Friday, May 17, 2013


Crater, Myvatn, Iceland.
Some of my work is featured on Problemata Physica. I like the first two as a pairing.

Thank you Stefan & Michael!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Someone I Know

Ross, sheets.
Sometimes making a portrait feels so personal and vulnerable. Capturing my partner Ross Minzenberg the way I see him when I wake up is the way I see him in my mind and hold of him closest to my heart. It is included in the online exhibition (among other beautiful portraits made by many other talented photographers), Someone I Know, compiled by curator Stuart Pilkington.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ethical Fashion

The tragedy of the factory building collapse and horrific death toll in Bangladesh is bringing forth new dialogues on clothing manufacturing. After listening to the interview Terry Gross had with author Elizabeth Cline on Fresh Air about ethical fashion I thought about the manufacturing chain that gets our clothes go through. While a good portion of my wardrobe is vintage, used, made by either R or my family tailor, the discussion made me think long and hard about my choices in purchasing new clothing  and how I can improve on those choices by buying less, and making more ethical choices. I applaud the major retailers for finally taking a move in bringing about change in the safety standards of the factories that manufacture their clothes in Bangladesh.

Do you have any recommendations for sources of ethical fashion?


©Hidemi Takagi
© Kevin C. Downs

These last couple of months in NY has been lots of catching up with old friends, eating lots of my favorite foods, seeing art, and some nice walking around. Three photographer friends took my portrait recently- wow! I almost felt like the most popular photographer around for a short spell. I've also had the opportunity to meet and talk to new people. One of the sweetest souls I met recently was photographer Abigail Smithson. She asked me out to tea and we spent hours talking about photography, travel and life. Much of it is on her blog The Photographer Discloses. It's very much in conversation format so it's not too formal sounding and I like that. I also like the thoughtful title she gave the conversation North, South, East, and Queens.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Off Screen

The Players, Miami, Florida, USA.
Much of my time is spent in front of a computer screen, sitting down. When I go to work, I spend about 9 hours in the dark, on the computer and when I come home, I spend time returning emails and time on the internet. In the winter, this is particularly downright depressing. While I'm not a couch potato, my work days always drain my energy, and getting a workout in is hard when you have to factor in eating, commuting plus other chores. You might be just like me. I've lamented in the past about my behind getting bigger from my mostly sedentary lifestyle but now I've finally taken a move in the right direction to be active and healthy.

In January, R and I joined a Y in PA. We both like exercising (when we have time to do it) and love having access to a pool. We had a fairly open schedule so we went about 5 days a week. If you tack on all those walks for Clyde, we were getting a decent workout. When I returned to NY, I had to figure out a way to maintain a workout without a regular gym membership. Gyms have to be accessible so that you can actually get to them to use them. If you don't have much of a budget, they can be cost prohibitive. For a while, I used my Y Away membership and when I went to my sister's house to hang out with her and the kids, I used her treadmill.

In one of my 'genius' moves, I also packed one of my Jillian Michaels dvds with me (30 Day Shred – an oldie but goodie) and was using it on heavy rotation. Her videos are great – you don't need much to workout, just some space, a set of light weights, and a yoga mat. I looked for more online and have since developed a routine for working out to her different programs daily. JM's more recent workouts are less repetitive and more dynamic. I've also started listening to her podcasts at work (R makes fun of me for devoting so much time to her) and they keep me motivated. I've since cleaned up some of my eating habits based on some of the suggestions and information I've learned listening to those podcasts. Calories in, calories out- maintaining healthy weight is adding and subtracting. Counting calories is something I've never really been aware of and now trying to be conscious of while eating.

I'm now waking up early to exercise before work (I'm a morning person anyway), eating a primarily vegetarian diet and heading to work on a good exercise high and have great energy throughout the day. Now that the weather is nice, I'm also taking walks after my lunch break and after dinner. I've also cut out lots of screen time at home. While my email correspondence is slower, I am living a happier life, off screen.

What do you do to stay healthy? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hello Sun

I spent part of the weekend editing down The Stories from This Chinese Life on the site after talking to several smart friends about how I should present such a broad project. Their advice? Less is more for the website.

I also added some images from Breathing In which has never made an appearance on previous versions of the site because it looked too different, and in my mind, a separate project. Breathing In and Ann (my late collaborator) are both near and dear to me so why not share it? I'd love to bring it to a larger audience at some point so that's still a goal.

The editing work is ongoing, but that's my job. And I'm happy to be thinking about such things.

Today I'm heading down to Florida, where I met Ann and my husband Ross nearly six years ago. After such a dark winter, Ross and I are looking forward to meeting each other there, some sun, and seeing our sweet family from London, CA, and PA. Fun times coming up. Catch you later.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A little bit of Jackson Heights

The Veil, Jackson Heights, NY.
The Myths, Jackson Heights, NY.
The Groceries, Jackson Heights, NY.
Walking around and actually looking at my surroundings in Jackson Heights still bring new things to my attention. I'm trying out the diptych format and see if I should make more. I've been back in Queens for about two weeks and have been soaking up all the good ethnic treats NYC has to offer with good friends. I've been lucky enough to have had Japanese three times already! That more than makes up for the drought I experienced this winter. I just need to get some pizza into my system and I'm all set.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Abundance of Mushrooms

The Mushrooms, Shangri-la, Yunnan, China.
All of my editing has reminded me to share more photos from China here. Despite the fact that I am Chinese, I had a hard time eating and getting a balanced diet in China. Most days I skipped meat and countless numbers of restaurants because they did not look sanitary in the way that I was used to. In Taiwan, where I grew up, I eat lots of street food and night markets are my favorite places to sample small eats. China is different, especially rural China. Running water is not a given. Neither is electricity. Or a restroom within the restaurant. Then there's the problem of soap. In China, I travel with plenty of tissue (not provided 99% of the time), soap, and water. Even after taking those precautions, I remained careful about choosing a restaurant that looked clean.

The only place where food was not a worry was in Dali, Yunnan (western China). Dali has a temperate climate and is warmer than locales north such a Lijiang and Shangri-la. There was a wonderful pay-as-you-wish veggie place that volunteer Buddhists ran that I frequented. And the best part was that mushroom season is during summertime in Yunnan. There was a gorgeous abundance of it everywhere as I sampled many wild varieties cooked up in all sorts of delicious ways. It was heaven eating mushrooms daily and having lots of vegetables. This batch of mushrooms drying was taken on the streets of Shangri-la.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Prayer Flags

The Prayer Flags, Lijiang, Yunnan, China.

Prayer flags are a colorful celebration of life. Looking at this one makes me smile. Sending positive energy your way. xx

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On the Mountain

The Monks, Lijiang, Yunnan, China.
Part of our plan last summer was to try to travel to western Sichuan province, where there are Tibet Autonomous Regions. Alas, it wasn't meant to be as these area were closed to foreigners since an incident of self immolation occurred earlier last year. However, we did join a gathering of monks who traveled from all over China to Wenbi Monastery in Lijiang and communed with them. This was a magical moment of old, young, and a little girl laying on the roof, on top of the mountain.