I’m not great at this blogging thing yet, but I’m gaining more ground and trying to get better at keeping posts going up. I would like to offer up the excuse that I spend a lot of time behind the lens and in front of the computer, which for the most part is true, but sometimes I sit and stare at the computer screen trying to really reach into my head and pull out words that other people might find somewhat interesting. Lo and behold, this past weekend, Labor Day Weekend, while tending to my booth at an art fair, Arts on the Creek, held in Johns Creek, Georgia, a gentleman walked up to my booth, stood observing my work, pondering it all, looking first at the portraits and then occasionally glancing at me. Of course, as my own worst critic, I was thinking to myself, “Oh, what is he thinking? Does he like it, hate it?” Then, finally, he turned to me and said, “Are you the photographer?” I replied yes. And his next question is what has inspired me to write this blog — something that made an impression on me, something that I strive for in all of my work, and something that made me stop and think, and then begin to write this entry — “How many of these people did you know?”
I have to say my reply to him was sort of an answer in the form of a question, “I knew none of them really. Why do you ask?” He replied, “I feel as though I know these people just by looking at their photographs. It’s as though you are seeing into their soul.” If the gentleman I’m speaking about is reading this, thank you for asking and thank you for your kind words. I’m not sure who he was, where he was from, and he didn’t give me his name, but his words of praise made me think that just maybe I was doing something right.
To start from the beginning, I don’t think I really remember being without a camera in my hands. I’ve always been fascinated with photography. I remember in the days of film and way before one-hour processing, I would burn up rolls and rolls of film and run to the nearest drugstore, fill out the envelope, stuff the rolls in, and drop it in the dropbox. The three or four days of processing time would pass and I would almost be salivating as I opened the thick envelopes full of photographs. Examining each and every one of them was like Christmas morning — you’re so excited to rip off the paper, open the box, and see the surprise. Moving forward a little, to the college days of hours spent in a darkroom, just the mere minutes of waiting for the processing to take place was like an eternity to me. I just had to see on paper what I had seen through the lens. I can’t tell you how many old fences, steps, doors, windows, and animals I have photographed throughout my life. It was almost like I had heart palpitations when I would stumble upon something that, to me, was photographically significant and how many times I would hear, “And why on earth do you need to photograph that?” A party, a gathering, an event, significant or insignificant, I was always the one in the room holding the camera. Within the last year a close friend of mine asked me, “Pam, do you take your camera to the grocery store?” After stopping to think a minute, I did, in fact, reply that I didn’t, but then I thought to myself, “Well, why not?”
Fast-forward a few years from college, a marriage, then children. Children: one of God’s gifts to parents and to a photographer. Yes, everyone, from day one my children were photographed. Photo album pages, if flipped quickly, would strongly resemble a movie of their lives. Shelves and shelves, and boxes and boxes, and storage box after storage box hold precious prints, negatives, and digital media of my children, numerous family members (some I know and some I don’t know) as well as pictures of the family pets, which include dogs, cats, and horses. All of the children and my husband would groan when the camera came out and the flash would start going off. Shouts of “Mom, get the camera out of my face, please stop,” all the while hands going up, eyes squinting and rolling back in their heads and wrinkled brows were exhibited. This was a regular exercise in my household. But when my oldest child, my daughter, began her final semester of high school, I began the planning of the scrapbook and quilt that would be her graduation present. I designed a quilt to be made with photographs on fabric and found someone to begin that project. A very close friend and I began work on the scrapbook which entailed digging through thousands of photographs, from birth to 18, scanning, printing, cutting, pasting and getting hundreds of photos in order to tell her life story in pictures. It was an opportunity for me to look at so many of them taken years before, smile, and so vividly remember those moments, significant and insignificant, in her life. Very few words were placed in the scrapbook. The photographs told the story. When my husband and I presented her with these two things at her graduation party, tears filled her eyes and she came to appreciate the camera. She saw that I had captured her life in frames, etched those precious moments in time and preserved those memories forever.
To this very day, there are flashes going off in my children’s lives. I take advantage of every opportunity to etch a moment in time. So many times I’ve had tears in my eyes — my son boarding a bus to go to Marine boot camp, his graduation on Parris Island, South Carolina, from boot camp, photographs, taken from behind, of him walking in his dress greens by his sister’s side, and then pictures of him boarding the bus headed to North Carolina where he is currently stationed.
When I was asked this weekend “How many of these people did you know?” to answer, I really knew none of them. Through the lens of my camera I try to seek out and capture the personalities of my clients. It’s what I love, it’s what I yearn for. Every day that I hold a camera, look through the viewfinder and press the shutter release button, that moment in my subject’s life is captured and suspended in time. So many times I have an image that I know hits the proverbial “nail on the head,” one where their true personality shines through. I know I’ve done my job in those cases and those are some of the images that were displayed this weekend. Those are the images I strive to attain, the ones that stir the emotions. That is one of the reasons I love what I do. As Annie Leibovitz once said, “If it makes you cry, it goes in the show.”
To end this entry on my blog, for those of you reading who I’ve photographed, thank you for allowing me the privilege. Please know that it’s been my greatest pleasure. For those who don’t know me, I hope one day our paths cross. Photography is my love. I offer photography services for just about anything you might need, from high school seniors, weddings, events, sports, and family portraits. Please call us with any questions at 770/475-1079. We are located in Johns Creek, Georgia, offering on-location photography. Stillscapes Photography Studio, LLC, can also be found on Facebook. Visit us there and become a fan! Frequent updates and specials will be seen there. Also, as an aside, please feel free to comment — offer a few words. I promise to improve on my entries — get more up on a regular basis.
Until my next entry, I’ll keep on clicking, living up to “Moments Etched, Moments Remembered.”