James with and without Roses

James does lighting for a living but he brings an even brighter light to his everyday life.

He’s gone through life changing experiences and always seeks the wisdom inside those moments of hardship.

Many thanks for his willingness to step into the shrubbery for this portrait and for his grace always.

Not sure what it is that draws me to this place, but the pictures made here have a feel to them I find intriguing and compelling.

Maybe it’s a feeling of emerging from a dark place to a lighter one.

Or, stepping out of entanglements, mental, emotional- patterns which trap us.

Maybe it’s the mystery. That thing just beyond knowing.

Part of me really wants to know but the artist part says – don’t know and that’s cool. Just keep going.

Maybe you have that feeling too sometimes.

Lovely roses thanks to Michelle of Blumgarten in Pilsen. @blumgartenco @blumgarten

Flash Print Sale

Flash Print Sale:

Please share with anyone who might resonate with this. (Thank you.) Here’s one of the images (on a contact sheet) I made up on Lake Superior from my most recent trip.

This location is about 10 hours from the city of Chicago and extremely quiet; The only sounds are the crashing of waves, the creaking of tree branches, and the subtle slipping of earthy clay underfoot as it gives way to erosion, a process exacerbated by climate change.

This pair of trees still stands tall at the edge of the cliff yet I know that quite likely they too will topple, claimed by the Lake.

I wonder at how we and the trees are alike, here for a time, our existence fragile and fleeting.

This land literally changes moment by moment. By the time I’m up there next time this landscape will look completely different.

When you purchase one of these prints you get a little moment of wild beauty, pure wilderness, and a reminder of our connection to the great wild spaces and the solace of solitude they offer amidst the hue and cry of every day life and work.

We must do what we can to protect these beautiful places. At the same time they remind us to attend gently into our own hearts and minds with quiet compassion and care.

Prints are available of this image in a flash sale for $100 each in support my ongoing work investigating the place of human beings as part of the web of inter- existence of all things, and about the cycles of life from birth to death.

Send me an email to purchase your print.

Deadline for this flash sale for this piece is Sunday, October 7.

All prints will be handmade on archival fiber 8×10 paper. Image size is 5 x 5.

Thanks so much for your consideration. Prints may be sent anywhere in the world. Shipping additional based on location.

Under the Duvet

This is the tail end of our cat, Minky. Every morning he has a routine. Like all of us he likes to stick to his routine.

By all of us, I mean all of us who would prefer a routine, obviously some people prefer greater randomness. And of course, that’s totally OK.

Anyway, every morning he eats his breakfast, he comes upstairs to where we’re having coffee greets us, gets a little loving and then if the sun is out he’ll lay in the sun spot but because it’s not really Spring yet, the sun spot doesn’t last very long so then he immediately goes to the bed finds an entry point, a place where there’s just enough of the duvet lifting up where he can get his head underneath and he dives underneath until all of himself is covered except for maybe just a little bit of his tail. And there he stays for many  hours.

We call him the Little Lump, a term of real affection, though it may not sound that way. But we love him very much.

And we appreciate that he does this every single day and it made me think about how as an introvert sometimes I just want to do the same thing.

Lots of you think that I’m super extroverted because I get up and go in front of people and talk, I teach, I hand outbusiness cards about my photography to people, and talk about climate change and so forth. But really what I prefer would be to be left alone in a vastly isolated and delicately beautiful place with my camera to research and contemplate and make images very quietly.

So, I understand as my cat does, the urge to crawl under a blanket and stay there.

However, I’m also quite aware of how important it is for each of us to do the work that really calls to us, the work that can help make the world a better place.

So this morning if you’re feeling like crawling under a blanket, I invite you to do that for a bit if that’s what you need. Please,  go ahead.

But then come on out! the world needs your light. The world needs your purpose, your work. All of us can take a good rest under a nice blanket afterwards.

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Please, feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment or sending me a message.

I’m reminded, in closing, of something my friend and teacher Jon Blaustein said, which is roughly this: that none of us ever gets where we’re going alone.

So today as I head out to do my work, I’ll be thinking of all of you.

I hope that we can come together across the globe help hold space for each other as we do the work that needs doing. This frequently  requires bravery, risk-taking, a balance of wisdom and compassion and presents many challenges.

But we got this.

As we say in improv, got your back.

The Lift Bridge and Trees in Mist

The Lift Bridge and Trees in Mist, January 21, 2018 Chicago River, Chinatown, Chicago

Shopping Cart

Shopping Cart

January 21, 2018

Chicago River in Ping Tom Park

Sinking Dock

Sinking Dock, Chicago River, Ping Tom Park, Chicago, Il January 22, 2018

Relationship to and Experience of Urban Landscape

More Thoughts on “The Persistence of Vanishing Things”

As this project develops, there’s a need to concretize while at the same time remaining open and flexible to new discoveries, flashes of insight. I keep following the trail. Finding that balance between effort and ease to find the way to the work at it’s fullest expression.


I think that one of the main questions is this: how are we in relationship to the landscape? In the same way in mindfulness practice that we learn to ask, how are we in relationship to whatever is going on. We do our best in this practice to keep an open, curious, non-judgmental mind.

How do we even define landscape?

I know that I tend to think nature when I hear the word landscape but what about the built landscape that we create? And the way we do it? How we build what we do and with what intent?

The Conversation

Do we feel connected to the landscape or separate? And how much does it matter how our relationship with natural or built landscape is? What synergy is there? Do our environs support or deny us? And to what extent are we complicit when things go awry and we harm ourselves and the landscape? And conversely, how do we support positive change, or nurture the landscape whether natural or built?

Part of the work is in photographing the various landscape types as well as the people in them.

Further, conducting interviews and asking people where I find them about their connection to the landscape.

How is this relationship related to happiness? Are people more or less happy in various kinds of landscape settings?


And what of the stories, the mythologies found in the landscapes of different places and people? What forms the sensibilities of the people who dwell in these places? In what do they believe and what is the alchemy between people, landscape and the narrative enframing their experience and sensibilities?

Further, how is the passage of time perceived in each place and how does that inform/impact not only their relationship to the landscape but their happiness or sense of contentment? When we feel rushed along how does this inform our relationship to the land, the planet? When we have a slowing of time, does this mean we relate differently and how?




Third Friday at Zhou B Art Center – Photography by Hillary Johnson


I’ll be showing new black and white and color photographs from my project titled, “The Persistence of Vanishing Things,” in studio 302 at The Zhou B Art Center from 7-10pm. I invite you to join me for an amazing evening of art. The building is filled with incredible work and artists. This is a great chance to get to speak with artists directly about their work.

Deepest thanks to Deborah Weisenhous of Art of Imagination.

I’ll be in Studio 302. The opening is from 7-10pm. 1029 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60609

Here is a link to the center for directions etc. http://www.zhoubartcenter.com/3rd-fridays.html


Time is a relentless river. Each thought we have, each word we say, each action we make lead inevitably to a result offering benefit or harm to ourselves and all who surround us. In each moment we relate to what is sometimes called the ten thousand things.

The choices we make have impacts beyond what we can fully realize. Our cell phones, cars, clothing, and the food we eat. They are not discrete objects but also made of sun and rain and wind and elements and families we don’t know on the other side of the planet who love and struggle for happiness as we do.

The ripple of effect is infinite. The butterfly effect is real.

We can remain in a trance or aim to awaken. What we think becomes reality. We can awaken and manifest true happiness or stay in a trance of disconnection and manifest destruction. We can keep the lights of our blue jewel planet shining or let them go out, perhaps slowly or in one sudden cataclysmic catastrophe.

These photographs explore the way it feels to confront this reality of constant change, the ground shifting constantly under our feet and our striving to grasp and hold onto what we think will bring happiness. They offer a glimpse into our attempts to face, as bravely as we can, inevitable changes and pains. Also, the joy which arises from letting go of grasping and surfing the moment fully present with our whole hearted awareness and compassion to what is, just as it is.