Be human first and photographer second

picnicpicnic-7picnic-6picnic-4picnic-3picnic-8picnic-12picnic-10picnic-2Turn on the evening news and it’s down right depressing to see all of the craziness going on with people. Craziness within one’s family, one’s neighborhood, one’s city or one’s country. People are killing people with little to no regard for human life. A large amount of these horrific acts have to do with someone’s skin color. It seems that people today fail to see past one’s skin color or physical difference to view the true person inside.

We as photographers often get tossed into the mix to cover a story or an event. We are the outsiders, sometimes invited and sometimes not. As such we need to recognize that fact before we even raise a camera to our eye. We need to remember to be human first.

One of the most enjoyable parts of this profession is getting to know my subjects. I genuinely like learning about different people. Show that when you are on assignment. Show your subjects that you aren’t just there to take photos but that you actually do care about them as human beings.

On this assignment I was to photograph mothers and their children returning from a visit with their incarcerated husbands/fathers. It was an early father’s day event that was sponsored by a couple of organizations and congressman Danny Davis. A picnic was to be held for the returning families and the congressman was supposed to be arriving with them.

I was most definitely the outsider when I showed up. For the first forty-five minutes I didn’t take a single photograph. Instead I got to know the volunteers, the event organizers and then eventually the families. In turn they realized I was ok to be there and trusted that I would represent them well with my photographs.

As a photographer I came away with much better photographs. As a human being I heard wonderful stories from people’s lives and met some wonderful individuals. In some way I hope I showed that people still do care, no matter what their skin color is.

Happy wanderings and be human first.

I prefer people with scars

I have a good friend who told me once, “I prefer people with scars.” What he meant was that he preferred people who had lived life through all of it’s turmoils and had the scars, visible or not, to prove it. These were not the pretty, plastic, perfect people that we see on TV or sometimes in our own neighborhoods. My friend would have considered the pretty people “pretenders.” Real people have scars.

To this point I was hired to photograph some very “real” people last week. Jim and Theresa are a loving couple who have had to deal with more than their share of life’s difficulties. They met while out for a bowling night and have since been married for thirty years. They are both blind and both have a laundry list of health issues. I was there to photograph them for the Presence Health Organization’s Foundation. Through donations people like Jim and Theresa can live in their own private apartment and still receive the medical care that they need. It allows Jim and Theresa to be able to stay together in a safe environment.

Knowing this made me feel good because I think the two of them would be lost without each other. You can still see the care and affection between them. They have traveled a hard and long road. It hasn’t been the years but rather the miles that have been put on their tiring bodies. These are real people…people with scars.

A note about the photos, they were originally shot in color but I chose to make them black and white for this post. All were shot on Fuji X-T1 cameras and converted in Lightroom CC.Presence Health Jim and Terry 55Presence Health Jim and Terry 101Presence Health Jim and Terry 45Presence Health Jim and Terry 57Presence Health Jim and Terry 75Presence Health Jim and Terry 87Presence Health Jim and Terry 99Presence Health Jim and Terry 1Presence Health Jim and Terry 15