The soft bigotry of low expectations

I will throw this out there, so never blame me if it seems sudden or unplanned. As I sit here at my desk, a strange mass of words comes to me: the soft bigotry of low expectations.

What does it mean? Often, what we hear in our minds is nothing more than what we have once heard aurally. I set out to find the origin of this — almost weird — phrase, and I managed to track it down to a little speech that the former U.S. president, George W. Bush, had delivered at a National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) convention.

So what did Mr Bush — or his speechwriter — mean by this? He was speaking in reference to the education system and these words gave rise to several opinions, all based on similar lines.

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What Dmitry Medvedev can teach you about photography

A very common cry about photography is that it can be hard. In truth, many are unwilling to accept that, while photography takes just as much care and thought as any other art form, it is actually a lot easier.

Why the complaint, then? It is because most people do not find time to take out their cameras and make photographs. I have spoken to one too many about this, and I often use a similar story to narrate the importance of this — or the futility of their reasoning, that they cannot find time. That is how this article came about.

Meet Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev

You may know him, you may like him, hate him or have never heard of him. Mr Medvedev is a busy man. A very busy man.

He does some interesting things like talk to world leaders, point his camera at anybody and anything he damn well pleases, and he probably even has an army of bodyguards around him every time he goes out to shoot. Sometimes he can be just another tourist…

Photo courtesy: Ria Novosti / Reuters

or he can be found sharing burgers with Obama, because, you know, burgers are great and all…

Photo courtesy: Mikhail Klimentyev/AP Images

This man is an all-round good guy who is one of the few people in his field today that I actually find extremely interesting. If you have not caught on so far, the man is none other than Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s ex-President and current Prime Minister.

Medvedev, the photographer

What many people do not know (and by that I mean you, dear photographer without time to make photographs) is that Mr Medvedev is a big photography-buff and a photographer by hobby. Yes, he runs a nation and finds time to photograph things too.

That is one of the reasons I admire the man. It is one thing that he can own a Nikon, a Canon, a Leica, a Samsung Galaxy Tab (yeah, mine!) about a million dollars worth of accessories, as well as sell a photograph for $1.7 million:

Mr Medvedev’s $1.7m auctioned photograph of the Kremlin. Photo courtesy: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP Photos

But he also spends time talking to photographers, taking tips from them and his photographer-friends. He also enjoys spending time with his computer, toying with his photographs. And he runs a nation: even if he is second to Putin, he still is above 143 million other Russians.

Looking through his gallery, one thing is clear: Mr Medvedev has a good eye. Sometimes he churns out really great photographs that are very easy to connect with. I particularly like this church photograph he made:

 

Other times, he messes things up with Photoshop, but that is OK too. We rarely get to see purple/yellow sunsets these days.

Photo courtesy: Dmitry Medvedev

And all this carefree, adventurous approaches to his work is precisely what makes this man seem like such fun to be around. (This side of him is probably costing him backers for the next election, but that is talk for another day.)

On photography

Some time back Mr Medvedev even took time off to speak about his passion:

Photography’s real meaning, the Prime Minister says, is capturing “the special… moments already gone and never to be returned”. He says he got into photography about 35 years ago while at Pioneers Palace with his Smena 8M, then the cheapest Soviet camera with perhaps the poorest optics where he had to “judge the exposure, the light, the contrast”.

He likes to photograph nature, architecture and people. He shows his new digital M9 in the video and says it’s quite a good camera and that “photographers have praised it”

Learning

Of course Mr Medvedev probably travels to more places more frequently than you and I. He can, perhaps bring the Ferrari motor show to his doorstep rather than visit Italy; or he can go fishing with Prime Minister Putin and then decide to do some underwater photography; or he can say things like, “Hm, I wonder how the pyramids are looking today… Well, you’ll never know until you see them” and then proceed to fly to Cairo for lunch.

But all that is besides the point. As a former lawyer and current politician, he surely has a lot on his plate: healthcare reforms, a public image, media hounds, upcoming elections, the Winter Olympics this year and more. But all I want you to take away from this article is that if Russia’s Prime Minister can find time to make photographs, so can you and I.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

~ To my mother–the best in the world! ~

Sometimes it’s March, sometimes it’s April and sometimes it’s May. Which ever it is, each year, one of these months have the honour of hosting Mother’s Day all over the world. This year, today, May the 8th is the day dedicated entirely to mothers, who were, are and always will be there for us. Wishing them and treating them royally at least on this one day is the least we can do for them. And, to be brutally frank, we can never do enough: one can never get even, ever. Continue reading

Osama dead. What about jihad?

The best place to hide a secret is out in the open.

Not a week after Great Britain stole the limelight with the Royal Wedding, the US has once again come to prominence with the killing of the man who topped their most wanted list, Osama-bin-awadh-bin-mohammed-bin-laden (feel free to skip the names in-between.)

Abbottabad at night: put on the map for all the wrong reasons

Back in 2000, on September 11th, Osama made his most devastating mark ever by launching a series of attacks (that almost succeeded) on the US. But his terrorist group, the Al-Qaeda, had made the same mistake the Japanese made in WWII: they thought they could put down a giant with their attacks, but they only aroused one. Continue reading