I have been thinking awhile about what I should write about next. Having to get the taxes done hasn’t helped much, but, regardless, I have just been a little stymied. Then, through a convolution of seemingly random events, it hit me. I want to talk about my Americans Series.
Now, I have been essentially a landscape photographer most of my photographic life. Well, maybe better said, landscape was the genre that seemed to fit with my artistic voice for many years. Right as I transitioned out of my Corporate Job into full time commercial photography, I had just finished a rather important series of photographs. The work got some recognition, with a couple of one person shows including one at an art museum and 3 images from the series were taken into the collection of another.
My experience has been that it isn’t uncommon to experience a letdown, maybe even a meltdown, after finishing a series of work and/or mounting a show or two. In this case, it was sort of feeling fatal for my personal creative journey. I had done something important for me with the landscape and was no longer sure that it had much to offer my voice anymore–and it was all I really had ever found to give that outlet. In the past, I would work through this type of thing within a few months and be back out creating. But with my transition to my new career, there wasn’t any time to let things settle, I was off in a completely different direction. I needed to focus on putting a commercial portfolio together, getting a studio and getting some clients.
OK, so none of this really has anything to do with my topic today, but it does lay out some groundwork–for what, I am not truly sure, but hopefully for this post! (I may also repeat some of this in a future post as it has sparked another idea for a blog entry)
When I set out to start the Americans Series, my first attempt at a personal creative project involving only people or portraits, I wasn’t expecting to discover what has become a recurrent theme in my encounters. As I say in my preamble to the series on my website, maybe it was the election or the economy, but I started thinking about all those nameless people I encounter on a daily basis as I go about my business. Never really connecting with them but how they can affect how the day goes and I decided to start photographing them. I was actually worried that I would get a lot of rejection and that using a big camera would intimidate. What I found was just the opposite and in some cases, quite profound!
First of all, I was never rejected but actually my requests to photograph were generally accepted with a smile and some enthusiasm. It seemed people actually found it flattering and were more than willing to join in my little project. (in the 3 years I have been pursuing this, only one person has declined my request and Darrel, who doesn’t allow photographs to be taken of him, was discussed back in the earlier post entitled-Day 25/26 &27 )
But the first time I really saw (noticed) what was happening was when I met Patty. Patty was the counter clerk at the gas station/convenience store in Colorado that I stopped at early one morning. After filling up, I went inside to get some much needed coffee. I saw Patty pretty much going through the motions as I headed for the coffee. I wanted to photograph her, but I really wasn’t getting that kind of receptive vibe, if you know what I mean. But I was determined and figured the worst that could happen would be that I still wouldn’t have her photo when I left. So, as she rang up my purchase and gave me my change, I asked to photograph her. Well, I think the photo here is pretty self explanatory, she totally lit up and this incredible energy just came to the surface. She enthusiastically thanked me for taking her picture. It seemed I had made her day! Now don’t get me wrong, she probably doesn’t even remember this encounter, but I know I will for a long time and I know it at least made one day brighter for both of us.
The thing is, I pretty much noticed this each time I encountered someone. There seemed to be a joy that came from having someone pay attention or wanting to connect. Many times I think it was also just something different to talk about–or to. But I always felt a rise in the energy level both in myself and in the person I photographed.
So what is my point? I think it is just that I realized that my little project wasn’t just for me but was making a difference to some of the people I came into contact with–even if just for a moment or two. That the difference was a positive one and I can’t help but feel that maybe their sharing the experience or just a possible uplifting of their mood didn’t affect those they came into contact with when I was gone, if even only a little.
So yesterday, when I followed a link to a video presentation I found on my Nephew’s Facebook entry, I heard the person say something to the effect that a single person can make a difference, something we hear but I think rarely believe. But this guy put some meat behind it, he said that if one person could reach just 3 people and those 3 people each touched 3 more and so on, that within 25 iterations of this, the entire population of the US would have been touched! Now, maybe I heard it wrong, because in just 20 iterations over 1/2 of the world’s population would have been touched, or almost 3.5 billion people. (Yes, I did the math!)
Now, I don’t expect to change or touch the entire world but I do believe that even a little attention, a positive contact does affect someone and that makes a difference for them and for those they come into contact with–and maybe that little smile you saw on the face of a stranger today, that lifted your mood, was just a link in the chain. One person can make a difference pretty quickly and easily.
Note: This all made me wonder about something. What if everyone who read this blog–all 3 of you–told 3 others to just click on a link to this blog and asked that they do the same–contact 3 others and so on, what would happen? I mean, I don’t sell anything here, it’s a safe site-wordpress-so no viruses and no one has to wade through my writings, just register a visit and leave, but we could see if this theory really works. I’ll check the stats over the next several days and report if I see a big jump in hits (well, anything will be a big jump, so maybe just if there is something significant!)
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