Hello! This is week 52, of The 365 Day People Picture Project!
This is not a good-bye. I'm just getting warmed up. Plus, we still have one more picture to go!
This post covers day 358 though day 364. I haven't yet taken the 365th picture. I decided rather than delay today's post in order to include day 365, I'll just make a separate post next week, which will cover day 365 and also provide an opportunity to reflect on this past year.
Here's the deal...I'm not ready to stop. It is my concern that if I stop the challenge, I'll not only stop photography, but I'll end up stopping the blog entirely. I'm also concerned I'll retreat back into my own secluded little world. I'm not certain of the future, but I'm certain I want to keep going. I would love a day off, but if I stop, I can't ever go back in time to bridge the gap. What if I decide I want a streak of taking a picture of a person, every day, for 5 years? If I take one day off, I'll have to start over at square one. I can always stop, but I can't ever get back any missed days.
So, this isn't over yet! I don't know what will happen, but I'm going to continue taking daily pictures until I can sort myself out.
Day 358 - Bob
This is Bob. I met Bob at Esther Short Park, in Vancouver.
"Independence," Bob said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now. Bob appeared to have just finished a stroll around the park when we met. I don't know if this is true, but I got the feeling that Bob has lived an active life. I could make out an athletic form which has been slowed by pain, stiffness, and time.
I asked Bob if he's recently performed an act of kindness. Bob considered the question for a while and then answered, "yes, I perform Native ceremonies." Curious, I asked Bob what kind of ceremonies. Bob, not sure I would understand, or not sure he could explain, went on to say he performs sweat lodge ceremonies, healings, and vision quests.
When I asked Bob if he had a personal mission statement, Bob said that he doesn't have one, but rather, "I go the direction Creator takes me."
"My purpose in life is to serve others, and I've been successful there," Bob answered, when I asked him something about himself which he would consider to be a success. It's interesting that Bob went on to talk about his life's purpose. When I ask people about their personal mission statement and it appears the question is too big of a bite to chew, I often then re-phrase the question to ask about their "life's purpose." It's an equally challenging question and almost identical in nature, but for some reason - it's a more manageable bite to swallow. Bob made the leap on his own. We talked about his lack of a mission statement in which he said he simply goes the direction The Creator takes him, but then Bob went on the explain his life's purpose. This is exactly the flow I've intended with the set of questions I've been asking.
I think Bob is the best photograph in the entire project. I'm sure I made technical errors that a professional photographer, or any experienced photographer, would critique, but I think this is my best.
When I started this project, I started following several photographers on social media. I view thousands of images a week. One thing I've noticed is that there seems to be a trend or tendency for some photographers to go quite heavy on the sharpening and contrast on portraits of elders. When I first started seeing images like this, I was blown away! They make for striking and unforgettable photographs. While "developing" Bob's photo to be Instagramed on the day his picture was taken, I experimented with extreme sharpening and contrast...but it just wasn't for me. As striking as I find those types of photographs to be, I've realized that it's not my "personal style." For the majority of this project, my "personal style" could probably be described simply as very poor quality. I'm now starting to see that I have developed a bit of a personal style and I can see little improvements. To me, Bob is striking enough on his own. The few minor adjustments I made in lightroom were more than enough. I think my eye tends to favor, for myself, the more organic look of photographs from the 50's through 80's. Because of the changes in technology, the entire feel of photography has also evolved. I'm just not there yet.
Day 359 - Phil and Sean
This is Phil (left) and Sean (right). I've seen these two at Mt. Tabor for the past couple of years. They're often working out with Timm and Nic, from day 51. They're all a bunch of beasts! They workout with so much intensity, you'd think they were being ordered to do so by a drill sergeant! They had just finished their workout when I asked if I could take their picture.
I asked the happiest thing happening in their lives right now and Phil answered, "I just became an uncle." Sean replied, "my son - he's 1 and 1/2 years old."
Phil's recent act of kindness is that he bought his girlfriend 2 new bathing suits for her vacation to Mexico, which she will be taking without him. Sean and I both laughed and asked if they were full body suits since she was going alone. Sean's recent act of kindness is that he donated a $1.00 when he made a purchase at Walgreen's.
"Living every day to the fullest," Phil said, is his personal mission statement. He went on to say that to do so, means "living every moment." Just judging by the way these guys workout, I know Phil lives this. There's nothing half-ass about the way they tackle the stairs, so I know they must tackle life with the same intensity. "The pursuit of love and kindness," Sean said, is his personal mission statement.
I asked Phil and Sean something about themselves which they would consider to be a success. Phil responded, "my career." "Family," Sean answered.
Once again, I'm thankful for this project for giving me a reason to actually stop to talk with people I've been seeing for months. We've exchanged "nods" or quick "hi's," but we've never talked. How many people do we continue to pass by on a daily basis?
Day 360 - Sanman
This is Sanman. We also met at Mt. Tabor, where he had just finished a run. He confessed that he doesn't like running, but his friends have encouraged him that he'll learn to love running once he becomes a stronger runner. So, he's convincing himself to become a runner by running until he loves it. His long term goal is to finish a marathon.
I asked Sanman the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "just talking to my family every day."
Sanman's recent act of kindness is that he donated things to a homeless shelter.
"To eventually get away from the day-to-day routine and enjoy the smaller, simple things in life," Sanman said, is his life's purpose. Sanman has reached the point in his life where his hard work has earned the financial security to start enjoying life and his hobbies such as climbing. Sanman wants to travel, and we joked/dreamed of being able to buy a private island.
Day 361 - T.J.
This is T.J. He was the third Tabor person in a row. He was just starting to warm-up for his workout.
"My own business," T.J. said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now. He's started his own clothing line.
I asked T.J. if he had recently performed an act of kindness. "Every day," T.J. answered, most recently was holding the door open for people.
"To always do the best that I can do," T.J. said, is his personal mission statement.
I asked T.J. something about himself which he would consider to be a success and he replied, "my drive."
Day 362 - Nick
This is Nick. He was waiting at the bus stop when we met. This particular spot has been a challenge to me throughout the entire project. Actually, there are a few ares in this one particular block which have challenged me. My solution has been to avoid those spots whenever possible, but there have been times when the only subjects I could find, were in those troublesome spots. I just had to figure out how to make it work. When I got home to prepare Nick's picture to be Instagrammed, I was so disappointed. 362 days into the project and I still got hammered by a ball cap and the weird lighting thing that happens in that one particular spot. I felt as if I hadn't learned a darn thing! I may have blown the shot, but at least I've learned enough to know how to rescue the picture in lightroom. I was able to correct the exposure enough to see Nick's eyes. Phew!
I asked Nick the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he replied, "my girlfriend is starting college."
Nick is a chef and he's working in a food cart. His recent act of kindness is that he gave extra food to a homeless person and the recipient was extremely appreciative of the meal.
I asked Nick if he had a personal mission statement. Nick explained that when he was in school to become a Chef, they had a similar assignment, but how it related to their food. Nick said, when people eat my food, "I want them to feel like they've fucked." We laughed and Nick said, "I don't know if you can say that, but that's what I want." Nick then clarified that I couldn't change the words to be "made love," because that's something different. Nick has dreams of opening his own business some day. He told me a little about his plans and I'm excited for him. He already has a clear vision, so I suspect he'll be up and running soon!
"Surviving the struggle," Nick said, is something about himself which he considers to be a success.
Day 363 - Ophelia Darkly
I had been wandering around in search of a subject when I reached the same bus stop where I struggled with Nick's picture the day before. It's like I was being taunted, or tempted, by that very same troublesome spot. Ophelia was facing away from me when I approached the bus stop but I was determined to try to do better than I had done the day before.
I approached Ophelia and asked if I could take her picture. When she turned to look at me, she revealed her amazing style. I could tell she was conflicted, but it wasn't for the reason I would have expected. She explained she's actually a professional model. I understood. She didn't even have to explain more...I got it. Not only had I accidentally asked to take the picture of a professional Model, but I would not be compensating her for it. Modeling is her profession. Also, she was putting a great deal of trust in a complete stranger, a complete amateur at that. She agreed to let me take her picture and when she did so, I became completely nervous. How many times have you heard me say that it's very easy to take a bad picture of a beautiful person? I didn't want to blow it! I confessed to Ophelia that knowing that she's a model was making me nervous.
When not in front of the camera, Ophelia comes across as a sweet and cute Portland girl, (although she's actually from Chicago) with excellent style. The minute she got in front of the camera - BAM!!!! She became Ophelia Darkly. This whole other edgy persona emerged. She went from being a sweet young woman waiting at the bus stop, to becomming this WOW persona. I was stunned. I think I even shook my head and said something like, "ok, yeah, I can tell you're a model." I've learned in this project - NEVER discount the art of modeling. An actual transformation occurs within a model which is so subtle that you can't even detect that it's happening, but the results are powerful and unmistakable when you see it in your viewfinder. It is indeed an art and a talent, and it is special and unique.
"I'm in love," Ophelia declared, when I asked about the happiest thing happening in her life right now. At this point, the dark and edgy persona was a little more sunshine-y and the person in front of me was a cute young girl in love.
I asked Ophelia if she had recently performed an act of kindness and she explained that her friend's car was just towed from her apartment and she paid to have the car released because her friend didn't have the money, and she felt she should since the car had been towed while the friend was there visiting her.
"There's nothing greater than art, whatever that means to you," Ophelia said, is her personal mission statement.
I asked Ophelia something about herself which she would consider to be a success and she answered being "self-employed since December." You can check out more of Ophelia's stunning work on her Model Mayhem site and her Etsy shop.
Ophelia was bitten by a dog when she was a child and as a result, she has a scar on her lip. She was determined to be a model and to not let the scar prevent her from fulfilling the dream. She went on to say that now, the scar is often just photoshopped out and it hasn't been an obstacle. I explained to Ophelia that I'm a complete beginner and I don't even know how to do a quality edit to remove the scar, and basically asked her if it was ok to use an un-edited photo showing the scar. She agreed. I was so mesmerized by Ophelia's eyes that I hadn't noticed the scar. I know, I know, this is something a photographer should see - but you would have been as entranced by her eyes and transformation as I was. I understand in her profession that her childhood scar would often be re-touched to the point where it doesn't exist, but now that I see it and know the story, it is part of Ophelia Darkly. Ophelia Darkly exists in spite of, or maybe because of, the scar on her face.
Wishing you success, Ophelia!
Day 364 - James
I couldn't figure out why my friend Becki was so interested in when I would be taking the pictures for day 364 and day 365. When I couldn't give her an answer, she told me that James was in town and suggested that I come over to take his picture for the project. I didn't want to impose on their plans so I started to pass on the invitation. After giving it some thought, I realized it would be great to have James as a subject! I told her I'd be right over. When I arrived, she told me she had something to show me. Becki told me that it was going to be a surprise which she wanted to present to me on Day 365, but she realized it just couldn't be possible. She led me to her laptop, where on her screen I could see each and every picture I had taken this past year. I was a little confused, but then it all made sense. She had been poaching every single picture from the blog, organizing them, and she was preparing to have a photo book printed of every subject in the entire project! It explained her persistence and why she needed to know when I would be taking my last pictures. Since I didn't even know myself, I made it impossible for her to get the last few pictures in the book in time to present to me at a celebration dinner we're having tonight. I started crying. This is the nicest and most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me in my entire life. I'm so thankful to have friends like this in my life.
Although Becki had ulterior motives, I'm so glad she let me know that James was in town. He looks like the same kid I remember.
"My kids growing up," James said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
I asked James if he had recently performed an act of kindness and he said that he had just bought coffee for someone.
"To always do the right thing" and "to enrich someone's life in some way," James answered, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement. James said that he knows it seems cliche, but that's how he tries to live his life.
I asked James something about himself which he would consider to be a success and he answered, "my kids."
Thank you, James, for being in this project! Wishing you lots of happiness!
Here's a summary of the personal mission statements and the life's purpose of the subjects from this week:
- I go the direction Creator takes me.
- My purpose in life is to serve others.
- Living every day to the fullest.
- The pursuit of love and kindness.
- To eventually get away from the day-to-day routine and enjoy the smaller, simple things in life.
- To always do the best that I can do.
- There's nothing greater than art, whatever that means to you.
- To always do the right thing.
- To enrich someone's life in some way.
Thank you to every single person in this project, and to you, for following along on this amazing ride! It's not over yet!
See you next week!