I’m sure that time and time again throughout these Musings I have mentioned that the individuals I have met through photography is the most compelling part of this craft. Beyond the sheer number of individuals who I now call friends, the quality of my own life has been changed forever.
I have for the majority of my life been what I consider to be a ‘loner.’ My preference has in the past been to remain solitary in both my thoughts and leisure time. The primary change happened when I had my own children, whose life long influence changed me from being self centered to making space and time for others. Children and the love for who they are changed behaviors which were so comforting to me and in turn allowed me to interact with those outside of my own home in a much more positive way.
And as I reflect, I have discovered that photography is the vehicle that allowed me to convey what I was taught by my own children – to share. Over the past five years I have been fortunate to have and made opportunities to photograph a variety of performing artists; dancers, musicians, singers, stage performers and people on the streets of San Francisco. People often ask me if I am a ‘professional photographer’ to which I respond, ‘No, I am a working photographer.’ What’s the difference? Yes, I get paid for what I do with a camera, but that is not my primary motivation to shoot.
If it were, I would certainly charge more money for my services. No, my intent is to capture the marvelous work that each performer displays in front of my lens. For the real art is not what I capture, but what appears before me. And even more profound are the relationships that unfold between what were once my ‘subject’ and me. Recently, we have been photographing the performances of Burn the Floor, an Australian dance troupe touring here in San Francisco. We have befriended several of the dancers and crew and there is something uniquely special about the individuals who make up the company.
I have actually been taken back a bit about my personal enthusiasm for the members and spoke with Tracy about this over the weekend. We certainly shoot a large number of performers, but the cast from BTF is markedly different. So I asked, “Do you think we feel close to the cast because we are so invested, or because they are truly such good people?” Tracy responded, “Babe, I think it’s a bit of both.” And in the end, does it really matter? Probably not, for the true tenets of the beginning of friendship are shared interest, trust and respect. And we certainly have all of those critical elements.
So as I count my unbelievable fortune, I can again say that who I have met and experienced is much more important to me than what I have done.