I wanted to include with these photos some writing, which I haven’t done in a while.
Photography has always served for me as a metaphor for important life lessons. In freelance, there’s a lot of worrying and self-doubt, boredom and impatience. You go through entire periods wondering if you’re way in over your head. You examine like you would pictures in an album all of the situations you’ve been through and whether or not you made the right choices. Sometimes the gravity of it all hits you hard. Sometimes you feel fearful while at other times you just sit back and stare at it all with incredulous wonder. And then after a long period of not much happening, you happen upon an assignment or situation that realigns everything for you. There’s a moment in that situation when everything "clicks" (pardon the pun) when you’re completely in your element, and you remember all over again why you do this. And then it suddenly hits you that everything you’ve done up to this point has led to this moment, and all of the self doubt and frustration, the moments that you thought were time wasted suddenly don’t seem that way at all.
That moment has happened twice in my life so far.
The first time happened while I was at the Eddie Adams workshop. I was assigned by my team leaders to photograph an eel catcher along the Delaware River. I was the youngest out of a group of 100 students, and had been accepted to attend only after an Israeli photojournalist whose place I took could not come due to visa issues. I was bent on doing a good job for my team, and proving to myself that I could do more than just take good landscape photos. I hit the assignment head on, standing still for just enough time to snap a couple of frames before moving on again and again. I felt like I did a good job, but I didn’t get to look through any of the photos I took before handing over my full take to my team editors. I felt much more at ease immersed in the Delaware River with a borrowed camera I could never afford than I did at the thought of these guys whose resumes include National Geographic and the Washington Post looking through my thousands of images, blurry out of focus and all. Near the end of the evening our team producer came up to us with handwritten notes made by the editors after looking through our takes to let us know how we did and what to look for as we headed out for day 2 of our assignments. My note, which came on a small folded piece of yellow writing paper had just one word on it: “excellent”
That was in 2012. If that year was learning to be a better photographer, than 2013 was learning to be a better person, mostly by making all of the wrong decisions. I lost a very close friend as a result, and was also suspended from my job for a time. I stopped caring about my health, becoming a heavy smoker and reclusive. There were days that I sat in my apartment and refused to pick up my camera because I couldn’t see the next picture that I would take. That unknowingness that excited and drove me before now only made me depressed and angry.
Needless to say I did pick up my camera and myself again as the year went by, but it took taking these pictures to make things click one more time. To do something that so excited me that I happily stayed awake for two days afterwards just looking through the shots.
My friend said to me once that what’s going to happen will happen naturally regardless of how hard I try to force an outcome. I heard the words, but didn’t appreciate them until almost a year after she said them to me. It takes a long time to reach that moment when everything clicks again. And even in the times that you are convinced you’re not on the path you should be, that moment happens, and you understand you never left it. I hope everyone can find that something that will make that click happen for them. I want to thank my family, mentors and friends that have given me the skills, guidance and encouragement to do this. I can't thank you all enough.