The look of things changes when I get out of my car.
Photography brings together all of the things that I love.
I spend a lot of time after I take the pictures studying them. I print my favorite pictures. I hold them in my hands. I lay them on the floor so they are visible every time I walk by. I live with them. I ask myself, Why am I drawn to this picture and not this one? What are my hopes and fears and joys and how are they revealed in these pictures?
I spent time today listening to a B&H Podcast with Cig Harvey: Think, See, Make, Listen, and there is so much wisdom and insight in what she shares. (And I ordered her latest book, “You an Orchestra, You a Bomb.”)
But this is what she said that I love most.
The more you work with photography, the more it gives back.
And then this . . . as Cig says she wants to find the beauty in the world and be a witness to it . . . me, too.
She speaks with clarity about the process of photography – both constructing and finding pictures – and putting them together to tell stories.
My photographs for this day tell the story that women of a certain age often experience. These are the pictures that come with maturity and a deep knowing of oneself. Oddly enough, they are not about certainty or culminating works, but more often about exploration, discovery, and often irreverence.
Where I was once determined to avoid reflection, both literally and figuratively, I now seek it out.
Where I was once concerned with the subject and its placement, there is now some organic sense of how to balance.
Where color was feared, it is now welcomed.
Where there was some expectation that pictures should be pretty or likeable or at least make sense, there is now a love for ambiguity and simplicity.
Where there was deep hope for grace and kindness and compassion; hope still abides. But there is also the understanding that not every story has a happy ending; that life is fragile and moments are fleeting.
I want my pictures to feel different as I evolve.
A friend paid me a supreme compliment recently.
We were in a small diner where we’d shared breakfast and heart-to-heart conversation. As we were leaving, I spoke the words. “Oh, I wish I had my camera. Look at those little rings our cups left on the table.”
The two perfect circles, almost-but-not-quite touching, bathed in morning light, all that was left of the mugs of steaming coffee . . . not a sad picture of things left unsaid or words that hurt or even longing, but rather a tribute to friendship and belonging.
Without missing a beat, my friend kindly commented. “That’s what I love about you. You notice everything.”
. . . it was good to get a reminder, from Pope Francis in his New Year’s Eve homily, that the people who have the most influence on society are actually the normal folks, through their normal, everyday gestures being kind in public places, attentive to the elderly. The pope called such people, in a beautiful phrase, “the artisans of the common good.”
Small deeds, he said, “express concretely love for the city … without giving speeches, without publicity, but with a style of practical civic education for daily life.”
I believe that photography is one way we can express concretely our love for the world.
The life blood of photography is a kind of holy curiosity, where life is viewed with reverence and awe and some measure of understanding as to the transience of it all.
I love the quote by Nicholas Nixon in which he refers to taking a picture this way . . . it’s not about grabbing the moment, it’s about dancing with the moment, collaborating with the moment. This respect for the subject, this kindness, is surely a style of practical civil education for daily life.
I am delighted by the notion that I am potentially an artisan for the common good, and it seems worthy to strive in this way.