I am definitely one of those people who can get stuck in what I call the “preparation phase.” I’ve been taking photography classes and reading photography books for years, and while these certainly provide incredible opportunities for learning, they have also become a safe place for me to hide.
Just this month I signed up for a class on documentary photography. A half hour into the class, I knew I had wasted my money. All that was left was for me to decide if I wanted to waste my time, too. With no regrets, I dropped the class and moved on.
While I certainly do not know all there is to know about cameras or lenses, I do understand visual language, and this is where my passion lies. I’ve had my camera in my hand every single day for almost two-thirds of a year, and I’m ready to stop being so reliant on the opinions and thoughts and ways of others.
And this means risking failure.
David DuChemin asks an interesting question. What in this brief life do you want to spend your precious moments and days looking at, and finding new ways to see? What matters that much to you, and why?
When I visit my mother on Memory Lane, I often like to take her a treat. On this visit, I brought her a small jar of face cream. We sat together on the edge of her bed, side by side. I showed her how to dab just a little bit from the jar and gently rub the cream into her skin. Soothing touch.
I feel the joy of making her happy and the sadness of letting her go – at the same time. I remember the many times she comforted me, rubbing Vick’s Salve on my chest when I had bronchitis, trying to brush my naturally curly hair into submission, and holding my hand when I lost my first son.
It hurts to take pictures like this. There is no way to make a nursing home look like her home. There is no pose that will take her back in time to the place where memories were made. There is only this moment when I am afraid that without these pictures, it might be me that does not remember her. I do not want to try because I am afraid I will fail us both.
And then I realize it’s time to stop practicing with my camera and get on with saying what I want to say. Nothing could have prepared me for these days when smiles and cries would be the best I could hope for.