“Young and old: with a photo, time will hold.”
–Rachael Landau, The Photographer–
I came up with this rhyme after a fellow photographer complimented me on approaching someone of a certain age. He explained that his comfort level lies only in identifying subjects who are young; and I think he’s rounding 30. That certainly limits his pool of potential strangers, since our project rules require the models to be at least 18 years old.
Character in a face is what initially draws me to a person. I told him that I’m open to making photos of anyone over 18 who will pose and participate in my 100 Stranger project. One of the things about this project that I find so gratifying is the chance to have a face to face conversation with a real live person; to listen and learn what someone feels like sharing. So far, my subjects of “a certain age” haven’t let me down in that department.After meeting and photographing Erica (Stranger No.22) and Tomás (Stranger No.23), I made my way to the area where my son’s soccer team supporters were holding court. During the first match of the morning, there was a quarter when my son was off the field as a substitute. It was then that I met my next stranger, a teammate’s grandmother. Florence, affectionately called Flo by the daughter-in-law during our introduction, is 24/100 of my strangers.
Florence was born 74 years ago and spent her pre-married life in Ventura, California. After marriage, she moved around the country because of her husband’s job, until they landed in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Yes, there is a Las Vegas outside Nevada. That’s where she raised five children and taught high school English. One of her adult children remains in Las Vegas. Everyone else, including Flo, resides in Albuquerque. When she retired, she moved to be closer to the grandchildren.
“When my own children were young, there was nothing I liked more than to take them out for hikes in the Santa Fe National Forest, because it is just so beautiful in there,” Flo said. “Every day when I wake up, I say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you!’ It’s good to really know gratitude.”
Flo paused to enjoy a peanut butter cookie, then she continued to speak.
“I just finished reading a Buddhist self-help book. The advice was to take a mundane act, like washing my dishes by hand, and do it over and over again so I could think about other things, and be more mindful.
“I would be reincarnated as a botanist. I like being outdoors in my garden, and love listening to the birds. See? Those are birds on my shirt. I love irises. I hate this drought.”