Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Breathe {inspiration for wednesdays}

The challenge of the photographer is really the challenge of all of us who want to live, move and connect with others on this planet.  As a photographer, I often ask myself, with each session, the question what do I want?  Sure I want pictures that are pleasing to the eye, exposed correctly, artistically composed, sharp where they are supposed to be sharp and soft where they are supposed to be soft...but all this can be done with formulas,  calculations and "correctness".  What I want - what I really want - is a revealing of someone's character.

I am looking for that unguarded moment when my subject is entirely him or herself.  A moment when they are fully and unself-consciously alive; a slice in time where they let go of "image managed" and live exuberantly from the heart.  And I know that the older the person I am photographing, the more challenging this becomes because we all learn to be fiercely protective of our identity...and are afraid to let people see us as we are.  We guard it like a secret.

However, the job of the photographer is to bring this secret out into the open and capture it in all its beauty, glory, and dignity.  It is to see the exception and not the rule, to follow laughter and playfulness and not just correctly placed composition.  It is a quest and adventure into that other person's life.

But isn't this the "job" of all of us who want to connect, love, know and be known by those around us?  What we want from others is not formulaic, pat answers, but an entrance into their heart, stories and passions.  We want to see them animated and fully alive...because it invites us to become that too.

What if....upon meeting someone new (or someone we have known a long time!), we ask questions that open us up to wonder and curiosity about that person?  What if...instead of looking for a single answer (what do you do for a living?), we looked for wonder instead (what in your day makes you most fully alive?)?   What if...we made space for the true nature of that other person to come out?   And what if...we entered all of it with a kind of  serious playfulness and lightness that allowed us flexibility beyond our rigid social constructs?

I think we would be surprised at what we find.  I think we would find ourselves standing in more unguarded moments - both our own and our subject's - and it would frighten us and make us feel more alive than we could imagine.  We would hear stories that make us want to cry and laugh; we would feel real heartfelt passion; we would taste the strength of connection.  We would begin to really SEE each other.

Breathe, smile and go slowly.


Erin McFarland said...

Tara, this post reveals so much of who you are and is exactly why I love you... as a photographer and a friend :) That last photo really got me. I hope you continue these "Breathe" posts forever... they are some of my favorites!

Tara Malouf said...

Thank you, Erin!! Your kind words are taken straight into my heart!! (Isn't that last picture great...I took it when I was in China!)