Something tells me these photos are sensational

August 13, 2015 • Posted in baseball, blindness, Flo, Mike Knezovich, travel, Uncategorized by

Brian’s the man behind the camera.

My niece Jen and her one-year-old daughter, who I lovingly call “Toots,” flew in from Florida yesterday. My sister Bev and her family are coming by train from Michigan later this morning. My sister Marilee is flying in from Florida tomorrow, my brother Doug and his daughter Marsha are driving in from Louisville Friday afternoon, and Marsha’s husband and son will drive in from Indianapolis Friday evening.

What’s all the fuss about? Our nephew Brian Miller is in town from Japan!

Now get out your world globe. You’re going to need it to follow Brian’s adventures since graduating from college. After returning from his first trip abroad to Egypt, Brian turned right around and went back to the Middle East for a semester of intensive Arabic in Jordan. Next stop, a study program in Kuwait with the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. From there he took side trips through Syria and Turkey.

And then he moved to South Korea. Brian spent six years in Jeju (a beautiful Korean island on the East China Sea) teaching English to kids and honing his photography skills. After The Village across the Sea, Brian’s first book of photography, was published in 2010, Brian moved to Japan.

An example of Brian's work. Check out his full portfolio by clicking on the photo, or visit:

An example of Brian’s work. Check out his full portfolio by clicking on the photo, or visit:

He lives in Mie, Japan now, teaching English to adults while pursuing his work photographing the long-traditional female divers of Asia. He’s been published on the National Geographic website twice, once in 2011 for his photo Haenyeo with Octopus and again for Portrait of an Ama in 2013.

Brian grew up describing things visually for his ol’ Aunt Betha (he was only four when I lost my sight) and has a knack for explaining his photos in words. His oreum photo, for example. The word “oreum” is Korean dialect for the island’s parasitic volcanic cones. “Basically, they’re mini-volcanoes,” Brian told me. During breaks from teaching, he’s taken vacations in Japan, and in Cambodia, and in Thailand, and in Vietnam, and in Hong Kong. When Minke (that’s what my mom’s grandchildren call her) died last year she left some money for each of her grandchildren. Brian decided to use his to come home and see his family. Flo’s legacy lives on. She’d be pleased, and we sure are – it’s been a long time since we’ve had Brian here with us!

A portrait of a haenyeo (female diver) on the shores of Jeju Island, S. Korea. The haenyeo dive without breathing equipment to spear fish and gather seafood for market.

Brian spent the early part of this week with his parents and his sister’s family in Michigan, and when they all get off the train at Union Station in Chicago today they’re heading directly to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs play the Milwaukee Brewers– Brian is a big Cubs fan. After the Cubs game, they’re heading directly to Soldier Field for a pre-season game there –Brian is a big Bears fan. Tomorrow Brian and his mom are heading to Sox Park to sit in a skybox and watch the Cubs play the White Sox (did I tell you he’s a Cubs fan?!). Mike and I will treat everyone to some of our favorite South Loop food –Pat’s Pizza and Harold’s Fried Chicken – and we’ll all listen and dance to the Fat Babies at SummerDance in Grant Park.

Saturday’s a pool party at a cousin’s house in the suburbs, and I’ll be with Brian’s six-year-old nephew Bryce on Sunday while my husband Mike Knezovich the lonely White Sox fan joins Brian and a group of other Cub-fan-family members to see the White Sox play the Cubs at White Sox Park.

Brian and the Michiganders will head for the train home after Sunday’s baseball game, and Monday Brian takes off from Grand Rapids back to Japan. Whew! Whirlwind schedule, I know. Kind of mimics Brian’s life, I guess – he is a whirlwind!

Bev On August 13, 2015 at 7:30 am

We’re on the train headed you’re way, Beth! The whirlwind has begun. Can’t wait to see everyone!

bethfinke On August 13, 2015 at 7:38 am

Safe travels!


Sheila A. Donovan On August 13, 2015 at 10:07 am

What an exciting life Brian lives! His photography is amazing. I really admire multilingual people.

Elliott Goodman On August 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

Brian has a very interesting and challenging life. His language skills indicate that he is a very bright young man. Elliott

bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:33 am

Sheila and Elliott — Agree with you about the marvel of knowing more than one language. I’ll try to remember to ask Brian today how much Korean he’s retained now that he’s teaching in Japan!


Shelley On August 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

Thinking of Mike at this difficult time. 🙂

bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:36 am

Shelley, Bev laughed and laughed when she read this comment out loud to me yesterday. I think you, Harry, Mike Knezovich and I are the only Sox fans in this family. Cross your fingers that we all survive this weekend: three games against the Cubs.


CShriver1 On August 13, 2015 at 10:56 am

So glad you will be with family have a great time say hi to Marilee from Charlene!

Sent from my iPhone


bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:37 am

Will do –she flies in today, looking forward to being with her.


Diana On August 13, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Thanks for sharing. He is a gifted photographer……… the color, light and angle photos are taken show his talent.. Sorry you cannot see them. Hope someone describes them to you.

bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:40 am

People have described them, but I appreciate hearing different takes. You are the first to mention the color, light and angle, and knowing your appreciation for photography, that helps confirm what a pro Brian is. Thanks for leaving the comment.


Monna Ray On August 13, 2015 at 3:20 pm

How interesting, Beth! Pat’s Pizza is one of my favorites too. Monna

bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:42 am

Yum. It’s only Six in the morning right now but I’m already looking forward to Pat’s later this afternoon…


sandy perryman On August 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

He is gifted…His book was a gift to my adopted Korean nephew, Charlie when he graduated 8th grade. All thanks to my pseudo- sister Cheryl for the connecting me with such a treasure of a book. This morning Charlie left for college with his parents and the book is in his memory box. So sorry I missed the Fat Babies…love them. See you soon in the fall sign up for writing classes.
Sandy Perryman

bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:47 am

Oh, yes! Your comment here jogged my memory, and I recall Cheryl telling me about this gift of hers to you, one of oh-so-many thoughtful gifts Cheryl has given to so many of us. We’ve really missed the two of you in the Grace Place memoir-writing class, it starts again October 8, I’ll get details to you soon. Hey, and you haven’t missed the Fat Babies yet, they’re playing tonight. Come on downtown, I’ll dance one with your Brian while you dance with Mike Knezovich!


Hank On August 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Thanks for sharing. The photographs are really wonderful.
Glad you got to have this family reunion.

bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:51 am

Yes, silly me. I was worried that once Flo left us physically we might not have these get-togethers anymore. She definitely is still with us spiritually, though, and I have a feeling her presence will be especially strong tonight when we’re all dancing and listening to the Fat Babies. “That’s my kind of music,” she’d always say…


Nancy B On August 13, 2015 at 9:01 pm

So cool! Have a great time. Wonderful photos. Love the female diver pics.

bethfinke On August 14, 2015 at 5:52 am

Yes, and already learned a lot more about the female diver tradition when chatting with Brian early yesterday evening. Amazing stuff.


Deborah Darsie On September 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm

What lovely photographs. The one of the diver in the blog post is an interesting study of textures – from the material of her dive suit (soft and drapey) and the intense population of the creases of life on her face (like creases in vellum) really add to the portrait.

I am glad Flo keeps nudging things even from her new vantage point.

bethfinke On September 18, 2015 at 9:56 pm

I just love your descriptions –hope you don’t mind if I send them along to the photographer, my nephew Brian? A show of his photography opened in Japan last weekend, I need to email him and see how it went — I’ll add your descriptions in that email –THANK you, Deborah.


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