Saturday, November 05, 2011

You Never Know.. Do You...

I m just back a week now from a wonderful week in Adelaide, Australia.. where the Australia Institute of Professional Photography had their annual "Event"... a four day get together, primarily for Portrait and Wedding photogs, but also including Editorial, and a smattering of Advertising shooters. They had a great program, and wrangled me into being the Keynote speaker [not sure why that's any different from just SPEAKING... especially at 815am on a Monday!] but the audiences were attentive and the rooms full. You can't ask for any more than that... I gave to presentations, one a walk through my career, the other having to do more with your own projects, and the kinds of things which you might do even though you're not paid for them. Great hospitality, and a wonderful group. If they ask you to come, don't hesitate. That said, be advised that the US dollar, in it's ongoing Fed-fed tumble from Currency du Jour to not quite so Current.. is about equal to the Aussie Dollar. That makes things really expensive... (it used to be .60US = 1AUS$ ) But it's a great place ... and while it takes time to get there... it's more than worth it. Yesterday I received an email from one of the photographers who attended the sessions, and I was so moved by her note that I reproduce it here. Thanks Pam!

from Pam McClure:


I was fortunate enough to attend both of your sessions at the recent Nikon Event
hosted in Adelaide by the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers.

I think, as human beings, most of us hope we will positively impact the lives of
at least one person during our short stay on this earth. I certainly aspire to
that. Often though, whilst we see the overt signs, we never see how deep that
impact is. Is it actually possible for someone (besides Mother Teresa and the
like) to have such a profound effect that someone might change the course of
their lives?

In my late 40's, I am a late comer to the world of professional photography and
am still working as a paramedic while I build my photography business. Since
returning from Adelaide, I have committed to many of the practical ideas to work
towards a successful business. Your sessions however, didn't so much offer
practical, business tips but have certainly had a huge impact on me.

History is a powerful thing. When I visited Tiananmen Square, I stood and let
myself be consumed by the power of the events in 1989. I crouched down to
touch the cobblestones of the Forbidden city and quietly reflected on the
thousands of years of history that had also touched them. The significance of
the ancient history of the Great Wall and Xi'an and then all of the temples
around Angkor Wat and the modern history of Cambodia were not lost on me. In
each case I was overcome by the experience.

After your session, I approached you and asked to shake your hand. I was still
overcome by the power of your stories. It wasn't just the insight you gave us
into the 'behind the scenes' of historical events - the humour and the tragedy,
but the way you presented all of this as a 'normal' person and showed that you
had been touched by events, that made everything so much more powerful. I thank
you for your generosity in sharing your experiences and the extraordinary images
that document them. You are a living history book.

As inspired as I was, especially travelling your journey of mistakes and lucky
coincidences that made you even more real, I admit that I walked away thinking
that what you did/do was out of my reach. You had gained your reputation over
many years. Your stories were of interest to everyone and you had been in the
thick of world history in the making. I had no hope of such experiences and
wasn't sure I could apply anything.

This week, my first job back on shift, as a paramedic, I met a 90 year old man
who required transport to hospital. He was a frail old thing but chatted away
as I attended to him in the back of the ambulance. Alex talked to me about
some of his experiences in his younger days. In our short, 20min journey, he
told me about one day that turned his life around. He was fighting in Russia
with the Italian army. Conditions were freezing and he had frostbite on all of
his toes and was crawling along the ground because he could no longer walk.
The group that he was with were all in a bad way when they came across an enemy
patrol. As was the expectation, from both sides, it was shoot to kill. In a
matter of a couple of seconds, he watched the other two members of his group
shot and killed by two of the enemy patrol. He realised what was coming and
looked up to see his executioner with gun poised to shoot him. He accepted his
fate and made the sign of the cross. The enemy soldier lowered his weapon and
walked towards Alex. He never said a word but bent down and picked Alex up,
hoisting him over his shoulders. He carried him to a nearby train that was
taking 3000 prisoners to a war camp. He placed Alex onto one of the flat bed
carriages and said "Good Luck" then walked away. Alex said it was the most
powerful experience of his life and that he viewed all men as one after that,
regardless of race, colour or creed.

Needless to say, I was very moved by the stories of this old man and, 4 days
later, he is still very much on my mind.

I have decided, taking my inspiration from you, that everyone has a story and,
while it may not be significant in the global scheme of things, it is of value
to someone. I want to tell some of these stories. They will not win me
recognition or make me money but, of far more value to me, I think they will go
some way toward that hope that I mentioned earlier, of deeply touching someone's
life in a positive way. Something beyond the overt signs I see regularly of the
impact of my job.

So after that long-winded essay, my point is that, by sharing what you did, you
have had a profound effect on my life and the path I have decided to explore.
Thank you. Well, that and the fact that, as a digital photographer who had an
analogue Mamiya 645 sitting in a cupboard that I've never used, you imagery
inspired me, so that the moment I walked in the door from the airport, I
retrieved it. I can't wait to develop my first roll.

Thank you again for your generosity in sharing your knowledge, experience and

Kind regards

Pam McLure


Anna said...

So touching. Thanks for sharing. At the end of the day, it's the personal impact that we make that really matter.

Anonymous said...

You are a reminder of the importance of story. I will listen more carefully and deeply as a result of your sharing.

Just for being you... must feel great