By the 15th day of the project I have discovered a very simple fact. I can only take pictures of things that I care about. Originally I had thought:
“Carrying this camera is like cat sitting. It’s a simple addition to your daily routine but you have to go out of your way to take care of it.”
My mindset on this point has changed somewhat because I realized that even taking care of a cat reveals subtle things about your life you would not normally be aware of.
The camera has been a great way for me to connect with people, and so far they occupy the majority of my photos. It’s amazing how willing people are to be vulnerable when I’m holding this camera. Whenever I am thinking of my photo of the day, humanity seems to come to the forefront my attention. Some of the best photos I have taken have been of, or in the presence of, another person. With every day that goes by, with every photo I take, I realize that people are a huge part of my life.
One of my favourite moments from the project so far (that I REALLY hope turns out) is a woman sitting on the street curb covered in blankets, writing the word “homeless” on a piece of cardboard. I stared, frozen on the street corner, as she scratched in the “H” and kneeled down beside her as she scribbled the rest of this heavily weighted word describing herself, in fading black sharpie. I asked her if I could take her photo as she wrote. She looked me in the eyes and held my gaze for a moment before nodding. I laid down on the cold forbidding concrete where she lived her daily life and took the photo as sunlight silhouetted her hair. I gave her 4 dollars and left.
Even if that photo turns out to be shit. That moment I shared with that person will always be with me. A written confession of shame and a plea for help, made by and for herself. The fact that she was willing to have this documented. That she trusted me in this moment of struggling reality in her life. It humbles me.
If you could only take one more photo before you died, what would it be? Your expression and feelings have to be concentrated and represented in a single “click”. That photo has to mean something. It has to be something that you really care about and are naturally drawn to. Our project is less severe than that, but we try to tap into the meaning of photography in a similar sense. What has meaning in your life? Taking the act of photography beyond the arbitrary motion of snapping a picture and focusing it into a harnessed moment of reality that speaks to us on a personal level.
And for me? It’s people. People fascinate me.