the photoshooter's journey from taking to making



AS I CRUISE MY WAY CAREFULLY TOWARD THE END OF YET ANOTHER YEAR, I have the distinct sensation of coming to a slow, smooth landing after having descended through a bank of dense storm clouds. Having made pictures for over half my life, I find my mind, near year’s end, riffing through a stack of images that now serve as a catalogue for the markers and milestones of more than two thirds of a century, as if my existence somehow compiled one of those kids’ flip books that, when properly thumbed, looks like a continuous movie.

And as November careens toward December, I find that I want to slow the movie down. I want to celebrate moments that were miraculously, often accidentally, destined to be frozen, evergreen, in my mind. Trying to determine what pictures within a year earn the title “keeper”, I am also rotating past earlier years, to purer and purer depictions of joy that I could never have created myself, but was blessed to be witness to. This is one such picture.


2016.It is a summer Sunday evening in Seattle, Washington. I have never walked through this neighborhood before, but the joyful whoop of this street party has drawn me blocks away from my hotel. I am enjoying the long, golden sunset hours that are a photographer’s bounty in that part of the American Northwest, and I am drawn like a magnet to these wonderfully free and frolicsome people. The music is loud, the dancing is carefree, and the mood is lighter than a dandelion seed on a breeze. This is what happiness looks like.

I know nothing about who sponsored this shindig, be it the parks department, a bunch of friends, or just the sheer life-affirming impetus of a summer night. It matters little what started, it or why: what matters is that, when I enter this space, I never want to leave it. However, I know I am bound for other places, and so, if I must leave, I’m taking a souvenir.


One of the things I love most about this picture is that nearly everyone in it is present, attending to some other person or persons. They are there, not scrolling, not checking their Instagram, but immersed in the miracle of  being with other human beings. Tomorrow, they have to work. Tomorrow, they have to report to someone, fulfill deadlines, make plans, cut their losses.

But here, in this frame, it ain’t tomorrow yet.

And it never will be.


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