Featured in Photographer’s Forum Magazine

Many thanks to Claire Sykes for the lovely article she wrote about my philosophy and work in this month’s Photographer’s Forum magazine.

It is a humbling honor to read what she has written, and also the various quotes by people (Jim Friedman, Shelby Lee Adams and Lewis Wall) who have greatly inspired me over the years.

Photographer's Forum Magazine

Mary Ellen Mark: An Inspiration To Many

Mary Ellen Mark lives.

She is still examining between the lines of what we see and what we understand. The subjects of her portraits, her students, the people whose eyes she deeply sought and whose lives she intricately examined, know she is not gone. How could she possibly be far from our reach for influence?

Her voice lives on. Her love of the less seen and forgotten souls lives on. Her catch of nuance and unveiled thinking still moves us.

I will miss talking with her, yes. Seeing her braids. Hearing the jangling of her bracelets. Feeling the swish of air that arises from her swirling skirts when she walks by. Looking at her hands.

But she lives. She’s here. Her belief in humanity and resulting photographic images command a riveting attention like no other. How she moves us.

Maybe I finally will listen to her words of advice more so now since she won’t have to repeat those sentiments as often as she had to in the past. Sorrow blankets my heart. I can hear her voice, magnified.

No, Mary Ellen has not left us. She has only just begun to fill the world around us, and will do so for our future generations.

She just caught the light.


Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark


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To hear my radio interview on Oregon Public Broadcasting:  Remembering Mary Ellen Mark


The Market Workers: A Tribute

We are so very pleased to announce the launch of our beautiful little book The Market Workers, a loving tribute to some of the hardest workers on earth.

This book has been a labor of love for many years, starting when I first entered the market in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia and saw the tireless energy and positive mindsets of the market workers who work so very hard each day to bring food, clothing/textiles, spices and household wares to so many. From simple dinner tables to high end luxury hotels, these people make sure there is a ready supply of items that feed the body and soul.

This book could not have been created without the help from so many others. Enormous gratitude goes first and foremost to Lincoln Miller, owner of PushDot Studio, who labored over the files to get them to look colorful and lively, all with a consistent feel, even though the images were created over a three year time span. His talented and gracious wife, Dardi Troen, owner of Ditroen, worked with renowned educator and artist (and very good friend!) Kirsten Rian to create the look and feel of the design of the book and sequence the images. We could not select a cover image (this proved too difficult when I love all of the workers!) so the cover is a very simple black face with red/orange foil type.

Aida Muluneh, founder of the Addis Foto Fest, penned a heartfelt introduction to the book and coordinated an exhibit, and mentor and friend Mary Ellen Mark, who has had a huge influence on my visual heart and soul, wrote a special sentiment.

Words escape me when trying to articulate the gratitude I have for the assistance I received while in Ethiopia from my many friends there, from the city officials in Bahir Dar, and above all, from Habtamu, my trusty guide and friend who works in the markets in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

The printing was done by Brown Publishing, with astonishing results. The colors are deep and saturated, and skin tones are true to life.

Each book was lovingly crafted with a hard cover, the highest quality papers and flat lying binding. This is a very short run (only 200 copies) and many of them were given to people in Ethiopia (including the energetic market worker who coordinated the project within the market) when the book was launched during The Market Workers exhibition opening at the National Museum of Ethiopia last December.

Prints have been shown at Lightbox Gallery, PushDot Studio, Katayama GalleryThe Clymb headquarters, and have been included in many other international exhibits. Special gratitude to Laura Domela, for her painterly hand at post processing each image to appear lifelike. The sales of these prints offset costs that enabled this book to be published, so a sincere thank you goes to those who purchased prints.

Each book costs $40, plus shipping and handling.  All proceeds enable me to pay for the cost of producing the book, plus allows me to keep doing the work I do in Ethiopia.

Kindly email me to reserve a copy.


The Market Workers Book

The Market Workers Book

Behind the scenes of the Market Workers series: Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

Market Workers Lightbox Gallery


April: Portland Photo Month

There are several events related to photography taking place during Portland Photo Month in April. Check the Portland Photo Month website for the latest listings.

A few highlights:

THEN. NOW. HERE.  BAM! Images of Portland, curated by Raymond Meeks, will be projected onto buildings around Portland during the month of April. Check the link for times and locations.

Photo Picnic!  Bring your nibbles, your favorite sip and a special blankie. We will be showing Mary Ellen Mark’s newly released book, Prom, and screening the Prom documentary film, co-produced with her husband and filmmaker, Martin Bell.

Thursday, April 26  8-10pm   Location is at my studio.

Door: $5-10 sliding scale payable to Photolucida.  Floor space is highly limited, so send us an email to reserve your spot.

GET IN THE VAN! I will be teaching street photography workshops in various locations and with different co-instructors I admire. First up: the uber-talented Leah Nash! Check the classes link on my website to view current workshop listings.

(Photo by Mary Ellen Mark, from her new series “Prom”)

Halloween + One Old Soul Boy

I watch preparations for Halloween on the streets. My nine-year-old friend who passed away this year seemed to be able to parse out his mind from logic and the overlay of structure…and help us all believe, really believe, in dragons and spirits and totems and the mish-mash of spirits that help us along. Perhaps he did know something we can’t understand.  Perhaps he did tap into something “out there” beyond our mind’s capabilities or willingness to grasp.

I think he knew that he would live far beyond what anyone could imagine. Gage is right here: magical, deliberate, thoughtful, balanced and oh-so wry.

Workshops: Jock Sturges + Shelby Lee Adams

I was able to facilitate the arrival of Shelby Lee Adams and Jock Sturges into Portland to teach workshops at Newspace Center For Photography.  Both of them are masterful teachers.  They have an ability to not only teach photography skills and subject engagement, but each brought lessons in life itself.

My path has been altered greatly by each of them.


Mary Ellen Mark

It was a great honor to be able to spend time with Mary Ellen Mark in Portland this past month. She was an early influence on my approach to subjects, and I am in awe of the depth she establishes with the people she photographs.

(Chris Rauschenberg, Mary Ellen Mark, Me)

(Mary Ellen Mark with staff at Pro Photo Supply)

Mary Ellen Mark Workshop

Just coming off of a highly energetic, information filled weekend hosting Mary Ellen Mark’s workshop in my studio.  It was an absolute delight running around Portland with her, hosting a really fun dinner party, seeing her new Prom film at her lecture, eating late night dinners and having her class use our home as a base while street shooting on Sunday.

The participants’ work was nothing short of outstanding.  Truly was.

And she even scored a new camera and light meter at Pro Photo Supply!

I am missing you already, Mary Ellen.  And I look forward to working with you again very soon.

Stirring The Fire: Inclusion of Ethiopia Work

My work surrounding maternal health in Ethiopia has been included on the Stirring The Fire website, and I was invited to chat with Phil Borges about the direction of the project.  I will return to Ethiopia in January 2011 for a month, and perhaps as early as November 2010 to continue documenting the maternal issues which rural Ethiopian women face.

Copyright 2018 Joni Kabana. All rights reserved. Site by TD