Oaxacan Ladies

I jumped at the chance to visit Oaxaca, the city where mentor Mary Ellen Mark taught for many years. I found it a bit difficult to gain trust and approval for doing portraits there since this is a high tourist area, but several ladies let me make their portraits.  Here are a few samples.

I used my new Sony camera and am astounded at the detail it captures. I love how small it is, which makes it less obtrusive.

Oaxacan Lady

Oaxacan Lady

Oaxacan Lady

Acosia Red Elk

Photographing a person always has a spiritual feeling for me, but standing before Acosia as she dissolved one with her land was quite an astonishing and humbling experience.

We have so much to learn from our land’s indigenous culture.

Go to a pow wow, not only to watch the dancing, but also cross the cultural divide, dismiss any personal shyness and hesitation, and spend some time talking with someone from a tribe. Listen to their tales of history and beliefs. It’s opened my world and shifted my thinking substantially.

I can’t thank Acosia enough for letting me into a small part of her rhythmic world.

Watch her dance here.  Get the article here.



TEDxPortland Book

Last summer, I received a call from the coordinator of the TEDxPortland, asking if they could produce a book of my images to hand out to all participants.

They wanted something with a gritty street look and feel, and requested that I send images of the “real” Portland and a few other areas: from skateboarders to drag queens to strippers to authors and everything in-between. I was also asked to create a few images for their sponsors as a thank you for their support.

This week the book will finally go to the printers and we could not be more excited to see it come hot off of the presses.  The book is available only to participants of the 2014 TEDxPortland talks.

If you want to take one home with you, get your tickets here.

Homeless man in park

Drag Queen at Peacock in the Park

Outside of the Chrystal Ballroom


Prints For Prints Team Ethiopia 2013

We will soon embark upon our Ethiopia 2013 Prints For Prints project.  Today we gathered to do a test run on our printers, and all systems are GO!

Here are the members of the team with links to their websites:

Heather Binns

Steve Bloch

Joni Kabana

Bill Purcell

Constance Spurling


L-R: Heather Binns, Bill Purcell, Constance Spurling, Joni Kabana, Steve Bloch

(Photo by Ben Opsahl)

Prints For Prints: A Makeshift Studio in Rural Ethiopia

One thing that has become apparent while traveling anywhere is how precious a photograph print is to a family, especially in the rural areas of Ethiopia.  Most families have no record or image of their loved ones, and when we are able to give prints to villagers, it is appreciated beyond measure.

So this November, I will be traveling to Ethiopia with a small team of photographers and we will set up a small portable studio in several villages. We will capture portraits and donate the prints to the families we photograph. In addition, each US photographer will be paired with an Ethiopian photographer so there is an exchange of talents: technical skills, cultural awareness, and love for humanity.

We are planning a fundraiser to help with the costs for this project.  The concept is simple: we are calling the fundraiser “Prints For Prints”, and we will auction matted prints from photo-loving friends (both amateur and professional photographers). The prints will be sold at a very reasonable “affordable art” cost ($50-100 sliding scale) during a fun and relaxed party, followed by music by Portland’s very own Ethiopian funk band: The Tezeta Band!

This event will be held on August 8, 2013 starting at 7pm at the Secret Society Ballroom and we hope you will be able to attend.

All ages welcome until 8:30pm, then it is 21+.

Follow me at @jkabana on Instagram during November to see this project in action.

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PrintsForPrints

See our Website to view all of the prints and the fabulous photographers!


Villagers in Marovoay, Madagascar look at a Polaroid photo that was just made with their family.

(Villagers in Marovoay, Madagascar look at a Polaroid photo that was just made with their family.)

Prints For Prints Poster





Argentina: The Land Of Colors

Argentina is like a carnival in many ways.  From colorful street art to painted mountains to clothing with flare, colors are abundant everywhere you look.  Here are a few iPhone photos I took along the way as my eyes soaked in all of the colors around me.

View from the plane as we headed for Salta, Argentina


Wild donkeys in Jujuy, Argentina


On the road to Las Salinas Grandes, Argentina


Yummy empanadas, each of them with a different filling


The painted mountains surrounding Purmamarca, Argentina


Street Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina


The mountains near Tilcara, Argentina


La Bomba stirs the crowd in an old warehouse in Buenos Aires, Argentina


Street Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Street Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina



Global Press Institute: Argentina Office

It was an honor to be on assignment in Argentina this week, teaching photography skills to women reporters at the Global Press Institute office. Each woman was thrilled to get their donated cameras from Pro Photo Supply, and they eagerly absorbed all of the information that was packed into a two-day class.

We covered camera operation, lighting, composition, aperture/shutter speeds and the psychology surrounding taking a compelling portrait.

I will truly miss being with these women, and I look forward to reading their stories and seeing the beautiful photographs they will make which will enhance their articles.

Dina, Ro, Lucila, Bettina, Ivonne are excited to get their new cameras


The women reporters at Global Press Institute in Argentina try out their new photography skills


Women reporters use their new photography skills while photographing a juggler on the streets of Argentina



In Bed With A Magazine

My affinity for magazine photo assignments has escalated into a full blown love affair. I find myself sneaking into my office at 2am to finish editing and polishing those images so they will fly off of the printed pages.

And I am a cheap date: magazine editorial rates can pay for a few books, but hardly enough to help with college tuition for my three offspring.

But if truth be told, I do this because I repeatedly fall in love with some of the subjects. I never know when it will hit me, and it is a random thing. The way a hand brushes lint from a skirt, a pause in a spoken sentence, a flip of an attitude, a squeal of glee, one sarcastic comment.

I go home, download the images, and BAM. I am in love.

Here are a few people who have had that effect on me.  There are more tucked away on external hard drives, but I snagged a few here because, well, I love to think about what they bring to the world, one small gesture at a time.

(See if you can guess who each person is. Scroll your cursor over each image for the answer.)

An author:


A girl living happily on a commune:


A beer maker and a building restorer:


A folding bicycle maker:


The Littlest Cowboy In Frenchglen, Oregon:


An indie movie maker:


A dancer:


A redneck bar stool philosopher:


A bookstore owner:


An architect with a penchant for the drawing outside of the box:


Two crusty miners in Plush, Oregon:


A TV and movie star caster:


A Shakespeare Theater lover:


A lovely creative force who conceived of The Girl Effect:


A bread maker:


Another author:


A chocolate shop owner:


A mean ass goalie:


An environmental visionary:


Workshop: Venice Beach Street Portraiture

Just had a deliciously super dig dag BLAST teaching a street portraiture workshop as part of the Julia Dean Photography Workshops. We focused on Venice Beach and found many great subjects.

We also built a mini outdoor studio….but the winds were so strong, we had to have body weight to hold down the sides of the black velvet material, which only added to the fun.

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