This Photo of the Week — the first of 2019 — was taken on the last day of 2018. On New Year’s Eve, my sister, brother-in-law and nephews came up to visit me in Long Beach. Of course, they wanted to do the quintessentially Long Beach things, like eat at Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles and check out the Aquarium of the Pacific. This image captures one of my favorite moments from the latter. My nephew Jordan, ever the animal lover, wanted to go inside the lorikeet forest exhibit and feed the tropical birds nectar. And to say that they were feeling a bit peckish would be an understatement! As soon as we entered the enclosure, the lorikeets swarmed Jordan. I was initially nervous that he would freak out about the birds being too aggressive and landing on his head and arms. But actually, Jordan ended up having the time of his life. We ended up going through the exhibit twice back to back. What a day! Alternate titles: “He’s for the Birds,” “Boys and Birds of a Feather” and “A Flock of Lorikeets.”
With this being the last Photo of the Week of 2018, it’s only right that we take a look back at it. I know your minds went straight to the antelope’s heinie (tee hee!) but we’ll get to that later. At the start of the year, I decided I wanted to hone my photography skills. To keep myself honest and actually focus on taking better images, I created the “Photo of the Week” feature here. It’s been a fun challenge that has forced me to think of different angles and pursue interesting subjects to share with you all week after week. I plan on keeping it up. My guy even got me a light kit for Christmas, so be on the lookout for more polished photos (once I figure out how to use the thing).
Now to the elephant, or antelope derrière, in the room. This image is one of hundreds I took while on safari at Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa earlier this year. This lone antelope was casually walking up the road and I couldn’t help but admire its strength and beauty. In a way, it’s a metaphor for the close of the year. I’m walking into 2019 stronger than I was this time last year, not looking back, more sure of myself. Alternate titles: “Back Street Beast,” “Back to Life, Back to Reality,” “Walking With a Purpose” and “Hope in an Antelope.”
This Photo of the Week is a reminder to take a stand. This image of a vibrant yellow flower was taken in Soweto, South Africa, earlier this year at the Mandela House. When I consider the namesake of the venue, he (Nelson Mandela) is the epitome of standing up for what you believe in. The thing I like most about this photo is the contrast of the foreground and the background. The stately flower commands attention, even amid all the action happening on the other side of those bars. It makes me thing of the saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
This Photo of the Week centers on one of the prettiest little birds I spotted out in San Francisco. I wish I knew what species of bird it was. I love the iridescence found in its feathers and how it flows seamlessly between black, blue and green. It was curious, hopping around and then pausing to observe the scenery. Or perhaps it was in scavenge mode trying to find food. Now that I think of it, the bird has a tiny treat in its mouth. In any event, it was relaxing to sit back and watch wildlife, and is something I should do more of. Alternate titles: “The Early Bird Gets the Worm,” “Freebird,” and “Fine Feathers.”
I call this Photo of the Week “Show Your True Colors” because it makes me think of the importance of being yourself. You were meant to stand out, not blend in. This image was captured on a rooftop in New York a few months back. As I was looking through the photos from that particular trip, I was struck by this vibrant cluster of flowers shrouded in darkness. This picture is a poignant reminder to let your light shine, especially when surrounded by dark times. You may feel outnumbered or overpowered, but know that you matter, that you are noticed, and your presence makes an impact — just like these dainty little flowers. Alternate titles: “On the Bright Side,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “Bright and Mighty.”
I’ve been thinking back to a special cup of hot chocolate that warmed my soul during a jaunt in San Francisco, since the past few days have been on the chilly side. It’s the star of this Photo of the Week. Funny story. My pals and I were at AfroTech early one morning last month and in need of a pick-me-up, so we hopped into an Uber in search of breakfast treats. We literally circled the block and ended up at the tiniest coffee shop, Dynamo Donut & Coffee, at Little Marina Green. It was so small we even questioned if it was an actual business. Thankfully, it was. But, honestly, we could have walked there in three minutes. It took us longer to drive. Bless our driver’s heart for accepting the ride and not judging us. LOL. But it all was worth it because the cup of hot chocolate that I ordered — heavy on the chocolate — was everything and more. Plus, it was pretty to look at. Shout out to the barista for complying with my ridiculous request and kicking a plain ol’ cup of cocoa up several notches. Never mind the word “Dirty” lurking in the background.
I call this Photo of the Week “Docked Boats in the Bay” because that’s basically what it is. LOL. I love this image because there’s so much to unpack. I kid you not, every time I look at this photo I discover a new detail that I hadn’t noticed before. The names on the boats. The San Francisco skyline in the background. The beautiful homes. The reflection of the scene in the water below. I can almost feel the crisp air and hear the birds chirping. It feels very much like a painting.
This Photo of the Week was taken last week when I was in that glorious city, San Francisco, for AfroTech. Generally speaking, the image captures a beautiful sight: the Golden Gate Bridge standing tall and commanding attention as she always does, the seagull gliding by, the choppy blue water and the rowers sailing in it. But the elephant in the room (photo) is the hazy sky. Unfortunately, it’s a by-product of the customary fall fog but also of the fires burning in the Bay Area. Air quality is extremely unhealthy. All around The City, I observed passersby wearing masks to protect themselves. This photo also evokes a tinge of sadness, knowing that it is a snapshot that documents the effects of the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history, the Camp Fire. Prayers up to those who have lost their lives and/or property, and the resilient firefighters working tirelessly to contain the blazes.
This Photo of the Week was one of many that I captured on a recent trip to visit family in Detroit. To the untrained eye, these may look like your run-of-the-mill wooden clothes pins. But to me, they’re artifacts from my many summers spent at my grandparents’ house. Even though my grandparents have a dryer, we would often hang our clothes out to dry on the clothes line in the backyard. At first I dreaded the task (I’d much rather play on the swing or jump on the trampoline), but I soon grew to enjoy it. It’s hard to explain, but the sense of accomplishment I felt when I finished hanging a load of laundry was palpable. The chore was also an opportunity to hear stories from my grandparents about my dad, aunts and uncles’ antics growing up. Seeing the wear on the clothes pins made me wonder just how many lessons and laughs, and how much love is contained inside these “family ties.”
I love a good pattern. My eyes are innately drawn to them, and that’s why the complexities found in this Photo of the Week grabbed my attention. Located just steps away from the Charles H. Wright African-American Museum in Detroit, this sculpture makes quite a statement with its abstract curves and shapes, and, well, patterns. The black-and-white piece — Charles McGee’s “United We Stand” — is quite striking, as it features stripes, dots and an array of geometric shapes. And this is just one corner of it! If you’re ever in the Motor City, you’ve got to see it in person.