There were thunderstorms, sweltering heat waves, perfect summer mountain breezes, and blizzards. I photographed lovely people in snowy mountain towns, Caribbean beaches, Kentucky horse farms, rutted dirt roads in the African countryside, Rustbelt cities, National forests, great historic mansions, the shores of the Great Lakes, art galleries and art museums, the Big Apple, the plains of the great Masai Mara, cowboy towns and Midwestern dairy farms.
I don’t write much on my site, because I don’t think my voice is the important thing here. But now, in the first days of a new year as I reflect on the last one, I do feel moved to say something about the people I photograph, about my work and why I do it.
I have always been an observer. I have always watched people, noticed people. And so it has been natural for me to practice that observation through the lens of my camera. I appreciate what it takes to be technologically fluent with a camera, but that’s not where my interest is. For me the camera is only a tool to record observations.
I started keeping a journal in the third grade and haven’t stopped since. That’s twenty years of handwritten pages stuffed in boxes in our basement, pages I revisit from time to time to remember who I was, who the people around me were, what my daily life was like. And so, I am an observer, but I am also a recorder. I understand the power of retrospect.
It is my job to notice the details of the people I photograph, but only insofar as it better tells their story. There are people who do this in horrific, yet important ways : war photographers, documentarians. I feel lucky that the stories I am documenting are the good ones, and I don’t think they are any less important for it. I may never be famous for anything, but that’s okay; the most fulfilling thing about what I do is the thought that years from now these people will be clutching these photographs, remembering the things that made them who they are. The important thing is that these photographs are important to the people who are in them.
I consider myself exorbitantly lucky to have met every person in these photos, and still others that I couldn’t fit in this monolithic post. I hope what I’ve given them has been something that they’ll take with them forever, because what they’ve given me is huge. They’ve allowed me to be part of their stories. I’ve flown on planes with them, had coffees in the mornings and beers in the evenings with them, cuddled their puppies, smiled at their babies, paid ransoms for their passports, checked their teeth for lipstick, contracted Poison Ivy with them, sweated alongside them, froze alongside them. They’ve reinforced my belief that all of us is essentially good, reminded me that all of us have a great capacity for love. Their wedding ceremonies remind me to take note of my own marriage, to be grateful for my husband and good to him. Their friendships remind me of the friendships I hold dearest, their families of love I have for my own. What these folks have given me is no small thing, so to my clients, my friends, I say : thank you. And to those of you I will be spending time with in 2014, I say : bring it on.