catholic/Christian. I hope that I embody a good portion of Catholic ideals like selflessness, humility, and helpfulness on a daily basis.