Hello! We're finished with week 46 of The 365 Day People Picture Project!
If this is the first time you've stopped by, I've challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year. The pictures are taken fresh daily. I'm not stockpiling photos. The majority of the subjects in this project have been complete strangers who I've met while walking down the street. Also included are a few friends, family, and co-workers.
I'm not a photographer and I still haven't taken a photography class, although I'm finally registered for one in a couple weeks. (a little late, huh?) I just wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to challenge myself to do something, every day, for an entire year. I wanted to learn photography, and I wanted to have content for this newly hatched blog. And, here we are...
Day 316 - Ty and Marlise
This is Ty and Marlise. We met in downtown Vancouver as they were heading to the wine festival in the park, and while I was actually taking a picture of a completely different couple who were going to be the subjects of the day. Ty and Marlise jumped in on the other photo, much to the relief of the other couple, who then pretty much insisted that Ty and Marlise take their place as the subjects for the day and give the interview. To onlookers, we would have appeared to have been a group of long-time friends who were stopping for a quick photo, but we were all strangers, having a great laugh together.
I asked the couple the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and Marlise responded, "we just got married 3 months ago!" Ty jokingly said that their wedding wasn't his happiest thing and after some kidding around, Ty turned to Marlise and said, "being with you," is the happiest thing happening in my life. Awwwww, so sweet.
When I asked the newlyweds if they had recently performed an act of kindness, Ty jokingly said no, but then went on to say that he tries to do nice things when they're out and about. (such as giving money to homeless people on the street corner.) Marlise said that they had just met a woman who had just moved here from California. The woman hadn't met any new friends since moving here, so Marlise gave the woman her phone number and they made plans to get together. I think the woman from California just met herself a couple of fun new friends!
"Nice matters," Marlise replied, when I asked if she had a personal mission statement or if she could think of one on the spot.
I asked the pair something about themselves they would consider to be a success. Ty replied, "my house." "My children," Marlise answered.
Wishing Ty and Marlise a happy new life together!
Day 317 - My Mother-in-Law
My Mother-in-Law reminds me of a cross between Meryl Streep and Martha Stewart, with a sprinkling of June Cleaver. Yes, she's just that nice.
I asked the happiest thing happening in her life right now and she replied, "getting up to sunshine in the morning, my home and my flowers." She works hard in her yard, and now she's enjoying seeing her hard work in bloom.
I asked if she had recently performed an act of kindness and she explained that she had just driven a group of ladies to the St. Paul Heirloom Rose Garden.
Like other subjects in the project, my mother-in-law was having trouble thinking of an answer when I asked if she could think of a personal mission statement, so I rephrased the question and instead asked about her life's purpose. With that, she immediately answered, "my life's purpose is to be faithful to Jesus, take care of my husband, spend as much time as I can with my children and grandchildren, and to stay healthy."
When I asked my mother-in-law one thing about herself which she considers to be a success, she just couldn't and wouldn't give an answer. I could tell this was an extremely hard question for her and I was struck with the realization that she truly is so selfless, that her own happiness and success comes secondary to the success and happiness of her family and friends. I don't think she had ever considered herself in this way before. Eventually, my father-in-law tried helping her with an answer saying that she's successful at gardening and being a grandma. I continued to push because I thought it was important to hear her own response. Finally, she replied, "I was very good at my job when I was employed." (She's enjoying retirement now.) I was so happy when she came up with an answer and that she had a moment to reflect on her life.
Thank you for letting me take your picture and for welcoming me into your family. I love you.
Day 318 - John
This is John. He seemed a little sad or stressed when we first met, but by time we were finished, we were both a little happier.
"Starting my own business," John said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now. John's new company will build guitar pedals.
I asked John if he had recently performed an act of kindness. He couldn't think of something specific, but he was sure he had done little things here and there.
When I asked John if he could think of a personal mission statement, he was stumped for a while, but again, as soon as I rephrased the question, he responded immediately and effortlessly, "to make music."
"Learning to control my own consciousness," John said, is something about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Day 319 - Josh
This is Josh.
"Falling in love," is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
I asked Josh if he had recently performed an act of kindness and he explained that he had given money to a woman who is physically disabled and in a wheelchair. She also possibly has mental health challenges as well. I knew of the woman Josh was speaking of. I see her sitting in her wheelchair on the street corner every day on my way to work. Josh had observed her one day and when she would ask people for money and they would decline her, she would get a little upset and say things under her breath, or maybe not quite under her breath. Josh watched this go on for a while and then approached her, gave her some money, and then more importantly, he gave her some of his time and his kindness. He talked with the woman, learned her name, and simply just visited with her for a while. I'm sure she could use the money, but more importantly, I'm positive she benefitted more from Josh's kindness.
"To follow acts of kindness, compassion, love and acceptance of those I care about and those around me, " Josh replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of something on the spot.
"I've raised two amazing children who are healthy and happy," Josh said, is one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success.
Day 320 - Graham
This is Graham. We met in downtown Portland as I was just leaving the camera shop and he was leaving work. I spotted Graham and thought he looked nice and approachable, but my hands were full and I wasn't going to ask him because I wasn't "ready" to take a picture. Something just compelled me to ask him anyway. Graham agreed and he was patient with me while I set my things down and readied myself.
Graham is a good-looking guy, but I was concerned I wasn't capturing it. Although we were friendly enough before I had started taking his picture, it became awkward when the camera came out. Graham reminded me of a little kid. When I would start to take a picture, he would get the biggest, cutest, child-like, forced, say-cheese smile on his face. I couldn't help myself! I totally cracked up! I could just imagine him as a kid, saying "c-h-e-e-e-e-e-s-e" when someone would take his picture. Yes, I know I will never, ever, make it as a professional photographer because not only are my images not good enough, but I'm fairly confident that it says in the professional photographer's code of conduct handbook- that one shouldn't laugh at their subjects.
Graham explained that he isn't photogenic and when he smiles, it doesn't look authentic. When people tell me they aren't comfortable having their picture taken after they've agreed to let me take their picture, it means so much to me. It makes me appreciate them even that much more, because I know they're outside of their comfort zone. We both are. The process of working through it together, is rewarding for us both.
Graham suggested that I should tell him a joke to ease the tension and make him genuinely smile. I'm horrible with jokes. I know we're supposed to always have a joke in the can, but I don't. I can't retain them. So, I blurted out the only thing that came to mind, I said to Graham, "ok, say this: One smart fellow, he felt smart. Two smart fellows, they felt smart. Three smart fellows, they all felt smart." (Try it yourself - don't read it, but just say it. It won't work if you read the words.) Graham said it was too hard and since I didn't have a joke, he was going to tell me one instead. Graham asked, "what do you call a pile of cats?" I considered the question, but couldn't think of the punchline. Graham replied, "a MEOWTAIN!!" (get it - mountain?) You can't say that we weren't trying! We decided to finish the interview, and then take more pictures afterwards.
When I asked Graham the happiest thing happening in his life right now, he thought about his answer for a while and said it was a hard question. I was hoping it was because he had too many happy things to chose from and he confirmed it was. He finally decided, "my niece and nephew."
When I asked if he had recently performed an act of kindness, I could tell he was recalling the past few days/weeks and searching his memory for a kind act. I also got the feeling he does nice little things for people frequently. Graham said that he had just given someone directions, and they were correct! I laughed, agreeing that it's always more kind to give someone good directions, than it is to spin someone in the wrong direction. (You might remember that I'm guilty of this.) Graham just moved to Portland from California, so he was particularly pleased that he was able to be of help to tourists since he's new to the area himself.
"Always be mindful," Graham replied, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot.
I asked Graham one thing about himself which he would consider to be a success, and he replied, "my career."
After the "interview," we took a few more pictures and continued to visit a while longer. I learned that Graham collects domain names. He said he was pretty obsessed with it for a while, but he's eased up on it a bit. A few of his current favorites are: instagraham.com and sparklepony.com. He hasn't developed them into websites - I understand the fun in just thinking of creative domain names and then procuring them as your own. Graham now holds onto them for a year and then just releases them back into the wild.
I'm still so amazed when I have interactions with complete strangers and it ends up feeling like I've just spent time with an old friend. I hope the people in this project have had the same rewarding experiences that I've had.
Day 321 - Chris
This is Chris. We met at the bus stop which always adds a degree of pressure since we're racing against the clock. Or, at least against the bus which could arrive at any moment.
"Summer vacation," Chris replied, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
I asked Chris if he had recently performed an act of kindness. He replied, "yes," and then got a grin on his face. I asked if he wanted to share, and he explained that he got his girlfriend 6 birthday gifts!
When I asked Chris if he had a personal mission statement or if he could think of one on the spot, he said that he didn't have one, but his impromptu mission statement is: "to remember that everybody else is a person too."
One thing about himself which Chris would consider to be a success, is that he manages to go on a vacation every year. Big vacations! This year, he's going to Germany. His favorite trip so far was his vacation in Paris.
The bus arrived just as we were finishing up and we were both on our separate ways.
Day 322 - Pam
This is Pam. She's actually the mother of my dear friend, Debbie. (from week 15.) Pam was in town for Debbie and Lou's (from week 20) anniversary party and it would be my only opportunity to take her picture for the project.
The day after I graduated high school, I rode a greyhound bus from southern Oregon to Portland and Pam let me stay with her and Debbie for the summer. Pam is yet one more motherly figure I have in my life, and one more woman that I'm certain my own real mom is grateful for. Pam was one more woman in the "gang of moms" who helped see to it that all of us girls were happy, healthy, and safe.
I knew I wanted to share a picture of Pam laughing. She's always laughing! In order to do so, I recruited Becki (from week 7) to be responsible for making Pam laugh. It worked. Actually, we were entirely too successful at making Pam laugh. (I don't even want to know what Becki was doing behind my back to make Pam laugh so uncontrollably. All I know is that at one point, Becki was sniffing my armpits.) In nearly all of the pictures, Pam was laughing hysterically! We actually had to tone it down a bit and compose ourselves, which was extremely difficult. I finally decided on this picture. Although I loved the others in which Pam was laughing, this is a little more appropriate to share with you.
When I asked Pam the happiest thing happening in her life right now, she gestured to all of us sitting around her and said, "the togetherness of all this."
I asked Pam if she had recently performed an act of kindness. She said that she and her husband, Tommy, volunteer to deliver food for the "Meals on Wheels" program every wednesday.
When I asked Pam if she had a personal mission statement, or if she could think of one on the spot, Pam replied, "to learn to be the very best person I can be...and that means trying to be nicer to people." Amidst the joking from the family who were sitting in on our interview, Pam started to get serious. Pam had a health scare recently, and I can imagine it influenced her answer. She went on to say that she's recently been thinking and seriously making an effort to be a better person because when you get "close to the edge, " you start to consider - "how do I want people to remember me?"
I asked Pam one thing about herself which she would consider to be a success and she replied, "I'm successful at being a dog owner." I confess, I was surprised at her response because I could think of several different possible answers. I wasn't the only one surprised, because the rest of the family erupted, saying, "you're supposed to say your kids or your marriage!" We all laughed. She insisted that her dog is happy and she was standing by her statement. Pam, again getting serious, went on to say that she's successful at "being close to family, to make them realize how important they are to me." With that, I got teary-eyed, gave one of my other-mother's a hug, and thanked her for being in the project. And then we all erupted in laughter again...and I can't even tell you about that. It was just embarrassing for us all.
Pam touched on her thoughts about how people will remember her. Pam is nice, even though she's concerned she may not always be. She's enthusiastic, energetic, loving, and loud. (You've got to be loud in that family!) She's a good mom. She's a hugger! She greets you with a hug so big, it doesn't make sense how such a petite person can hug so big. Pam lives. She finds joy in simple little things like her dog, or a cup of coffee on a sunny morning. Pam is welcoming. Pam is someone you want to be around. She's always reminded me of a woman who should own and run a cattle ranch, or better yet, a B&B on a cattle ranch. But yet, she very much gives off the vibe of the artist and writer she is.
Pam is an encouraging person. She pushes you to do the things you dream of doing. Pam is a talented writer. She was attending writing classes when I stayed with them that summer. It wasn't until I saw her passion and joy of writing, that I confessed I had my own passion for writing. Pam told me about her classes, shared what she had learned, and she let me read her assignments. I loved reading Pam's stories and I realized that some day, I'd like to become as skilled as Pam. Pam still encourages me to write and she's one of the few people who continues to fan my flame, so much so, that some day - I just may start that book.
Pam, you need not worry how people will remember you. You are unforgettable, you. Love you, Pam.
Here's a summary of the personal mission statements or the life's purpose of the subjects from this week:
- Nice matters.
- My life's purpose is to be faithful to Jesus, take care of my husband, spend as much time as I can with my children and grandchildren, and to stay healthy.
- To make music
- To follow acts of kindness, compassion, love and acceptance of those I care about and those around me.
- Always be mindful.
- To remember that everybody else is a person too.
- To learn to be the very best person I can be.
That's it for this week! Thank you for following along!
My sincere thanks to each of you who have been subjects in this project. You are making it happen and I'm grateful for your kindness. (And thank you to two of my other moms who agreed to be in the project. I love you.) If you would like a copy of your picture, please don't hesitate to e-mail me! I'd be happy to send it to you.
Have a big week!