I took 6 pictures on Monday. I had a 25 pound bag, 2 cameras and 4 lenses. I had 5 rolls of film and a 32gig card. I used it all to take 6 pictures. The one on this post was the only image I took with my dslr, the other five still existing only on the half-exposed roll sitting in the back of my Canon AE-1. 6 pictures of some friends on a white bus. What I didn’t do was create amazing pictures or use light to tell a compelling story–none of that fantastically romantic stuff. What I did do was help to provide food for some 300 people. And somehow, even for me, that is more satisfying.
Photographer Jeremy Cowart often blogs/talks about when it is time to put the camera down and get your hands dirty. He said that when he is in Haiti, he knows it is more important to help another person clean rubble away from their home than to take pictures of them. I apologize if I am butchering his words. Anyway, I thought that during a trip to the soup kitchen, I would have a great opportunity to sit down, meet people, photograph them, and find a way to provide them with prints. It didn’t exactly flow this way. I never went to fetch my camera bag from the back-room because that wasn’t what I signed up for. I was working to provide food and I wanted to continue to do so.
But I wanna go back. For the past two years I have thought about doing a Help Portrait project. I’ve contacted people to collaborate with, contacted organizations that could provide names of people to photograph. But each year has turned into nothing. And it is my fault they have. Now that this project has become more personal though, I have a new-found drive. I want to photograph the people in that church hall in Waterbury. I want to provide them with the same joy they provided for me on Monday.