When I first became a student of photography, I had a Pentax ZX-M. It was a gift from my then fiancee (now my husband), when I graduated from UCSF. It came with a kit lens, had a "fancy" three point averaging meter, and was completely manual. Shortly before, I had expressed to him that I wanted to learn how to make beautiful black and white photographs...what I meant by beautiful was this: there were moments when I would see a framed black and white photograph that looked like a piece of art...that WAS a piece of art. It was clear to me that something set it apart from just a snapshot. What was it? Why did it look so intriguing? I can't stop looking at it. What made it look like that?! That is what I want to learn! That is what I want to do! I already had an obsession with photos...I came from a family where images were scattered and lost and sometimes found, fought after, stolen and "borrowed" for very long periods of time. I had virtually NO images from my early childhood due to a tumultuous upbringing. It was as if my history would die when my memories faded; it was as if the joyful moments of my past were just a dream I had. When I left home at the age of 18, I went to Germany as a member of the US Air Force. My dad sent me a Point-And-Shoot camera...a shiny black Vivitar. I was ecstatic! I was launching my adult life, and I was living in Europe.I wanted to capture EVERYTHING. Every moment, every beautiful and fascinating moment. And I did my best to do just that...to tell the story of my life, and then I would send all of the images back home. I did that for several years.
When I was a young girl I suddenly found myself in a very desperate and tragic situation. I will not sidetrack here, but from the age of 6 to the age of 12, my days were filled with sorrow. In the middle of this sorrow..there were moments when, walking along a road, or sitting in the grass, I would see something that looked beautiful to me...a candy wrapper drifting in the wind, and the way the light shown through it as it sailed down to the ground like a leaf; the sun setting behind my grandmother's lemon trees as I watered them in the evening. In the evening when I lay my head down and prepared myself for another day, I held on to that imagery... and to the scent in the air as the summer came to an end, to the sound of the water flowing in around the little tree trunk...and that light! That beautiful light!
An image can be powerful, if you allow it room to be. And to capture it...to be able to cherish it and look back upon it in full force...that is JOY to me! I have been a documentary photographer for many years, and now, being able to create a wonderful experience for someone...to create a beautiful portrait that uplifts her and that her family will cherish long after she is gone, it is just incredible.
*one of the images shown now at BLUE SKY GALLERY for the month of September, in the Portland Photographers Forum community drawer*