My friend James / Málaga

After three weeks in the hospital my good friend James was very thin but had a full beard. His future mother-in-law brought in contraband food–bananas and steamed carrots– to augment the white rice he was receiving.James told me he was very tired and not to stay very long. Friends can say that.

He survived and is now married. His mother-in-law did not like the beard. It has since disappeared.

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Nenad Burcar – artist / Zagreb, Croatia

I came across Nenad Burcar on Tkalciceva street just off Zagreb’s main square, selling his paintings. He is also a writer, and he asked if I was interested in producing some of his television scripts. When I asked if I could take his picture he agreed, but only if he could also take mine.  So to honor his request I am including his pictures of me — holding his paintings.

Enrique – Shepherd / Horcajo de la Ribera, Spain

Enrique and other men and boys from his village herded sheep ten months of the year, in Castilla León in the summer and Extremadura in the winter. In his early days they moved the sheep on foot and horseback, and later in trains and trucks. I found Enrique enjoying the sun on his daily walk outside the village, now only populated by old people and summer visitors.

Morning break / Junta de los Caminos, Málaga

Just outside Puerto de la Torre, where several roads come together, is a small group of houses and cafes. I parked my scooter, ordered a café con leche (un mitad doble in local speak) and sat down to enjoy the late morning air on the patio. These men didn’t arrive together, but seemed to be old friends, in no rush to get back to whatever was waiting for them. In Spain drinks are consumed slowly and sitting down, with plenty of conversation.

José Antonio – shoe repairman / Málaga

If he says they’ll be done by Thursday, they’ll be done. José Antonio runs a small shoe repair business in the Málaga suburb of Puerto de la Torre. I’ve often wondered how he can survive charging so little. He has a friendly smile and knows my name. That means a lot to me— that, and knowing my shoes will be ready when he promised.

Keith – Oklahoma farmer

I spent the morning with Keith riding around in his pickup truck checking on center-pivot irrigation systems in his soybean fields between Hydro and Weatherford Oklahoma. I like Keith. He is humble, kind and serves others. Years ago he did volunteer community service in Bolivia. Now he is a leader in the nearby country church, which really means doing things for other people. I hope this photograph honors Keith. He deserves it.

Hand on the shoulder

Between the Zagreb bus station and the main square I came up behind this sweet couple. She’s looking ahead and he’s looking down. He depends on her.

I know they’ve seen lots of change and turmoil in their lives. Have they always turned to each other for strength? Have their struggles brought them closer together? Do they share their deepest thoughts? On the other hand they might have  a silent dependency, just trying to read each other’s minds.

I often wonder how the people in my photos live and act and think.