After a life long winter, when the sun finally breaks apart from an ocean of cloud cover to light up the sides of buildings, it makes art with their shadows; and we gleam.
I have always had this love affair with trees.
I am positive that a fair number of you know exactly what I mean. Trees always smell like that first few minutes of morning. Trees reach up, even when we can’t seem to. Trees make my heart sing.
But the trees in Washington are especially lovely. Maybe it is that sunlight helping us to notice them? Or maybe it is just the sheer number? Whatever it is, summer is making its way up and over the Sound, and boy am I ready.
Something else begins to happen here in Olympia when flowers start to bloom, so does the city.
Every year, twice a year, everyone gathers for the Olympia Arts Walk.
The spring time version of this tradition also involves the ‘Procession of the Species’; a most spectacular spectacle of costume and design.
In waves of earth, air, fire, & water adults and children shimmy & shake past me, the shutter on my camera sounding like a drum roll.
I admit while winter held on tight here, trying so hard to stay, I thought: “How do people do it? How do they sustain with as little as one hour of sunshine a day?”
And then that glorious weekend, the way that everyone came alive, the cupcakes, the glee everywhere; such a shine!
I immediately understood. Anything that magical is worth waiting for.
Believe me folks, I would know.
In January I took a job with Harlequin Productions, a non-profit company responsible for 20 years of live theater in the downtown area.
It finds its home in the State Theater on 4th, a main vein that leads you up and around an inlet to the Puget sound. Sharing the view with the capitol building and a thriving local community very dedicated to keeping it that way.
In the last five months of working with them I have fallen in love with my co-workers and without even realizing it, they have helped me write my mission statement.
The production this month was powerful in an unexpected way. ‘Unexpected Tenderness’ written by Israel Horovitz, deals with the volatile relationships within a 1950’s family that is compounded by an overly jealous father. I was lucky enough to shoot the photography for this show, and witness not only the power of the performance, but to also see the input of Mr. Horovitz himself.
When properly done, theater can have an amazing ability. Spoken at any volume it will resonate and the echo, it stays.
It was only a few weeks later that I had the pleasure of shooting a big event with Provail. This company is truly amazing. A group of people dedicated to making opportunities more easily available to those with disabilities. They also remind us that we are all capable of giving something, even if it is just a little bit of our time. This particular afternoon was dedicated to golf, so a few hundred of us gathered at Sahalee Country Club and after 18 holes we all spent the evening eating, drinking and bidding on items in their silent and live auction. The kicker to this amazing day was the presence of Warren Miller, film maker and cinematographer of adventure sports.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Miller after the evening’s events. His attitude and presence was beyond inspiring, and I admit my ego swelled when he complimented my work.
Even after all these years of meeting exciting people, it is not usually what they say that affects me. It is their disposition, a lot of the time it is what their eyes say. But when it came to Mr. Miller, his words are what will always stick with me. He spoke of freedom mainly, commenting that he doesn’t believe in disability.
“We are all just searching for a way to express our freedom. Whether it is a deformity or simply age, we are all uncomfortable with the loss of independence.”
He urged all of us there to enjoy our liberties, and to respect them. Later that night when I said good bye to him and thanked him about a half a dozen times for all his hard work over the years, he hugged me.
I realized that in the four months that Drew has been gone, that is one of three times that I have been hugged.
It’s hard to believe that after all of that, there could be anything more that would excel my happiness.
I have described these last few months accomplishments as delicious. And there really is no other word for it.
As a photographer, I love the power that I have to tell the story.
What I love most though, is reminding people how special they are. Showing a bride’s grace, or a child’s unique expression.
As usual it all comes down to love.
I have talked a lot about my ‘mission’, and eventually I have realized just how much my methods will change as I learn how to capture things in the best possible light.
That right there, that should be the mission for all of us, regardless of the profession. To find the strongest part, the best side, that little bit that makes us feel. How that is done all depends.
So this Sunday, despite a little bit of rain, my fabulous friends Bethany & Jesse Spear, made the trek to my home studio where I had the privilege of shooting my first maternity session in 6 months.
As you can see, the sun eventually showed itself, and in one lovely afternoon I had the opportunity to celebrate new life, the love of a fresh marriage, and friendship.
With my camera I reminded a new mother of a beauty all her own, and there sat Jesse, silently enthralled, ready to assist his partner at every turn (even if it was just to help her up).
It seems only natural that we should improve as we age. But in the inevitable glow of accomplishment we can forget that natural is not synonymous with simple.
Improvement is often difficult, and that difficulty can even hurt a little. I believe however, that the presence of that difficulty is crucial. It cultivates awareness.
Like glaciers, they carve through what already exists to make room for what will come next. In those moments of struggle, when pieces of you are being shifted around and you think that you can’t take much more,
remember that what fills that space next is completely up to you. Revel in all that possibility, and then dive in.
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