Hello! If you're stopping by for the first time, I've challenged myself to take a picture of a person every day for an entire year. I instagram the pictures daily and then post a review of the week, here on the blog. The main rule I've given myself is that the pictures are taken fresh daily. I'm not stockpiling pictures for use at a later time.
I had visions for this blog to be something quite different and eventually, it will mature. I've given myself the permission to evolve slowly and for now, concentrate on the 365 Day People Picture Project.
Week 22 of the 365 Day People Picture Project is a wrap!
Day 148 - Ward
This is Ward. He's a Fire Chief and he's training for a Half Marathon. Ward had just finished 7 miles when I approached him. (I had given up looking for subjects at my second-favorite trail and headed over to my first-favorite trail and that's where I met Ward.)
When I asked Ward about the happiest thing going on in his life, he replied, "just being able to run." Ward is just coming off the injured list himself, but what has really impacted his appreciation for health and wellness, is the recent death of a family member and that another family member is currently in their own battle against a potentially terminal illness.
Ward and his wife are both in training - Ward for a half-marathon, and his wife is training for the full. Ward joked that he only wanted to hurt half-as-bad.
It was when I asked Ward if he's recently performed an act of kindness, that he told me about his job as a Fire Chief. I knew at that moment that his life is basically one big act of kindness, and his job is perfectly fitting because he's such a nice man. Ward explained that over the holidays, all of the city workers gave in some way. His group collected toys and gifts for kids in need.
I had a nice visit with Ward, and because of this project, I now have one more trail-friend to say hello to and check in on his training progress.
Day 149 - Kara
Kara is a co-worker. I had to cheat a little and ask her to be in the project because my car had to spend a few days in the shop and I wasn't able to get around to look for people. Although I had a couple other nice co-workers who helped me get to and from work, I didn't think they'd appreciate me also asking them if they could also drive me up and down random streets and circle the block while I looked for subjects.
I love working with Kara! She's fun, spunky, and always happy! She keeps calm when we're under intense pressures, and helps to solve problems and challenges. She's also a single mom and I can't even wrap my head around how she manages to work as hard as she does at our job, and also take care of her family and home. She's another super-woman who balances both an intense job and single-motherhood, is amazing at both, and is also just a great person to be around.
During baseball season, Kara works all day and then she's off with her son to the ball fields for several more hours of games or practice. Kara is now on the board of her son's baseball league and is their team's treasurer. "I'm happy we're advancing to an intermediate field," is what Kara said when I asked about the happiest thing going on in her life. Kara and the other parents have a lot of hard work ahead of them because in order to make this expansion and renovation on their ball field, they're all having to put in a lot of labor to keep the project affordable for the league. Kara is also looking forward to taking her son snowboarding this weekend.
Kara and I had been working together for several months before we actually spent time together outside of work. In all the time we had worked together, we hadn't ever talked about anything other than t-shirts, so when we did get to talk about our lives, we learned that our husbands had worked together years ago! We had no idea we shared that connection.
When talking with Kara about how impressive she is because of everything she manages to do in her busy life, I learned the funniest little secret/trick about how she functions and gets it all done. I think Kara is the only human you'll ever meet who actually has an alarm set on her phone, not to wake her up, but to tell her it's time to go to bed! She said that when she gets home, she doesn't sit down because the minute she sit's down, she'll fall asleep. She cooks and cleans and spends time with her son, but she doesn't allow herself to sit. She would get so wrapped up in working around the house, she finally had to start setting her alarm clock to tell her it was time to go to bed. See, I told you she was Superwoman!
Day 150 - Crystal
This is Crystal. I was nervous about approaching her because it was dark and the part of town we were in can be a little intimidating. I didn't want to startle her. Although our interaction was brief, I learned a great deal about how personality can actually ooze through a picture.
Crystal was waiting for her ride to show so I was only able to ask the questions and take 4 quick snaps before her ride arrived. "Spending time with my 9-year-old son," was Crystal's reply when I asked about the happiest thing happening in her life. No matter what Crystal's day may have been like, her son always brightens her day. When I asked if she's performed an act of kindness, she told me that she and her friend recently came upon a homeless person holding a sign at an intersection, stating that he was needing a warm meal. Crystal and her friend went through a fast food drive-thru and purchased a meal for him. When they returned to give it to the man, his eyes filled with tears as he thanked them.
Crystal was totally comfortable in front of the camera and practically posed! Each look she gave me, took on it's own unique feel and personality. Although I knew at the time I took the pictures that each one had a slightly different feel to it, it wasn't until I got home and sat down in front of the computer that I was able to so clearly see the difference in each photo. In this situation, Crystal is largely responsible for this because she was comfortable and she simply gave me different looks. I'm new and inexperienced so I don't yet know how to direct someone or coach them into a particular look or "pose." (other than the squinch.) Having experienced this with Crystal, I now have a much better understanding and appreciation of how a subject and photographer can actually "create" an image together, rather than simply capture an image.
Crystal was wearing a casual outfit and a baseball cap which was turned toward the back. Depending on the expression on Crystal's face and the angle and point one view from which the picture was taken, 3 of the 4 pictures gave off varying degrees of a girl with fun sassiness, street-style, and a sprinkling of athleticism. However, after talking with Crystal and getting to know her better, my perception of her was that she's a beautiful mother with a kind heart. In this picture, the visor of the cap was positioned in such a way that it is indistinguishable whether she's wearing a baseball cap or beret style hat. I liked each of her pictures, but in our limited interaction, Crystal gave me the impression of a kind and a loving mother. This picture shows a person who is both a loving mother, and a fun-loving young lady.
Day 151 - Tucker
This is Tucker at Plaid Pantry. I thought I had taken every person's picture who works this particular shift at this particular store, but then I realized I hadn't asked Tucker.
I think I've mentioned before how challenging it is to take a nice picture in this store. There's a reflective covering on the window and tons of busy distractions in the background, and I'm always hurried and trying to take the picture in a rush before another customer comes in. I don't want them to be inconvenienced while I'm taking a picture. I was trying to position Tucker in a little tiny area where there was an opening in the background but it turned out that the space was a lot smaller than I thought and the tiny little opening ended up looking more distracting than had I not tried to position him there at all. I'm learning so many lessons the hard way! I get so bummed when I don't get a great picture of the people who are always so friendly to me!
The happiest thing in Tucker's life right now is that he and his girlfriend are soon moving into an apartment together. I asked if he's performed a recent act of kindness and he said, "I try to do something everyday…gotta be kind to our fellow man."
Day 152 - John
This is John and he's got to be one of the nicest guys out there. I had been wandering around looking for a subject for a while, without any luck, so I got in my car and headed to a different location. It was starting to rain so I was hopeful I'd find someone quickly! When I spotted John, I couldn't help but notice that he was carrying a giant bouquet of flowers which made me want to stop him, but he also looked like he was in a rush, so I was also hesitant to delay him. I got up the courage and asked him if I could take his picture. John was quickly agreeable.
Some of the subjects in this project have surprised me with how willing they are to let me take their picture without hardly any explanation of the project. I'm always impressed with their comfort in front of the camera and also that they act like it's a normal thing for a person to approach them on the street and ask for their picture. Those people have often turned out to be photographers, or they're close to a photographer . In their lives - it is a normal thing! It turned out that John was a photojournalist in college!
I asked John the happiest thing happening in his life and he answered me back with a question, wondering if people always say that it's their kids. The happiest thing for him is his 9-year-old, but he's also happy with his girlfriend.
When I asked John if he's recently performed an act of kindness, he said, "yes, we just had Christmas but I try to do things all the time." I could tell his vague answer was an attempt to be humble and I just knew he had something interesting to share, so I was happy when he opened up. John owns a heating company, Chase Heating, and he had just finished a job he had done gratis for a woman who was in need and didn't have any heat. He had given his time, labor, and a new furnace to the woman.
You can just tell by looking at John that he's a good guy, and his answer confirmed it. We visited for a while longer and as we were about to part, I asked if the flowers were for his girlfriend. He explained that he was on his way to see a family member who had just had another family member pass away.
John was a little turned around and trying to find his car which he remembered parking near a Bank of America. I pointed him in the direction of the bank block where I had just come from, in which there's practically a bank on every corner. That is, every bank except Bank of America which is in the completely opposite direction! I realized after he had already taken off down the street that I steered him in the wrong direction. I felt so awful! I went running after him but he was too fast and completely out of sight! I gave up and got back in my car to see if I could find him to give him the correct directions. I finally spotted him. He had figured it out and was headed in the right direction. Once again, he was such a nice guy, he wasn't even annoyed with me and my mistake as I hollered my sincere apology out the window. I may have heard him incorrectly but I think he said something like, "it's ok, it was a nice walk." Poor guy, I accidentally sent him on a "nice walk" in the cold and rain. He really is a nice person.
I enjoyed meeting John but was disappointed in the picture. I intentionally wanted the lights from the businesses and street to be in the background, but I didn't intend for the crosswalk sign to be so distracting. Now that I've mentioned it to you, it's completely overwhelming, isn't it? Again, I'm learning things the hard way.
You might be asking why I end up with so many bad shots. Aside from being inexperienced and basically clueless, when I first started taking pictures, I intuitively allowed myself to get caught up in the moment and I wouldn't stop to look at every single picture on the display screen. I found the act of stopping to check each picture to be somewhat of a mood-killer and a huge interruption to my train of thought as images were forming in my mind and I was trying to figure out how to create and capture the images as I was seeing them in my head. I've since learned that this is actually a good practice and is encouraged by pros and artists, however, for someone starting out, there needs to be a balance. Shoot a few - review - shoot a few - review - and do so until you're certain you have the image you're looking for. This allows for a smooth and uninterrupted flow, but the review process also ensures you'll end up with good pictures.
I struggle with finding that balance because of the circumstances and my inexperience. Often times, we're in a huge race against a bus or some other pressing time constraint, and sometimes I simply get so caught up in the moment and the person, or making a connection with that person, that I miss the completely obvious. (such as cross walk signs and recycle bins in the background) As much as this is a challenge to learn photography, it has also been been a challenge to learn how to connect with someone so that I can capture their sparkle, and a challenge to make that connection quickly! I've found I can get so wrapped up in finding a persons nice features, that I simply forget to look for the huge distractions in the background. I know this will improve with time and lots of practice. For now, it's still quite easy for me to get lost in people's eyes, smiles, and expressions. Although the results can be a distracting photo, getting lost in the faces of my subjects has also been a rewarding part of this experience. During that moment of temporary tunnel vision, it feels like I'm in the process of forming a permanent impression. I'm not talking about pixels and the memory card in my camera, I'm talking about the permanent mark that this experience is leaving on my brain and how my life is changing because of each and every picture I take. Sometimes it's not as beautiful as this. Sometimes I'm just an idiot and need to pay better attention to the background and remember to check the view screen to make sure I have a good picture.
Day 153 - Carly
I go to Costco after work every other Friday and those days are usually one of my most challenging days, although I've also met a couple of my most favorite subjects at Costco! By time I finish with my shopping, it's "late" and I'm exhausted. On Fridays, I often rely on my two favorite "assistants," Anne and Scott. I meet up with one of them at a pub, knock back a few diet pepsis, and look for a subject there.
I had arranged to meet Anne and her friends but I first needed to fuel up on Starbucks so that I could stay up late. (you know, late, as in - 9pm.) Carly helped me at Starbucks and after giving me my coffee, she asked if I would like anything else. Thinking that she looked like a nice person and that it would actually be quite nice to find a subject before meeting up with Anne, I asked if I could take her picture. I know that's not quite what she had in mind when she asked If I'd like anything else, but that's really what I wanted most - a picture!
Carly happily agreed. Don't worry, there wasn't anyone else in line behind me!
The happiest thing happening in Carly's life is that she's going on a trip to visit her sister who moved to the East Coast last year. I asked Carly if she's recently performed a random or not- so-random act of kindness. She went on to explain her situation and that it's not a random act of kindness, but that she makes it a point to visit her brother often. Her brother has MS and he doesn't get out much, so it's important for her to go see him as often as she can, even if it means she has to pass on other social invitations.
Day 154 - Shawn
Shawn is another artist at Donovan's Black Label Tattoo. You've met the rest of the crew: Donovan was day 10 and Matt was day 122. There may actually be one more artist, but I need to check on that and if so, I'll be sure to ask for his picture as well.
I wish I could say that I was the shop getting some ink, but I actually called ahead to ask Shawn if I could take his picture. I had been having a hard time finding a subject today and Shawn agreed to let me come in. The timing was perfect!
I arrived just as he was putting the finishing touches on client's arm, so I was able to take a few pictures of him at work and I also caught a serious case of tattoo envy. Not wanting to make his client feel uncomfortable, I didn't ask to take her picture but I loved her work!
I've always known that Donovan was an excellent tattoo artist and after having the opportunity to hang out at the shop a little and meet Matt and Shawn and see their work, I can say with 100% certainty, that everyone in the shop is an amazing and skilled tattoo artist. I'd send my own mother there!
The clients of the shop are always so interesting, and sometimes, unexpected. On one of my visits, there was a Grandmother, Mother and Daughter and two of them were getting work done. Tonight, the client that Shawn was working on asked about the project and said that if I would be interested in a Police Officer, to let her know. Turns out, she was a Police Officer! Yes! I told her that I've wanted a Police Officer because we've also had EMT's and a Fireman as subjects. I told her that I had been rejected by several police but she explained it was just because they were on duty at the time. I understand that. I joked that although I don't want to be pulled over, I think it would make a great picture if I could take it from the point of view of being in my car and looking up through the driver's side window, toward an officer. (This idea might go over with as much success as the time I thought it would be great if I took a picture of my dentist while I was reclined in the chair.) I sort of blew it because I got distracted admiring her tattoos and talking with Shawn and I forgot to get her card!
When I asked Shawn about the best thing happening in his life, he responded, "my career is taking off since I started working at this shop." He likes the cool projects he's a part of. I also asked Shawn if he's recently performed an act of kindness and he said that he hasn't been charitable with money, but he gives a ton of his time. Shawn mentors two young artists and of his time, he gives them each anywhere from 4 hours to 20 hours a week! Nearly everything he does is in some way related to tattooing. I admire the level of passion and commitment of these artists. It's not just their job, it is their life!
Shawn is also a sweetheart and it's even obvious in pictures. I explained the "squinch" and asked if he could give it a try. I was glad he was willing to humor me. I think the result was a nice 3/4 squinch - he looks like a nice guy with a bit of an edge.
Thank you for following along another week! I had been feeling a little down about the lack of quality of my pictures this week, but when I sat down to button up this post, I realized that it hasn't mattered how good or not-good the photos have been. I always close the week feeling so happy to be working on this project, meeting such great people, and sharing it with you! If you'd like to follow along during the week, you can follow me on Instagram - my username is @missellanea.
If you happen to be reading this and you were a subject in this project - thank you! You've left an impression on me as permanent as a tattoo. I appreciate the time you gave to me, and the act of kindness you did in letting me take your picture. Thank you. If you would like a copy of your picture, please e-mail me and I'd be happy to e-mail it to you!
What about you? Have you been inspired to star a project of your own or challenge yourself to something new?