Outsider Art Project

A few years ago, I asked a painter, Margie Smeller, who has Downs’ Syndrome, to paint one of my photos of Torina.



I then had the idea of asking her to paint several other commercial photographer’s images.  This resulted in a show that paired her paintings with each photographer’s photographs.  The pairings sold, and proceeds went to Margie as well as to three charities.

A link to that show is here.

When I visited Mary Ellen Mark last month, she was struck by Margie’s talent.  She asked if Margie would paint two of her images.  Here is a pairing of one of Mary Ellen’s images:



This is Margie, and her website is here.


Children’s Cancer Association: Unveiling of the Hero Wall

Please join me in celebrating the lives of 25 very special young individuals who are heroes in the most profound way.

This Sunday, September 13, we will unveil 25 portraits of children and teens who were selected by hospitals, community specialists, and the staff at CCA for their extraordinary spirits despite facing fragile medical conditions.  The wall will be unveiled at 12:00 Noon in front of the World Trade Center at 121 SW Salmon in Portland, Oregon.  All afternoon long there will be rockin’ music, games, face painting, tempting foods and an array of treasures to be found.

You, your whole family, friends and neighbors are welcome to join us at any point, and the energy is light and welcoming.  Our purpose is to celebrate these lives!

At 4pm, the Portland streets around the World Trade Center will be closed, and music will be played as each child releases a homing dove into the sky.  It is a poignant moment for everyone, and a reminder of how important it is to stop and reflect upon what is most important to us.

A heartfelt thank you to Pro Photo Supply for donating the printing of these images, and to DigiCraft for mounting all of them.

See some of last year’s Hero Wall photos here.

We hope to see you there!


Gaza Photo Contest

I have been asked by Mercy Corps to be a judge for a photo contest that is being held in Gaza.  I just received the most remarkable email from the coordinator.  I can’t imagine this life.

Since two days now, we’ve hand-carried photo-frames from Israel’s border, to
the Gaza strip; Walking through a long silent tunnel and crossing a high
cement wall, we got 10 frames in Gaza for the photo exhibition: 20 more to
go. As you watch these picture, please try to  live the real story of this
photo-exhibition : 100 Students take pictures in Gaza where quality printing
and framing is nearly impossible. Two weeks ago, In a petite flash-disc we
“smuggle” the whole pictures from Gaza to Jerusalem. In one week, we finally
have beautiful photo-prints, elegant thin silver frames. Next puzzle to
solve: how to get them back from Israel in Gaza. No mailing service and no
transportation of goods either.

I tremble from the fear that the Israeli Soldier who sits at the border will
not allow the frames to enter in Gaza with me. As I expect, she (the
soldier) is suspicious when she sees me with frames almost as tall as me-
hanging on both my arms. I look more like a décor for the frames.

“What do you have in your bags?” Asks the soldier.
“Picture frames”-I answer
“What kind of photos”- she says
“Hmmmm….They attempt to capture those moments that make us all recognize
our humanity in each-other”- I answer.


“Open them , please”- says the soldier.

I  rip the seal off the frames who are compressed together and she gets a
quick peek.

Pause. Phone call. Hebrew. Than English again

-Dou can go.

Deep breath and absolutely happy I walk through. 10 frames are in Gaza now.
20 more to go between tomorrow and after tomorrow. Convinced that the frames
will be there, students are assigning a place for each frame on the walls of
the hall we rented for the exhibition. It starts on Saturday. I doubt we
will get them there on time and express frustration. One of them tells me
quietly : They will be here on Saturday.

I need to trust her. After all this photo-exhibition has a message:
“Recognizing Our Common Humanity”.

While we still struggle to get photos in Gaza, one by one,  -in a just an
hour-  we uploaded all of them online and will share them globally. Some,
may call this (f)act ironic, I call it “heroic”.

Thank you again for being part of this effort. Please view the pictures and
good luck in selecting the best of them. We will keep you updated of the
Photo-exhibition in Gaza.


We will feature this on the GCC homepage, in the newsletter and on our
social networking sites this week.

A Visit With Mary Ellen Mark

I am still floating over a delightful one-on-one session I just had with Mary Ellen Mark in NYC.  Her work has influenced me for many, many years, and I have the highest admiration regarding how she photographs people.  During our time together, instead of fear or intimidation, I felt an instant bond with her. On Sunday, the day before I left, I received a call from her asking me to have lunch.  We laughed about many things, and only talked about photography for a portion of the time.

I now have a few assignments.  And I will return again soon.

I can already feel a great shift in my approach.  My sincerest gratitude, Mary Ellen.





Images Seen in Christiane Amanpour’s CNN Coverage of Gaza

It is a very odd feeling to be sitting in a hotel in NYC and see my images in the background in Mercy Corps’ headquarters in Gaza.  I hesitate to feel good about such a thing when the country is in such peril, but I heard that the images brighten people’s lives there. So I am honored to be a teeny tiny part of effort in that area of our world.

Here is what the Mercy Corps’ video/media director had to say about the photos:

You should know that Christiane asked me where the photos were taken and she really liked them–I mean she totally commented on them and she was not exactly forthcoming in praise on much! So huge kudos to you!!!! Now the hard question.. the country director here (who is an amazing woman from Gaza who ran the office through the war while 4 months pregnant and kept the aid moving…) is in love with your photos. If I left them here she would be incredibly happy. What do you say?  GORGEOUS Pics.  And know you just made the whole Gaza team really happy!!

And to think that I have a hard time transporting these huge images just through town…and they look like they made the trip all the way to Gaza in great shape!  I hope they do brighten the walls during such difficult circumstances.

Here is a link to the CNN story

And many thanks to Pro Photo Supply for donating the printing of the images!


Organic Valley Shoot

Organic Valley continues to use my images throughout their ad campaigns and website.  Here is a sample of their community focused, get-to-know-your-farmer ad work.  Traveling to various farms around the West Coast was one of my favorite commercial assignments.


Copyright 2017 Joni Kabana. All rights reserved. Site by TD