Looking Like No Other
(This is a series of posts on Jan Phillips’ book, God is at Eye Level, Photography as a Healing Art. For an intro check out the first post here.)
Phillips’ chapter four showcases the importance of the relationship between the photographer and the person on the other side of the lens. Well the “relationship” or “connecting” has certainly come full circle in my life.
When I think back to my corporate days, part of my success was my awareness and my ability to relate to all kinds and all levels of people. It didn’t matter if the person was an entry level clerk or the president of a fortune 500 company, or if the person was white, black, hispanic, christian or a muslim…I had the innate ability to connect with them. I know this “gift” of mine began at age six when I would go with my father to sell our farm produce at the city market. Our customer could be the president of the local bank who wanted an apple for lunch, a mother who wanted fresh produce to prepare meals for her family for the week or a wino wanting to buy a tomato to go with his bottle. It was during those years that this gift was developed and honed and later became a key ingredient to my corporate success. And it makes so much sense to what a critical role it plays in photography.
As photographers we all can have the exact same subject matter, but our captured images be totally different. It all has to do with connections, feelings and trust. During my first year or two of photographing this wasn’t obvious to me. I would shoot quickly (and often still do – working on that!) not wanting to take up their time or bring attention to myself. Now I’m learning to feel what Phillips explains…it’s that decisive moment, that whole that contains all the parts and nothing else….waiting for the moment when heart and mind and eye comes together on the same axis. What shows up in the photographs could not have existed without me. What shows up in those faces is there because of who I am, because of how I revered them and how they perceived and responded to that reverence.
Creating art could not exist without us. Whether we probe deeply or just skim the surface. The results stems from the passion of our uniqueness and interactions in the world. Phillips’ ends the chapter with this heartfelt sentence…All we have to do is let it go, give it voice, have it be the source of all our seeing. Now that is key to healing in my book.
Next week: Chapter Five – Portrait of a Soul
Joining in for the first time? Catch up on the previous chapters!