477 days ago May 11, 2005 I took a photograph that became very personal to me as a photographer. It was a very simple image of a man holding an orange. At that time I was just beginning to participate in WeeklyShot a weekly theme blog challenge where I had been invited to participate by Jarrett Gorin who I’ve mentioned here many times. I submitted that image for WS’s ‘Orange’ theme and despite the highest ratings I have ever received on any of my Featured Images, it was never featured. I was incensed and pouted like at 12 year old. Being Featured on WS back then meant so much to me and I could not understand why the image never appeared on the front page. So in my childish way I protested by not participating, for the wrong reasons. George Illes another photographer wrote, “I love this shot. It’s excellent. It sure would have been nice to see it featured, but I’m glad my life has intersected with this community, otherwise I may never have seen it.” His simple and kind statement brought me back to my senses and I realized that my reasons for not participating were wrong and I continued to submit images, which in turn improved my eye.
Two days ago Tracy encouraged me to begin participating in Onexposure, another photography blog, but without weekly themes. Instead Onexposure has categories where photographers can submit their ‘best work’ and a panel of reviewers decide which images ‘make it’ and which don’t. So of course I submitted my original image, Eugene as my first entry. It was denied along with an explanation:
- Common – Your motive is too common or performed in a way that we see too often. A common motive must be photographed in a creative way to be accepted.
- Lack of impact – It’s a good photo, but it doesn’t stand out that much. A photo might be technically perfect, but it also has to affect the viewer.
I can appreciate when feedback is offered for why an image is not used for publication and unlike WS, I will continue to participate in the Onexposure community. But my real point is all individuals who pursue art must decide for themselves what moves them. And the image Eugene moves me for so many reasons. First, had it not been for that image, I would never have met face to face my fellow photographers George Illes, King Douglass or Vernon Trent. I would never have met or fallen in love with Tracy. And just as important, I would never have engaged Eugene as I have today.
I have my very first solo exhibit coming up in two months and the image I titled Eugene will be a very prominent part of that show. Those magnificent hands holding that orange still moves me today. But I wanted to show more than just those hands in my exhibit. I wanted to show the man whose character impacts so many every day. So I simply asked Eugene if I could come over to his home to photograph him. He agreed and this past Labor Day weekend I ventured to his home to shoot the images you will see this week.
Although you will see Eugene’s face throughout this week, I thought it only fitting to begin with an image of his hands. They are truly indicative of the strength of his character.