Thursday, January 24, 2008
It’s not always what you see at first glance that is the most interesting.
I was walking down the dirt road in Gulu in northern Uganda, my eyes moving from one broad smile to one tired mother to one ramshackle hut to one row of scrawny sweet potatoes laid out for sale. The sounds of laughter and music and calls of “hey, muzuungu!” were better than any concerto or folk song or even my favorite Bonnie Raitt tune. Believe me when I tell you, my senses were in full tilt, soaking up every bit of my early morning stroll. My camera was slung across my shoulder, my hair was messed up from a restless sleep under a mosquito net that barely covered the tiny bed, my shoes were encrusted with bits of red earth.
I could not have been happier.
One of the most important lessons I have learned as a photographer is, of course, to pay attention. This requires a willingness to stay with something for a while; that could mean framing it and shooting it until you finally get to the core of the matter and see the picture you thought from the start might eventually appear. Or it may simply mean looking past the obvious to see what lies just underneath the surface.
I love it when I get the opportunity to do just that – and when it works. It makes me feel so alive.