Posts Tagged ‘photojournalism’

North Coast Musings

Thursday, October 31st, 2013


I am seated at a small round table which is covered with a white table cloth, and rests in a bay window alcove. In the corner in front of me, a gas fireplace glows and fills the room with  a soft warm embrace.

To my right is a queen size bed in which my wife sleeps.

At my left through moisture streaked windows, I see the faint outline of that vast diorama which is the rugged Northern California coast. Approximately 400 feet below me, down a near sheer cliff, lies the sea, and she has come awake with new swell in the course of the night. I can hear waves crash and rumble over the jagged shore in the darkness.

We are in the “lighthouse” which is a converted tower type room consisting of three levels in a four story, old building cliff top construct in Elk, Northern California.

I have been writing on global events, which I have experienced these past several years.

We had come up to Northern California at the request of a close friend, to help a woman develop a long arc plan to preserve a large tract of land for posterity. I had enlisted the assistance of my close friend George Orbelian, who is highly skilled in such things. Our meeting only two days ago, in the beautiful hills above the coast, was memorable.

I think that what we are endeavoring might work, and that we may be able to help keep the land as it is for the principles of the Trust, who  just like the rest of us, are looking at their exit, and want all to go well for everyone associated with the land, when they pass on.

The long ago divorced couple, gets land responsibility better that most people I know. It is hard to have a frame of reference for what it means to own a large, land grant type tract of land. I have some close friends who do, down on the Gaviota Coast. We have spoken of the responsibilities often.

Those conversations helped me frame what needs to be done for this land and these people.

As a Hawaiian I get land. We embrace a tenet called Aloha Aina, which loosely translated, means the love for and of the land. It refers to the life it hosts and brings forth. In that are reverence and gratitude.

I saw those illustrated with the two people I met in Bodega. I was thoroughly charmed. It was really a great honor to be asked to help, actually.

Odd, yes.

But here I am, sitting on the most dramatic perch and telling you about it. I have always loved aeries and here is one of the most beautiful ones, which I have ever experienced.



I say this a lot. “Life is messy, but beautiful.” This trip is more evidence of that.

A hot cup of coffee made on the cheap, in room coffee maker, so common in hotel rooms everywhere, keeps me company, as I watch the light slowly dial up outside and reveal the new day.

Today we head back down coast to Point Arena to see some friends, and then down to SF to spend some time with George, and discuss ongoing events at Fukushima. Hopefully we get to see what we refer to as our super twinkly Artist pals, Jenny and Kendall, in process.

It is going to be a busy day. Hopefully, more beautiful than messy.

The Springs Fire

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Pock pock pockata pock pock pock….

I had been dreaming of helos, hovering.

I awoke to the stacatto rhythm of rain on the roof. In the dark, I figured it must be around 3 am. I was wide awake and thinking about the events of the last few days. Deep breath. Hmm wow, first time I have been able to take one of those in awhile. Funny what we may take for granted. Little things like breathing. My wife lay on her back next to me, I could hear the faint rattle in her chest as she slept.

We both came home from doing an editorial shoot for our little local publication, Deep, and realized we had caught a bug. As is sort of normal for me, the viral infection had rapidly spread to my lungs. So in the two weeks since that night, almost to the day, I had been sort of laid up and battling a mild case of Pneumonia. It was now gone. Pretty cool.

Four days prior, my phone had rung at 7 am. Hans Rathje was on the line with a surf report and something else. “Hey we have another fire, and it is doing some strange things to the light. Swell is pretty big. Wind is hard offshore some places. What are you doing?”

“Ah I have been laid up for awhile now. Let me finish what I am doing, and I will wander out and find you. Maybe a swim will do me some good”

A couple hours later as I wound my way towards Coast Hwy 1 through the Oxnard farm fields, I saw the smoke blossom. Pulling off to the side of the road, I shot an Instagram image, posted it, them shot a commercial file with my 5DM2. Wind was 30 knots steady ENE, a hard Santa Ana blow right down the central wind corridor, which runs from the high desert to the sea, at the Southern edge of the coastal plain in which we live. All of this was quite unseasonal. Being the beginning of May, we were a ways off from what we call “Fire Season” here in So Cal. Yet there it was, and I knew in a minute’s time the conflagration was headed for the water. If the Santa Ana wind condition did not relent, nothing would stop the flames from meeting the watery finish line we play in almost daily.


Fifteen minutes later I had checked the surf at a few places, found Hans, and we looked at a back wind hacked, largish SSE swell. This is a very unusual direction and size for May. I have only seen it a few times in my life. The swirling wind had sufficiently decimated surface conditions that we wrote off looking further. Close but no cigar, never works with the bar of work we produce. Conditions need to “be there”.

So up a coastal canyon we know well we went, where we could have an aerie view of our coast. We had a long talk, as we watched the fire billow up in the Santa Monica Mountains  which lie between our deserted stretch of coast, and the densely populated valley beyond.

“Here we go again” The Rathje’s home up valley from us and the current fire starting point, had been surrounded by flame more than once. The FD had saved their home and those of their neighbors. Their fires had started from arcing power lines. The incident had eventually wound up in court as both the homeowners and the FD endeavored to prove liability-foreknowledge of the existing hazard by the utility company. They had recently won a judgement against the company. It was being appealed. No one fights a massive utility conglomerate without risk and expense. They tend to not play nicely.

I had photographed the power lines. Looking through 1800 MM of lens, the melted arc points on the lines were quite obvious to me. What they said was both a sad diatribe against the utility company, and a warning about the infrastructure our society has in place in areas prone to high risk natural disasters. Stupid. Maybe worse ( intentionally negligent)

So we talked about a lot and watched. Looking across the canyon we could see a sole home on a ridge line. It has always sort of been our dream home, with the combination of it’s remoteness and view, being something every surfer would aspire to in some ways. The fire would cross over it most likely.


In short order we both headed home. Hans headed up valley past the conflagration and I returned to West Ventura and my own home on a coastal valley foothill.

This photo is a satellite image from NASA. In it you can see the geography-topography of the venturi which regularly funnels hot desert winds down to our coast when a High Pressure locates in the four corners region of the Western US. This is the blow dryer zone. Amazingly they had a great image taken of our fire and it was online and available. We do indeed live in a remarkable time.



Later that day I rang Hans from my office. No answer. My gear was still in the car, and I had been monitoring the blaze and the weather. The wind was still blowing, the fire inexorably moved towards the coastal canyon vents. I figured I had better go be where I need to be. But as I woke early this day and took that first clear  deep breath, I realized an explanation was in order for what I am about to describe. This is why.

People tend to follow what others do, when what was done brings any critical acclaim-success. That can be hazardous to public safety. So I want to predicate the images with a bit of information about myself.

I am a professional in many respects. More than being “a guy with a camera”, I have worked and shot in a wide variety of exceedingly high risk scenarios all over the world for a variety of editorial and commercial concerns which run the gamut of uses from News through Art. In process of acquiring both my equipment and multiple skill sets, came the acquisition of a detailed understanding of weather and natural disasters. In addition I am a highly trained first responder through my affiliation with K38 Rescue where we are regularly exposed to and tutored in risk assessment and management.

In what I do both in the water or out, very little is left to chance. You learn early on to watch your exits and to not ever encourage people to do what you do, lest by your example, you put them in harm’s way. The short of it is that I know in every circumstance, the risk must be worth a certain potential benefit, in order for me to pursue a shot.

So with that in mind, the short description and imagery which follow, illustrate what I saw that evening. First responders have a job to do in Natural disasters. If you have not been trained in Ops as one, I strongly suggest that you stay away. The situation may likely not benefit by your presence. Something to consider. (I always engage this thought process)

This is what I saw as I headed back in. Hwy ready to be closed. Fire billowing over Laguna Peak, which has had it’s radar installation burned out before.


I checked all the canyon vents and figured out where the fire would come down. Chatted with a CHP officer who stood at his post at a road block to that Canyon I had been up in with Hans earlier that day. I told him what I was doing, and what I knew. I did not envy the guy. Embers were beginning to fall, and it was getting smokey. You could see what was happening.

I worked my way through an image series and went down on the beach and shot from where I had been doing our little magazine swimwear shoot. A thick plume churned up beach. The sky flowed with crimson, various orange tones, and deep blacks and rich greys. The diorama which exists in a fire near water is a rapidly shifting one due to a number of things.


I was very conscious of the proximity of the fire and knew that the up coast exit could be shut off by flame in a relatively short time, so I got my gear back in the car and with the southern exit clear and under no threat, headed back west up Hwy 1 and collected a few more images. As I stood atop a roadside sand dune, 600 MM lens in hand, I saw a stream of lights coming down coast highway in the rapidly deepening gloom. There they were, the emergency fire service responders.

I cannot adequately express what this is like to watch. A cavalcade of vehicles of all types and from various divisions of service, lights flashing, headed back down to where I had just come from. I knew they would likely begin to stage there. I thought about our dream house on that canyon ridgeline. I knew they would likely save it, in spite of it being mid chimney.


Proceeding back up to Point Mugu, that landmark known so well for the myriad number of films and car commercials shot around it, I collected a few more images as emergency services shut down the Hwy a few miles upcoast. A Sheriff parked behind my car as dark fell, and rather than talk to him, give my media credentials and stay, I simply waved, got in my car and left. This place really did not need me there any more. None of the rest of my ability to be there mattered. Not one bit.


Half an hour later, my wife and I were sitting in Mai’s having steaming bowls of spicy chicken pho on Main St in Ventura. My lungs ached a bit and I thought about what lay ahead. The winds would change soon. Weather was headed in. Everything would be okay. I had simply witnessed the natural cycle and man’s endeavor to manage living in a high risk environment for episodes like this.

Later that evening I posted one photo from my favorite beach, to my personal Facebook page (I do not have a photography business page) and later learned that the image went viral when Jon, who manages some of our other company web endeavors, called to tell me about it. In a few hours over 250k people had gotten to see what I had. By the next day the number had doubled.

Last night before bed, an e mail had dropped into my business address. It was from one of the fire engineers who had been in the air. He had seen the photo and asked for a copy for his office. I think almost more than anything else from this day, I was very honored by that. In everything we do as Artists, our work should come down to serving others. That matters to me a lot.

Awhile ago a scientist, my wife (a designer) and I founded a company after a very unique event called Sea-Space Google birthed the concept for it. It is called OceanLovers. It is a for profit company, which drives Science and Education based change with the intention to fund people and organizations who are making a positive impact on the Oceans. It connects people, and provides accurate information about our blue marble. It actually creates change. Pretty neat.

So I made a collection of imagery for Oceanlovers called the Springs Fire collection. Part of the proceeds for all Art sold through Oceanlovers goes to each Artist. (The collections and list of people waiting to contribute, grows daily, look in a week and it will all be different) but 50 percent of all sales goes towards developing new technology and projects and support for the Blue Voices around the world which architect sustainable change. It is a hopeful concept.

When someone supports Oceanlovers,  in effect, they are voting for some tangible change and living hope.

You can find the Springs Fire Collection here.

The Oceanlovers Facebook page is a place where you can find educational and entertaining, art centric Ocean culture daily, and connect with a growing tribe of like minded individuals.

Aloha oe. A hui ho.










Canon 5D Mark 2: Trial by Fire

Saturday, August 28th, 2010
Me by Shawn Frederick

Me by Shawn Frederick

My 5D Mark 2 system has been getting quite the workout of late.

The other night Tyler Swain came by. Tyler is the talented director, writer, camera operator who, when I am lucky, I get to work with.

He had dropped by after a  long day working on an episode of Top Gear, to be briefed on the workings of the Canon 5DM2 which he would need to be shooting a show on in the morning. In explaining the workings of the system to him I realized how truly complex it is if one really wants to utilize the tremendous capability of this camera, And I also realized that much of what I had read on it by so called experts is wrong. Most of it’s advertised shortcomings are simply failure by the operators to own the skills most DP’s and Cinematographers take for granted. yet they wrote about it. Um, yea……

Philip Bloom is not of that ilk.

But in two hours Tyler was off head spinning, to get a little sleep before his 9am call time. If it were anyone else, they would likely be headed for their Waterloo. Not Tyler.

Here is a little early timelapse shot with the 5DM2. One of my first. I have done dozens of increasingly complex ones since. I have shot 3 music videos, 2 feature films, done journalism, action sports, the 2010 Maverick’s Challenge shot while working rescue, swam Bali, done fashion, military training shoots with K38 Rescue. What my camera has produced since it became my first designated principal body for motion capture and stills production is probably the most intense field testing of any camera ever produced. Of course Canon probably does not know this. I am simply a user.

stormtimelapseweb – Computer

Tech is incredible. For the first time in my 12 years shooting professionally, it all is REALLY working. I made a good choice in systems with which to transition from film. And once again, Canon has helped me to feel confident in my ability to outperform while in the field. This camera has been swum, shot from airplanes, boats, cars,thrown off buildings while housed, into a swimming pool, done large format art production, commercial fashion and produced innumerable covers and spreads seen in publications throughout the world and in my library at Corbis Images.

In 1997 I weighed the development plans of Canon and Nikon in a close look,  and because of that glimpse, chose Canon. Wise choice. But only a sage DP or commercial photographer will ever really truly “get” what Canon has done and how they have changed imaging forever. The 5DM2 and my training in various aspects of Cinematography and Photography have produced more high profile motion and stills work in the 14 months I have owned mine, than many will get to do in a lifetime.

As I look out across the changing diorama of the imaging playing field, I realize how important it is to understand what you want to accomplish.

Here is the complete Video Tyler created as the anti music video for ElliotMinor. _”AllAlong”. Most of it is the 5DM2. This was one of it’s first tests.

You will see some newer ones shortly here and in a few films.

The images below are a small sample from the 5DM2 that sits here, ready to shoot anything, You would not believe what it has done. I barely do.

Collateral Damage

Friday, November 20th, 2009




I was 23 years old and saying a tearful goodbye to my wife of one month in LAX departures. As I slunk back in my seat moments later, and heard the soft thunk of the cabin door closing, I noticed Shaun Tomson sitting a few seats away. Dane Kealoha was nearby, and behind him I saw Mark Richards. We were all headed for Hawaii and what would be my first travel leg of the then IPS world tour. 


The next ten years or so of my life consisted of moments like that: traveling alone, or with some of my pro surfer pals from California. The goodbyes were frequently followed by amazingly wonderful hellos a month or so later. The stress on our marriage, though real, was manageable. We both had known what we were getting into. 


There is something magnificent about the bond between a man and woman committed to each other. It just feels sacred. My wife had never complained about my other mistress. The sea would always give me back. She knew that it would never do anything but wash me home. It was not an enemy, but part of our bond. We both got that about each other. We were able to share it. 


I bailed on my busy work schedule last week. The details of life sometime necessitate we take care of things like house, taxes, cars. I was resigned to a drive down coast to Encinitas to drop off a commercial job for a client, and trade in my 07 car, which had reached that crossroad of diminishing value that occurs at around 60 k miles. 


A very patient car saleswoman named Barb Shev, had borne with me as I decided to trade my car in on a 2010 version. I had dropped her a simple note hello. A query and in two e mails later and Barb had ferreted out a deal that gave me a good trade in amount on my car and a great price and financing on the newer model. But getting away had been almost impossible. I finally picked a day and resolved to  just drop everything else and go. I had bought a car before from that dealership, and it had been a straight shot, no BS in and out thing. I needed that. 


On the way out the door my girlfriend Donna (Hey, the marriage DID last 20 years. That is another story) asked if I was bringing a camera. I was not intending to. Like a bad school child, I stomped back into my camera room and grabbed a little Canon Rebel T1i and a 10-17 fisheye zoom lens. Why that lens? Because it was already ON the body. I was not into making more post production for myself. I already had six stills shoots and three motion projects awaiting my attention. No shooting was planned for me that day. But Donna knows me well, and she smiled as she saw me stomping out the door and kissed me goodbye. I was grumpy. I like my car. I hate LA freeways. Harumph. My shiny black Mazdaspeed 3 came to life with a smooth rumble at the touch of a key. It had been a seamless performer for 3 years. I had disassembled and reassembled it almost as a child would a model car. I like cars. I like speed. I know both quite well. 


Listening to AM 1070 for the traffic news, I found myself whizzing up on OC via I 5, and dialed my friend Shawn Alladio, who I knew lived there somewhere . She picked up. Turns out that the next exit was hers. In a few minutes I had found my way to her house and she met me at the curb, wearing camo pants, a Liquid Militia tee shirt, and a soft smile. 


We do not get to catch up in person much. She owns and operates a global water safety company called K38 Rescue. One of the smartest, toughest, most fair people that I know. I am lucky enough to have had her tutor me in Ocean Rescue, PWC operation, risk assessment, and be my friend. She had been through a lot lately, and I was really glad to wrap my arms around her. I care about my friends. This one had been to hell and back several times recently in her work. A slew of awards for heroism had been the by product. But there had also been collateral damage no one saw but family and close friends. 

Shawn’s blog is here. Read it if you want insight into a very remarkable woman and her world. 


Coffee at Peets in a trippy nearby mall (I had been up since 3am working and needed a cup) had Shawn asking if I wanted company. 


So down the 5 we went, sipping our coffee and catching up. As we passed Pendleton, a powder blue Pacific glistened beyond the ocre brown of the coastal chapparal. Shawn asked if it would be okay if we stopped on Base after the car thing. She said that there was someone she wanted me to meet. I said sure. 


Barb met us at the door of a very quiet Penske Mazda, standing in the midst of other very quiet dealerships. She looked the same as when I had last seen her 5 years ago. She pointed out the shiny new black MS3 sitting next to my shiny older and rather sinister looking MS3. “There is your new car David. Want to go for a test drive?” And then she smiled as I declined. Barb knew I was likely on a mission. She helped. 


While Shawn chatted with her, I met with the same finance guy that I had seen 5 years prior and really just had a pleasant time. In a bit, all of us were hanging in the office and talking story as the paperwork got completed. It was comfortable. But my psyche was someplace else. 


In a short while, we were saying our goodbyes and I settled in behind the wheel of my new car. But I did not care. And I could not figure out why. Somehow I knew that today was not about getting a car. Shawn was sweetly enthusiastic as it roared to life and we eased towards Hwy 78 and Pendleton. I was quiet. 


Though successful, I do not make a lot of money. I spend most of what I earn on my career tools. I should have been amped. I love cars. Here was my old car, refined and brand new. A car enthusiast’s dream. But inside, it was all pensive brooding. Something else was up. I knew the signs. 


At Pendleton’s gate I said that we were there to see Mike Arnold, base safety Officer down at the marine Boat Locker. We knew that Mike was having a hard day. It looked like he may have lost someone to an incident earlier. Mike takes the Marines and their lives very seriously, and one lay in a civilian hospital critically injured. A phone call confirmed that he would not be meeting us. 


Shawn said that her friend Jacqueline would come down to the boat docks, near the Marine Yard where she occasionally holds training courses in Ocean Rescue and boat ops. “Do you think that you could take a picture of her for her husband? He is away on deployment.” “Yea sure, I brought a camera” I said. I thought about my odd choice in lenses. Oh well, it would be a snapshot. Something for him to hold close while he was away. It would do. 


So we nosed into the launch area. Shawn got out and immediately headed for the water, squatting down and holding her hands in it. A sharp breeze carrying the increasing coolness of a Fall ocean, contrasted against the warm yellow light of the late afternoon sun. 


“She should be here soon. She is a blond. You are really going to like her.” I heard her say, hands still in water and back to me. She was recharging. The ocean does that for us. Here is a very cool video that explains why. 


 Camera in hand, I took a deep breath of cool salt air. It was nice to be here again. In a few minutes I saw a bright red little Chevy rolling up on us, and lots of black hair blowing out the open window. “That’s her” I heard Shawn say. “That gal has brunette hair Shawn. No, blonde, no, blond and black.” As the little red car rolled up next to mine on the pavement, I noticed that it’s tires glistened shiny black, The bright red paint glowed. The windows glistened spotless and three stickers were placed carefully on the side and back windows. This woman kept her car up. You do not see that much from 23 year old women: being into their cars. It was Jacqueline. 


As Shawn introduced us, she explained the hair. “Like it? I just did it.” Her long hair was close to black in color with two near white pieces that framed her face. The choice spoke a lot to me about her. “Nice car” I said. She smiled broadly. “Thanks!” I take good care of it. It’s a 2005.” (It looked as new as my fresh one). 


I appreciate individualism in people. I saw it standing there in front of me in the form of a confident, relaxed, charming and attractive young woman. The saying “on the threshold of life” dropped in to mind, as I asked if I could take her picture. Still unsure or entirely motivated to do anything but a simple snap shot, I did not really understand what in the heck I really was doing at that exact moment in place and time. But a nagging feeling, which had been tugging on my insides had kept up it’s persistent tapping. What was this all about? 


With no clear direction I began to shoot around a little bit. For the past hour my eye had been drawn to a spot of wet sand nestled into the big brown rocks of one of the jetties that framed the launch ramp. I asked Jacqueline to head down to the water. On the way, I had joked about what I do. “Yea I order people to do things and they do them.” As we passed by that spot at the jetty, I said: “Could you please just stand right over there?” 


Jacqueline turned, looked me square in the eye and in a revelatory and surprised fashion turned the light on for me about the purpose of my day when she said simply, “There? That is where I said goodbye to my husband.” She appeared shocked that I could know. And as enlightenment came, direction and motivation dawned as well. I knew what to shoot, what needed to be communicated. 


Her husband Ryan was deployed on a ship, somewhere in the Middle East. 

He was a sniper. This spot was where something sacred had occurred between the couple. In ten minutes I had shot a series of images that communicated what was involved in that sacrament. Ryan would “get it” when he saw them. Hopefully others would as well. I noticed my eyes trying to tear up as I worked. Emotion indicates something to me. So when a subject evokes it, I know exactly what to do: tell the story. 


Deployments are three months long generally. Ryan comes home for a month. Then it repeats. That is three times a year when the soldier’s family gets to go through the process of separation. Now goodbye, that is not just a sweet au revoir. I questioned Jacqueline about it, as she explained what she and the other wives dealt with in their relationships and the comings and goings. The stories were heavy. The implications vast. The potential damage to relationships and people a clear and present sort of danger. She began to cry as the back story arose. 

This Video tells another soldier’s story. 


When you are just barely out of childhood and getting your feet under you as an adult, there is a steep learning curve. I had been where she was, having married early as well, and leaving. The glaring difference being that her husband’s job was as a merchant of death. And what he would be dealing with, is an enemy whose job was to snuff him out. That is war. Ultimate conflict, with ultimate expense. 


 The energy of that has a ripple effect that can sweep through the harbor of a soldier’s loved ones and wreak an incredible amount of damage. For the family, the constant loss and return and loss, can create what psychiatry calls separation anxiety and other maladies. Their life consists of maintaining a relationship in spurts. 


 At 50 I could maybe have a decent chance of surviving it. But at 23, it is an entirely different set of skills that one may not be in possession of, that can wreak havoc. You learn fast. Or not. But in reality it is all about resolve on both peoples part to get through to the other side of this phase in a career choice that it is difficult to see clearly with young eyes. 


The net affect of this process creates the bond of the military family. Everyone tries to link arms figuratively. Each supports and holds up the other. It was what Shawn and I were really there for that day. To show Jacqueline that we cared about her, Ryan, and them as a family. We were spiritually linking arms. It is much more difficult for a person to be knocked down when friends, family and country hold them up. 


Shawn had told me a story about a fighting group on it’s way into battle in the back of a helo. They had made a pact that should one of them fall, the rest would step up in support of the family of that member of the group. They had sworn on it. A short while later one of the group had been blown to his end. When those men returned home, true to their word, they formed a support group. It is called The United Warrior Survivors Foundation. The link is here. What the UWSF and several other groups do is offer support. They try to limit and contain the collateral damage of war. That collateral damage is the type of energy that can sweep through the cultural fabric of a nation with the effectiveness of a blast. So these warriors seek to soften the blow for the rest of us. Talk about nobility. 


Jacqueline loves her husband, that was very obvious. But more than that, she is committed to him, spirit soul and body. She is at war. They all are. She is present and accounted for. And her reality is becoming more stark, as she realizes that the next deployment already beckons. 


Collateral damage. The enemy is around us. We are at war. Think about what you support and why. I did, as I eased through the steel pulse of Friday night traffic on the 405 later, with everyone else bound for someplace else, and someone. 


I awoke the next morning, opened my carport door and saw my shiny new car sitting there and it finally hit me. I picked up my cel and dialed Shawn. 

“Hey. I have a new car.” It had taken me that long to really notice. But I have a new friend. That part is special. And an obligation. That part is sacred. 

Shawn Recharging

Shawn Recharging



Shawn and Jacqueline: Edge of the World

Shawn and Jacqueline: Edge of the World



 A Sniper's Wife

A Sniper's Wife



Future Perfect

Future Perfect


Side by  Side

Side by Side


Saturday, October 17th, 2009


It is not something I have any complete understanding of, but for some reason I recognize the touch of my friends and what may be affecting them. It often comes in the form of a subtle whisper. I have found that if I shut the heck up and just listen, the process applies quite dramatically in my work. I will experience new things as a result. That affects what I communicate to the world.  It changes my perception, as the imprint broadens who and what I am. I need that. My life would be cold porridge without it.

Last night at dinner, Donna and our friends Violeta and Korina were discussing travel and the ups and downs of the process. Sometimes we can be made to become quite uncomfortable by our situations and surroundings. Korina had just returned from Bali and been suffering a bit due to jetlag, culture crossover, and a few intermittent bouts with Bali Belly (the term for all ailments alimentary). She said something very wise. “I have learned that when I travel, it is not just about my experience. It is about the experience of the people who I meet, and the impression that I leave with them”. Touch. There it was. To have it, you must give it. You give when listening. Her wonderful blog is here.

As I work through the tremendous amount of post production from our Balinese trip, I am constantly reminded of how listening allows us forms of contact with a world we would normally never see, hear, taste or feel. I see exactly what I was listening to as I ply the pixel waters of this huge ass file. And I remember what the touch felt like.

The last couple days I had been having a persistent tapping on my shoulder. A close friend had been on my mind and heart. I finally had left a voice mail on her phone.  Her cel was off, as it always is when she is working. I left a short message, something that I never do. She does not need a voice mail box full of hellos. She would know what it meant.  I would hear from her. I knew something hard had come down on her shoulders.

Shawn Alladio was working running rescue at the IJSBA World PWC racing Championships. She had been deathly ill prior. A bout with meningitis and a post illness bacterial infection had almost killed her.  Better just in time. Just.

Her team had flown in from around the world to work the phenomenally high risk event, where boats become rockets, guided by adrenalized, amazingly skilled athletes with nervous systems and skills that are beyond the ken of the uninitiate. I knew that she was in great hands at the venue at Lake Havasu, and that K38 would do it’s job well.

In working with Shawn, we are all tutored on how to be in times of great stress and death. We learn how to touch, care, and offer comfort when comfort and touch are all that is left to give. Bad things sometimes happen in spite of the best laid plans and training.

Her text was on my phone this morning. Summarized it said: ‘Had a fatal today. A friend died in my arms. Blunt force trauma.’ With those simple words, the scene I already knew about unfolded, and I felt what Shawn had in greater detail.

The story of the incident is right here. Who the man was is quite vital. I am so glad that Shawn was there for him. He knew that he was loved as his time came.

Shawn has penned something about the incident from her point of view. Read it here. Whew!

This beautiful example of touch was passed to me today by Donna Von Hoesslin. It best exemplifies how we ought to be as communicators: touched. I do not necessarily agree with all of the lecturers. The video says it best. We are all in this together. If you have never heard of Bioneers, the lectures can be quite remarkable and well worth your time.

As he typically does, Seth Godin writes well of the responsibility that comes with being a communicator.

Touch. It is what makes us better than human. Are you listening? Did you feel that?



Anchored: Jeanette

Anchored: Jeanette




Shawn Alladio: K38 Rescue

Shawn Alladio: K38 Rescue

Shawn and Cesare

Shawn and Cesare

Listen, Touch, Breathe

Listen, Touch, Breathe

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.