Monday, January 21

small acts of courage

lucy sent me an article from the oregonian that struck a few chords. before it finally arrived in my mailbox (seriously, i think the pony express could have delivered it faster. doesn't the USPS have planes?), she told me the author had risked something and that act of courage created something meaningful.

i've been thinking a lot lately about courage, risk, fear. it's a cliche in our society that you must risk to move forward: "no pain, no gain," "she who risks nothing, gains nothing," etc. but where does that intersect with the work i am inspired by and the work i hope to create?

the first answer is from robert capa: "If you're pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." there are plenty of interpersonal hurdles in achieving a physical and emotional closeness to the people we photograph and write about. countless hours of practice, patience, self-recrimination, and doubt. it's one of the easiest things to pinpoint in a portrait or photo story that just doesn't work. we're not close enough to really "see," so the photos don't "feel".

then there's a middle ground where we are close enough, seeing enough, maybe even feeling enough, but, for me at least, there's still something missing.

the work that moves me is revelatory. it involves a whole other round of risk taking, this time by the subjects themselves. the whole process is reversed, and now we are the ones showing them how to be vulnerable without building walls, how to sit with fear, or push through the uncomfortable. and it's this second round of risk-taking that i get the most satisfaction from. maybe it's the would-be therapist in me, but the photos come so much easier after an interaction like that.

this article touched that. the beauty we can find in strangers and how they help us understand ourselves.

"So, I keep searching the faces of strangers, taking the empty seat, watching and waiting for that moment of grace that always seems to come in the unlikeliest of places." --INARA VERZEMNIEKS, The Oregonian.

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