I wasn’t born a photographer.
Let’s clarify that statement: I was born a latent photographer.
One of my earliest memories is sitting on our living room floor one early morning, the sunshine streaming in through our window and casting light on the dancing dust motes in the air. I am sitting crosslegged in front of our bookcase with my parents copy of “The Family of Man” by Edward Steichen opened on my lap, carefully turning the pages and looking intently at the black and white photographs on the page. I remember wondering who these people were, what they did, where they got their groceries, what languages they spoke and how lucky they were not to have to wear shoes (in my three-year-old mind getting to go barefoot every day and ride a donkey was akin to Christmas morning. I was not, and still not, a big fan of shoes.). I didn’t look at the book as a photographer, but instead as a child who loved stories.
Another memory I have is going through the art museums in Europe and Great Britain as a five-year-old when my dad took his first sabbatical. Again, when I looked up at the great portraits and still lives and Great Historical Events painted by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio and their peers I wasn’t looking at the technical aspects, the “artisticness” of the works, I was wondering about the lives and the stories those painted faces could tell me.
I bet they were really good stories, too.
These images of Meg that I made yesterday makes me think of that old copy of Steichen’s work. There’s a certain timelessness to them that makes me wonder, if I was a stranger and didn’t know the girl in in the pictures so intimately as I do, who she was, what she’s thinking, how old she was, even what year it was.
What’s her story?
That’s the beauty of black and white, I think.
The image is stripped bare of all color, leaving only the girl in the image to tell you her story. You can imagine what she’s saying through her facial expressions, but are your imaginings true? Maybe she’s enjoying playing at the park and swinging like a child, even though she’s an adult; maybe her eyes are twinkling because of something her boyfriend said, even though he’s not in the frame, or maybe she’s twinkling and laughing at the way the wind is playing with her hair. In the second image, her eyes bore into you, the viewer, asking you questions, a look that I’m familiar with as her mother but not you, so her eyes are asking you differnt questions.
What is it that she’s asking you?
What stories are you coming up with?
What’s your interpretation?
I’ve undertaken a month long project to dive further into black and white photography (you can view what I’ve done so far here. I didn’t begin the project until the second day of January, thus the lone color photo at the end). As I alluded to in this post, I want to push myself forward this year, so I’ve come up with sevearal month long projects to spice up my daily picture taking, ranging from this month’s current project of black and white to self-portraits to a month of color to . . . and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I think having months of little projects will help me grow creatively in ways that I could never have imagined as that little girl sitting crosslegged in a pool of sunlight looking at art books so long ago.