Saturday, October 18, 2014

Memories and A Story of Faith

'My life has been interesting when I think of it because my dad liked to I went to thirty-some schools before I graduated from high school. But I enjoyed it...I just could never get a lifelong close friend that're always running off from all your acquaintances. I'm not sure my mother enjoyed it. They would throw a mattress in the back of the pickup with a canopy and there were three of us children and we took turns riding up front or laying back on the mattress and that's how we traveled and we went everywhere.'

This lovely lady, Sister Bronson, told me another interesting story of a time when she thought she had run out of money to pay for a plumbing bill.  She happened to look down from wherever she was and she found a nickel.  She looked up to see if anyone had lost it...and, finding no one, she picked it up and said, 'Lord, this is wonderful, but I'm going to need a little more than this.' A thought then came to her, 'Don't worry about anything...just pray for everything.' She did exactly that, and some money came to her by way of a friend from whom she never expected a payback and everything worked out.

Thoughts on Blindness

Yesterday, as I was walking south down Main Street under the City Creek Skybridge and approaching 100 South, I stopped at the light and noticed three blind people about twelve or fifteen feet to my right, also waiting to cross the street.

There is a median in the middle of 100 South going from Main Street over to West Temple. It's made up of concrete bedding with plants, bushes, flowers, and small trees to beautify the street.

These three blind people were too far over to the right of the crosswalk and were going to walk right into the median. I thought to myself, 'Should I say something?' I never want to bother or startle anyone, especially a blind I cautiously stepped toward them and, in a soft voice, said, 'Excuse me, but if you're trying to cross the street, you're just a little too far off from the crosswalk to avoid the median.'

The taller of the three blind people cocked his head to me and told me to mind my own business.  Wow...mind my own do you like that?  I thought to myself, 'well, I guess I'll have to.'  Sure enough, these three blind people who did not heed my well-intended message, walked right into the median and both unabashedly and clumsily negotiated their way across the street.

For all I know, perhaps this man was fiercely independent...perhaps he was afraid of seeming vulnerable or unable to take care of himself. Perhaps his pride was too precious to be jeopardized by accepting help from someone.  I may never know...

But, dear Salt Lakers...aren't we all blind in one way or another? Don't we human beings deserve better expectations of one another? I have said before...and I will say it again...we have a duty, a watch out for one another, to protect one another from harm, to serve each other and to be kind to each other.

There will come a time when we all are going to accidentally 'bump into the median' in one way or another. I hope, if and when that time comes for me, someone will still reach out to keep me from falling and that I will recognize his or her efforts and that it is their business to be kind enough to prevent potential injury or embarrassment...just as I believe it is my business to do the same.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Few Rules I Live By

As I can imagine people wondering...yes, I do take a lot of cues from Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York...but most of the 'rules' I follow when I'm out and about taking pictures of people really do make for common sense...

For example, I try to never approach someone from's just wrong on multiple levels. Scaring or startling someone does not foster the 'sweet moment' to capture magic with my camera.

I also never photograph children without asking for permission from the adult figure who's with them.  I met this little girl last fall in the 9th and 9th area. She was with her dad...she had such a cheeky personality, I just had to ask her dad to let me photograph her. He looked at me a little askance but didn't mind after I told him what I was doing. The result was just precious...I love that, with children, you never really know what you're going to get.

She was as genuine as she could be when I asked her, 'May I take your picture, sweetheart?' She replied, 'Could you make it a movie because my daddy is getting coffee.'

Although I have been asked on several occasions, I haven't yet taken the opportunity to photograph anyone I know. Something tells me that there should be something of a gap of anonymity between me and my subjects. I think if I photograph someone I know, the mystery and the spontaneity of strangers interacting with one another might be lost...the jury's still out on that one, though.

I'm anxious and constantly concerned about diversity in my portraits. I have received several messages that question the seeming lack of diversity in the subjects I photograph. When I go out and start beating the streets, I never have a proactive or specific goal regarding who I shoot. I just get what I get...but I think it might be time to be more proactive. I think it might be a good idea, for example, to visit a retirement village or a nursing home to get those special and fading perspectives of the older people in Salt Lake City...words of wisdom and advice. I've also wanted to visit different churches in Salt Lake City and to capture more of the different colors of religion in our community. Anyway, there are lots of ideas whirling about in my head all the time...stay tuned to see how they play out!

Friday, October 10, 2014

First Post: Thoughts On Getting Started

'I am excited to be here and I couldn't wait to get started. I am looking forward to getting started'
Bart Bruner

Dear Salt Lakers!

As much fun as it has been and still is to post and share portraits and stories of the Humans of Salt Lake City, I think it's time to add a little butter to the bread and to start sharing the extra and unspoken details of the 'stories behind the stories.'  I have no idea how this is going to go, how long it will last, or where it will take me, but I do think that the magic of those special details should not go unsung and uncelebrated.

So far, in the near year that Humans of Salt Lake City has been in existence, I have created around 350 portraits. I have captured the magic of young people, old people, children, homeless souls living on the edge of their lives, professional people, skateboarders, slackliners, artists, refugees, musicians, mothers and fathers with their kids, people who are dating, people who are married, people who are single, bikers, travelers, tattoo artists, waiters...the list goes on and on and, what I've discovered so far is that there is a certain majesty in every soul...everyone to whom I have spoken and everyone that I have photographed is going somewhere...some are doing it with more elegance and finesse...others are doing it in clumsy and halting ways.  Everyone is going forward with hopes and dreams.  Some know how to reach them and some don't...maybe some even won't.

The fact remains that every single human being that I have photographed has become part of a most colorful tapestry representative of the multi-faceted magic of being Human in Salt Lake City and I can't wait to see how the creation of the capture of that tapestry we go!

This portrait of a grandfather and his granddaughter was taken very early in the history of Humans of Salt Lake City, nearly a year ago, I think. I remember having no real idea about how to approach people with my project without scaring or disturbing them and I concluded, as a beginning, that sitting next to someone in a public place and starting up a casual conversation might be a nice ice-breaker. So, I sat on the far end of the bench with this fine gentleman and, as I recall, made small talk with him about the weather and the changing of the leaves...all harmless and meaningless banter...he was friendly and kind as his granddaughter romped and played in the nearby playground. She was just adorable as she ran back and forth between the arms of her grandfather and the fun of the jungle gym she was climbing.

So early in the game of capturing moments like this, I didn't have a recording device to capture his words as we spoke, but I made a valiant effort to remember as much of what he was saying to include in the post later. That's why I didn't quote him verbatim, but I loved that he told me that after having been married for forty years, he realized, wisely, that when he got married, his decisions were no longer his own. I, myself, have been married for nearly nineteen years and, in spite of my occasional moments of male ignorance, I realize, perhaps now even more than ever, that the decisions I make cannot be made without input and opinion from my wife. I think marriages would last much longer if couples do make the extra efforts, not just once in a while, but perhaps daily...or pay close attention to one another, meet each other's needs in one way or another...lift one another up in times of trial...and celebrate one another during the magic times. I imagined that this man's wife is his best friend just like my wife is my best friend. May those we love never doubt our love for them and may we always marinate in the love that is given back to us.