I’ll find the photo that changes the world

Why does someone almost 57 years old travel around the country living on honey buns, coffee and cigarettes continue to do it when it would be so much easier to settle down and shoot Chamber of Commerce ribbon cuttings and birthday parties at the Senior Citizens Home?

I feel I have a debt to pay. Let me explain.

No male member of my biological family* has lived beyond the age of 45. Heart disease claimed most of them. Yes, there were some other issues – such as alcoholism – going on with many of them, but when you’re 45 and you clutch your heart as your life blinks out, it doesn’t matter what other issues are involved. Dead is dead.

This photograph by Dorothea Lange was taken in 1936. Florence Thompson’s haunted face triggered an immediate public outcry, quickly prompting politicos from the federal Resettlement Administration to send food and supplies.

It sounds corny, cliché and trite, but I do what I do out of a desire to capture “the” picture that changes the world – or at least one corner of it.

There’s a lot in the world to point the lens at: landscapes, weddings, portraits, starlets in Hollywood and the rest. But those photos are not going to change the world. Heck, they won’t even change the life of the person who is the subject of the photograph.

When was the last time you heard a couple that just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary attribute the longevity of their relationship to a great photo taken at their wedding? My guess is probably never. And you never will.

Even Hollywood starlets – at least the ones I’ve shot – see their career flame brightly for a moment only to fizzle out regardless of how great their portfolio was.

I want to capture the photograph that makes people stop and go “HHhhmmmmm….”. I want to capture the story in a photograph that talks to social injustice and motivates a country caught up in ignorance and apathy to rise up and make changes for the improvement of everyone.

AP photojournalist Eddie Adams once wrote, “Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world.” Adams, who took this photo in 1968 and the photo helped to raise America’s desire to end the Vietnam war.

Finding this photograph won’t happen in a vaccuum.  I’ve got many friends that cheer lead for me along the way as well as provide much needed — and appreciated — support.  They don’t just do what they do though because of me.  They also want to make a lasting difference in the world and their support of me is one way they can help bring about that change.

It’s out there somewhere just waiting for me to catch up with it and point the lens in the right direction…and after another smoke, another cup of coffee and another trip on the Greyhound, I believe I’ll find it.

*I’ll explain that in another post some day.

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