Photography has been hard for me since last summer when I was physically attacked while walking home in DC. The attack wasn’t precipitated by my camera but the fear that the attacker might take my camera, which was in my purse at the time he tried to rip it from me, ran deeper than my physical scars. I’ve struggled with this. I discovered my love of photography through documenting the people and things around me- complete strangers who become closer to me with each frame- a young mother holding her child’s hand as they walked down the steps or a young nomad staring off into the distance in Berkeley. The beauty in everyday life brought me to a place, a feeling, which I have not recently encountered.
Now, 1 year to the day of my attack, I am going back to that place. I am returning to the days of snapping life- perfect strangers who become my best friends when I develop their photos in the darkroom.
I’ve been doing a lot of commercial/staged photography lately, and while I enjoy creating images with people, I also yearn to be back on the street, walking, framing, evaluating the natural light, and adjusting my f-stop and shutter accordingly. I witness poignant moments everyday- three little boys with no shirts standing at a crosswalk talking and eating pop sickles, a black father taking his young children into the library. In an age where we’ve become inundated with the “Save Africa,” “US vs. them” images of starving, dependent “third-world” people by the mainstream media, it is extremely important that photographers of color (and other marginalized groups) take back the camera in an attempt contribute to the way that we are framed and presented in today’s visual landscape.
Famous war photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” I like to get close enough to capture the essence of what’s going on. I cannot wrack my mind worrying about the danger that may befall me in these endeavors. I am but a servant of the people and things I photograph, a channel through which their beauty is magnified. I am there to connect with the people and the moment, not to judge it. Most times, people don’t even know I am taking a photo of them, but I still operate with a foundation of sincerity.
I’ll be shooting this weekend with my Pentax. I hope for light.