Around this time every year, something in my brain flicks a switch. Just like the bud of a newly forming leaf is triggered by enrivonmental and genetic cues, these same signals and accompanying consequences–the emergence from winter darkness, spring rains, blossoms shooting up overnight, the cheerful chatter and melodies of songbirds–rouse in my subconscious an homage to and remembrance of one of the most significant experiences of my life.
Seven years ago, almost to the day, I received news that my father was dying of inoperable pancreatic cancer. One month later, the day after his 64th birthday, he was gone. During those short final weeks of my dad’s life, I developed an intimate relationship with my then-new digital camera. Perhaps it was the shock of imminent loss that opened my eyes in a new way and motivated me to search for the hope I so desperately needed wherever I went.
It was during this time that I developed a deep and abiding love for wandering the streets of my city, camera in hand. Much of what caught my eye back then wouldn’t be considered beautiful in the conventional sense of the word. In fact, I found myself often drawn to the weathered, beat-up and forgotten images that most people would rush by without a second thought (or even a first). Maybe it was because I was feeling somewhat weathered and beat-up and forgotten myself that I was trying to comfort my soon-to-be-crushed inner daddy’s girl by gathering up these overlooked mementos and treasuring them, savoring the moment in which I found them. It was as if I needed to know that I could find light in the midst of darkness and decay and even death, because if I could, then I would be able to find hope no matter how dreary the circumstances.
I find it quite timely that now, when my thoughts and emotions are conjuring up the memories and feelings from that month of watching my father succumb to cancer, our Shutter Sisters have embarked on this voyage to Picture Hope. I am thrilled because I know the power of images to stir our hearts and minds and to plant hope in the midst of dispair. I think Stacey Monk said it quite eloquently in her comment, “Hope is the most beautiful direction in which a lens can be pointed.”
Will you share with us today your images of the weathered, beat-up and forgotten that nevertheless convey to you a hope and beauty that’s raw and real? It would mean ever so much to me…