Sometimes our interactions with people don’t have to be long or emotional to have an impact on our lives. I love taking photographs, at this point in my life mainly of people, candid not posed, quick shots, captured as they happen.
This photo captured just such a moment that occurred a few years ago and I loved everything about it. His message, determination and energy spoke to me every time it revolved up on to my computer screen. I did not know him but as the months passed and his cheerful photographic presence reemerged intermittently, I felt he and I formed a bond of sorts. His message and my capturing of it.
Months later I was in town and I came across him, deep in conversation. He did indeed appear to be someone you would not want to “frack” with, at least not verbally. When the conversation ended I approached, told him about the fabulous photo I had of him and asked for his contact information . He complied, I forwarded and that was the last contact we had except the occasional rotating of the picture on my computer screen.
These last few months have been a time of deep reflection for me, I have been introduced to the word liminal as in liminal space or liminality. Interesting how a word can elude you for a whole lifetime until it is needed to describe the place you find yourself. Suddenly the word seems to emerge all around in books, readings and quotes . The quote below is from Jean Shinoda Bolen from her book Crossing to Avalon that came across my desk again recently.
“This is a time of liminality for me, of passage from one part of my life to another when I am venturing psychologically out beyond my known world; heeding a call to live my life more authentically even as it puts me in conflict and uncertainty.”
I lay in bed one morning recently wondering about this passage and what I felt called to do as this “part of my life” plays out. The message came through very clearly, write, write and take photographs, not just photos but portraits that really capture the essence of people.
Rising that morning I started to clean the bottom of the cage of my forty-eight year old parrot (another blog piece) I placed pieces of our local paper on the bottom of the cage and as I went to put the third and final piece in place a photograph caught my eye, it was in colour and very familiar, it was the photo I had forwarded at least a year previously and it was in an obituary for a John Lawrence Olsen.
I contacted his granddaughter for permission to write this piece and she told me that the family loved the photograph. He had lived for 87 years and from the content of his obituary he lived a life that more than likely had put him into much “conflict and uncertainty.” I am honoured that of all the photographs that had been taken of him over his lifetime this one was chosen by the family to commemorate who he was at his core. The first line of the obituary reads:
“This photo pretty much captures John Olsen – his positive, let’s move forward approach, his political involvement, and his sense of humour.”
So thank you John, even though our only contact was this photograph. I needed that inspiration on that morning to see my way forward.
I have a number of portraits I have taken in the last few years of people unknown to me that speak very clearly about who they are at their core. The photo below was taken on a trip to New Orleans earlier this year, the occasion was the Easter Sunday Parade in the French Quarter. The picture tells the story and I am sure that story will be different for each person that sees it……
for me she is living her life with a very clear message…… “Don’t Frack With Me”