Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why do PHOTO A DAY.........

I got this in an email. At the end of 2009, I want to be able to write something like this.

BY: Kathryn Wilken
I admit it -- I shot the traffic cop, but I had a good reason. After I made the illegal right turn, his motorcycle zoomed into my rear view mirror. Dang! I pulled to the curb and meekly handed over my license and registration. He strolled behind the car. Turning, I regarded him through the back window as he wrote the citation. His helmet gleamed in the sunlight, white against the red and yellow leaves of the liquidambar trees. I reached into my bag, my hand closing around the comforting, shiny black object I was never without. Raising it above the seat, I fixed the helmet in my sights. With a steady hand, I snapped the shutter. I was fulfilling my 2004 New Years resolution; to take at least one photo each day. Id made it this far, and I wasn't going to abandon the project. The police officer was my photo for November 3rd.I'd made the resolution on New Years Eve. My new digital camera was still in the box because I was resistant to learning its baffling terminology -- JPEG, CCD, TTL, TIFF. Yet I knew I needed to join the Digital Age. I resolved to create a visual record of the coming year. How hard could it be to grab a snapshot each day?I began carrying my camera everywhere, looking for beautiful or intriguing subjects. Each evening I downloaded that days photos and designated one as the official Photo of the Day. I subscribed to a photo-sharing website and posted my daily images -- landscapes, still lifes, abstracts -- to my home page.After a few weeks, I told family and friends about my resolution. They thought it was a little weird, but most of them posed willingly or didn't get too mad if I caught them in a candid moment. I snapped photos of my friend Jean with her new Honda Element one day, operating her printing press another day. I captured my husband several times -- hiking, grilling steaks or reading the paper.At first I was reluctant to approach strangers. No, make that terrified. But I wanted my collection to document the community as well as my own activities. One day in January, picketers were marching in front of the supermarket. When I grabbed the camera, it almost slid from my sweaty palms. I asked two workers to pose with their signs so that I could post their photo on my website. They exchanged an is-she-loony? look. My Photo of the Day explanation sounded lame even to me. Then one man said, Okay, were doing this to get our message across. Fire away.It got easier each time. I took a picture of a Nordstrom saleswoman, a clerk at the Italian market, a knife-twirling chef at a Japanese restaurant. After a few months I started getting bossy: Hold your saxophone like this, I said to the jazz player, and turn to the left. But people didn't seem to mind, because I tried to learn something about each one. The man in the botanical garden who was polishing a bench's brass plaque said it was a memorial to his recently-deceased wife. The handsome couple running a Greek food stand at the Los Angeles County Fair told me they'd given up high-powered careers in order to pursue their dream of a nomadic life selling gyros and spanikopita.Not everyone cooperated. One day at the dry cleaners, I asked the proprietress to pose by the moving clothes rack for a portrait. Oh, no! she said, blushing. Hair not good today! I switched off the camera.Another time I was zooming in on a blueberry tart at the bakery (the gum-chewing clerk had shrugged an okay when Id asked permission) when the baker stormed out of the kitchen, toque aquiver and bushy eyebrows drawn together. What are you doing? he thundered. We serve a unique product here! I assured him I was not a spy from a rival bakery, but tucked my camera away nevertheless.It was the only New Years resolution I ever kept. At the end of 2004, I had 366 photos on my website and printed in a book -- an indelible record of the year, and hard evidence that each day of our lives is unique. Photos of the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum and the towering monoliths of Stonehenge remind me of a trip to England. My nephew playing his senior percussion recital at Juilliard, a picnic overlooking the Grand Canyon, a smog-free day in downtown Los Angeles -- Id probably remember those events even without the photos.Its the quiet domestic scenes I would have forgotten -- a kettle of French onion soup simmering on the stove, the redbud tree in bloom, a scattering of golden apricot leaves lying on a weathered bench. These photos, so mundane when I took them, have gained in value. They glow with a patina of nostalgia.I have proof that nothing lasts. The orange grove where I picnicked with friends has since been plowed under for a housing development; the rusty motel sign on an Arizona back road was torn down soon after.And family members look different today than they did arrayed on the front porch on Thanksgiving of 2004. The little boy coloring a starfish in one photo now wields a baseball bat instead of a purple crayon. The doll being clutched so lovingly by a little girl in another photo now sits neglected on a shelf. Life changes in such tiny twitches, you don't even notice them.By the end of the year, my camera had become an extension of my arm. I could change white balance, turn off the pop-up flash and increase ISO without even looking. I changed too. Over the course of twelve months I gradually became family archivist, photojournalist, fine art photographer and portrait artist. And cop shooter. I never imagined I would do such a thing, but when you re desperate for a Photo of the Day, you take any opportunity life hands you. Pin It

1 comment:

Pam said...

Love It!