Author Archives: Tim Porter

Mary Ellen & the Book

The book from the last Oaxaca workshop arrived the other say. The cardboard package was on the stairway landing inside the front gate when I arrived home from an afternoon shoot. I took the book inside to the kitchen, slit the packing tape with a paring knife and opened the wrapping. There was Mary Ellen […]

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How I Met Mary Ellen Mark

The first time Mary Ellen Mark and I spoke she came at me like a ravenous attack dog. “Tell me who said that,” she barked into the phone. “I want to know who said that.” The spark for those words was struck several weeks earlier when I was in Oaxaca, Mexico, where my wife and […]

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Dear Medium: Publishing is not Writing

Let’s get one thing clear: Writing is not publishing and publishing is not writing. To write is to transfer ideas from mind to words. To publish is to distribute those words to an audience.     To me, this is an important distinction, the difference between an act of creativity and a means of transportation. That’s […]

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Mexico — There, Not Here

Understanding Mexico is like learning Spanish. I’ll explain. The other night, in a Spanish class, a student got hung up on a particular phrase because, as she put it, “it doesn’t make sense in English.” Of course it doesn’t, I told her, but it works just fine in Spanish. It’s a common trap, one that […]

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My Mexico is Missing in My Photography

They love the photos. My wife, my friends, my family, they all think the pictures are terrific. They stare at the faces of the people. They comment on the aprons of the women. The cluck over the cuteness of the children and they sigh at the images of the food. These are wonderful, they say, […]

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Oaxaca and the 43

In Oaxaca, the number is everywhere – 43. As are the words – Ayotzinapa, desaparecidos, justicia. And the faces – Jose, Julio, Luis, Carlos and more, all young men, all dead, all still missing. The memory of the murdered students of Ayotzinapa is inescapable. Their faces stare out from posters plastered to walls. Banners hang […]

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The Clarity of Marc Riboud

What do you do when you realize you haven’t become the person you once hoped to be? What can you do? What should you do? Age complicates the answers. If you are young and unencumbered with life’s baggage, you can – and should – make the changes that will take you where you want to […]

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#43 (en Español)

43 estudiantes. 43 jóvenes secuestrados en la noche. 43 hijas t hijos asesinados por las manos de la corrupción. 43 cuerpos descartados y quemados como la basura de la casa. 43 oportunidades perdidas por un futuro mejor. 43 más razones para llevar luto por México. Los 43 alumnos universitarios asesinados murieron debido a que el […]

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#43

43 students. 43 young people kidnapped in the night. 43 sons and daughters murdered by the hands of corruption. 43 bodies discarded and burned like household trash. 43 chances for a better future lost. 43 more reasons to mourn for Mexico. The 43 slain university students of Ayotzinapa died because on Sept. 26 they commandeered […]

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Photo Story: My Iceland Day

“You have to come,” she said. “It’s weird. You’ll like it.” I had been in Reykjavik for more than a week photographing homeless people, alcoholics, Elvis freaks and massive gym rats known as power-lifters. Mary Ellen Mark was leading a workshop and after assurances from her that Iceland offered enough oddities to suit my visual […]

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Photo Story: The Curtain

The camera is my curtain. I am behind it. On the other side, on the grand stage of the world, the theater of life plays without intermission. I wait, listening to the dialog and watching the players move through the certain. Then comes a moment and I open the curtain, quickly and with such delicacy […]

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Photo Story: Empty

On those days when my glass drops below half-empty and I can’t seem to refill it no matter what, I pick up a camera and leave the house. Often I walk the neighborhood looking for snapshots of life. Other days, times when I need to keep myself away from me (thank you Adam Durwitz), I […]

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On the Job: The New Supervisor

Damon Connolly, a San Rafael attorney, is  the newest Marin County supervisor. I photographed him recently for Marin Magazine inside the county’s distinctive Frank LLoyd Wright-designed Civic Center. I’ve photographed several local politicians inside the building (here’s Rep. Jared Huffman) and each time I try to use differently the variety of shapes and shadows it […]

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On the Job: Filmmakers

Photographers like alleys in the same irrational way that cats like empty boxes. We can’t pass one up. So, of course, I was purring with excitement when San Francisco filmmakers Donna LoCicero and Robert Campos told me they  lived in a South of Market alley. I was photographing them for Marin Magazine in connection with […]

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On the Job: Arrested

A few months ago, I interviewed and photographed a  cheery, avuncular, 70-year-old doctor named James Simon (below) who was the flight surgeon at a small airfield in Marin, Gnoss Field in Novato. Today, Dr. Simon found himself on the front page of the local paper, the Marin Independent Journal, as the lead character in a […]

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Mary Ellen Mark, Me & Mexico

I returned to Oaxaca this year to take a second photography workshop with Mary Ellen Mark. Here is an account of that trip — and its impact on me — that I wrote for a local magazine. It is an updated version of the story of my first workshop a year ago. *** No Bull! […]

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Texas, the Throw-away State

Other than serving as home to several members of my family, there’s not much I like about north Texas. One of the state’s more sad characteristics is its emptiness. I don’t mean the vast openness of the Texas landscape — which is alluring — but rather the pockets of  nothingness that mark the cities and […]

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Muertos — a Day of Life

Death is a lot of work. The dead are gone in a minute, but their survivors need hours and days and weeks to prepare a celebration for them. In Garfield Square yesterday, El Día de los Muertos, the sons and daughters and widows and widowers and friends and colleagues of the dead devoted the afternoon […]

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The Mission on the March

If San Francisco’s Mission District were a wild animal, it would be on the endangered species list. The neighborhood is hunted by predatory real estate developers who toss out longtime tenants like last week’s garbage, encroached upon by relentless and City Hall-sanctioned gentrification, undernourished by new immigrants (who can no longer afford to move there), […]

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On the Job: Psychics

Not all psychics are alike. But then some of you already knew that, didn’t you? It was a lesson I learned when I recently photographed several psychics and tarot card readers — they prefer the term “intuitives” — for Marin Magazine. When I got the assignment, I was thinking flowing robes, lots of jewelry, candles, […]

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