Friday, February 22, 2008

Until We Meet Again

It seems ironic, but I have trouble taking picture of the people that I cherish the most. Friends, family, classmates, it doesn't matter. I feel comfortable going up to a complete stranger, asking them a hundred questions and then shadowing them with a camera all day long. But it is so.... SO hard to take pictures of the people I know and love. When my Memaw passed two years ago, I hated myself for never taking a good portrait of her. Even in the past two years I still haven't felt comfortable taking pictures at family events.
But I got a call a week ago from today, regarding my Papa's delicate heart. I brought my camera... just like I always do, but was I actually going to shoot?
It was the hardest thing I have ever shot. It was so hard, but so therapeutic at the same time. I put aside the reality that these were my family. The light was beautiful. The people were beautiful. The moments were there. The love was so strong in that room you hesitated to step out of it.
Some of my family didn't see the beauty the way that I saw it. I was eventually asked to stop taking pictures. I didn't mind it at all. I needed to stop using the camera as a way to separate myself from what was going on. I needed to deal with what I was feeling. It was the hardest thing I ever shot. His funeral was the hardest thing I didn't shot. It was so powerful and beautiful. The images of that day I get to keep for myself.


It was one of those events that I went to just for fun. There wasn't a teacher or an editor who I had to please. I didn't have my face pressed against the back of my camera the whole time. I just walked and enjoyed the environment as a whole. It was one of those times where I could let my other four senses have some fun. The unforgettable taste of soda and buttered popcorn. The smell of hay, leather and horses. She sound of shoed hoofs rhythmically beating against the dirt and asphalt. The bitter chill of February sneaking past my gloves, and breezing my cheeks. The smile you get when your eyes find something you may not have found if you were had been shooting inside the whole time. The patience, the steady hold of the camera... waiting... waiting... waiting for that moment when all the pieces are in the right place.


In my APJ class we have these really awesome assignments called "Thought Projects." You are given a theme and then you develop a journalistic story off of that theme. For this thought project in particular, we drew antonyms out of a hat, and I got "Good/Bad." I made sure that I didn't direct my ideas towards good people and bad people. I wanted it to be something more. (Plus, can't just walk up to someone, say "Hey, I am a college journalist, and I am doing a project on good and bad people. Could I use you as one of my "bad people"?)
So I started thinking about the economy and what is good and bad about America's economy. One of the good things that I personally enjoy are parks and playgrounds. I don't mind it one bit when our taxes go toward something that brings people and the community closer together.
The bad? Well in America (it seems to me, is more prominent than other countries) there is this constant need for money. Whether it is our culture or the combination of inflation and minimum wage, what we have is never enough. In many cases, women can get college degrees and still not earn a salary comparable to what they could make in a few months at a gentleman's club. This lady in particular had a 3.8GPA, and two scholarships offered to her after high school. She gave them up because she suddenly had to start supporting both her and her mother.