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Worried Mother

Trayvon Martin
(Originally published on chapelboro.com the Spring of 2012.)

By Kristin Prelipp Oguntoyinbo

Like most parents I am trying my best to teach my children the most important life lessons so that they will be eventually be equipped to go out on their own and find happiness and success. We talk about self-respect as well as respect for others. I tell them that you are only as good as your word. I promise them that if they are ever in a car with a friend who is driving and drinking, or if they have been drinking they can call me for a ride anytime day or night, no questions asked. We talk about the importance of education. We all see it as their key to getting to do their life’s work. Oh, the places they will go! We discuss taking good care of your body since it is the only one you get in this lifetime. But, it had not yet occurred to me to warn them not to wear a hoodie.

The Trayvon Martin case has really shook a lot of us up. If you have been living under a rock, let me remind you of the basics. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African American boy who lived in Sanford, Florida, a community north of Orlando. On a recent evening he was on foot returning home to his father’s house from a gas station with a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. He was wearing a hoodie and talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone. Meanwhile, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood self-appointed watch caption armed with a gun, was following him. Zimmerman shot Martin and was not arrested as he told police he killed him in self-defense.

In the days following his murder the news has exploded with facts about the case, about Martin’s character and his actions towards Zimmerman. This will all eventually be sorted out. But, basically this case has made me see how dangerous it can be to simply be black, especially a black male like my two sons. I am also so frightened that nearly anyone can get a gun and the laws are becoming more and more permissive. But race is what I want to talk about today.

So now I realize I need to add some life lessons to my repertoire. I was married to my children’s father, an African American of Nigerian descent, for a decade. I saw glimpses of how my ex-husband interacted with society, compared to how people treated me as a blonde, white woman. For example, I remember that when we were shopping he always asked me to carry the bags as we wandered from store to store, as he did not want to be accused of shoplifting. Until the Martin case burst onto the scene I had forgotten that I need to remind my children that there are ignorant, frightened people in our society who will only see their skin color and will automatically assume many things about them, most of which are not pleasant. Our close family and friends, who are from a wide variety of races and cultures, see them for who they are, but some others will just see them as black.

Last night I watched the boys, 5 and 8, play basketball in the yard. Leo was Harrison Barnes and Roman was Tom Robinson. The late afternoon sun was illuminating them beautifully so I took a quick photo. The sun kept going down and it was getting too cool for their sleeveless shirts so they put on hoodies. I just didn’t have the heart to warn them yet about walking around in a hoodie. But now I know that I have to work racism into some conversations. Mentally I had put us in a safe bubble because we live in a liberal, accepting community like Chapel Hill/ Carrboro. Our particular neighborhood is very tight knit and supportive. We all know each other and watch out for each other. But my job as a parent is to prepare them for the world. So the senseless death of Trayvon Martin has helped me to face something ugly about our society.

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Sarada & Clay

Sarada Rao and Clay Schossow were married on May 17, 2014 at Bay 7 in Durham, North Carolina. The two met at Top of the Hill in Chapel Hill and have been together since 2009. They love running together so much that Clay actually proposed to Sarada while they were out for a jog. Please view their WEDDING STORY to see how they came together on a sunny day at the American Tobacco Campus. Or to see the WHOLE STORY visit their KPO Photo Gallery.

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There was never any question in my mind I would become a photographer. But it is an art as well as a craft, and creativity is something that must be nurtured . My whole adult life I have been lucky to work with wonderful clients who ask me to photograph for them on a regular basis. I shoot thousands of images, edit out the final product for my clients and then archive the photos, usually never to be seen again. In an effort to nurture creativity and to love what I do, I am beginning a photo-a-day project starting today, my 41st birthday. My 365 project is going to be two-fold. I will either dig through my archives for a lost gem of an image or shoot something just for the love of photography and life. I will include the pertinent photo geek information and a short cutline with each image. I am excited to see where this next year will take me! And with that, Happy Birthday to me!

Digging for Gold from Kristin Oguntoyinbo on Vimeo.

You may see the whole project as it unfolds, HERE.


Documentary Photographer

Photo Geek Info: 50mm macro lens at ISO 640. It was 200th of a second at f/5.
The Story: The date was April 13, 2014. It was a quiet Sunday night at home and I was working in the yard. I noticed a hummingbird in the garage. The little guy could not find his way out and was just sitting on the ground exhausted. I scooped him up, set him down on our bird bath and cleaned all the many cob webs off of him. Leo helped me to put a little branch underneath him and feed him some sugar water. He was back flying around in no time.


Photo Geek Info: 35-70 lens at focal length 55mm, ISO 320 at 0.6 second at f/2.8.
The Story: Last night there was a blood moon eclipse that would have been visible had it not rained all night. This is something I would have gladly stayed up late to witness and photograph. Alas it was not to be. So I chose a photo today that I took on June 15, 2011 at Ocean Isle, NC. On this particular night there was also a total lunar eclipse. We watched it from my brother’s dock and it was an amazing show.

lifestyle photographer
Photo Geek Info: 50mm macro lens, ISO 500, 1/160 at f/7.1.
The Story: Even though it is already April 16th, we had a hard freeze last night. It made me worry about our dogwood trees and other plants that are already blooming. This photo was taken on March 18, 2014 when we experienced an ice storm that covered the whole area in ice and knocked out power for days. The coating of ice did not seem to bother the dogwood buds at all. Tall, top-heavy pine trees, however, did not fare so well.


nature photographer

Photo Geek Info: 50mm macro lens, ISO 800, 1/125 at f/5.6
The Story: I took a photo of the same dogwood three weeks later, on April 6, 2014. Not only did the ice storm not bother the bud, it seemed to be extraordinarily healthy.


Travel photographer
Photo Geek Info: This was taken back in my film days. I was shooting Ilford 400 black and white 120mm film in a twin lens reflex camera called a Yashicamat.
The Story: My family is getting together this weekend for my dad’s 70th birthday so it made me think of trips we have taken together. Back in 1996 I spent a month or so in Slovenija and Croatia. This is Predjamske Grad, which is is near the village of Vipava in Slovenija. The castle’s most famous inhabitant was a rebellious knight named Erazem. He rebelled against an Austrian emperor and holed up in this seemingly impenetrable castle while under siege. For a year and a day he was able to survive, to the dismay of his adversaries who assumed he would eventually run out of supplies. It turns out there was a secret passage to the castle through the mountain where he was getting a steady stream of cherries and wine- what else do you need, really? His end came when the Austrian soldiers eventually figured out where the outhouse was and were able to launch a cannonball there while he was doing his business. What a way to go.


raleigh photographer
Photo Geek Info: I was shooting Ilford 400 black and white 120mm film in a twin lens reflex camera called a Yashicamat.
The Story: Back in 1996 my family and I went to Folly Beach, SC for a vacation. Early one morning I forced my sister and sister-in-law to get up really early and drive into Charleston. My goal was to find great early morning light and take a cool photo and their goal was to go shopping all day. We happened to drive past a field of buildings, formerly used as slave quarters. The sheets were part of an art installation.


family photographer
Photo Geek Info: 16-35mm lens at 16mm. ISO 400, 1/100 at f/3.5
The Story: My dad, Stephen Prelipp, was born on Easter Sunday 70 years ago. All my siblings, their partners and the 9 grandkids gathered at my parent’s house in Chapel Hill, NC last night for an amazing meal and hours of fun. As we sat around the bonfire dad apparently thought the Easter bunny needed a little red wine to get ready for his busy schedule today. Love you dad!!!

The rest of this fun project can be seen HERE.

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