The Gift

I’m still here!   Spring has certainly sprung. I know I’m not the only one that has fallen behind on their blog posts…I’ve ready plenty of blog posts saying as much.  Oh, I’ve been plenty busy taking photos; I’ve loaded and unloaded my card(s) at least three times!  But 52×52 and Texture Tuesday posts are going to have to wait just a little bit longer because I want to share my latest photographic journey with you.  No, I didn’t travel to some far off land.  This is of a much more personal journey.

DSC_9909As a photographer, I have always shied away from photographing people.  It’s always been a bit uncomfortable for me.  I think capturing the human spirit is one of the most difficult challenges for any photographer; one that I never really felt I was up to the challenge of.  It’s an art all its own to engage people, converse with them, and reveal the real them . . . and to be ready to click the shutter.

This past weekend, I sent a fellow photographer a text that said … “I need to bow out on Saturday (shooting an event).  I don’t have any one good excuse…”  I sent that on Thursday.  Oddly enough, this was the third year for shooting this particular event.  Many of the people I have met before, many wonderful warm & friendly women (and men), all usually more than willing to show off for the camera.  But in  a moment of insecurity, I was going to pass this year.  No sooner did I send that text than did my friend and fellow event photographer, Ann, call me.  She completely understood my insecurity, but she wasn’t going to let me off quite so easy.  She told me I had a gift.  Me, a gift?  I never saw it that way…still not sure I do.  But our conversation was enough to restore just enough confidence.  Oh, and she told me I could just photograph the chocolate and the venue … if that’s what I wanted.

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An absolutely beautiful spring evening, the venue was the historic mansion set on the BCCC campus in Newtown, PA.  The trees were all show in their spring blossoms.  The backdrop of the woods was just starting to show some green.  The guests were arriving, women adorned in beautiful Derby hats that looked like a lot like the spring flowers in full bloom in the gardens.  I remember thinking to myself, I am so glad Ann called me.  Any inhibitions I had had completely evaporated.  Maybe it was all those hats… If people were willing to get into the spirit for a good cause, than so was I!

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As I did the previous two years of shooting this event, I met many wonderful people.  This year in particular, I met a wonderful group of women, the Thursday Night Ladies, as they like to call themselves, a women’s writing group.  They whooped it up for my camera and they welcomed me to their table to catch a bite to eat.   They each also so bravely stood in front of 200 guests & volunteers and gave an excerpt from their writings and reminded us all why we were really there that evening.  You see, this event was the annual Chocolate Lover’s fundraiser held by a Woman’s Place, an organization that comes to the aid and provides support in an unwavering quest against domestic violence {Admittedly, a point I now realize I overlooked momentarily the Thursday before}.    My contribution, a simple one, to volunteer my time and to photograph the event free of charge (unless you count payment in chocolate), which was nothing in comparison to this group of women who shared their feelings… their experiences.

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So why am I telling you all this.  Because if it weren’t for one woman telling me I had a gift, I would have not been in the one place, where I now know I was supposed to be more than to just photograph an event but to preserve the joyous moments, shared laughter, hugs and tears, and the contagious beaming smile of another woman, Toshi, and to capture . . . her spirit.

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I didn’t know it then, but these would be Toshi’s last moments.  Shortly after I left, Toshi fell critically ill and was rushed to the hospital.  She was not expected to regain consciousness.  This morning I learned that Toshi was gone.

Ann called me this morning.  Even in her sadness and time of grief, she wanted to thank me . . . for being there… for her… and her friend, Toshi.   She told me I was meant to be there and that I had given her and the Thursday Night Ladies a wonderful gift to remember their friend by.  Friendship is such a powerful gift. {Thank You, Ann}

…til next time
Maria

It is the courage to continue . . .


Do your photos talk to you?  In my search tonight for a photo that would make a nice note card that would “speak” to runners, I found that I gravitated towards photos that spoke to me.   This one in particular spoke loud and clear.  The start of the race, the pack,  the green lights.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was actually 5 years ago that I ran my very first 5k . . . this 5K!  And on Saturday, it will be my third year that I will be shooting this race for the Chalfont Borough and the first time for the Bucks 5K Series.  It was just about three years ago that I hung up my running shoes and picked up my camera. What’s that saying . . . when one door closes, another opens . . . well you get the idea.

Speaking of sayings, I also found that finding just the right saying or quote to translate what the photo says to me and something the viewer can appreciate is quite a challenge.    I have a new appreciation for those motivational posters you see at A.C. Moore (a local craft/art store for you out of towners).   I don’t know if I really hit the mark here for the runners, but for me it pretty much sums up that first 5K and so many challenges since then . . .