Our book is finally out!!

Yesterday marked the release of Dave Hoekstra’s book (with photos by me) called “The People’s Place: Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences from the Civil Rights Era to Today”   Amazon link here!!

We celebrated at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans with a meal cooked in their restaurant with recipes from the book and an exhibit.

A good time was had by all!!

On the flight home I was reading an email from a publicist regarding an actress named Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) who had done an interview and photo shoot for a magazine called The Untitled Magazine. Her publicist emailed the magazine to say that “She looked incredible. We are thrilled and excited to see the final edit.”

The publicist then became concerned that the clothes she was wearing were too revealing!

Shouldn’t the basic rule of thumb be as follows:

If you look down and see your boobs, tell the photographer you don’t want to wear the clothes!! (Unless you want people to see your boobs!!)

I once did a photo shoot with an artist who arrived looking beautiful, wearing a nice red jacket and black pants. She asked to go to the bathroom to check her makeup and returned five minutes later with red streaks (to look like blood) running down her cheeks. I asked her if that is how she wanted to be photographed and she said, “Of course- that is why I painted this stuff on!”

So a month later, the photo appeared in a magazine and I received an angry call from her manager. Nothing I could say to him made him feel any differently, and I never got to photograph any of his bands again.

I think this world need some better communication!!!!

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The latest issue of Time Magazine has an interesting take on the world of photojournalism. It concerns a Turkish photographer covering the refugee crisis in her country. She came across a young child lying face down in the water on the shore of a lake, having drowned trying to escape Syria with his family. She took pictures as an aid worker picked the child up and carried him away. When she came across the child, she “was petrified,” she told the Dogan News Agency, the organization she works for. “The only thing I could do is make his outcry heard.”

Time goes on to explore the image, saying that the most important attribute of the image is – a sense of absolute authenticity.

They go on to say “The photojournalism community has been increasingly embroiled in a controversy over what degree of digital editing is and is not permissible.”

The article ends with this quote: “The thing about this photograph is that it is impossible to forget once you’ve looked at it. Even if you shut your eyes immediately, it’s too late. The image is with you. It will remain in your memory forever. And that is what gives photography the power to change events.”

Sure makes what I do pretty trivial!!!

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A nice sentiment from yesterday’s Farm Aid concert

Farm Aid

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LeBron James

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a lack of social consciousness by the athletes of our world. This week I read an article in the ESPN Magazine that sort of changed my mind (a bit). Howard Bryant wrote:

Michael Jordan has never been known for a single courageous social act. Jordan recently sued a defunct supermarket chain and won $8.9 million dollars over an advertisement that reportedly yielded all of $4.00.

LeBron James, on the other hand, recently pledged $41 million dollars to partner with the University of Akron (his hometown) to send as many as 2,000 at- risk Akron kids to college. It is noted in the article that a kid from a poor upbringing has almost no chance of going to college, unless he has an amazing fastball or jumpshot.

LeBron also was one of the first basketball stars to wear an “I Can’t Breath” T-shirt on the court during warmups of a nationally televised game.

I have always tried to do what I can to help people that didn’t grow up in privilege like I did. It is nice to see someone who can actually make a difference do so, too.

I recently did a series of interviews concerning farm issues. I interviewed a young man who learned how to grow food while in jail, and now is the head farmer on the largest rooftop farm in the country. It is good to see that things are happening in a grass roots way to make the world a better place.

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Friday night I was standing in line at the credential table at the Chicago Jazz Fest talking to a fellow photographer. He was commenting that this was his favorite festival to photograph because the music was great and the artists didn’t have any restrictions on photographers. I agreed. Just as I said it, the woman behind the desk held up a piece of paper and said, “ Come over here so I can tell you about all the restrictions on photo access this year.” More than half the artists on the list had major restrictions!! Including one guy who would only allow photographers to shoot one song.

There was a guy sitting behind the desk who I was later introduced to. He is a New York jazz publicist. He told me to get used to this as it was a new trend in the jazz world. He had no idea why, but suggested that the managers and agents were behind it. I asked if the artists were being asked, and he said probably not.

Jazz is pretty difficult to shoot. It is not just the standard instruments played the normal way. On Thursday I saw a guy play at least 4 different kinds of horns, some of which I had never seen before. It takes time to figure out the angles and the lighting (which goes from full daylight to full stage lights during each night. So I went back to my car and went out for a nice dinner, and then home.

Oh well- it saved me the $35.00 per day for parking each of the last two days, and allowed me to catch up on some good college football!!

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Before I became a music photographer, I was into photographing sports. The first time I held a camera in my hands, I was courtside at a Bulls game, standing next to Lew Alcindor of the Milwaukee Bucks (I wish someone got a picture of that!!) He was one of my idols, because he stood for something. He wasn’t just a basketball player- he was a thinking citizen of the world. I have always admired the celebrity that puts his mouth where his money is, (so to speak) and shows the world what he feels. So my heroes were Lew Alcindor (soon to become Kareem Abdul Jabbar) Billie Jean King, and Muhammad Ali. I never photographed Ali, but did photograph the other two.

Lew Alcindor of the Milwaukee Bucks - 1973 Chicago, Il. Chicago, Illinois United States 1973 Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage.com

Billie Jean King of the Philladelphia Freedoms - 1972 Chicago, Il. Chicago, Illinois United States 1972 Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage.com

Ali’s anti war stance cost him years of his career, Billie Jean beat Bobby Riggs in straight sets in 1973, proving that women are equal to (or better than) men.

As we move through 2015, Kareem has become a voice for the black community. Last week, in a beautiful article in Time Magazine, he addresses the candidates for president.

Here is how it starts:

Dear presidential candidates:

With the first anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown this weekend, America needs to know how the tumultuous events of the last year have affected your stance regarding the needs of the black community. In order for African Americans to determine this, please select one of the following that best defines your current philosophy: a) Black Lives Matter, b) Black Votes Matter, c) Black Entertainers and Athletes Matter, d) All of the Above, e) None of the Above.

If you chose anything other than “a,” you probably don’t deserve any votes—black, brown, or white. You might get votes by default of being less bad than the alternatives, but getting votes that way isn’t much of an endorsement of your leadership abilities. And making things better for African Americans in a substantial and meaningful way in this country is going to require an outstanding leader.

Later in the article:

Courage is required in order to speak out in support of “Black Lives Matter.” So many Americans misunderstand the meaning of the phrase that there’s an outraged backlash against it. The popular misinterpretation, encouraged by some politicians seems to be that by saying “Black Lives Matter,” African Americans are seeking special attention. In fact, it’s the opposite. They are seeking their fair share of opportunities without receiving the “special attention” of being profiled, arrested, imprisoned, or killed.

Many of you candidates—including the only black candidate, Ben Carson—have used the more mundane phrase, “All Lives Matters,” which appeases racism deniers. This is cowardly because it completely ignores the problem and panders to the least politically informed constituency. Americans are used to candidates competing to see who can best ingratiate themselves to the demands of reclusive billionaire backers and fringe groups, but this goes too far.

Most Americans are already in agreement that all life matters—it’s just that blacks want to make sure that they are included in that category of “all,” which so many studies prove is not the case. In the future, think of “Black Lives Matter” as a simplified version of “We Would Like to Create a Country in Which Black Lives Matter as Much as White Lives in Terms of Physical Safety, Education, Job Opportunities, Criminal Prosecution, and Political Power.”

The man is brilliant- see the whole article here:


Maybe he should run for president rather than the morons that are running now!!



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Southern Accents

Last year I did a lot of traveling through the south working on a book with my friend Dave Hoekstra about Soul Food and the Civil Rights Movement (Coming out in October). While driving through many southern states (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina) we were amazed by all of the confederate flags proudly flying.

This year, nine people were killed in a church in Charleston, SC, and the move started to ban the confederate flag. It is interesting to see how the music world treats the issue. In 1985, Tom Petty recorded an album, and produced a tour called Southern Accents. The backdrop for the tour was a giant Confederate flag. I thought it was interesting enough to shoot some stage wide shots with the flag.

Tom Petty**


This summer, after the movement to ban the Confederate flag from South Carolina, Tom wrote an article for Rolling Stone about the stage design.

The Confederate flag was the wallpaper of the South when I was a kid growing up in Gainesville, Florida. I always knew it had to do with the Civil War, but the South had adopted it as its logo. I was pretty ignorant of what it actually meant. It was on a flagpole in front of the courthouse and I often saw it in Western movies. I just honestly didn’t give it much thought, though I should have.

The Confederate flag became part of the marketing for the tour. I wish I had given it more thought. It was a downright stupid thing to do.

It is interesting to see how the music world saw the issue.

The Drive-By Truckers’ Patterson Hood called for a reclamation and celebration of Southern heritage, minus the Confederate battle flag and all it represents, in an insightful, biographical essay for The New York Times Magazine. He said:

“If we want to truly honor our Southern forefathers, we should do it by moving on from the symbols and prejudices of their time and building on the diversity, the art and the literary traditions we’ve inherited from them,” Hood wrote, adding: “It’s time to quit rallying around a flag that divides. And it is time for the South to — dare I say it? — rise up and show our nation what a beautiful place our region is, and what more it could become.”

Then there is Kid Rock:

The National Action Network’s Michigan chapter protested outside the Detroit Historical Museum, which houses a Kid Rock exhibit, demanding that the rocker stop displaying the Confederate flag, Deadline Detroit reports. In a statement to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, Kid Rock relayed his message to those upset in his native Detroit: “Please tell the people who are protesting to kiss my ass/Ask me some questions.”


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Hazzard Free Farms

Yesterday, I met a true American hero! I spent the day with Andrea Hazzard on her farm in Pecatonica, Il. She is a 5 foot tall bundle of energy who grows (and harvests) grain for bakeries in Illinois and beyond.


She has been a farmer all her life (along with her brothers and dad) and wants to keep the traditions of farming alive for generations to come. She is researching  and growing ancient grains (from Russia, Turkey and many other countries)


and working with some bakeries in Chicago (most notably  Hewn in Evanston, Il. ) to produce some of the best bread on the planet. Her commitment to the land and the future  is heartwarming and needs to be brought to the attention of the people that are buying that great bread!!

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Where Everybody Knows Your Name

It started out as a corner bar just like Cheers if Norm rode a Harley and Cliff was in a heavy metal band. Then a friend of the owners asked if he could cook lunch and dinner in the small kitchen in the back. He made some really great food- I think I was the only person that ate it!!

Kumas Anniversary_0018 Kumas Anniversary_0021 One day Mike, the owner suggested that they start making hamburgers named after heavy metal bands and the rest was history. Lines down the block and “best burger in Chicago” in many publications nation wide.

One of my greatest achievements was obtaining VIP access (first available table).













This week Kuma’s celebrated their 10th anniversary. Next week their 4th location opens in

Indianapolis. I am proud to have my pictures hanging on the walls of all four of them.

The party was great on Saturday- street blocked off and six hours of live metal music. Food trucks were brought in so that the employees could party rather than work. People of all ages reveled in the sense of community that a great burger and great beer can bring to a corner of Chicago.


Kumas Anniversary_0017










Kumas Anniversary_0004


Hopefully there will be 10 more years, and  many more after that!!

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Sports Illustrated

It is very seldom these days that a magazine puts together a single issue that is filled with amazing writing from start to finish. Even more amazing is a spots magazine that has an entire image and does not have a single article in it that describes a sporting event. Last weeks Sports Illustrated fit that bill.

The cover story is on Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks and tries to explain the psychology of how a professional team recovers from a disastrous play call in the final minute of the biggest game of the year (possibly causing them to lose the Super Bowl). It is a fascinating account of the year leading up to this season, with that decision weighing on the team, and how the coach helps them forget it. (My personal feeling is that it was a gutsy call that just didn’t work. Trying something else (the obvious) might not have worked either).

The first article in the magazine is about Zach Greinke, possibly the best pitcher in baseball, who didn’t want to be a pitcher, because he can only pitch every four games and has to sit around the rest of the time with nothing to do.

Another great article is about Shaka Smart, the new coach at Texas, who, a few years ago took VCU, a pretty much unknown school to the final four with his amazing motivational coaching, and got the big money to coach at Texas..

He labels the five days of practice as:

Appreciation Monday

Enthusiasm Tuesday

Unselfishness Wednesday

Teamship Thursday

Accountability Friday

(on appreciation Monday, each must demonstrate non-verbal appreciation to someone that day- a hug, a smile- and report back!!

They save the best for last. 25 years ago, H.G. Bissinger wrote the seminal book on high school football, Friday night Lights. On it’s anniversary, he travels back to Texas to find five of the guys he wrote about a quarter of a century ago. It is heartbreaking to read about what has become of these high school heroes. His description of  waiting in the visitors room in prison for Boobie Miles to come out to meet him is heartbreaking- but breathtaking to read.  It is fascinating how these guys were the heroes who won the state championship, and have now become loners. Makes you wonder!

The magazine ends with a column by the magnificent Steve Rushin, ruminating on his bucket list of activities is hilarious.

Buy a hammock. Check.

Oblige a crowd of children chanting Can-Non-Ball. Check.

Eat nachos from a batting helmet. Not yet!

Makes me smile!!



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