Monthly Archive for March, 2011

margaret bryant – the dangers of drunk dialing

 

Margaret Bryant

The Dangers of Drunk Dialing



This was taken as an expression of frustration with the telephone company, who had taken five days and three service calls to fix a problem with the line.  But it is more about the trouble one can get into when intoxicated, how one can become tied up and strangled with their own words.


Bio

Artist, mother, poet, misfit in middle America.  She is new to photography; has been about a year since she started playing around with it.  She considers herself an artist using photography as a medium more than she considers herself a photographer.  She’s had no training whatsoever and thinks that has been of benefit to her.  It’s easier to break the rules if you don’t know what they are in the first place, and it’s good to break the rules.


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Margaret Bryant


lea meilandt – the maguires

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Lea Meilandt

The Maguires

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The number of poor families in the United States is growing rapidly these years. Unemployment and expensive housing makes it almost impossible for families all over the country to make ends meet and create a stable and safe everyday life.

The Maguire family from Boston is one of those families. They know what it is like to lose everything. For nearly a year Katie, Bill and their five kids lived in a shelter, after Bill lost his job and the family could no longer afford the expensive housing in the city. Now aided by the state of Massachusetts, the Maguires live in a small house in Medford, just outside Boston. But the family’s financial situation is still far from good. Bill’s new job barely pays for rent and food, and day care, with its extremely high cost, is out of the question. This means that Katie has to stay home all day with the kids, unable to work. The vulnerability of the economic situation has enormous impact on the Maguires. Katie and Bill are exhausted, they worry about loosing the house and they both suffer from low self esteem and anxiety. There is very little energy left for the children. Keeping the family happy and healthy seems an insurmountable challenge.

Portraying the Maguires is an ongoing project; the aim is to document the life of the family as it evolves over the years.
The project won a second prize in Danish POY and a third place in Winephoto 2010.


Bio

Lea Meilandt was born in Denmark in 1982. She studied photojournalism at the Danish School of Journalism and graduated in 2009. Since then she has worked as a freelance photographer based in Copenhagen – primarily working with long term projects on social issues.


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Lea Meilandt


sara katz – the man behind the curtain

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Sara Katz

The Man Behind the Curtain

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When I was growing up, and my dad got into any sort of argument with my mom over something banal (the most common cause being a joke deemed too off-color, annoying, childish, etc.), I would say something in his defense or just affirm my approval by laughing. Even though this argument never actually placated my mom, he would turn to me every time and say, in a tone of voice that suggested this unconditionally proved he was beyond reproof, “See, she thinks I’m funny.” And when my mom gave her follow-up disapproving grunt, he would add with a smirk, “You just don’t understand me. Sara and I understand each other though.” And it was true, we did understand each other. But then I got older, and the more I actually learned about my dad, the more that childhood idolatry faded (like it does with most people at some point). My dad was not the immaculate wizard that I once thought he was. Yet as the bluntness of these pictures suggest, I am still extremely close to my dad. His willingness to participate in this project had no conditions, except his affirmation of my mom’s firm demand for “no naked photographs.” As if they had to ask.

While part of this project is photojournalistic in nature, a documentation of a day in the life of 60-year-old David Alexander Katz, the other half is about my own experience of what it is like to go home when home has lost its authority. As an only child who spent the vast majority of her first five years within five hundred feet of her house (and after that, evenly split between school), it perhaps took me longer than most to realize that the vocabulary, lifestyle, and values of my family were not universal. Now, to return home is to feel like a well-informed guest. I am still in the know. I am well schooled in the lingo and rituals, and yet I have also gained the outsider’s critical eye for detail. Parts of my dad that never seemed interesting or unique (i.e. worth photographing) now appear like new discoveries.

If there was a challenging aspect to this project it was that, while away from home I was confident in the idea, but after being home for a bit to shoot it became difficult to see the point. As my dad put it after he took in the work for the first time, “I dunno Sara, I’m proud, but it just looks like a bunch of pictures to me.” At times I’ve felt the same way.

 

Bio

Sara Katz was born in Baltimore in 1985, graduated from Bard College in 2007, and currently resides primarily in Brooklyn.

 

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Sara Katz

brandan gomez – things that never happened

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Brandan Gomez

Things That Never Happened

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These are the images of what never happened, but should have. They express what really moves the world: desires, deep desires that start forming in your early years, and crystallize inside your chest when you begin to understand the world that surrounds you. Because what never happened is not real, it has never been photographed- because it doesn’t exist. It has just emerged from the collective subconscious into a medium format black and white negative.

So the author is lucky to have received these images.

It all happened in a very small coastal village in the North of Portugal called Costa Nova. This place has special light because it has the Atlantic Ocean on the west and a water channel on the east. The piece of land is five kilometers long and two hundred meters wide. There is always some mist floating in the air and water acts like a mirror; light reflects in every object and somehow blinds you enough to see what has never happened.

The essay will grow with the chance to return to Costa Nova and see the light again.


Bio

Brandán Gómez is a photographer. He is based in Santiago de Compostela, a religious pilgrimage center in the north west of Spain. He has also worked in Madrid and Torino. The first approach into photography was before he can remember, watching his father work in the family black and white lab as a very small child.

He has been producing photographs for more than ten years, although he has made his living directing others for advertising projects. As a photographer he has made several collective exhibitions. His work has been published in regional magazines and specialized online media.


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Brandan Gomez


michael c. brown – libya

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ESSAY CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT

Michael Christopher Brown

Libya

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LIBYA
Since arriving ten days ago, I have tried to understand the situation here in Libya. People swap facts, predictions and rumors, the news feeds me information, but the complexity of the conflict makes it impossible to fully comprehend. Once a picture is taken or a word is written it is already old news. There seems to be no way to catch up, as the database of history is filed before it is processed. And as a result I have become more confused. But I can attest to one reality, shown in these photographs. They form a loose record of my experience during the war in Libya.

CAIRO TO BENGHAZI (FIRST JOURNAL ENTRY)
Around midnight we piled into a tiny car and drove for 7 hours, from Cairo to the eastern border of Libya. A wide eyed nicely dressed Egyptian city man, our driver with slick black greasy hair, persuaded military officer after officer standing beside tanks that he had foreigners and therefore special privilege to pierce the curfew barriers and drive west, as if in a high-speed chase on empty highways, past the beautiful night city of Cairo and into a deep desert countryside as cigarette smoke escaped out the window. Somewhere sometime we passed the pyramids, not too longer after a pit stop with a McDonald’s and a shopkeeper selling ‘StarFuck’ ashtrays shaped as green coffee cups. The jetlagged dreams of 3 packed in a backseat took us elsewhere as the sun rose over the Mediterranean just beyond the sand dunes. The barren desert, looking left to nowhere looking right to the sea. The towns were simple shacks and here and there and rare were men in long robes without faces standing still. Wearing white robes and black robes, with camels near the sandy highway.

Would Libya be different? Would it be a different world? Something told us so. Something would be there for us. Danger, excitement, importance, freedom, death. Perhaps all. Smoking cigarettes. We arrived beyond Salloum where lines of trucks and cars waited for those leaving Libya. Arms in the air, Egyptians and Chinese and Indonesians crossing to somewhere safe. We moving in the opposite direction, elated. Then more journalists, then some we knew. On the other side more people piled up. A hall full of Indonesians, laying about as if dead so I exchanged my Egyptian money with their Libyan, using a rate in their favor and losing $100 in the process. Something to do. Then we walked the 1000 yards or so to the Libyan gate, guarded by men in plainclothes and rebels.

A man in dark sunglasses glanced suspiciously at us. They inspected our passports, we filled out a quick form and walked to Libya, to a road bordered on both sides by tall cement walls. Two Libyans of about 25 offered to take us to their hometown of Benghazi. We jumped into the van, looking a lot like my Jinbei in China. The concrete walls, looking like blast walls, surrounded trucks and cars wedged together in a narrow dusty strip with men wrapped in scarves holding automatics and eying the interior of our ride suspiciously. They were young men, these rebels, with old men in the background watching. No uniforms, like bandits, they were among the opposition who had recently wrested eastern Libya from Gaddafi. They nodded heads with our driver, who sped up, then sped up again, passing cars and whizzing past a littered landscape of wrecked automobiles and buildings and into an emptier desert than Egypt’s.

Faster faster our driver outsped his buddies in the other van, and his eyes faster than anything existing in the desert that day or anytime before. His eyes beyond the horizon, beyond what was happening in the country. All the fighting could not reach the (what was it in his eyes?) it in his eyes. A few windy turns but not many, the highway whisked through abandoned (after coming from china everything looked abandoned) tiny sand towns with few buildings, all small and plain and square or rectangular against the pastel landscape. But mostly phone lines, empty phone lines carrying messages to the west and we were messengers to the west. Driving faster now our drivers eyes not leaving the road. Faulty communication. I know little Arabic and him the word ‘smoking.’ One stop at a road café we ate tuna sandwiches and photographed a man and his gun. Our drivers buddies caught up and we raced each other down the road, the landscape turning from sand to rock then greenery. It began to rain. We made Benghazi by nightfall and arrived at the African hotel. The first night spent in a real bed in Africa, with dirty sheets and one cockroach.


Bio

Raised in Washington State, Michael moved to New York and began working as a freelance photographer in 2006. His clients include GEO, Time, National Geographic Magazine, Smithsonian, Fortune, The Atlantic and ESPN The Magazine, among others.


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Michael Christopher Brown


michael webster – brooklyn carnival

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Michael Webster

Brooklyn Carnival

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Brooklyn’s West Indian Day Parade takes place every Labor Day weekend. With a crowd of over two million people it is the largest parade in New York City and possibly North America. These photos are not from that parade. They are from preceding events — the Junior Carnival and the J’ouvert Parade.

J’ouvert, pronounced “joo-vay” in Brooklyn, means “opening of the day” or “dawn” in French. It began in Trinidad as a mockery of the French masquerade ball. In opposition to the costumed finery and refined dances of their oppressors, slaves covered themselves in mud, paint or oil and danced to a significantly different beat. Although mostly just a giant party here in Brooklyn, J’ouvert retains something of that political nature to this day.

I stumbled across both of these events while walking around Brooklyn in the early morning and have attended them many times over the years. I believe that, taken together, they provide a revealing portrait of the Caribbean community.


Bio

Michael Webster is a photographer living in Brooklyn.


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Michael Webster

 

chris bickford – death, rebirth, and celebration in new orleans

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Chris Bickford

Death, Rebirth, and Celebration in New Orleans

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The city of New Orleans lies at the swampy bottom of of the largest watershed in North America, and the top edge of the most hurricane-prone inland sea in the Western Hemisphere.  It is, at once, an epicenter of trade, transportation, and cultural ferment; and at the same time probably one of the worst places to build a city one could ever choose.   The same waterways that brought people, goods, and cultural influences from France, Spain, Cuba, Haiti, Britain, Ireland, the American West, the American South, the heart of Africa, and all of Europe, also brought the threat of epic floods and hurricanes, yellow fever and malaria, and conquest from every nation eager to hold the mouth of the great Mississippi River in its dominion.

New Orleans was built on high ground in the middle of a swamp, the only truly viable land in the area being the natural levee that had built up along a bend in the river (the “Crescent”) as it passed close to Lake Pontchartrain, a large brackish estuary that provided a faster and safer route to the Gulf of Mexico than the treacherous, shifting delta that faced cargo boats heading to the Gulf via the last 100 miles of the Mississippi.   Between the crescent and the Lake lay another strip of high ground, an ancient Indian portage route which the French named Esplanade Ridge.   It was on these mounds, surrounded by swampland, that the city, named after a notoriously decadent French Viceroy, was built.

It has been almost 300 years since then, and in that time New Orleans has survived three regime changes; disastrous floods, fires, and epidemics; times of great prosperity and times of dramatic financial depression.   It has endured racism, white flight, urban blight, and gentrification.  It has seen the establishment of several Big Oil headquarters and their subsequent abandonment.   It has seen its hometown NFL football team suffer losing season after losing season, until their dramatic Super Bowl victory in 2010.  It has watched as engineers and developers pumped out the swamp water adjacent to the ridges and built vast neighborhoods on soggy, below-lake-and-river-level ground.  And it has seen these neighborhoods flooded and destroyed twice, first from  Hurricane Betsy in 1965, and and then from the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It has seen the murder rate soar in its poorest neighborhoods.   And it has seen, through all of this, the strange and beautiful fermentation of a whole host of ethnic influences that have made New Orleans one of the most culturally significant cities in the world.   There is no city that compares to New Orleans in the sheer depth,  range, and complexity of its musical and cultural heritage, which remains a living, breathing, continually evolving way of life–and serious business for New Orleanians. New Orleans is, hands down, the funkiest city in the world.

It also has quite possibly the most complex and confounding history of race relations of any city in the United States.   From the Free Blacks of Color who played an integral part of the city’s commerce and culture for over 100 years before the Emancipation Proclamaton, to the Sunday gatherings in Congo Square where blacks both slave and free were given the day off to dance, sing, share news, and exchange goods, to the Post-Reconstruction takeover of the segregationist White League, to the repressive Jim Crow era, straight up to school integration and the White Flight of the 1960’s… from the institutionalized police brutality of 20th century to black Mardi Gras Indians leading a procession at the inauguration of white mayor Mitch Landrieu in 2010- race relations in New Orleans have swung from some of the most liberal to some of the most reactionary in the country, and back again.  Walk the streets of New Orleans today, and you can feel the same tension.  Whites, blacks, and other ethnic groups tend to occupy different neighborhoods and keep to their own, but those neighborhoods are so close to each other that interaction is second nature to the city dwellers.  And though there is plenty of racism and fear to go around, the boundaries are easily melted with a smile, a handshake, and an attitude of mutual respect.   The music and the street life bring people together.  There is violence, there is poverty, there are glaring inequities.   But in New Orleans, even the richest uptown houses look just a little run-down, and even the poorest black man can build himself a perfect suit of beads and feathers and dazzle the world when the Mardi Gras Indians come out to strut their stuff.

And through it all, there has been the Mardi Gras, the Carnival celebration imported from Europe, that, as history tells it, was first celebrated in Louisiana on March 3, 1699, by French explorer Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, on a campsite on the east bank of the Mississippi River, which he named “Pointe du Mardi Gras.”   From the beginning it was a multicultural affair.  On March 20 the local Houma Indians welcomed Iberville and his men into their village and treated them to a formal celebration, with dancers and drummers wearing body paint and fur headdresses and sashes of painted feathers.  The party lasted all day and into the night, in classic Carnival fashion: naked, painted and adorned revelers singing, dancing, and drumming their way into ecstasy.

Mardi Gras has undergone many transformations since then, from the raucous Creole street-parties of the eighteenth century, to the Protestant takeover in the mid-1800’s by “Rex, King of Carnival”, who sought to tame Carnival by establishing rules and creating secret WASP societies, or “krewes”, which staged elaborate parades through the city…then, to the hippie revolution in the 1960’s, when all hell broke loose on the streets…and all the while parallel carnivals went on, the “Carnival Noir”: the Carnival of the Mardi Gras Indians, the Carnival of the brothels and the Baby Dolls, the Carnival of the Skull and Bone Gangs- who would walk the streets at dawn on Mardi Gras Day, dressed as skeletons, waking up the living and the dead, and the Carnival of Zulu, the largest and oldest Social Aid and Pleasure Club in New Orleans, whose inclusion into the otherwise exclusively white roster of Mardi Gras Parades–and whose self-parodying traditions of coconuts, blackface, and grass skirts–sparked a controversy that exists to this day about the portrayal and inclusion of African-Americans in predominantly white American culture.

These photographs, taken in 2010 and comprised mainly of New Orleanians participating in a year-round roster of traditional festivities, dance nights, and costume balls, are presented not so much as documentary images of everyday life in New Orleans, but more as symbolic meditations on the cycles of death, rebirth, and transformation that New Orleans has undergone, and continues to undergo in its tragic, dramatic, fascinating, funky, strange, and beautiful history.

In New Orleans, the dead seem to lie just a little closer to the living.  Its cemeteries, or “cities of the dead”, are scattered about the city, mazes of above-ground tombs which were found necessary to build once it was discovered that bodies buried in the swampy ground would only rise to the surface after heavy rains.   Many of its old houses are considered haunted, and “Ghost Tours” are a popular tourist attraction in the French Quarter and other parts of the town.  News of shootings are common headlines in the Times-Picayune newspaper, and the sound of gunshot can occasionally be heard at night between the rumble of passing trains.   Nothing, however, has compared to the death-blow the city was dealt when Hurricane Katrina swept through in 2005, leaving in its aftermath a broken city, a mass exodus of generations-old families, and a glaring exposé of race-based poverty that still has not been addressed by the state or federal government.  But somehow New Orleans has managed to survive through it all, and to laugh in the face of death with its Carnival dance of Devil-may-care abandon.  At Mardi Gras time, at Halloween time, and on funeral days and Sundays throughout the year, New Orleans still puts on its high-stepping second-line shoes and dances its way through the streets and alleyways, celebrating life that is all the more sweet due to its fragility and unpredictability.

Five years after Katrina, New Orleans is on its way back. It is a slow rebirth, and brings with it changes that are in some ways positive and some ways not so positive.  But during my time in New Orleans, I heard the same story over and over again; countless people had heard the siren-call sent out by a desperate city, came to help out, fell in love with the place and its people, and never left.  So while the city works diligently to encourage the return of its diaspora, a new New Orleans is being born… perhaps not the New Orleans of Tennessee Williams or Andrei Codreiscu, perhaps not the New Orleans of Fats Domino or Louis Armstrong…but still a New Orleans of pride and revelry, a New Orleans of artists and free-thinkers, and a New Orleans that cherishes the crazy funky stew of culture that makes it one of the greatest and most interesting cities in the world.

This March 8 will mark the 313th Mardi Gras since Bienville’s first celebration with the Houma Indians at Pointe du Mardi Gras in 1699, and the sixth Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina.  May the sun shine warm on the merry revelers of New Orleans, and don’t, don’t, don’t stop the Carnival.

Note: Special thanks goes to Federica Valabrega, who assisted on this project and held the light in many of these images.   Federica’s essay, Daughters of the King, was published on Burn in the fall of 2010.

 

Bio

Chris Bickford is a freelance photographer based on the US East Coast. His work has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Outside Magazine, Surfing Magazine, and various other national and inter-national publications. His photographic essay, After the Storm: A Life of Surf on the Outer Banks, was first published on Burn in 2009 and has been showcased at a number of exhibitions and photography festivals since then. Among various other projects, Chris is working on a long-term exploration of Carnival celebrations around the world, which was the impetus for his 2010 residency in New Orleans. This year he will be in Rio de Janeiro for Carnival.


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vissaria skoulida – greece in reverse

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Vissaria Skoulida

Greece in Reverse

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Well this is panos (tamale)… I need to be honest with everyone about everything…She (Vissaria) photographs everything with a little kodak $100 camera…(maybe couple photos used my old D50 to shoot my “middle finger” photo, (yes that ugly middle finger is mine:), no fancy stuff..no photoshop, no photo mechanic, no aperture, no fancy canons, nikons, leicas, smeicas…blah blah blah… I need to make it VERY VERY CLEAR… i NEVER ever MENTORED HER in any way…I never even tried to teach her how to turn the camera on (maybe because i didn’t want another venice beach homeless photographer in the making…laughing). If i influenced her in any way is because she would always see me with a camera around my neck, or my computer screen would permanently “stuck” on the BURN MAGAZINE webpage…Maybe we watched couple of burn essays here and there, if that….Not that i know for sure but i believe that she was conceived in Venice Beach….she is a little bit of an outlaw and very stubborn, smiling… So anyway, once again she practically lived half of her life in the plastic, fake , glamorous California and the rest half of her life (REMEMBER AGAIN, SHE IS ONLY 10 YEARS OLD little girl) in tortured Greece, in the small town called Arta…How funny? (ART)a… a little town that believe me that was nothing to do with art… but a lot to do with recession….I believe that after Vissaria moved from the Golden State to the Broken State, that definitely affected her…you will see that in her photos…Two things (i believe) “drive” her… Love and compassion…Im sure her heart breaks when she watches little starving homeless kids in her little town…Greece that ended up being something like our Detroit or Venice Beach…
ok, enough…i definitely failed to “describe” her personality but its all good..look at her essay/photos and the music she chosen is from a school choir…i will translate the song lyrics later..ok…done talking…
Ladies and gentlemen please enjoy the YOUNGEST and most TALENTED photog i ever met…My little niece Vissaria
(btw, her work is work in progress of course…so be patient there must be more coming up..Im thinking to use my next unemployment check and buy her a real Leica…laughing)

 

Bio

10 years old, little girl
Born in Santa Monica, LA, California, currently living in Greece… She loves ballet and music (flute)… Never worked a day in her life…laughing… only because the law forbids/prevents 10 year olds from working … In reality she is a HARD WORKER just like her mom… Vissaria started photographing and painting at age 5… currently recording the recession in Greece…

 

workshop plus…

I always tell my workshop students on the first day that my one week workshops actually  go on forever…That is, if a student stays in touch with me and continues to produce compelling work , I do stay on as a lifetime mentor…The picture above is proof…Chris Bickford (left) with Burn readers Roberta Tavares and her twin sister neurologist Dr. Renata Tavares (background) in Lapa area of Rio de Janeiro with Lance Rosenfield (right) …Chris and Lance have both survived my New York loft class several years ago and remain close friends…Chris’ essay on New Orleans Mardi Gras will show up here on Burn on Monday. Lance, on Burn with Thirst for Grit,  has just formed a photographers coop PRIME and several photographers in his coop have been published here  like Charlie Mahoney with his essay Troubled Paradise. So my alums  are rockin.

I am trying to set a good example for them as well. This week I am in Rio shooting on my own, and will pick up with my NatGeo assignment next week after Carnaval. After all I did DO in a big way  Carnaval last year for NatGeo Magazine and for NG television. Thank you NatGeo. So now I am here just taking pictures for myself and possible book/iPad book and hanging with my buddies/students/friends….Hey, the ultimate spring break!! Normally it would not work to have other photographers around while I am doing my thing , but in this case it just flat out rocks..We are laughing ,talking pictures, and shooting like hell as you might well imagine. The competitive spirit works in this case because there is plenty of material to go around. Well, after all, it is a party for heavens sake with the whole world invited…

And of course the obvious. Anyone who really knows me personally will know some of  MY best work will come from this week…No doubt about it. I thrive having family and friends around. Always have.

In the Mississippi  Blues workshop class I am doing upcoming in April, I will be out shooting with my students as well…i also do this in Oaxaca, Mexico class…Always fun and on subjects where everyone is spread out and not tripping over each other.

Well you may imagine I have way better pics than the one above. Just used this to make a point. Saving the hot sexy totally  outrageous ones for later. Make sense? Stay tuned.

-dah-

michelle smith – monkey do

Lombok, Indonesia                                                                                                                              iPhone photo by Michelle Smith