Visual CV – Who am I?

A friend, Timothy Neesam introduced me to the notion of contemplative photography via Kim Manley Ort. One of her ideas is to create a visual CV. It’s an interesting notion: a visual response to a series of questions about oneself.  Without further ado, here are my answers:

Who are you? 


Why photography?


What is your trademark photographic style?


 What truly inspires you?


Where do you go when you close your eyes?


Where is home for you?


How would you describe your lifestyle?


What makes a great shot?


How do you view the world? 


What is an important lesson you learned?


 Al Doerksen – February 2017


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Having visited a few of the washrooms at John Bergen’s agc_5326-edit-editCity Cafes in Kitchener & Cambridge I already knew that Bob was an accomplished model, so when el esposo de la prima de mi esposa (the husband of my wife’s cousin) spent a couple of weeks with us in Zihuatanejo, Mexico we got out our imaginations.

For nine days he was the primary subject for my daily photoblog.  In this review, I will bring these links together in a single document.  Click on the hyperlinks in this document to be taken to my daily entries featuring Bob.  Be sure to read the narrative accompanying the photo.  On some days I have included an extra photo with the blog, and  for all days there is a further link to a Flickr set.  (If you wish to avoid going to the Flickr sets, I have included all of those in the final link at the end of this word blog).

Playa Majahua is a wild, deserted and dangerous beach but for Bob, having found a three legged chair, it was a chance to sit and contemplate life. It was also the first place where a pair of senoritas wanted to pose with the august gent.  (See the extra photo in the photoblog)

The next day found Bob in local watering hole which seemed to cater to campesino farmers among others; inside was a prominent mural of Emilia
no Zapata; Zapata Bob seemed to bear a remarkable likeness to this famous revolutionary.  Now we were on a roll.

The next day was a market day, and Market Bob wanted to check just how potent the local chiles were.  This required taking a very close look and a little sniff.  The extra photo features Bob and a fishmonger in the municipal market.

We next took a car journey inland to Patzcuaro.  The cemetery in the village, Tzintzuntzan, was still adorned with decorations from Day of the Dead celebrations.  For a pallid Bob, lying on a grave stone with his wife looking on, it was a chance to reflect on his own mortality.  The most moving photo of the day was, however, El Toro Bob.  This was my favorite Bob photo but some of my blog followers considered this a load of bull.  It was also a day when Bob got his first sense of being Don Quixote on his faithful steed (see the extra photo).

The Quixote theme continued on to the next day when after attempting to chat with a Katrina of Day of the Dead fame.  Still wearing the toothless bandana of the Katrina, he donned (bad pun) the wash basin like helmet of the errant knight.  He felt like Fusion Bob.  (Be sure to view the extra photo with Katrina).

Our last day in Michoacan included a stopover in Santa Clara del Cobre; Bob was not quite sure if it would be appropriate to strip in public but Bob in the Bath seemed rather relaxed.  One commenter noted that all he needed now was a cigar and a whiskey.

Bob was thinking about music and the upcoming hootenanny as we returned to Zihua; he even tried out a busker’s accordion.  There was an audience but no tips awarded.  There was a young lady reluctant to be photographed until she saw Bob; when you see her you will understand why he is The Blues Bob.

Earlier in the week, we had tested some confessional booths in Patcuaro; given that that confession is apparently good for the soul, we tried again in Zihua but alas it does not work the same way here.  Still, given the chance to stand behind the altar carvings of loaves and fishes, it seemed apropos to have Bob utter God Bless Mexico.

On his last day in Mexico, we wandered in the early morning fish market; Bob was feeling right at home with these people:  Brothers Bob.  A remarkable resemblance.

Some wonderful experiences along the way, and a number of my daily photoblog followers have commented that they miss Bob, and wonder what he would do in this circumstance, and when is he coming back.

If all the clicking back and forth has been a bit tedious, here is a link to Flickr set which has all the photos (all 34 of them) in one place.  I doubt you will find these hanging in City Café washrooms.

So long Bob.  Hasta la proxima.

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Engaging Strangers

One thousand days ago I started posting a single photo (blip) daily to a global site in which users ran journals, attracted friends and became part of a global virtual community.  Getting these 1000 photos (each taken on the day posted) became a passion and I collected over 296,000 views along the way.  Then I started posting my daily alternates to Flickr; in all around 7700 photos which collected over 875,000 views.  In total, about 1.2 million views.  Street photography has been my genre.

One of the themes of my daily journal has been “Engaging Strangers”.  Inspired somewhat by Richard Renaldi’s work “Touching Strangers”, I began approaching people to ask them to pose with another person who was a stranger to them.  Lots of interesting discussions ensued and the results were remarkable.  In this blog, I will share a few of these with you.  (Sorry about all the links which you will need to navigate).

I was in Winnipeg in June 2015 and met Sheila wearing a Coors Light t-shirt; she was immediately interested in the concept and helped me select the stranger she wanted to pose with.  They quickly became friends.  I really loved the energy between the two of them.

Still in Winnipeg, I was at the downtown jazz festival working my project, and this older lady with somewhat arthritic hands said “I would like to do that” and she then posed with two local tattoo artists.  She touched them ever so gingerly.

Back in Waterloo, I met a new arrival from Pakistan having coffee outside the iconic City Café; the baker inside the café gave a warm welcome to this stranger.

The next day found me in Toronto’s Kensington Market where two sisters thought it would be rather fun to have a stranger sit between them.  They gave him a double clutch; he does look a little unenthusiastic about it but he was a good sport.

I met two young Middle Eastern men sitting outside a barber shop in Waterloo; they were waiting for a friend inside.  As we chatted about the stranger project, a young lady walked by and agreed to join them for a pose.  We talked about battles.  Her chest tattoo read:  The Hardest Battle You Ever Have To Fight Is The Battle To Just Be You.

At the Blues Festival in Kitchener, there were plenty of strangers milling about; two young women said they would be happy to oblige me if they could select the stranger.  They found this dapper chap who was more than happy to also oblige but in the process he lost some of his French fries.

Later in the month, I connected with Mike & Suzanne.  I was doing a photoshoot with Suzanne when this Sony wielding stranger wanted to join the action.  A stranger to all of us; Suzanne said “let me set this up” and so she did.

Festivals are great times for photographs and I spotted some great legs at the Craft Beer Festival; the strangers’ legs agreed to pose; I shot the double pair blind with my camera on the ground and did not even notice the onlookers until later.

I was in Victoria Park and encountered two strangers having a Conversation about Jesus; one of them was a street chap and when they posed together he was very tentative and polite.  I think he was honored by the attention the female stranger friend was giving him.

I spend a lot of time on the streets; that is what street photographers do.  One day, I chanced upon a congregation of street friends sitting in a row like in the back seat of an open air church.  One of my favorite shots from this summer.BBB_6812

Finally, here is the link to my 1000th blip posted earlier in the week.  I’m in Mexico trying to beat the Canadian cold.  Later this afternoon I will go out and engage a few more strangers (and friends).


You can see my daily photoblog at and my Flickr photostream at

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Crossing the border

We were walking along US Mexico border wall just east of Douglas, AZ.  We were headed up a small hill for a better vantage point, we could see a Border Patrol truck sitting at the top.  As we neared the area where the row of 16 ft vertical steel poles ends and becomes a series of Normandy barriers, we heard some voices in the desert scrub brush on the other side, and then I saw three Latin-looking women and a small baby cross thru the opening to cross into the US.  Illegal.  Migrants.  The two adult males did not appear.  In all likelihood, coyotes.  Human smugglers.  Gone.ADW_1326

The three women ran right past me.  One of them said, “Agua?”  We had already heard earlier in the week about the risks of dehydration for those trying to cross thru the mountainous scrub Arizona desert, and we had seen maps of the numbers of documented deaths of migrants in that challenging terrain.  We had done our own sample trek and understood well the risks that pertained.  These women were not carrying packs of any kind.  For sure they had no water.

We kept walking so as not to draw attention to them in case they were attempting to cross the road into the desert.  They just stayed on the road, and were detected immediately; the border patrol truck drove slowly down the hill to stop beside the women.  They did not try to run.  The solo patrol agent had the women sit down on the ground and remove their shoes – no over the top handcuffs nor the shackles we had seen in the Tucson courtroom as worn by 14 young men convicted of illegal entry to be sentenced to short prison terms prior to deportation.

The next thing the Border Patrol Agent did was to offer them some water.  I was pleased to see this, and document this with my long telephoto lens.  We continued to watch.  Each of the women was given a clear plastic bag to place their personal effects, and after a time, a second agent appear with a personnel carrier van.  One of our group went to the women and the agent to give them a bag of food we had with us.  The agents allowed the women to accept this.  We learned that these women spoke neither English nor Spanish; in fact, seemed to be Roma.  Verbal communication was a challenge.ADW_1356

The first two women climbed into the van, then one of the agents held the baby so its mother could put on her shoes and climb into the van.  Another kind gesture.

What is the backstory for these four migrant travelers?  Don’t know.  And what are the next chapters in their story?  Don’t know that either but we conjecture that these women will plead asylum, ie, try to make the case that they feared for their lives in the place from which they had come.  We had already visited a large detention centre north of Tucson – a highly secure facility for undocumented male entrants.  These places are not called jails because the occupants have not been convicted of anything, and were awaiting resolution of their status.   Would asylum or other entry be granted?  Or would they be summarily deported?  (The Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency has its own 737 aircraft to make deportation flights to Central America).

Borders are complex places.  Border walls divide communities, towns, families, countries.  They do not deal with root causes.

In Agua Prieta, I had dinner with a friendly middle aged chap who had a Mexican passport and who had worked in Canada for about 10 years under a temporary agricultural program.  We spoke in Spanish for quite some time until he surprised us by switching into English (and a bit of French).  He also said that he had been crossing (illegally) into the US for many years – maybe 20 or more times; that he had been caught 7 times, and spent 22 months in total in US prisons.  He gave me his email address, and said he was planning to cross over again in a few days.  I wonder where he is now.

The sun was setting as we walked away from the location where the women had crossed.  Above the mountains in the distance, we could see a tethered surveillance drone/balloon watching the border. ADW_1358

(Oct 28 to Nov 04, 2015 I joined a  Borderlands Learning Tour sponsored by MCC USA)

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Full Frame Photography

It’s been two years since I started posting a daily photo; in all cases a photo taken on the day it was posted.  I am gratified to have well over 200,000 views of these nearly 720 images.  [Most days I also add 5- 8 images to my Flickr account too – I have nearly 5000 photos loaded there.]

My post popular “Blipfoto” ever was Innocence  posted Nov 16/2014 – out of abundance of caution, I almost never post photos of young children (my grandsons excepted) but this little chap proved to be a real winner.

Following a little review of some of my favorite posts from the last three months or so.  Just click on the highlighted links.  [All of these were taken in either Ontario or Mexico].

Nov 30 – Amphibious – I went 5 km out to sea with 90 Mexicans – they all swam back to shore – my camera and I stayed in the boat.

Dec 13 – Arte Nativo – I love to do portraits with my camera down low or even on the ground.

Dec 25 – Dumpster Diving on Christmas Day – I thought it was ironic that while most of us where looking under Christmas trees, these two were checking what was thrown away.

Dec 26 – Last Man Standing was a photo of a brave little chap determined to play hockey in the big leagues some day.

Jan 22 – Hand Signals was my take on the sport of beach volleyball.

Jan 29 – Derelict Beach House was a selfie I took inside an abandoned mansion on a gorgeous secluded beach near Zihuatanejo.

Jan 31 – I almost never post a sunset or sunrise even though we have one of each daily, so I was a little bummed to have a tuba player photobomb my first attempt.

Feb 09 – Le Style ce Moi was a spectacular display of body art – something which I still photograph quite often;

Feb 15 – When the smoke gets in your eyes is probably self-explanatory; sometime sepia images work really well.

Feb 22 – On her knees is a photo which captures both the religiosity and the glamour so very present in Mexico;

Feb 26 – A high key image of a Hungry Thief.  No I did not turn him in even though I witnessed the theft.

On the technical side, about six months ago I acquired a full frame Nikon D800 with a 28 – 300 mm zoom lens; I also have a D7000 with a 10 – 24 mm lens.  I now shoot all my photos in RAW and use Lightroom and/or Photoshop Elements for post processing.

You can see my daily photo blogs at; they are also posted to Facebook if you want to be my friend.  My Flickr username is RaspberryJefe or use this link:

Comments are more than welcome.

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Get a World View

Since I last wrote about my daily “blipping” activity, we have relocated from Mexico to Colorado where we sold our home, and then carried on to Waterloo, Ontario.  We are missing Mexico, and are certainly missing Colorado big time, but we are also enjoying life closer to our grandsons (not to mention the lower cost of health care).

I now carry a card introducing me as a street photographer – I continue to be in metamorphosis from executive to artist.  I am approaching my 500th day to post a daily photograph, and I have been honored with over 127,000 views (and many more of my Flickr sets).  You can find all my daily photo blogposts at but if you want a bit of guidance, here are some of my favorites from the last few weeks.  Lots of links but don’t despair … just look at the ones which interest you.  (Oh, and inside the introductions to the photos, are further links to Flickr collections.  You will really have to be curious to go to those but there are some really worthwhile diversions).

March 30 – Back in Denver – A busker couple I have encountered several times over the years; I liked the complexity of the face paint / mask taken through the plate glass window.

April 06 – More Hair – One of the most impressive beards I have encountered.

April 07 – Cultural diversity – I encountered her with her husband in Walmart.  I was surprised at their openness to converse, and her willingness to be photographed.

April 21 – Get a world view – this chap was a street person standing proudly in front of an ad for the Economist.  Ironical.

May 28 – Touching Strangers – based on a project in which two complete strangers are asked to pose together and to be somehow in physical contact.

June 01 – Mark 11:25 – A heavily tattoo’d young woman with a reference to a bible verse about forgiveness on her neck.

June 02 – On the Street – I have met this chap several times on the streets in Kitchener; always in a good mood.

BBB_1161 mono

June 04 – Rebecca – So many of the tattoo’s I encounter have stories behind them; tributes and memorials to deceased individuals are common.

June 24 – Original – One of Canada’s original people lounging on the street in Toronto.

July 01 – Canadian – It was Canada Day, and as the quintessential Canadian had just returned from Tim Hortons.

Hope you enjoy this sampling.  Do send me comments if you like … or just press the delete key.

Al Doerksen

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Sombreros and stilettos

So we’re back in one of our favorite (and warmest) Nafta countries – Mexico – and my daily “blipping” has continued.  Over 300 entries so far with nearly 80,000 views.  AAG_8194Zihuatanejo is just a little part of the Mexican cosmos but it is not lacking in human photographic subjects.  I used to be impressed when I saw a sombrero, and my heart beat a little faster when a fancy pair of shoes walked by.  Well, I need to tell you that both are ubiquitous symbols of Mexico.

My photographic journey through Mexico / life is a sociological one.  You can find all my daily photo blogposts at but if you want a bit of guidance, here are some of my favorites from the last few weeks.  Lots of links but don’t despair … just look at the ones which interest you.  (Oh, and inside the introductions to the photos, are further links to Flickr collections.  You will really have to be curious to go to those but there are some really worthwhile diversions).

Jan 15 – The Old Man and His Burro – A rather iconic look at a rural chap (not Don Quixote but maybe Sancho Paza) and his humble beast of burden.

Jan 22 – Market Maker – The diversionary actions when one does not want to encounter a handicapped person looking for help.

Jan 23 – Petisko – A friendly young lady with a big smile who manages a new deli cum alternate food store in town.

Jan 24- Hasta Lunes – A beautiful Indian woman who usually gestures angrily when I try to photograph her, but she has become my friend.

Feb 01 – The Seamy Side – Two fellows and a hooker who have been partying all night.  The Flickr set is a little risqué but it is part of local life.

Feb 02 – Backbone – A tattoo from Proverbs running all the way up & down the spine of the model.

Feb 05 – Model Mexicanas – I chanced upon a photoshoot in process at the Marina, and they allowed me to join (probably because I had a Nikon).

Feb 07 – Los Pobres – the quintessential hombre, probably my age, and his sad face and white sombrero.

Feb 13 – Red Lipstick – I just happened to have some red lipstick in my pocket to enhance his pre-Valentine’s day photo.

Feb 16 – In the Iglesia – I loved this Indian woman who had spent quite a lot of time alone in the local Catholic “cathedral”.

Feb 18 – People of the Dump – A visit last week to a community of people who recycle and scavenge at the local dump.  Market based and a little sad.   AAG_7923

Do send me comments if you like … or just press the delete key.

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Leaving Mexico

ImageI left Mexico for the first time over 60 years ago.  I was 4 or 5 at the time; my parents had wanted to be missionaries in the state of Chihuahua but were unable to secure long term visas.  So we left.

The second time I left Mexico was in 1978 after we had lived in Guadalajara for 2 years.  It was a rich two years, and we knew we would be back.  In fact, we have gone back dozens of times, and now own a condominium in Zihuatanejo (on the western coast).

We’ve just left again – we had spent three weeks in Zihua and came home yesterday – moving from hot to cold.  What was different about this stay was my dedication to “blipping” – the daily collection and posting of a single photograph taken that day.

You can see them all at but if you want a bit of guidance, here are some of my favorites from the last the weeks.  Lots of links but don’t despair … just look at the ones which interest you.  (Oh, and inside the introductions to the photos, are further links to Flickr collections.  You will really have to be curious to go to those).

Nov 18:  The Mexican – a great looking Mexican hombre in the Houston airport.  This photo made it to the Blipfoto Spotlight.

Nov 20:  Purple on the bus – although it was after she got off the bus that I took the portrait.

Nov 23:  A Fish called Wanda – a playful fish seller in the municipal market.

Nov 25:  Selling poinsettias – a young woman giving her young son a bit of personal nourishment while relaxing in a hammock.

Nov 26:  Mexican stereotypes – exploring some of the iconic dimensions of Mexicans.

Nov 28:  Una cerveza for favor – a portrait of Mauricio, a fellow I learned to know while hanging around downtown.

Dec 01:  Olivia Velez – a strikingly attractive young chef.  This photo also made it to the blip spotlight.

Dec 03:  Pregnant Promise – what piñatas and pregnancy in the Christmas season have in common.

Dec 04:  Sombreros – more common than I realized in Mexico (I wear one too).

Dec 08:  Jesus in the bus window – for a country as religious as Mexico, this should not be surprising.

So that’s just a little sample of daily life in Mexico.  What a great country.  We’re going back again in mid-January.

Al Doerksen

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The Streets of Winnipeg

It was great to re-visit Winnipeg this October 2013.  Starbucks, Grove Bar, Keg, Cholestrol Café, iDE office, Stella’s on Sherbrook, Tall Grass Prairie, FORKS, Donwood Manor, McNally’s – I managed them all, and some more than once. 

 I/we have so many friends and relatives (who are also friends) in Winnipeg.  Many were more than happy to acquire a copy of “Going to Market”, and it was fun to vicariously share the excitement of rural / food markets in some of the Asian, African and Central American countries many of us have frequented.  That felt affirming.

 Since I have morphed into a street photographer, I spent time every day on the streets looking for those special subjects who would consent to be photographed for my daily photoblog – ).  So now, back in Colorado, I have these photographic memories of fascinating street occurrences.  For those of you curious about these “street people”, here’s a partial list:

First Nations:


So that’s a lot of links.    It might be easier to go into the blog site just once and then tab right or left to see the others.  There are more photos buried in Flickr links inside these blipfoto’s so if you have time, explore further.  I had short conversations with eight of the nine persons / groups listed above.  Winnipeg is a very diverse and very human and very interesting place.  It felt like community with depth and intrigue. 

 Oh, and I was honored to have three “street photos” included in McNally’s new photo book, “Winnipeg by Winnipeg”. 

 Until next time.

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Inspired by old(er) men

So here I am almost 65; my doctor tells me the time has come for colonoscopies, prostrate exams and other essential routines for the aging.    I ended my CEO role at iDE this year, and it was said that I was retiring, along with the implicit expectation that useful life is drawing to a close.  Not sure that I am prepared to accept that; and to bolster the argument,  I find plenty of inspiration from men somewhat older than I am!cohen

I will start with 78 year old Leonard Cohen.  We paid a fair amount of money to sit in the second row at a recent concert.  It was worth every cent to hear and see him perform – a concert which lasted over three hours!  I doubt there was a song which I had not heard often before; he moved around the stage with ease, bowing to the audience, dropping to his knees at times and generally giving the audience the impression that we were the most special and important audience he had ever performed for.

We were both a lot younger when I first began to listen to Cohen; his assertion that “there’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in” has always been comforting when not every endeavor went according to plan.  (Not sure what it means to “first we take Manhattan, and then Berlin” but it was fun to live in Germany and to contemplate the latter).  I find his recent exploration of impending mortality in his album “Old Ideas” to be both cathartic and inspiring.

I also listened to 79 year old Willie Nelson this year.  Loved his album “Heroes”.  In “Come On Up to the House” he invites us to “come down off the cross – we can use the wood…”  No room for self-pity in his paradigm – only the dedication to producing beautiful poetry and music as he approaches 80.  There is a longing for salvation as sings “Come back Jesus and pick up John Wayne on the way.”

And then there was the Neil Young concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.  Neil is only 68 but still plays his guitar as though he was 20, and still is committed to “Waging Heavy Peace”.  I might be a little biased because of Neil’s Winnipeg roots (at least for a while), but mostly I am impressed that his commitment to inspiration just doesn’t stop.

It isn’t just aging rock stars who have inspired me.  The iDE board has a number of near octogenarians, including Jack Keller, Lester Woodward, Paul Polak, Norm Fiske and Bill Fast.  Jack Keller is the most senior, but his mind is sharp and his professional engagement is awesome.  Lester Woodward has an amazing combination of good humor and solid wisdom.  Paul Polak reckons to still establish four multinationals each with 100 million poor customers and $10 bn in sales.  Norm Fiske has the ability to comprehend even the messiest financial statements in but a few minutes.  Bill Fast has an indefatigable curiosity that keeps him involved in venture after venture.    I don’t think that any of these five own rocking chairs; if they did, they wouldn’t know what to do with them.  Each of them inspire me.

So no retirement for me – just the space to do interesting things.  A little more exploration of markets.  A partnership with my camera lens.  The company of other old(er) men.

Al Doerksen

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