Artists with a Sense of Humor

If humor is one of the highest forms of intelligence, then clearly these street artists are brilliant. I hope you are as bowled over as I was by these creative minds.

Photo of street art wall with straw

Photo of street art cheerleader

Photo of street art cigarette sewer

Photo of street art face and branches

Photo of street art shoe crosswalk

 

Photo of street art wall face

Photo of street art chalk tiger

Photo of street art kids chalk walk

Photo of street art eyes wall

Photo of street art more people climbing steps

Photo of street art scissors cutting street

Photo of street art sink hole with bicylist

Photo of street art steam roller

Photo of street art face on bombed building

Photo of street art love shadow

Photo of street art afro tree face

Photo of street art blue waterfall

Photo of street art guns and pencils

Photo of street art face skyscrapers

Photo of street art pastel steps

Photo of street art titanic building

Photo of street art treehouse building

Photo of street art zipper tree

Photo of street art subway steps

Photo of street art three friends

Unfortunately, I do not have the original source to properly credit the photographers or the curator of this delightful collection of images, but here’s a big shout out to Hensley Peterson for forwarding this piece to me via email. If anybody knows the original source, please let me know.

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Page One–A Movie Review

Page One PhotoFor those of you who love the smell of newsprint with your morning coffee, I have a movie for you: Page One: Inside The New York Times.

This film was nominated for the 2012 Critics’ Choice Award in the category of Best Documentary Feature, and was also listed as one of the 50 Best Movies of 2011 by Paste Magazine.

The gist of the film? It’s essentially a fly-on-the-wall look at The New York Times and the people who put it together. Through four memorable journalists who work on the Media Desk, the film examines how this prestigious newspaper, and others like it, are struggling to survive in the age of digital information. With the Internet surpassing print as the main source of news, and newspapers going bankrupt all over the country, Page One chronicles this grande dame and the media industry in the midst of its greatest turmoil.

Page One delivers the perfect mix of journalism, politics, publishing and all the people who work with or depend on it. You might call this film a love letter to a dying art form, the American newspaper, and a celebration of the traditional values of journalism in a time when our need for free, immediate information is chiseling away at that honored discipline.

David Carr at the New York TimesThis film is worth seeing for David Carr alone. An irascible media columnist, single parent, former crack addict and welfare recipient, Carr pumps this film full of verve with his intelligence, wit and his “No BS” approach to reporting. I say move over Brad Pitt and George Clooney–it’s David Carr who really deserves an Oscar, even if he is just portraying himself.

The other unlikely star of the film is the imposing Times headquarters designed by Renzo Piano. Even though the newspaper sold the building in 2009 and leased part of it back because it was on shaky financial ground, it’s hard not to be impressed by this gleaming monument. In many ways the building represents all that is right and wrong with the industry in the midst of rising new media.

New York Times Headquarters

If I had any criticism of Page One, it would be that it’s a bit scattered, following many intriguing threads, yet never tying them all up into one cohesive bow. Still, news junkies, writers, photographers, and anybody who cares about the future of media will appreciate this smart film.

My other criticism is less a criticism and more a personal wish: I wish the movie had focused on other sections of the newspaper as well–partly because we’ve worked with so many of them over the years. I wish we could have glimpsed our colleagues in the Travel, Business, Week in Review, or Arts & Leisure sections, or even the Magazine, who have all hired Jeffrey over the  years and licensed his photography and our agency’s photography. I would have loved to have heard their thoughts about the state of the industry and where they think it’s heading in the digital age.

My rating: 4 stars out of 5

Film details: Directed by Andrew Rossi, Written by Kate Novak and Andrew Rossi. Released by Magnolia Pictures. Running time 1 hour 28 minutes. Out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Get your hands on it via Netflix, iTunes or any of the usual video outlets. Photos courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

If any of you have seen the movie, I’d love to hear what you think. If not, I’m curious to know what you think the future of media brings for newspapers. Is it possible for them to stay vital and solvent? Drop me a comment and share your two cents.

This is Your Life…

You may have seen this before, but it’s worth taking a peek at the Holstee Manifesto again. It’s one of my favorite tidbits floating around the web so I thought I’d share it with you.

Holstee Manifesto Poster

This video version below is especially fun if you like typography.

Happy Sunday everybody. Now get out there and create something!

Thursday’s Picture of the Week: Russia

Photo or restoring Russian church in Moscow

Behind the scenes: It’s 1991 and Jeffrey is working on assignment for Travel Holiday in Moscow. Preeminent writer, Orville Schell, has written an in-depth piece about the renaissance of the Russian Orthodox church, and Jeffrey has been hired to photograph the story.

It’s a mind-numbingly cold January day when Jeffrey walks through Red Square with his interpreter, Alexi. People all around are dressed in heavy wool coats and classic fur caps. Jeffrey wears his American version of warmth—expedition weight Patagonia gear—but he still cannot feel his fingers or toes.

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, RussaOnce he enters St. Basil’s Cathedral though, Moscow’s iconic nine-domed masterpiece, and he’s lead through a series of dim, narrow chambers, he is instantly warmed by what he sees transpiring behind closed doors. A small group of artists is painstakingly restoring the frescoes and woodwork of this magnificent16th century structure.

Jeffrey and his interpreter see a dark-haired woman perched high atop scaffolding, restoring the face of an angel on one of the domed ceilings. When the woman sees the two, she immediately stops what she’s doing and looks down from above.

Jeffrey simply smiles and says in his best Russian, “ZDRAST-vwee-tye” (hello). “KAK VAS za-VOOT” (what is your name)? “Menya zavut Jeffrey” (my name is Jeffrey).

She can tell by his clothing that he’s not Russian. A broad smile crosses her face when he continues with every Russian phrase he has learned. Even though his grammar is nowhere near perfect, his accent is strikingly authentic, and in a matter of minutes he has endeared himself to the artists around him.

Restoration of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, RussiaIn no time they are all laughing and showing him into other back rooms, speaking to him in Russian as if he should understand every Cyrillic word. Jeffrey doesn’t need to comprehend a thing; their pride in what they are doing says everything.

It is a new era in Russia. Under Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership and policy of Glasnost (openness and freer discussion of issues), the Russian Orthodox Church is slowly coming back to life.

Prior to Gorbachev, the Soviet regime was committed to the complete annihilation of religion. Based on the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, atheism was the official doctrine of the Soviet Union and it became a high priority for all Soviet leaders in the Communist Party.

Not only did the state destroy churches, mosques and temples, but it ridiculed, harassed and executed religious leaders, flooded the schools and media with atheistic propaganda, and promoted ‘scientific atheism’ as the truth that society should accept. And just like all private property, any Church-owned property that wasn’t destroyed, was confiscated and put into public use.

_____

When Jeffrey arrives in Moscow, he senses the delicate dance of the new political and social freedoms unfolding around him. Russians are clearly embracing change, but they’re also cautiously optimistic, knowing things could change again quickly during this turbulent political time.

Russian woman praying at a Russian Orthodox chuch in Moscow, RussiaDuring this assignment, Jeffrey photographs nearly a dozen churches—previously confiscated religious buildings that have been returned to the church–some still surrounded by barbed wire, some with gilded onion domes shimmering in all their glory, and some even holding  elaborate services once again.

As Jeffrey climbs up the rickety scaffolding inside St. Basil’s Cathedral to photograph the artist painstakingly restoring the frescoed ceiling, he knows he’s about to create an image that perfectly symbolizes the renaissance of the Russian Orthodox Church. One person at a time, one brush stroke at a time.

Russian Orthodox Church ceremony in Moscow, RussiaEleven months later, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the government of Russia begins to openly embrace the Russian Orthodox Church, and the number of the faithful rises once again in Russia.

The photograph above was created with a Nikon F4 camera, a Nikon 24mm lens, SB-16 flash, and Fuji Velvia film.

To view a few more of Jeffrey’s photographs of Russian Orthodox Churches, click on this link:  See More Churches

The Colors of Change

The good thing about a blog is that it can evolve and change over time, just like all of us. My initial goal on Saturdays was to curate interesting things I stumbled upon each week and feature them in my “Saturday Sizzle,” but I’ve heard from several of you that you’d rather hear what I have to say than see/read a re-post of what’s already out there.

That is quite a compliment. Thank You!

Sooooo…while I’ll still plan to share things I find intriguing, inspiring or just plain funny, I’ll do that on Twitter or Facebook. Now on Saturdays, when time allows, I’ll post more of my own musings, or perhaps even an occasional personal picture or design creation.

I thought I’d start by sharing this unusual photograph of Olivia that I created with my IPhone on the 4th of July. Jeffrey, Olivia and I were in Aspen, laying on our backs watching the fireworks. Olivia was wearing glow in the dark jewelry and holding a glow stick that sparkled with different colors.

This is what I saw.

Photo of Olivia on the 4th of July

Universes Collide THEN…. Mgunga Magic NOW

THEN: UNIVERSES COLLIDE (Excerpt)

Photo of a Pilgrim at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet

A pilgrim at the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, Tibet © Jeffrey Aaronson

September 1988: Arriving back home in Aspen after nearly two months in Asia, Jeffrey craves nothing more than a real breakfast and good coffee from his favorite restaurant. He’s eaten little more than jasmine rice and vegetables for weeks in Tibet and has lost so much weight he has to tighten his belt two notches.

Sitting behind the steering wheel of his white Saab in the crisp autumn morning, he turns the key, only to hear the tired revolt of neglect.

“Shit.”

He tries again.

The battery is dead.

Having no desire to jump it, he decides instead to knock on the door of his friends, David Hiser and Barbara Bussell, three condos down. He knows David will let him borrow his van to drive into town for breakfast. Being a photographer himself—often working for National Geographic for months at a time—David knows all too well what it’s like to come home from a long, grueling trip.

As Jeffrey knocks on the door, then watches it slowly swing open, his eyebrows fly up. “You’re not David,” he jokes as he stands face to face with a young brunette.

Portrait of Becky Aaronson late 80's

Becky Green Aaronson, late 80's

“You got that right,” she chirps.

“Well, what have you done with David?” Jeffrey laughs. “Should I be worried?”

The young woman tilts her head and smiles, mischief sweeping across her face. “I’m not telling.” Then she crosses her arms and leans one shoulder on the door frame. “What do you want with David anyway?”

“I was hoping to borrow his van. I just got back from Asia and my car battery is dead.”

“Hmmm…Well, David’s in Mexico right now and Barbara’s in Bhutan, and I can’t loan out his van to somebody I don’t even know,” she says, looking at him like he’s just been let out of an insane asylum.

Jeffrey, while slightly annoyed, can’t help but laugh at her feisty attitude.

Portrait of Jeffrey Aaronson

Jeffrey Aaronson, late 80's

“Who are you, anyway?” she grills him as she eyes his dark leather bomber jacket, noticing how it accentuates his chiseled chin and five o’clock shadow.

Taking off his sunglasses, he flashes his green eyes. “I’m Jeffrey. Jeffrey Aaronson. I’m David and Barbara’s friend and neighbor. I’m a photographer, too. Now tell me who you are…and what you’re doing in their house.”

“I’m Becky,” she laughs as she shakes his hand, feeling a slight flutter in her stomach. “Do you want to come in? It’s kind of a long story.”

.    .    .    .    .    .

NOW: MGUNGA MAGIC

September 2011: When I look back at my photograph from more than two decades ago, first of all I can’t believe I’m sharing it with all of you. “Big hair” was definitely not a good look, but that was the 80’s, baby! Mostly though, I can’t believe how young and green I was when I took off on my improbable adventure to Aspen.

That same thing struck me again this summer when we were in Aspen visiting our friends, the Carpenter Family. Not only were we back in the Rockies again after having moved to Santa Barbara several years ago, but we were in the exact same condo where I first met Jeffrey.

You see, our friends Curt and Cindy Carpenter bought David Hiser’s condo in the early 90’s and have lived there ever since. For many years Jeffrey and I lived and worked a few doors down from the Carpenters, and vividly remember when their daughter Cornelia was born twenty-two years ago.

Portrait of Cornelia Carpenter

Cornelia Carpenter, author and illustrator of Mgunga

This summer as I looked at Cornelia’s shining face during our visit, it struck me that I was exactly her age when I moved to Aspen. On one hand, it seemed impossible, but on the other hand, I could see in her eyes what I felt when I was her age: the enthusiasm of a recent college graduate filled with drive, knowing the whole world was out there waiting for her.

This girl is well on her way, too, having already published her first illustrated book, Mgunga: A Day in the Life of an Umbrella Thorn Acacia. Inspired by her semester abroad in Kenya, she created a book of illustrations well beyond her years. And now she has just returned from a project in Australia.

When I watched my daughter, Olivia, gaze at Cornelia with awe when she handed her a signed copy of her book, I witnessed Cornelia unknowingly paying it forward and inspiring a 7-year old—just by being a brainy, adventurous, and creative role model.

I feel compelled to share a few images with you from Cornelia’s book because there’s no doubt in my mind this is the beginning of a brilliant career. In fact, if I ever find time to write that children’s book I have bumping around in my head, I know who I’ll be calling for the illustrations.

All illustrations ©Cornelia Carpenter 2011. You can click on the images to view them larger.

Mgunga Book Cover

Mgunga Book Inside Illustrations of Babboons

Mgunga Book Illustrations of Giraffes

Mgunga Book Illustration Owl and Elephants

Here’s to Mgunga Magic…and to being twenty-two…and to having the whole world out there waiting for you. And to those of us a wee bit older, here’s to remembering that feeling, and knowing anything is possible….even the improbable.


Worlds Away THEN… Paying it Forward NOW

THEN:  WORLDS AWAY (Part Two)

Portrait of Cherie Hiser and Tim Green

Tim and Cherie, 1985 ©Phillip Steven Cox, Silver Gelatin Print

September 1988: It’s the end of a hot, lazy summer day in Portland, and my insanely talented and artistic brother, Tim Green, and his ridiculously creative and eccentric wife (at the time), Cherie Hiser, have invited me over for dinner.

In no time the sweltering heat and the fine meal of artichokes, salmon, and sauteed mushrooms turn me into melted butter.

It is then, out of the blue, my sister-in-law says, “You know, I think you should go to Aspen and work for David Hiser.

Cherie, ever-optimistic, and generous to a fault, often came up with ideas that were more likely to be found in made-for-TV-movies.

Her Aspen idea is no exception.

Portrait of photographer David Hiser

David Hiser in the Arctic, 2006

As I raise my eyebrows and shoot her a smirk of disbelief, she says, “No, I’m serious. You’ve worked your ass off paying your way through school. You should celebrate. And it would be a great experience for you to work as an intern for a National Geographic photographer and see what Aspen’s all about.”

Prior to marrying my brother Tim, a gold and platinumsmith jewelry designer and tattoo artist twenty years Cherie’s junior, Cherie had been married to David Hiser. The two had lived in Aspen in the 60’s, and both became photographers, starting the renowned Center of the Eye.

Self-portrait of Cherie Hiser in Aspen, 1968

Birthday self-portrait of Cherie Hiser as Little Orphan Annie in Aspen, 1968 © Cherie Hiser

Portrait of Cherie Hiser and Ansel Adams

Cherie and Ansel Adams ©Cherie Hiser

While David and Cherie weren’t able to hold their relationship together in marriage, they still remained friends, and stayed in touch often.

Portait of David and Cherie Hiser

David and Cherie Hiser in 1968 and 1993

“I’m going to call him,” she says to me as if there is no question about it.

A couple weeks later, as I’m getting ready for work at my bookstore job, making coffee in the tired kitchen of my college rental house, the phone rings. I can feel sparks of excitement coursing through the phone. Cherie laughs, then says in her silky voice, “Looks like you better start packing your bags. David says he’s interested in having you work for him.”

Grand Staircase Escalante

Star trails in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National Park, Quetzal dancer in Mexico, Penan boy hunting with his blowpipe in Borneo, Rock Islands in Palau, Micronesia, Olympic National Park in Washington. All photos ©David Hiser

Oh my god, she was serious, I laugh to myself. I’d completely put it out of my mind, assuming it was just another one of her shoot-for-the-moon ideas. Cherie, who had one of the largest circle of friends and followers of anybody I knew, had a way of convincing people to do things they might not otherwise do.

I had no idea what she said to David to talk him into it, but as she rambled off the details of my Aspen adventure, it barely sank in: “In exchange for sweeping David’s floor and working in his studio, he’ll give you free housing for a month. You just need to get yourself there and have a little pocket money.

Grand Prismatic in Yellowstone National ParkQuetzal Dancer, MexicoPenan Hunter Gather of BorneoPalau, MicronesiaOlympic National Park, Washington

I don’t even know David, having only met him briefly once in Portland at a slide presentation he was giving at one of Cherie’s events. I also don’t know a soul in Aspen, nor do I know a thing about the town, except that it’s a ski resort high in the Colorado Rockies; it is completely off my radar.

I am itching for adventure though, so after scraping together enough money for a plane ticket, I give notice at work, convince my mom I won’t be axe-murdered, then pack my bags a month later and take off on my improbable journey to Aspen.

Maroon Bells in Aspen, Colorado with fall colors

One of the first things that makes my heart pound when I arrive in Aspen: The Maroon Bells with fall colors. ©Jeffrey Aaronson

NOW:  PAYING IT FORWARD

September 2011: When I think back to the sheer generosity afforded to me by David and Cherie Hiser, along with David’s girlfriend at the time, Barbara Bussell, when I was 22 years old, and the impact their kindness made on my life, I am nearly paralyzed with gratitude.

Without them, I never would have ventured to Aspen, I never would have fallen into the world of photography, and I never would have been swept away by the green-eyed,   curly-headed guy I now call my husband. And without those things, undoubtedly my life would have been much less rich.

Though I’ve thanked the Hisers and Barbara over and over in my mind for the past two decades, I realize the verbal thank yous I gave them years ago do not remotely equate to the gratitude I hold deep inside.

Portrait of Cherie Hiser and David Hiser

Cherie Hiser and David Hiser © 2010 Hiser and Hiser

But how do you adequately thank someone for making such a profound difference in your life? Words seem ridiculously inadequate.

I often tell my daughter that actions speak louder than words, and in the same vein, JFK once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

I can think of no better way to show my appreciation to David, Cherie and Barbara, besides sending them another resounding thank you (THANK YOU!) than to “PAY IT FORWARD,” to make a difference in another person’s life like they did in mine.

While this may sound lofty or highfalutin, and frankly, much easier said than done, for me it has become a lifelong goal–something I try to plug away at every day. Whether it’s teaching my daughter the value of giving back and helping others, volunteering in our community, or getting involved in causes that are meaningful to me, opportunities pop up every day. Just like many of you, I try to do what I can, when I can, and hope in the end, what I do will eventually make a difference to somebody.

Fortunately, I’m surrounded by people who inspire me on a daily basis: from my friend Maggie Bahnson, who raises money for cancer research…to my friend Annie Trout, who teaches kids in Haiti via Skype…to my friend Sarah Chase Shaw, who is involved in numerous leadership roles in her community…to my friend Jamie Allison, who founded Moms in Motion, a fitness group for women…to my husband, Jeffrey, who donates his work to help fund projects like building schools in Cambodia or helping the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan…to my friend Lynne Cage, who is involved in Lyme disease education…to my friend Rhonda Seiter, who is involved in numerous human rights causes…to my friend Kimberly Reeder, who works with children and motivates me to do things like feed the homeless. These are but a few of the people who light a fire in the inspiration department for me.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to fill David’s, Cherie’s or Barbara’s big shoes, making a life-changing difference in somebody’s world, but it is one challenge I gratefully accept.

Olivia Haiti Fundraiser

The love of my life, Olivia, age 6, raising money for the earthquake victims in 2010.

QUESTION: I would love to know how gratitude has played a part in your lives. Hearing other peoples’ stories always inspires me, and I’m sure it will spark somebody else’s imagination as well. I hope you’ll share your thoughts:

1) What is the best THANK YOU you ever received?

2) What type of THANK YOU are you most proud of having given somebody?

3) How do you “PAY IT FORWARD?”

Worlds Away THEN… Gratitude NOW

Photo of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, TibetTibetan pilgrim spinning prayer wheels in Lhasa, TibetTibetan Monk at the Jokhang Temple in LhasaTibetan Pilgrims at Tsurphu Monastery

Photos of Tibet: The Potala Palace in Lhasa, a pilgrim spinning prayer wheels in the Barkhor, a Buddhist monk at the Jokhang Temple, and pilgrims waiting to be blessed by the Karmapa at Tsurphu Monastery. All images ©Jeffrey Aaronson.

THEN: WORLDS AWAY (Part One)

August 1988: I don’t know my husband, Jeffrey Aaronson, yet. He’s photographing on the Roof of the World in Tibet. I’ve just graduated from college in Portland, Oregon, and when I’m not working at my job as a bookstore maven or sending out resumes trying to wrangle a real job in the fields for which I’ve just spent a bazillion dollars earning my degrees, I’m tossing back beers with friends, listening to U2 and training for my first Olympic-distance triathlon.

Jeffrey has called Aspen, Colorado home for the past decade, but spends most of the year traveling around the world, living his dream as a photojournalist. I don’t even know what my dream is yet for sure, but the restless pull of life has me aching for adventure. And the tug of my pen has me writing it all down in journals. Even though I would never call myself a writer at this moment, I do realize that I cannot not write; that I’m compelled to dance with words in some form or another, even if I’m just scribbling down musings for myself.

During that hot summer of 1988, Jeffrey’s and my worlds are so far apart—both literally and figuratively—it’s impossible to believe that they will ever collide. But then something so improbable happens, the only way to look at it is fate or kismet…or any of those other sappy words we hate to admit make our skin tingle…

  • Read Part Two in my next post from THEN. I promise I won’t leave you hanging each time—that’s way too annoying. If you’re interested though, stick with me and you’ll soon find out how this improbable couple met.

NOW: GRATITUDE

August 2011: I don’t know whether to be horrified or humored, but more than two decades later I’m still tossing back cocktails with friends, listening to U2 and training for triathlons.

Becky Green Aaronson at the Santa Barbara Triathlon

My biggest little fan after the 2010 Santa Barbara Triathlon

Well, at least in between being a wife and mom, a domestic goddess and a social coordinator for my family…and when I’m not being tortured by Justin Bieber as I taxi sweet Olivia back and forth to camp or play dates…or when I’m not trying to heal a nagging back injury which has left my running shoes in the closet for the last five months (but that’s a whole other story).

And then of course, there’s the writing. Though it has taken me much longer than I care to admit to finally jump into the world of writing professionally, here I am…at last…a writer…writing my book, The Art of an Improbable Life, as well as magazine articles, and now this blog.

Jeffrey Aaronson driving Mabel, his 1959 Rambler station wagon

Jeffrey and Mabel

Jeffrey has been on too many wild adventures to count, but has magically circled back where he started—immersed in an art project about Tibet, trying to use the power of his photography to make a difference in the world. That is when he’s not feeding lettuce to our daughter’s tadpoles or cooking a fine meal for his family or tinkering with Mabel, his 1959 Rambler station wagon.

So much has happened in the last twenty-odd years—from the life changing to the banal, from the heart wrenching to the absurd—I get vertigo every time I think about it.

But one thing for certain, Jeffrey and I know we are living the dream, and we don’t take it for granted. We are both filled with gratitude for all the things that have happened in our lives—from the extraordinary people we’ve met to the friends we’ve made, to the nutty and loving families we have supporting us on both sides, to the numerous improbable moments that have swirled into this life we call our own.

Even on days when my greatest challenge is picking up yet another pint-size pink clothing item off the floor or answering a mind-numbing mountain of questions, I know I’m lucky. Ridiculously lucky. It’s all about gratitude, and appreciating that the improbable has happened for a reason, even if that reason isn’t always clear.

Portrait of Jeffrey and Becky Aaronson

Improbable

Improbable: Unexpected. Not likely to happen. Events of rare coincidences. Hundred to one. Outside chance. Rare. Slim. Unimaginable. Fanciful. Incredible.

As Madame de Stael once said, “In matters of the heart, nothing is true except the improbable.” And nothing could be more accurate when describing my life or that of my husband’s…and even more so, the life we have created together.

As a young college graduate, it was an improbable moment that changed the trajectory of my life and sent me on a plane heading to Aspen, Colorado. And it was another improbable moment that dropped my husband, Jeffrey Aaronson, onto my doorstep and launched me into a career I never could have imagined. And yet another improbable moment that inspired Jeffrey to trade in his job as a biochemist and cancer research specialist to become a photojournalist.

Our worlds blissfully collided more than twenty years ago from this series of unlikely events, and soon after inspired us to begin working side-by-side in the field of photography. As an international photojournalist, Jeffrey traveled around the world on assignment for many of the nation’s top publications—everyone from Time, Newsweek and the National Geographic Society to Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.

Time Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverNational Geographic Book CoverSmithsonian Magazine CoverGEO Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverTime Magazine CoverNewsweek Magazine CoverTime Magazine CoverTime Magazine Cover

While Jeffrey was off gallivanting around the globe on assignments, I ran our busy stock photo agency, Still Media (formerly named Network Aspen before relocating from Aspen to Santa Barbara). As Director of the agency, I focused on all the marketing, sales and promotion, and also oversaw the staff and coordinated assignments. On a few occasions I also managed to jump on planes with Jeffrey, learning first-hand the challenges involved in not only getting an assignment done, but getting it done well, and on time.

Photo of Jeffrey Aaronson taking picturesPassport scan

During those two decades, Jeffrey flew over a million miles crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of photographic stories. His passports (all four of them) quickly became colorful art pieces, with stamps from every corner of the world. From the shores of the Pacific to the high peaks of the Himalayas to the heart of the Sahara Desert—he pursued Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, boated down the Yangtze River in China, outmaneuvered the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and ventured into some of the most remote regions of the world. He also photographed everything from China’s Democracy Movement in Tiananmen Square to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration in South Africa to life behind North Korea’s Iron Curtain.

Photo of Moroccan woman in a burkaSouth African woman with new flagPhoto of Japanese woman in Kimono, TokyoPhoto of Kim Il Sung statue in North KoreaPhoto of Evzones in Athens, GreecePhoto of Buddhist monk in Lhasa, TibetPhoto of boy with AK-47 in CambodiaPhoto of Muslims praying in VietnamPhoto of Moscow, RussiaPhoto of the American SouthwestPhoto of Rice Paddies in Sichuan, China

We shared both an exhilarating and exhausting life—one that was not only fast-paced and unpredictable, but also deeply gratifying. We breathed news, cultures and world events and felt the pulse of the media through the many talented editors we worked with on a daily basis.

Even though it wasn’t unusual for Jeffrey to be on the road for weeks, if not months, at a time. we still managed to live a completely normal, deeply romantic, and rich life together. Well, normal, I suppose if you consider it normal for a wife to count her lucky stars that her husband wasn’t arrested or killed by an oppressive regime. Or that the airplane he was flying on didn’t go down during a hell-on-earth thunderstorm in the Himalayas, or the duct tape on the antiquated Russian helicopter in Cambodia didn’t fall apart in mid-air. Or simply that he didn’t contract malaria or dysentery while working in one of the many hot spots of the world like Africa or East Timor. Or if you consider it normal to master the fine art of suitcase-packing and airport departure routines, or learning how to speak to each other in code when communicating via phone, fax or email in countries in which it wasn’t safe to talk openly.

Portrait of Jeffrey and Becky AaronsonThis blog, The Art of an Improbable Life, is meant to be a head-spinning look back at the simply complicated, fortuitous, improbable life Jeffrey and I have shared  in the world of art, photography, writing, and more recently, parenthood. On many levels it’s a love letter to my husband, a celebration in words and pictures of all the extraordinary moments we’ve experienced together, and those he’s captured through his lens as a photographer; and all the stories he’s planted deep in my heart after coming home from assignments in far-flung locations.

My blog will contain moments from THEN that are worth re-telling—particularly some of the improbable moments that helped Jeffrey create several of his most important photographs—and moments unfolding NOW in the lives of two creative types trying to chisel out time to write, create contemporary fine art photo projects, and raise a young child with the same amount of love and tenderness they’ve always given each other and their work.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I hope you enjoy the adventure as we travel to foreign lands and navigate through exotic cultures and historic world events. I also hope you’ll join in the conversation by posting your comments, questions or thoughts.

–Becky