The Lens of a Storyteller
I am not a poet. For the life of me I can’t hear meters, even if I read if for hours knowing what it is. I did win a cash prize for a poem in college about cleaning a dirty fridge, but for the most part my strength is in prose.
My mother on the other hand often says that my poetry is in my photography. I still consider it more storytelling than poetry, but I understand what she means. My photos of everyday objects infest them with personality—I capture beauty, but more often or not I photograph something because of a quirk. There’s something I love about finding objects (maybe nouns is a better term) and expressing their unique nature in a photograph.
I see this as the nature of storytelling. Storytelling is, like photography, a capturing of something—a person, an experience, an object—and presenting its voice so others may hear it. For me, it is often done through lonely individuals or unique persons who others might easily miss.
I shot these photos after a time of considering how we look at the world can limit how much we see of something. My photographic habits often have me looking at the ground into places missed beneath our feet, but I realized how little I looked up, except to see trees or to stare at the sky.
When I don’t look up, I miss things.
I miss gradient shadows spearing from a wall corner like an abstract painting.
I miss the glint of light cast by a water glass on the table.
I miss the nook I forgot to dust, or a silent figurine on a top shelf.
We are creatures of comfort and habit—it isn’t in our nature to pursue what makes us uncomfortable, and sometimes we need a little push. We need something that makes us think, that directs our eyes to something we haven’t seen.
This is why I write.
Once Upon a Time…
In college I briefly toyed with the idea of entering politics or a related field. I hoped to help and impact people, but a college class of political simulations made me realize it would not accomplish what I wanted. Not that I did terrible in the class—I did very well. I used selective words and made shrewd moves that twisted circumstances to my benefit.
My words, despite their power, did nothing to make others look outward. I’ve observed that it is the nature of political language to draw lines and make one side fear the other. It over-simplifies to appeal to our desire for peace, rather than calling us to recognize the complexity of reality.
I couldn’t have explained it then, but I knew that if I did anything with politics my words would not have been used honestly.
I understood, more than ever, how important it was that I was going to be a writer. Not a journalist, like people always assumed, but a creative writer.
People reminded that I would have to work very hard to make it a career, but I had already decided that if writing what I wanted meant taking on a small, unflattering job to make my bread and butter, I was willing to go that route. Creative writing, unlike anything else, gave me the opportunity to change hearts.
I suppose some will make fun of my statement, but it’s true.
You can touch others’ lives through many different careers and activities, but for me it comes most naturally through my words.
I am not much of a poet. I’m not much of a stylist either. I’m a photographer, but I don’t expect to ever be one of the best. I don’t even expect to become the world’s greatest writer.
But what I do write, style, photograph, and create, I do so with the smallest of hopes that it should reach someone who needs it. I admit, I wish that I could become great, but I know from experience that my most satisfying moments have not been the number of people reached, but the depth that someone was touched.
It’s a humbling position, and one that I sometimes wish would change. In the end, I recognize that accolades and success were not worth half as much as those quiet moments where I lead someone to look up.