A life in photography brings with it as many hardships as blessings. I imagine the takeaway changes from one photographer to the next. For myself, photography has the power to unsee the ordinary and make it new. And by photography I don’t mean the images per se, I mean the whole crazy set up of venturing into unknown lands and embarking on new journeys; waking up in strange beds in far away places; inhabiting other people’s lives and rising to meet a new day in a city or landscape you’ve dreamt about for months - or years - previous to your arrival there.
These are but the smallest of footnotes in the story of my life and yet each of them had its particular charm and their memory still abides: biting into warm, slightly sweet, sesame encrusted bread on the still-dark streets of the Old City in Jerusalem; day-old tortillas, black beans and queso blanco washed down with coffee made by the lion-tamer’s wife when I traveled with the circus in Guatemala; a glass of cognac in lieu of breakfast on Boulevard Saint-Germain; a scalding hot pot of tea and an enormous Irish breakfast pulling into a small town in County Clare after a three hour, rainy-morning bike ride on an empty stomach; stopping to pluck apples from a tree with my father on our way up Volcán de Agua, Nikon cameras dangling from our shoulders; Korean breakfast as big as lunch or dinner and my first taste of kimchi chigae in Seoul; despairing of finding a coffee-shop in Madrid and finally settling for a bar with long legs of jamón ibérico displayed by the window and serving churros and hot chocolate to a handful of early-birds like myself; having Jianbing and beer before exploring the Temple of Heaven in Beijing; hanging onto a steaming cup of coffee during the coldest car ride and coldest winter in Maine; watching the waves explode over the Malecón in Havana and being drenched by their spray; sweet bread and thick muddy coffee in a ‘cafe de chinos’ after a white night in Mexico City; walking the back roads of Santa Cruz de Balanyá with a humble farmer, his cow and her calf and being offered a glass of warm, frothy milk when we arrived at our destination.
The list goes on and on, each the recollection of a new morning with a camera in hand. And on this day of gratitude I remember fondly the kindness of strangers, the many places and cultures which have broadened my horizons and taught me something about life and about myself and most of all about the beauty of our planet, which words can never encompass, and which we so often take for granted.