President Bill Clinton Library Inauguration

Growing up in Portugal from the late 40's into young adulthood in the early 70's, America represented to the people of my country a symbol of justice, freedom and true democracy. When the American Navy visited the capital we received the troops with open arms and hearts. America was the land of my dreams. Growing up under the Portuguese military dictatorship and the Salazar regime was very scary.
I was in middle school when President Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Lisbon. I was 12 years old or so but I still remember to this day the feeling of being in the presence of the very man who lead the allies to victory and also became the President of the Most powerful nation in the world! ... and he looked a little like my dad, he was dressed in civilian cloths, waving and smiling at us children as he passed just a few feet away from where I stood waving a little American flag!!
Whenever the president of Portugal would make a public appearance I could feel the fear run through me as icy blood through my veins. -- Maybe a little bit like the storm troopers might have felt whenever Darth Vader would make an inspection. --
However, in the presence of the most powerful man on Earth of the time all I felt was a burning passion and love that brings tears to my eyes even today when I look back at that moment in my life.
I decided then that I was an American born in the wrong place. I did not quit until at 25 I moved to the US where I have lived since then and have served as a U S Army combat photographer for six wonderful years!!!
Little did I knew then that I would be privileged to not only come to America but also to have had the opportunity to personally meet the President of the United States Bill Clinton and have actually shaken hands with him and the first lady Hilary Clinton!
I have met one president and photographed five U. S. Presidents so far, something of which most American born citizens only dream to experience.
To me President Bill Clinton represent the epitome of the American Dream. An American kid born in the little town of Hope in Arkansas -- how poetic of a name for him to born in -- born of a hard working family that struggled like most of us do everyday to raise our children goes on to become the President of the United States of America! -- and I got to meet him, his mom Virginia Kelly, and his step dad Mr. Kelly!!! --

Ironically enough, sometimes are the first generation emigrants that truly can appreciate the awesomeness of this nation, its democracy, and how important it is to protect it from loosing sight of its world view.

It is part of the rights of an American to have an opinion, and stand for that right of being heard. That is more important then what the opinion itself may be!!!!!
We have chosen the Eagle as the symbol of our nation. We, like the eagle, have two wings -- a left and a right -- It takes both for the eagle to fly.
So it is with America! It takes both wings to sore and really fly. We should learn from our national symbol and learn to use both wings to fly instead of attacking each other as we are doing now! We need both: The conservative and liberal views , then we must learn to see them as wings not as enemies. As an American I have my opinions and am very passionate about them and to protect this right I must respect the opinions of others.
In a sense each opinion is like a feather it takes all the different feathers on both sides of the eagle for her to fly.

If we compare human history from the very dawn of our existence here on Earth to a 24 hour day, democracy has been active as a government form only on the last second of that day. Only about fifty years ago women and blacks couldn't vote. America created a political system based on democracy which gives us the right and the freedom of the pursuit of happiness. Yet, a democracy depends on the ability of each individual to be civic, responsible, educated, respectful, and caring in order to maintain a steady growth for the good of the whole.

To be unique and to be accepted for that uniqueness is to be truly democratic.
We owe our technology and life-style to the unique minds of our inventors, our ideologists, our dreamers, our artists, our inspiring teachers, and to everyone who through the ability to express their unique minds have contributed to the whole of our society.
Let's not forget that even our Republican president Bush admits that it is Democracy that makes our way of life great.

Henderson State University

The university with a heart showed it to everyone Wednesday evening when the actual real people behind the very successful motion picture story of RADIO

Grabbing a moment for myself.

My wife Julia took the camera and I got the opportunity to have a picture with these two fascinating and inspiring individuals.
These are the actual real-life people about whom the movie Radio was produced.

9-11-2004 At Henderson State University was remembered with an opening ceremony that included ROTC representation from several branches of the military. Both; the emotion of the memory and the passion of the moment brought the heart of the spirit of what America stands for. As a US Army combat photographer veteran I felt privileged to be part of this experience.

The Two Legs of Social Power

First time the Pope and the president of the United Stated met outside of their turf was in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1983.
The Value of this image is its journalistic aspect and its historical representation. When we stop to think of how much power is being represented within the space occupied by these to human beings, we cannot help but feel affected in some way. These two people represent some of the world's political and religious power figures of their time. They represent the two legs of the human social body; the religious and political forces that dominate, and shape the direction of the world. To have the opportunity to be present to this event, held a surreal sense of wander for me. What makes any human being worth that much representative and executive power? Why do most of us choose to surrender to others our choice of creating our own reality, and hold to the responsibility that comes with that choice? But that's exactly the beauty of it all! This is humanity in the act of manifesting itself in whatever fashion reflects whatever we ultimately are and will become. We are a species in full development. We may or may not be here tomorrow. We may become more civilized or may fall back into deeper cruelty. Presently we are going both directions at once. More power to kill and save lives is available today than ever before in the recorded human history. The choice is ours but unfortunately most of us do not believe in that enough to act upon such principles. Instead too often we sell out to the existing systems and turn our freedom into servitude to others, their interests, desires.

Often, during a photojournalist's day a part of the time is spend looking for feature pictures that the editor may need at the last minute. When a scheduled article or story falls through or needs more detail and cannot be published on time, the editor must have alternative material to keep the space covered.
The better the feature the higher the chance that one gets to be seleced for publication in the paper for that day. Therefore, this is the area where photojournalists are in direct competition with their peers. The more often you get your stories in the paper the better you are or appear to be according to the editors criteria. I used to spend every possible moment between assignments hunting for images that had story value and -- in my judgment -- offered some interesting information for the community. I sincerely can say that if I was not shooting an assignment, sleeping, or taking care of personal hygiene, I was always looking for stories everywhere and anytime!
The image depicted on the left was one that I was not looking for. It just happened as I was on my way to my next assignment.
This happened in Alaska and it was in the early Fall. Not too long before winter arrives and one must be well prepared for the winter in this part of the planet because the cold becomes lethal if one is not properly protected against the elements. While most of us in this country are blessed with a lifestyle that puts us on the top 1% of the world, others for one reason or another fall through the social cracks and do need help.
This image became unintentionally timely. It illustrated someone on stress and need of help. At this time issues were being discussed in the state legislature regarding some funding that were on the verge of being cut off the state budget for helping organizations who focus on helping the needy. That election year the money remained on the budget! I am not implying that my picture caused the decision to go the way it did, but on the other hand it may have made more real why we need to help our fellow men.

As a Combat Photographer some of my best images manifested unexpectedly. In a single moment a picture is created that tells the complexity of a story. This instance tells us about a young man's life style as a "13-Bravo" GI in the US Army.
The picture was taken shortly after a 10 mile forced march through the woods of Forth Stewart, GA during a game war practice exercise.
What was going on in his mind? The way he holds his M-16 suggests that probably he was many miles away from where his body was. His wander becomes ours. Were his thoughts with his family, friends, girl friend, or with some other warm and happy memories that gave him temporary peace from his present life? We will never know. But we can relate to ourselves and our own feelings when we put ourselves in his position.
Often, it is in situations that are less than ideal that we really appreciate the good moments that happen to manifest in our lives.

The joy of taking pictures is one that has turned my life from exciting to a divine one . I have not yet been able to fully grasp the totality of what being a photographer means to me. Yet, I know that without the privilege of taking pictures and creating images I would be very incomplete.
I see each individual as a Universe maker. Within each one of us, in our minds, in our hearts, and spirit, there is the totality of our understanding, perception, and wander about the universe in which we live. Whatever the universe is is being recreated by every single individual within their minds and hearts. Since we are all unique so are those personal creations of what the universe may be all about.
The guitar player seems to be looking in a way that provokes the thought in others -- or at least in me -- that he knows something that no one else does.
Ultimately, that is true of all of us including those who are not aware of the extent of their preciously rare uniqueness. However the world appears to us will never happen again either in time or space and so it becomes the greatest mystery and rarity of all things.
I believe that it is through the arts that we best can express all that goes on within us and share it with others so that whatever is created in our minds does not parish with us but, instead goes on.

Creative lighting is one of the most powerful tools of photography.
In this extremely short lighting portrait the light created almost a sketch of the subject. To catch this type of image it is almost a guarantee that the camera must be set to manual. Then, under exposed by 2 to 3 f stops.
It is possible to shoot this in automatic if the camera has a spot light meter mode . By putting the spot meter in the bright part of the subject -- the front-top of the the head -- the exposure will drop to where you will get this type of image. However, it is very important to consider that by using auto light-meter that the exposure is not reacting to the light part only because that would reduce the bright part of the image to a medium grey and then all the shadow detail would be lost.
Bracket your shot and then choose the one image that gives you the best results.

Probably of all the pictures I took while in the US Army, this one gave me more awards and exposure than any others I took while in the active military! The drop of sweat about to fall off the communications specialist -- while making a tress call for a rescue after finding out that we had accidentally moved ourselves behind the enemy lines -- was timeless!
We managed to be picked up by our troops and we had a story to tell.
The shot was taken during the world war games. We were not at direct risk of being shot but, those who have been captured during a world level war game know that being captured by the enemy can be a real hell for a while!
Ray! Wherever you may be today, this one is for you my friend!

This beautiful Athabaskan woman was watching the start of the Iditarod in Fairbanks, Alaska. I was covering the 3event for my newspaper, Fairbanks Daily News Miner, and every so often I would look for support shots to add to the dog sled shots, their racers, overall shots or establishing shots, close ups, wide shots, and all the things you can do with cameras and subjects to create an entertaining and lively story later in the darkroom, sometime in the early hours of the morning before the dead-line.
That's when I saw this face smiling away. I took several shots and then went to her to get information for the cut line. Turned out she was over a hundred years old and just as happy and bubbly as a young child. When I was through getting my information and got ready to getting back to continuing my job I couldn't help myself! T told her that I though that she was absolutely beautiful and gave her a kiss on the cheek!
To this day when I look at this image my heart gets lighter and something magical happens within me that makes me a better person.
While I was in Alaska actually I also covered the first Yukon Quest race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Canada. A thousand miles in 11 to 14 days!!

Mr. ''T'' is a friend of mine. He is a musician, poet, a singer, and a wonderful human being. When he touches the bongos the whole place will merge itself into rhythm and it all comes together under his magical touch.
I wanted to create a shot that would reflect the motion of the moment and yet, capable of enough sharp detail for both, the mental and emotional aspect of the subject to be represented.
After many shots that either were to static because of the flash or blurred because of too much motion I ended up with this one which is a superimpose combo of two shots; one flash the other by existing light. With some work in the Adobe Photoshop I ended up with this image.

Sometimes all the elements fall perfectly in place. This Bob Dillon inspired musician is a proud Vietnam Vet who still fights for his believes as a proud American.
Being a veteran myself, I really appreciate the efforts that some of us put forth to give our constitutional human rights practical application by standing up and be counted.
There is nothing more precious in life than FREEDOM! For that believe I volunteered to serve as an American soldier and would do it anytime that our values may be at risk by the treats of any enemies abroad or domestic.
Today we are being threatened in both fronts. Abroad by any democratic organization who sees their death in the world's growing democratic societies and domestically by political dishonesty, religious hypocrisy, and corporate corruption.
The target of this malevolent wave of aggression is aimed not to America alone but to Worldwide Democracy itself which protects us like those whom I have been featuring in this page.
May Democracy win or we will fall into a second dark age with Spanish Inquisitions, Taliban practices, and McCarthyism rulings.
We have come a long way and America has been the world's leading force behind world democratic growth but we are being curiously challenged and every American MUST become involved by doing the one thing that we all can do VOTE!!!!!!!!!!

During the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute in Arkansas photo opportunities are endless. Here one of the dedicated volunteers -- an aspect of the festival that makes it possible -- prepares popcorn in the most cheerful attitude that anyone can experience!
It has been my privilege to document this awesome event from the very beginning some twelve years ago.
Every year I had tried to catch a shot of a volunteer operating the popcorn machine but until this year I had not been successful to the degree of satisfaction that this shot gives me.
The mix of flash with existing light and the word "volunteer" and the smile all happened for me in one moment after years of trying. Probably I could have manipulated the story to get the shot but I would never draw the joy that this genuinely captured moment offers.

''The Early Bird Gets the Warm Seat"
Sometimes people arrive really early to a show and in this case the camera was there to tell the story. The adventure of photography is -- for me -- the greatest way to experience life, have fun, express my feelings, and discover aspects of myself that would never would be found if it was not for photography.
I tend to live in my inner world. This is exciting because gives me the freedom to have a universe all to myself that no one but me has access to -- and knowing it too! -- yet, on the other end can separate me from life and those whom I love and care for.
As a photographer I have learned that while ultimate reality is created within ourselves we must connect with the world outside of us.
Looking at an image, developing a feeling. and choosing an approach to create an image that reflects what I feel from what I see forces me to have to combine subjectivity with objectivity. Over the years photography has taught me to be humble about what we choose to believe in, respect others ideas, and be open-minded to continue to learn about the world around me as much as about myself. Most of all I realize that only passion has the power to drive our lives. Everything else takes second seat.

How about creating this image with an ''on-the-camera-flash?'' This Movie Maker was conducting a Q&A after the presentation of her movie. The theatre was very dark so the flash was both rude on her face and hard on the images.
Since she was close to one of the side walls of the theatre, I decided to bounce the flash off the wall which had a maroon color to it. The result was a this image after some optimizing with Adobe Photoshop.
Incidentally, It is very important to realize that before the event of digital photography once we took the pictures, most of us depended on photo-labs -- anywhere from one hour labs to fully professional labs like Meizel -- and now it is up to us to take over that aspect of photography that the photographer didn't have to deal with and become the lab master ourselves. So, when folk frown to the idea that I have used Adobe on an image I have to remind them that if they don't think that that part is as important as the camera itself then they should stay with film and let others continue to control their images!