Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Moment That Changed Everything

I was on my way to school to pick up Noah. It was October. There was a crispness about the air and a little spring in my step. Noah was in 6th grade at a new school. I could hardly believe his good fortune. His good fortune was rapidly becoming my good fortune.

This school was bringing out the best in Noah. The people there had what it took. I'd always had a village for Noah, but now that village resided mostly at school. I could step back. The people at this school were amazing. And Noah was amazing.

As I crossed the street, I saw that some leaves from some neighborhood trees blew down to the pavement during a morning rain. They were flattened and splayed on the shiny wet road. It looked like a mosaic or collage.

I went about my afternoon of collecting Noah from school and getting ready for a PTA meeting. I thought about the leaves I'd seen earlier.

Noah and Hannah were in good hands and I left for the meeting.  On the way, I purposely passed the leaves on the road. They still looked good. And now, on top of the beautiful overlapping leaves, there was an afternoon glow bathing the wet pavement. On impulse, I took out my new iPhone and took a photograph.

That was the moment that changed everything.

In my previous life, I'd been a professional still life photographer. For 15 years, I lit, arranged, propped, styled, conceptualized. The process of making one photograph took hours. There was something exquisite about that kind of detail.

Then I stopped. For nine years, I did not pick up a camera except to take an occasional picture of my children. It wasn't sad. My focus was on other things.

But the eyes, the brain and the heart remembered. There's no forgetting this stuff. It got saved to my hard drive.

I was living on a graph. One line was my old life. Another line was my current existence. When I took the picture of the leaves, the two lines converged.

I didn't start doing still life work. I didn't go back to not photographing. I did something else.

The iPhone camera became my equipment of choice. It has limitations. Every camera does. The secret is knowing the particular personality of the device and using it accordingly.

This photography takes place in the space between. It weaves its way into the ten-minute walk from the subway to my apartment, the waiting room, the grocery store.

Things have gone from working from scratch to orchestrating nothing. I'm less busy and more aware. Where once was embellishment there is now recognition.

The last few years have taught me to think on my feet.  I work fast now, with reflexes quickened by life experience. The crises absorbed and averted were my teachers.

Photography is inexpensive these days. I become prolific. I shoot, I delete. The cream rises to the top. It always does.

A month after that first photograph I was stopped in my tracks by a thought.  I was living the life of an artist. It happened quickly. I was breathless.

Reading this is like listening to Rachmaninoff. In this case, the truth is baroque and romantic. If it sounds a little over the top to you, imagine what it's like being me.


  1. Wonderful first entry, Karen. This is a blog I will look forward to reading. Congratulations for getting it going!

  2. I always love to see what you're seeing and read what you're writing! Keep going! Can't wait for more! xo