I’m not one to shoot a ton of conceptual work, but working on this project is an increasingly challenging and creatively stimulating exercise. The more we work through ideas, feelings, thoughts, concepts, perceptions, etc., the more my mind see’s moving images and mini-movies.
Just because we aren’t in Nashville or L.A. doesn’t mean we can’t create something that people can truly appreciate… or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.
Some artist I am just meant to photograph. The Kernal’s work is both excellent and refreshing and I feel privileged to know him and make a few photos here and there. I think artist share a common bond (especially musicians and photographers).
If you get a chance, head over to Kickstarter to help with the music video in preparation for the album (yes, I have heard some of it, and yes it is good).
I haven’t had much to say lately, so… I haven’t. The last few months have been full of ‘Merican culture. After a trip to Ethiopia with Indigenous Outreach International, I seem to have become more aware of the culture we live in. Here is a bit of work from the past few months about our land.
Almost 5 years ago I traveled with a group from college to Tunisia, a country that has sparked political change across North Africa recently. I’m not much of a world traveler (in fact this is the only time I’ve been outside of the country), but I can distinctively remember those glimpses of a world I’d come to love and admire. Dozens of children casually walking to school, the hustle and bustle of the souk, the kindness of local 20-somethings dragging us around town on foot to show us the best dining in town (and believe me, there was no shortage of eats).
I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I want to be involved with helping meet people’s needs. Loving people seems to be one of the most difficult things to do in this world, yet is the most rudimentary task given by Jesus. I hope these longings are for a purpose as my heart grows and yearns to do the most basic of requests.
So don’t forget the least of these. We are called to care for the unlovable and downtrodden. You never know who you may be caring for when you do this simple act.
As the freshly fallen snow crunches under my boots, my lungs fill with the crisp winter air. The thin blanket of snow beautifies the average aesthetics of my street. After hundreds of trips down the same street, this one seems to be writing it’s own memory in my mind.
Everyone is held up in their warm homes as the sun begins to hide behind the trees. I cut through a few yards to discover traces of life.
Faint echoes of laughter sound from over the hill. The hill is a battlefield.
The smallest, Alaynah, searches for her comrades.
Several children circle the house. I ask about their objective: capture the flag. “Boys versus girls?” I inquire. “YEAH!” The children disappear behind the bushes as Karrah Jean searches for her prize.
The children fill the frigid air with laughter and think little of the morning sun that will clear any trace of their pursuits.
I turn and continue my journey as the echoes fade into the looming darkness behind me.
As I’ve looked toward the future of my “career” and hoped that I can continue to pay the bills with my camera, there have been a few discoveries. The simplest being overlooked images. Working at a daily makes one forget assignments gone by. Maybe we just run to fast. Maybe we are under so much stress at the moment the shutter opens. Either way, sometimes meaningful images (at least to me) fall away in some abysmal server, never to see the light of day (or computer screen), let alone print.
I met Kelly Mitchell at another soldier’s homecoming/funeral in December. Kelly lost her husband Troy in 2009 after a kid killed him for a cell phone and his wallet. Troy was a former Marine, and was well respected in Jackson for his locksmith work. Oddly enough, I had no idea that it was Kelly and her family across the street. I just saw this kid wrapped in a flag blanket and thought “Man, I’ve gotta get a picture of that!”:
As I approached, I saw Kelly’s face emerge from around the corner as her son Gabe ran back and forth down the sidewalk with the flag blanket draped over him like a cloak. I greeted Kelly and told her that I was the photographer at her husband’s funeral. I thanked her for allowing me to be a part of that moment with their family. And then I heard it. The sound of freedom. The words of comfort and relief. Kelly thanked me for making the photos and went on to explain how much it meant to her family.
I can’t explain how it feels to photograph people’s suffering… getting paid to make pictures of tragedy. It’s a sick business most of the time, but I decided when I started this job that I MUST respect EVERY person I put in front of my lens. It is gut-wrenching to make pictures knowing that you are making pictures of suffering with no benefit in sight other than focal art.
But when Kelly told me how much it meant to her family that I had documented the day, it was like a weight being lifted off of me. She even requested images from the funeral for a family scrapbook about Troy. That is definitely one of the greatest honors I’ve received in my career thus far.
So I revisited the images from that day. Many were overlooked as a culled together a handful of frames to run the next day. Looking back on it, I’m proud of the images I was fortunate enough to make in tell this family’s story.
I met Fletcher Cleaves at his home in Cordova a month ago. He was run off the road in Sept. 2009 and broke his neck.
Working with Fletcher was such a joyful experience. The guy just glows. He and his father just let us march right into their lives and document their day. You really can feel the love in their home.
Its people like Fletcher that stokes the desire to do true, real, classic documentary work. I want to pause and capture history. I want people to look back on my photos and remember important times, people, places, etc.
Thanks for letting me into your world for a couple of days, Fletcher.
Here are some of my favorite images from 2010. It is amazing how much you forget in a year. Seeing each image brings back sights, smells, emotions and ever lingering doubts. “Am I any good at this?” “Am I getting any better?” “What defines ‘BETTER’?”
After looking through tons of images from this year, I still can’t get away from the fact that I truly love honest, classic documentary images. It feels like there is little place this world for such work, even though it is the most important.