I normally have about 15 projects or ideas swirling around in my head at any given point, but there has been 1 idea that just won't go away and has outlived most of the others. I really want to tell people's stories and take pictures of them. It struck me the other day when I heard about the arrest of the famous South African olympian Oscar Pistorius for murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day. Here was a man who had been named one of TIME magazine's top 100 most influential people. Everybody looked up to this athlete who lost both of his legs and yet became one of the world's best runners. And then just a few weeks ago he falls from grace with his arrest for murdering his girlfriend. It just hit me that the people we look to are not those around us figuring out how to love their husbands and kids and friends, which is what we need help doing, but instead people who are so unlike us. We are drawn to extraordinary circumstances and story lines, famous people and what they do with their personal lives or Super Bowl football players and their online fake relationships. But what I so desperately need in my life is just encouragement to be faithful in the ordinary things. I need stories that will help me know I'm not alone and encourage and strengthen me for everyday life. It actually doesn't impact me at all what Justin Beiber does with his hair or if Oscar Pistorius did or did not kill his girlfriend. That is not the story I live in and it doesn't help me live more fully where I am. I want a TIME magazine feature on the top 100 ordinary people. Those are the people I want to photograph and listen to and see what they are struggling with and learning in life's classroom.
So to start my project I photographed my friend, Latetia. I first need to explain how I've gotten to know her better and give her huge credit for her business. This lovely friend of mine has given me hours upon hours of my life back. I really can't express how much her new business has become a life saver for my business. Latetia recently started an administrative support business named Haiku to help people like me get things done. Her website describes all sorts of helpful services for creatives including photo editing with Lightroom 4 and website development and management. Photo editing is how she is changing my life one wedding at a time. I have come to realize I can't do everything (shocker, I know). When I go into a restaurant or even a small store I don't expect the person who I pay to be the same person who made my food or sewed the clothing, and yet when it comes to my own business I have been trying to work every job without help. I came into photography for a love of people and images, not because I love editing photos. Latetia, on the other hand, enjoys the editing process and does it with such a desire for perfection. I can't recommend her services enough because of what an excellent job she has done in making sure the finished product meets a consistent standard. If you are a photographer or know a photographer who has sold their soul to their Mac editing pictures until 2 am, you need to check out Haiku's business page. now. I should also mention that Latetia is great with just about any administrative task, so her business is for anyone needing extra help whether for a season or in a more permanent way.
These photographs of Latetia are meant to be taken in a TIME editorial portrait style- pretty plain to keep the eye on the subject's face. Simple photographs are compelling to me. I have a more intimate connection with simple composition because it takes away any pretense or distractions and gets me to the person at hand. I wanted to show who Latetia is as best I can. She has one of the best laughs of any of my friends, and an ability to laugh in the midst of really hard stuff. Latetia has taught me more than anything to take one day at a time. Recently I was telling her about some difficult parenting issues we have been facing and my fears for what might be in store in the coming years. Latetia has gone through her own heartaches and let me know that it is enough to take on today and not go any further. Parenting has pulled out emotions in me I didn't know existed, and those words brought some relief to me that I just can't go to the future and try to take on those issues. I have to force myself to stay in today and handle that with the resources God provides one hour at a time.
One other thing she said had to do with grief, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. She shared that there are things in this life that will leave deep scars even into eternity. She mentioned how Jesus, after he was resurrected from the dead, shows his disciples his hands that still have nail marks on them from when he was crucified. There are some things in this life that cut to your core and leave marks on us, and God in heaven not only understands but lived that. I'm not sure why that is so comforting to me except to say that there are things that cut so deep you just want validation that the hurt is real and God is not indifferent or untouched by it. I have been feeling more vulnerable and raw in parenting in a way that I really didn't know I could feel, and this made sense to me. It was as if the makeup of my heart has changed since becoming a parent and dealing with my kids's struggles. Latetia is a rich person who is fighting the good fight of faith not with perfection but in getting up and looking to Jesus to be enough for her and her family. I needed to hear her validate my experience that sometimes life cuts you in a way you didn't know possible. I'm not only grateful for her faith and perserverance, but her laughter and big hand expressions and funky hats and sunglasses she wears. Thank you for Latetia for being part of my TIME collection of influential people, for sharing your life with me and editing photos to free me from my computer. You are a blessing.