We Wish you a Merry Grryo

We Wish you a Merry Grryo

What does Christmas mean to you? Do you look forward to this season earnestly or is it a mere family ritual and gathering that you do every year?… Here at Grryo, all of us in the team, come from different countries across the globe with distinct backgrounds. In this post, we will all share what Christmas means to us and how some of us Celebrate it.

Tommy’s contribution

Christmas for me is deeply rooted in my faith in Jesus Christ. This holiday is to be a reflection of everything he is and I find it summed up in the word giving. I’m talking about giving without any expectation of a return. This year I have found a couple of actions that demonstrate the type of giving I mean.

John and his wife Shayla started helping a couple of weeks ago at Soul Food Cafe, a local food ministry to the hungry. John’s heart was touched by the need he found all around him. Putting his photography talent to use he had the idea of doing free portraits for anyone who wanted one. On the particular day I visited John there, he took over 50 portraits in front of this tree as Shayla, with infant son “Cotton” in tow, gathered information. This week they are taking photos with Santa. In the meantime he made a video on Facebook about what was happening that generated 1500 views and gained help from several local photography clubs.

This past weekend I helped a group of teens that joined with several hundred other local Arkansans to fill food packs to send to hungry children in Haiti. A local restaurant, Tacos 4 Life, gives enough from their profits to feed one child for every meal they serve. They do this by teaming with Feed My Starving Children® which is a non-profit organization committed to feeding hungry children. They organize volunteers to hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and then ship these meals to distribution partners. These kids gave a couple of hours of their time on a Saturday to pack 492 boxes of food packs. That’s enough to feed 291 kids each day for a year.

Simran’s contribution

Christmas has always been a favorite holiday for me. Despite living in Indonesia with the largest Muslim population, this festive season has always brought me a feeling of joy, warmth and excitement. For many Indonesians, Eid/Idul Fitri is the main holiday season celebrated extensively. The Christmas decorations and carols around Jakarta are mainly found in every mall or churches across the city. The roads and streets are not lit up with lights or decor as it is regarded as a normal public holiday. It is being recognized and celebrated more now by people in Indonesia. For me, during this festive end of the year season, it is more of winding down and enjoying the break from a well-spent hectic year.

Pictures of Christmas decorations in various places I found, that captured my attention.

Colourful Christmas ball ornaments on a huge Christmas tree at a nearby mall. The popping colours and lights was a lovely sight to capture.

A beautiful framed setting done by TWG Tea at a nearby mall. As i was walking past, I noticed a girl sitting next to the teddy bear and her friend taking a picture of her. The colours and moment itself intrigued me to capture it as it is.

Although, Christmas doesn’t hold a special meaning to me, someday, I would love to experience this festive season in countries that celebrate it. So, I can also experience the spirit of joy and bliss.

Elaine’s contribution

A huge part of Christmas for me is being thankful for, and spending quality time with, my family and friends – particularly my husband and our two boys. Our lives are pretty hectic; we’re always rushing from one thing to the next, Monday – Sunday. It’s all good and enjoyable, but hectic. So the few days we have over the Christmas period, where deadlines and school runs are thrown out of the window, are very special.

Playing board games and watching films together. Catching up with friends. Having late night adventures in the woods with our boys and their torches.  Watching my kids playing and running free, without a care in the world. Like children should. Watching the adults behaving like kids again too. Enjoying the magic of school nativities and music concerts. Eating mince pies that we don’t even like. Wearing silly jumpers and daft Christmas accessories.

Enjoying long walks in the cold.

Not setting the alarm clock.

Decorating the tree together.

Remembering dear loved ones.

Enjoying the little things.

Joe’s contribution

Because I work for a non-denominational church a lot of my time revolves around special events around the church. My wife and I have to get creative with our time to enjoy the holiday with our kids. We have our usual family traditions like decorating our house and listening to Christmas songs by Louis Armstrong. We also drive to neighborhoods and marketplaces adorned with a lot of Christmas lights and if when we can afford it, we will go to Disneyland to enjoy fake snow and watch people play at the skating rink.

The weather folks say that it snows in my region along the coast of Southern California only once for every hundred years, so unless we drive 2 hours up to the local mountains, any expression of “White Christmas” is man-made.

My family wanted to focus more of our attention on people in need this year. Our kids participated in Operation Shoe Box and filled a shoe box with gifts and a note to be given to a child on the other side of our world. Locally, I went with our church group to deliver groceries we put together to families nearby, so they could have a Christmas dinner.

It’s a special time of year for us. We could go insane trying to keep up with all of the traditions that go along with this season. Plus,  it is too exhausting to get swept up in the shopping frenzy that happens from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. At my home, we try to simplify how we the celebrate birth of our Savior Jesus Christ by helping folks in need and getting together with family and friends.

Susanne’s contribution

December, the darkest of the months. I feel the lack of shadows, I feel in me the lack of light.

Yet Christmas gives me hope. It brings light, all sorts of lights: tiny little ones, bright ones, yellow, red and green, the white paper stars we set up on our window sills early in December. Christmas celebrates light and reminds me that nothing lasts forever, not even the darkest days. That light remains. That I’ll have the shadows back soon again.

I’ve always loved Christmas, how it changes us, the magic of it, and I spend the Christmas days together with my loved ones.

Hope you enjoyed our little contributions from the Grryo Family to spread the joy and spirit with you all.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your participation and contributions throughout the year. We deeply appreciate it.

We would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2017!

Enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones and we look forward to another exciting new year with you!

One Hill, Eight Eyes by Joe Montoya

One Hill, Eight Eyes by Joe Montoya

Last year, I went to my first Instameet and discovered an incredible experience that happens when creative people come together in one place. I drove an hour before sunrise to the #GoldenRiseMeet at Golden Valley Ranch in Santa Clarita, California. It was part of Instagram‘s World Wide Instameet which happens about twice a year. The #WWIM12 theme focused on meeting people and asked Instagram users to post a portrait of the person he/she met at the instameet. This was just one location of many Instameets that were happening in different parts around the world.

When I arrived in the parking lot, there were about 30 people already chatting in almost complete darkness. Once sunlight started to glow over the horizon, we trekked about a half-mile up the hills to take photos. These are some of the folks I met and their thoughts on this remarkable experience known as the instameet.

I met Attila. @popscure

This charismatic man did a phenomenal job of organizing and hosting the event. Just as he served coffee to the group he mixed the perfect blend of photography and community.

“When I joined Instagram I discovered that it wasn’t just about posting my pictures. I was part of this “safe” community. I realized that I could share my experiences with them. The Instameet allowed me to actually share my shooting locations with others and gather them to photograph together at sunrise #GoldenRiseMeet” ~Attila


I met Cheryl.

She was last in line on the hike up, giggling about her age and pace up the hill. I had a foot injury that kept me walking at the same pace. Cheryl didn’t hesitate to engage and share her life’s experiences through the lens as we walked up the hill.

“I don’t have an Instagram. I was invited by a co-worker to come. I got my first 35mm camera in 1978. Many times, I will do road trips alone and will drive as far as Montana. I also know of a not-so-well-known location in this part of California. Can I tell you a story about it?” ~Cheryl

I met Rafael. @2071photo

Rafael and his friends were fun to watch. These millennials made up most of the group, and brought a ton of equipment and creativity with them. The props, smoke bombs, and gear were impressive, but their energy and enthusiasm were more impressive.

“Instagram influenced me to shoot more and share more images with an audience I couldn’t imagine was possible before. When I’m not working as a photographer, I feel that Instagram is a fun way for me to still stay motivated to shoot in my free time. The #goldenrisemeet was actually my first Instameet. I thought I should meet more people who share the same interest of photography.” ~Rafael


I met Jose. @josecardoza


Jose is another creative force wrapped in “California chill” and a beard. It is always inspiring to see someone excelling with the craft he is passionate about. Turns out Jose wasn’t done that morning. He went to another instameet in another part of Los Angeles later in the day. “This is my second time at this Instameet, and I enjoy it. I’ve been shooting for 11 years. I grew up in and around L.A. and now work in the music industry.” ~Jose


I met a number of wonderful and interesting people this day that I didn’t get to interview. It was great to chat with John @jawntorres, Jonathan @mywitsend, Theresa @bluemoodz  and Doris @dodovo who I featured on Instagram as a moderator for @wearegrryo. In fact, I stood next to Doris not knowing she was the actual person behind the Instagram name @dodovo. As an observer, I was amazed to experience what happens when creative people who are enthusiastic about the same craft come together.

You can also view my pictorial essay below via Steller.

i carry your heart: Ephemeral Summer with the Grryo Contributors

i carry your heart: Ephemeral Summer with the Grryo Contributors

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

by E.E. Cummings from Complete Poems: 1904-1962. © Liveright Publishing Corporation

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)



Valeria @ _soulkitchen_
Valeria @_soulkitchen


Tommy @pastorwallace
Tommy @pastorwallace


Andre @shutter_se7en
 Andre @shutter_se7en


Joe @joe_montoya

Joe @joe_montoya


Natalie @natmaddon
Natalie @natmaddon


Jeff @postaljeff
Jeff @postaljeff


Hector @hnato_nf
Hector @hnato_nf


Andy @mobiography


Abe @abori
Abe @abori


 Giulia @giuliam


Rebecca @repinsk
Rebecca @repinsk
The Challenge Of Twitter Poetry

The Challenge Of Twitter Poetry

How do you write a poem in 140 characters or less? Actually, less than 140 characters, because I usually tie the poem to one of my images. That cuts the space down to 117. Even with a link shortener, like ow.ly, that still leaves me with only a skimpy offering of 95 characters to wax poetic. I can forget hashtags like #poetweet and #twaiku. I don’t like being long-winded, but writing something meaningful with rhythm and rhyme in 95 characters is a challenge. I’ll give it my best go. I’ve already tried a few. Here are a couple of my recent Twitter expressions. Never mind the title. Not enough characters for one.

Gloomy gray 

California day


I wanted my latest to be a thought stirrer. The image wasn’t so serious, so I kept it light.

He rides from point A to point B

Not very fast but definitely free. 


I got a little motherly feedback on Instagram for allowing my kids in be on train tracks, which happened to be disassembled. But my mini controversy got me thinking of a sub-100 word poem for Twitter.

  Warnings they refused to heed

To sit on the rails with books to read. 


Here’s the next one in the queue. Do you have about 95 characters?