My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
What a privilege
I am reminded over and over as I do my job as a photojournalist how really cool it is to be invited into people’s lives and get to see how they live, work and play.
Sometimes I have been invited into people’s lives during tragedy as I was years ago to photograph the Newberry family. Their son Philip contracted spiral meningitis and due to this Philip lost both hands and feet to the disease.
What was a devastating experience became such a walk of faith by a family. How powerful of a story to see a family transformed in such a positive way.
When I get invited into homes I do not see the poverty as much as I am seeing a person sharing the most intimate space of their lives. What impacts me over and over is how most people with so little are so happy in life.
While in West Africa in Burkina Faso I met a husband and wife with their newborn child. This one room hut with a dirt floor was filled with the love of a mother and father for their child.
When I traveled to the Yucatan I was invited into the home of a family where they all lived in one room. I thought it was so cool to see how they made use of space using hammocks at night for sleeping. During the day those hammocks can be moved to give room for the kitchen or work they might do in the same room.
Early I would be so hesitant to ask to photograph families in their homes that showed such poverty. Today I realize they are as proud of their homes as I am of where I live. Here a teenager is proud of his own room.
Comparing his situation to the families living in the space he calls his room lets me know he is better off than many people around the world.
I was excited to be invited to photograph Almond Standard who built his log cabin home in his late 60’s. He was so proud of being able to use his skills to build this home from scratch all by himself. The only thing he didn’t do himself was the roof.
Meeting people from all walks of life and seeing how they live around the world makes me appreciate my situation so much more. I also realize that I live so much better than most of the world. Had I never traveled to distant places my perspective would be based on living in the suburbs of Metro Atlanta. I would see how so many live better than me and that I was more towards the bottom of the socio economic scale.
Now having more of a broader perspective I know I am living way above most of the world in my lifestyle.
While you may be able to take vacations that are designed to see exotic locations I recommend you go and experience the world from another perspective. Get involved with a non-profit and volunteer your time. Travel with the non-profit to another part of the world and help give back. You will start to broaden your horizons and this will change your life forever. It changed mine.
I want my time to count now days after the experiences I have had in life. I want to live a life of doing something positive. I hope to use my camera to help those who are voiceless and marginalized by the world.
I want you to know these people so you too can feel more in touch to the world and not just in touch with your neighborhood alone.