Hello! We're finished with week 6 of The 365 More People Pictures Project. If this is your first visit, you may have gathered from the title that this is my second year-long challenge to myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year. If you'd like to follow along daily, my Instagram username is @missellanea.
Day 35 - Trent
This is Trent. He helps out at Ambiance Tan & Espresso, and you've already met some of his family in last year's project. And no, I didn't have a mexican mocha this day so I was unable to determine Trent's place in the "who makes the best mexican mocha" rankings. This is actually a good thing because I think I accidentally ignited a pretty fierce competition.
"Having a baby soon," Trent responded, when I asked the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
I asked Trent if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he said that someone helped him to get a really good job.
"To be a good Dad," Trent answered, when I asked if he had a personal mission statement.
I asked Trent something about himself which he considers to be a success and he answered, "I have a career."
Trent's picture was taken late afternoon, during the harsh mid-day sun. For some reason, I've struggled with the lighting every time I've taken somebody's picture there, so this time we went outside and I found the least sunny area I could find. Or, so I thought. I hadn't sat down to prepare Trent's photo for instagramming until right before my bedtime and as soon as I saw the pictures, I was in a panic. I screwed up. Not only had I ruined the pictures, but I was in my pajamas and couldn't even imagine getting dressed to go back out into the world to find a new subject. Plus, I really wanted to include Trent to complete the Ambiance Tan & Espresso family and team.
I did all I could do to rescue the photo in Lightroom, which isn't much because I only know the bare basics. Trent is a handsome fella and a forgiving eye could look past my mistakes and see a nice young man, even in spite of my technical flaws. The pros say to never publish anything but your best work. Well, the upside of not being a pro, or being so inexperienced that I still can't even call myself a "photographer," is that I've shared it all with you. In sharing both my mistakes and my good days, you can see that it's a constant process of learning.
You can make thousands of mistakes and then every once in a while, among the thousands of bad or just-ok pictures, you will discover that you've created something beautiful.
Photography, just like life, is a constant state of ebbs and flows. I was making improvement for a while, until I wasn't. I finally broke out of the slump and found my flow, and then I found myself swimming against the current once again. Just when you think you're getting the hang of things, something happens to remind you that you still have a lot to learn and that you shouldn't ever get too comfortable.
In trying to educate myself on photography, I view thousands of beautiful images a week, created by both unknown and well-known photographers. It's enough to make a girl feel completely embarrassed for her sometimes-laughable attempts at photography. Then I remind myself that they're not showing anything less than their best work. I share every step and misstep in the process of teaching myself how to take a picture...how to create an image. Everyone struggles. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is a beginner at some point. Learn from those who are more skilled than you. Don't let the work of others discourage you. Let the work of others inspire you to grow and improve.
Day 36 - Matt
This is Matt. He was walking down the sidewalk when we met.
"My work in the Theatre," Matt answered, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now. Matt is a writer and director.
I asked Matt if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he explained that he recently suffered a loss. Matt has been overwhelmed by the support from friends and people who've reached out to check in on him. The concern and support from Matt's friends reminded me that sometimes we don't know what to do when our friends are suffering and because we don't know the "right" thing to do, we do nothing. In difficult times, simply letting a person know that we're thinking about them and that we care about them, is the right thing to do.
When I asked Matt if he had a personal mission statement, he quoted Shunryu Suzuki - "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few." Matt and I talked about approaching life as a beginner in order to maintain excitement and motivation. Matt told me about his work with a group of seniors in which he was teaching them to write plays. Some of his students were 80 - 90 years old and hearing about their complete joy and enthusiasm of learning a new skill, was actually giving me goosebumps. It also reminded me how when I first got my camera, every single picture was sheer joy and magic. Now, I'm constantly frustrated with myself. When we fall out of the "enthusiastic beginner" phase and slip into the "disillusioned learner" phase, it's time to take a step back, and allow ourselves the opportunity to enjoy our experiences with the open and inspired mind of being a beginner.
"My work with teenagers," Matt said, is something about himself he considers to be a success. I loved hearing about Matt's work and his influence being spread across the generations. From kids to elders, Matt's work is making a difference.
Day 37 - Chris
This is Chris. We met at Mt. Tabor Park. Chris was just finishing her workout and I was just about to start mine. For the sake of caution, it's been my routine to take a picture after I'm finished with my workout so that I don't announce to anyone who may be scoping out the parked cars for a break-in, that I'm leaving a camera in my soon-to-be-unattended car. I'm a complete sweaty mess after working out and it's so embarrassing to approach someone when you're a sweaty mess and breathing heavily, but I think this routine limits the possibility of break-in. However, when Chris walked by and flashed her friendly smile, I just had to ask if she would be in the project. She just looked so nice!
"My job," Chris answered, is the happiest thing happening in her life right now.
I asked Chris if she's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and she responded, "every day." Chris went on to explain that even though it's so small and simple, every day when people smile at her, she receives a gift. I told Chris that I'm sure she must receive a lot of those gifts, because she gives them out so freely. Chris' warm smile was what prompted me to approach her.
I asked Chris if she had a personal mission statement and she explained that she tries to live by the "golden" advice from her Mom - "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."
"My children," Chris said, is something about herself which she considers to be a success.
Chris' children have a great Mom!
I look at Chris' picture and her contagious smile, and I can't help but to feel happy, and feel a smile building on my own face.
Day 38 - Orville
This is Orville. "Like Orville Redenbacher," Orville clarified, when I didn't quite hear his name correctly the first time. Orville was sitting outside of Sam's Billiards, waiting for pool league play to begin, when I approached to ask him if I could take his picture.
"Being retired," Orville said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now. He's happy to be finished with some of the drudgery of work-life, enduring the traffic, and having to get along with people with whom getting along is quite difficult. (Orville was quite colorful in his description of those sorts of people, but I'll just keep that part a little secret.)
I asked Orville if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, "yes definitely," he responded. Orville has meals at the Senior Center, which he considers an act of kindness. On the giving end, Orville also volunteers at the same Senior Center.
I asked Orville if he had a personal mission statement. Orville answered, "To survive. To live another day. Today is the first day of the rest of my life."
"Having raised a family," Orville said, is one thing about himself which he considers to be a success. Orville and I visited a little while longer. He told me about his kids and grandkids and said when it comes to raising kids, "be firm but nice." When it was time to leave, Orville asked to view his picture, and then he actually thanked me for taking his picture. I'm usually the one doing the thanking, although it feels like I could never adequeally express my gratitude to those who have allowed me to take their picture for the project. I have a feeling that Orville then proceeded to go into Sam's and teach "the kids" a thing or two about shooting pool.
Day 39 - Mitchell.
This is Mitchell. He was also just walking down the sidewalk when we met. He was on break from work, so we had to be quick!
"My girlfriend," Mitchell said, is the happiest thing happening in his life right now.
Mitchell has been on the receiving end of an act of kindness in that his friends just took him out, and they enjoy and appreciate his company.
"Be the best person I can be," Mitchell said, is his personal mission statement.
I asked Mitchell something about himself which he would consider to be a success and he answered, "my demeanor." I agreed and told Mitchell he has a great demeanor.
Day 40 - Brenden
This is Brenden. He was a co-worker, until this day, which was his last day at the company where I work.
I asked Brenden the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he responded, "Change is the biggest thing and the happiest thing, and the people in my life who are supporting me during this change."
Brenden was having trouble thinking of an example of having been on the receiving end of an act of kindness, but he said that he tries to do nice things for others. Brenden's band, "When We Team Up," just had a show on Monday and he gave two of his comped drink tickets to a random stranger who didn't have any money.
I asked Brenden if he had a personal mission statement and he clarified that he has a life objective - "To make myself happy and hopefully one day I'll find my bliss, find my place in this world, and be successful in it." We're going to miss Brenden, but we'll actually still get to see him as he's going to work for a customer. His skill and passion are in design, and now he'll be able to do what he loves.
Because of this project, I learned more about Brenden in 10 minutes than I had learned in the past few years of working together. When we talk to each other at work, we're talking about t-shirts and ink. We can go months or years and without learning about one another and I'm so glad this project has given me great reason to get to know people.
"The fact that I'm a go-getter, instead of sitting back and waiting for things to come to me...figuring out what I want and making it happen," Brenden said, is something about himself which he considers to be a success. I enjoyed our last conversation and was touched by Brenden's words. He doesn't want to spend his time wandering and wondering his place in this world. Brenden wants to find it, succeed in it, and be happy with it.
Brenden, you will find your bliss and in it, you will find success.
Day 41 - Josh
This is Josh. He was sitting outside of Compass Coffee, looking so content, when I spotted him and asked if I could take his picture for the project. When he agreed, I basically just invited myself to sit down with him at his table.
When I sat down, Josh asked a few questions about the project and seemed surprised that I wanted him to be my "person of the day." After Josh and I were finished, I started daydreaming about the future. Some day, I want us all to have a "person of the day." You know how people Instagram pictures for #OutfitOfTheDay or #ThrowbackThursday - I dream for the day when we're all wandering the streets looking for new friends we haven't met yet. I can't wait for the day when you get to experience what I've been experiencing for the past 13 months. I look forward to the day when people go out and talk with a stranger and share their #PersonOfTheDay photo, or their #NewFriendFriday or their #MeetSomeoneMonday picture. Would you be on board with that? Would you approach a stranger, otherwise known as a friend-you-haven't-met-yet, and then share their picture?
I asked Josh the happiest thing happening in his life right now and he answered, "I'm currently between jobs." Normally, this would seem like it could be a stressful position to be in, but after learning about Josh's work, I understood why he welcomed the break. I didn't want to pry too much, but from what little he said, I gathered his work is extremely stressful and intense. This explained why he looked so content and peaceful when I spotted him. He was truly enjoying the simple pleasure of a cup of coffee on a sunny patio.
I asked Josh if he's been on the receiving end of an act of kindness and he answered, "I have a very large and loving family, so I receive acts of kindness every day."
I asked Josh if he had a personal mission statement. Josh answered with the quote, "Memento Mori. Memento Vivere." Josh translated (and I also looked it up to verify I had written it correctly) "Remember that you must die. Remember that you must live." I explained to Josh that in a strange coincidence, the reoccurring theme in the past 5 books I've read, is that facing our mortality can actually be quite liberating and inspiring.
I asked Josh something about himself which he would consider to be a success. Josh answered, "I don't consider myself a success yet. I'm working on success. My success is that I continue trying to be more successful."
Best wishes to you, Josh.
Here's a summary of the wisdom from this week's subjects:
- To be a good Dad.
- In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few.
- Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
- To survive. To live another day. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
- Be the best person I can be.
- To make myself happy and hopefully one day I'll find my bliss, find my place in this world, and be successful in it.
- Memento Mori. Memento Vivere. (Remember that you must die. Remember that you must live.)
Thank you to each and every subject in this project, and thank you for following along.
Wishing you a week filled with happiness and good people!