Looking through some photographs I found inside a drawer
I was taken by a photograph of you
There were one or two I know that you would have liked a little more
But they didn’t show your spirit quite as true
You were turning ’round to see who was behind you
And I took your childish laughter by surprise
And at the moment that my camera happened to find you
There was just a trace of sorrow in your eyes…
From Jackson Browne’s Fountain of Sorrow
I am convinced that the best things in life are seldom, if ever, photographed. They involve the vast array of intimate exchanges that occur between and among human beings. Every time I drive through the streets of Oklahoma City, I am looking at everything as if through a camera’s lens whether I am peering through it or not.
A skilled photographer I am not, but I do have an expensive camera and I know excellent content when I see it. I also have enough experience to know that the camera sees things that we don’t always see. The other day, I photographed a FedEx truck sitting in the rain at a stoplight. When I downloaded the photo later, I realized that the green light from the opposite intersection was reflecting on the side of the truck. For me, the reflection was magical. The color of the truck, the color of the light, the color of the sky and the rain created a perfect composition. And, I never saw the green light, and therein lies the metaphor.
I am always scouting for those private moments that the presence of a camera diffuses. Most of the time, when I come across them I reach for my camera and it’s either not there or if it is the battery is dead. If I’m lucky enough to have the camera and it’s working, by the time I get in position, the moment has passed. Either the subject has spotted me or they have moved beyond the space of the moment I wanted to capture.
If you want to photograph people and things in their natural environments, then you must always be prepared for those intimate moments to occur when you least expect it. I’m going to work at having my camera always ready like it was today when I was driving on May Avenue south NW 23rd. I passed this father painting his child’s face for Halloween. I turned my car around and circled back. I had to stop right in the middle of the street, and just as I was taking this second shot their eyes caught mine.
Seeing this made me so happy. I felt so incredibly lucky to be present in their moment – to see this daddy getting his children ready for the childhood ritual of trick-or-treating. I could feel his love for his son as he gently painted his soft brown face blue.