on mentors and pictures of bathrooms

I have a friend who recognized in me something I did not see in myself. While she offered kind words for my photographs, she often encouraged me to see beyond the “pretty” in life.

It's worth mentioning here that there is absolutely nothing wrong with pretty pictures. It's just that, and I can see this now, my friend saw my self-doubt. She sensed that I was constantly worried about what everyone else thought, and that made me likely to choose safe subjects, something as inoffensive as possible, something pleasing.

She introduced me to the works of master photographers like William Eggleston and William Christenberry. She traipsed over to my house, carrying the cookbook, White Trash Cooking by Ernest Matthew Mickler, plopped it down on the kitchen table and practically tied me to a chair to get me to look at the pictures inside. Title aside, the cookbook is a loving ode to Mickler’s people – rural, white, working-class and poor Southerners – and their recipes:  tater tot casserole and roasted possum.  She sent links for the works of Southern photographer, Kathleen Robbins and her projects, into the flatland and in cotton. She shared pictures she loved – of birdhouses, abandoned motels, and old men on country roads.

I am grateful for my friend, writer Candice Ransom, for being my mentor when I didn’t know I needed one and for pushing me in ways I would never have pushed myself alone.

She helped me to drop  the facade of perfection and celebrate life with all its shortcomings. I now see the flawed details as collateral of a life lived to the fullest. I make mistakes. I  make messes. I am imperfect. In my life and in my photography.

I’m having the time of my life.

Who would have thought one of my favorite pictures on my week long photography retreat at the beach would be the one I shot in the bathroom?