Why would I do this?
Why would I put my heart on the line?
You might think I am crazy.
You might think I don't care.
You might think I shouldn't do this.
But I did......
I have been asked why lately by a lot of people. It's always about the same thing. Its about this project. It usually starts simply by what is it? Then quickly ends in Why?
Why did I photograph these people?
Here's the story, If I told earlier I wouldn't have known the truth myself. I started with a black and white project. I saw it in a magazine. If another photographer could capture the grace and beauty of an elderly person why couldn't I.
Looking back it is clear. It didn't start this spring. This projected started with my Grandmother. You see my Grandma was cool. Besides the threat of Red Pepper she really cared about me. It didn't matter if it was Old Maid, Pillow Forts, or a snake under her pillow (it was fake) My memory of my Grandmother is Beautiful. She was faithful, caring, and loving to her family even if they didn't deserve it. She wasn't skinny, she couldn't hardly swallow her food, but she was beautiful.
Her illness didn't scare me. It only made me learn. You see, I got to help my Grandma when she needed me the most. She was in an apartment, hidden away from the world. She would fall, I would help pick her up. She was always afraid I would pick her up when she was using the bathroom, but she always seemed to feel safer when I was around. It was toward the end that she taught me the most. What I was on this earth to do. Because of her I became a Paramedic. She taught me to be brave when I was scared she might die. She taught me to love her when she was dying.....
As the years have gone by the bravery was important. Many times I was called behind the walls of hidden homes to save those others may love. It was someones a Mother, or Father, or even a favorite Uncle or Aunt. Someone who took the time to teach them as my Grandmother taught me.
Time made my heart grow cold and callused, the more I witnessed the more I drew back. Sure I could pretend to be brave for a dying patients sake, but I was only growing colder. But throughout this time God was preparing me for a greater deed.
God gave me days of hardship and tough calls to battle through to make it to today. Why today. Today was an enlightening. When I was asked why today I knew the answer.
I started the project with a cold hard heart. A heart for photography, a passion for light. I left on day one with a wound, just a flesh wound, but enough to make me think. On the second day the wound drew closer to my heart. Real people with real love, like Grandma had.
Day three the wound closed around my heart for good, it ripped the callus away leaving a gapping hole. But there was still something missing... healing. Since I left the manor the healing has come from stories. Stories I remember the residence sharing with me. From the women who cried when I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, to the man who I made smile when there was nothing to smile about. Stories from staff who take care of them everyday. Most importantly stories of families who shared what this photography meant to them.
Why, you ask, would I do this. I didn't, God did. He prepared me on tough days, he gave me the gift of photography, and he placed the people in front of me. It was his plan.
It is not about what happens when your loved one dies, it is about what they don't want you to forget.
We must not miss the most beautiful generation... We cannot forget their stories. If they live their lives without sharing their story then someone missed the point. God only gives us one life to live, and only so many days.....
If I could have only photographed my Grandma.
Sincerely- "the heart of the photographer"
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