Photo by Reid of Orange Photographie
I saw this photo Reid took of me yesterday, and got to thinking about how strange it is I'm shooting some film now, which made me think about how this all started, and where its going. I first realized I wanted to make a carrer out of being a photographer in Romania. At the time I owned a eMac, and a A510 Canon Powershot. It had a 3.1 digital sensor, a zoom lens, that stopped opening all the way, and the possibility to tell a story. I was sitting in a little hovel, in a village close to Botoshan, meeting people who barely had names, kids who had no birth certificates. I've always been cynical, critical of missions, humanitarian trips, the only reason I was there is because a former steel worker from new york, saw a need in me, a reason to buy me a plane ticket. He did something that I'm sure, at the time had no idea the impact it would have on my direction in life. The trip altered my view point, made a sad picture of a starving kid a reality. Romania is far from the worst place in the world, yet it was so incredibly different from my daily level of comfort, the contrast couldn't be overlooked. The people were beautiful, and so amazingly human. For three weeks we drove around almost everyday, delivering horses, money, supplies. Anything people needed. In the third week, before we were supposed to return, we had dinner at "Buffy's Pizza" with the owner of the orphanage. She was our constant guide and translator, a plump, brash woman, who the children all called mother. She had a hard way about her, but her love of the people, and the God she served was unmistakable. We left and said goodnight. The next morning we found out she has passed away minutes after we had left the restaurant. Her heart gave out. The police brought her body to the church, and it stayed there for three days until the funeral was prepared. Those three days the weeping never ceased, a constant sound in the orphanage. A harsh reminder to a young American like myself, or the reality of death, and the fact that this woman, was leaving the world, and these kids, worse off. The day of the funeral came, and after a wake, they took her body, and a procession of 3,000 people walked down the street to the cemetery. These people had come from all around Romania, and the countries that bordered to lay her to rest. I watched as the kids from the orphanage cried, the older ones comforting the younger. The speeches were long, and even though I could only make out a few latin words now and then, beautiful. I called my parents that night, and bailed my eyes out. To a 19 year old, the reality of life, and death, had never been so real, and even though I barely new these people, in three weeks I was a different person. I don't say that lightly, I know in my deepest place, that this is true, that were I am today, and my need to document, write, photograph my life, and the life of those around me came from this trip. I haven't been on another missions trip since, I don't really know why, other than part of me doesn't feel ready. Someday I will go see those people again, and when I do, there won't be a better photographer in the world to tell that story.