Sometimes, our pain roots in the stories we tell ourselves.
“By sharing their stories with the audience, storytellers aren’t just creating meaning for themselves – they’re helping others to do so, too. “And that’s why storytelling is so important,” continued Crabb. “I think some people think it’s all about talking about you, you, you. But what it really is is reaching out into the void and connecting with people and letting them know they’re not alone.””
– Emily Esfahani Smith on Storytelling, The Power of Meaning
“Mum was very sad when Grandpa died. But she was also very happy to have me.” – Aaron, 4 years old.
“I became a pilot, I lost my job and I never landed. Looking things from above make you stranded somehow. You see dazzling dotted towns where people live; you know or fancy what they do but you are not really part of them; you connect the lights of a city with another one following the string of glowing freeways, you see the whole picture whereas the drivers only go from one point to another. I wish I had landed and not lost my job. I would be part of them and not be stranded amidst unnamed stars.” – Laurent Peretti.
It was cold that day. I could stop by a café and sip something hot but I decided to head to my doctor’s office instead.
When I walked in, I saw a very familiar face. The man had wrinkles and grey hair, but his eyes and smile were the same. After a few minutes of intense scrutiny, I couldn’t resist asking him if he were Mister G. the headmaster of my primary school and… there he was.
Mister G. was a true believer of public education. He spent 3 decades fighting for the ethics of public school and did a lot for youngsters, families of immigrants and workers. It was only when I left the Marais for the suburbs, that I realised how privileged we were. With his team, he gave us a real access to the French public education. He implemented adaptation classes for bigger kids who had just arrived in France but also adaptive courses for the quick learners and those who were getting bored. You could feel that you belonged to a place, that you were accepted.
My most memorable moment was the morning he decided to reject the offer of a children publishing house and tell us first why. There were piles of albums sent by a big company that were waiting in the corridors to be distributed. He was sitting in our class, very solemn, and we all knew that he had something important to say: “Kids, you are going to be disappointed but I am going to send all these albums back. And I am going to tell you why. I know that some of your parents don’t read French and don’t know what these things are. I don’t want to fool your families. I don’t want to make them believe that buying images and stickers to fill these albums is a compulsory expense. Simply because they were given by the school and school has this power.” – And this was for me, a life changing speech. Not only, he talked to us like reasonable and reasoning human beings, but he gave us also, a great demonstration of this quote by Plato: “The measure of a man is what he does with power”.
I was one hour early for my appointment that day, and life gave me this incredible opportunity to tell him how much he inspired me and how he shaped my education and my bond to education. I would probably not be the person I am today, if I hadn’t had him leading all these educators, at a very early stage of my life. That was something I wanted to tell him while he was still alive. – So, THANK YOU, Sir.
I needed to make a pause, and thank all of you.
I started this blog in June 2013, expecting nothing but getting better organised in my notes. Much to my surprise, I was soon surrounded by a great community of thinkers, philosophers, writers, poets, artists and lovers of all kinds.
So, THANK YOU. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for your daily visits. Thank you for your silent reading and support. Thank you for your words. Thank you for exchanging ideas. And thank you for letting me discover your world. I am very grateful.
No matter what you do, I wish you to have fun and remember why you started first.
Thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart!
- 饮水思源 (ruoxiangchau.com)
When people ask me if I could use my photography skills to shoot their wedding, I usually say no, because most of the time, that special day for them, is a looooong agony for me. I may have attended way too many weddings while growing up. By the time my generation was getting married, I wasn’t enjoying any of them. My heart was simply not there.
When my friend Vincent called me, I knew he was very much in love and he had great news to announce me. But he was also having a hard time finding a photographer for their wedding and met several of them. They met the artist who would mute once asked to explain her quotation and services. They met the very sweet gentleman whose images were as unflattering as his customer service was great. And finally, they met the photographer who was professional enough to tell them: “Maybe, I am not the right person for you.”
I told him my apprehension and suggested him a few friends of mine who specialised in wedding photography. There are so many professional photographers on the market, that I always recommend to hire the ones who are enjoying what they are doing, if not passionate about their work. I would rather say no to my friends and clients to avoid any future disaster, than try to please them at all costs. In the meantime, we organised a meeting, so I could get to know the wonderful woman he was about to marry. And he was right… we clicked immediately. I mean I really LIKED Jeanette.
Choosing your photographer is about an encounter and finding your match. You need to find someone you can trust, who understands your needs, who cares about you, and values you more than their own photographs, someone who would make sure you always feel comfortable, and would stop or continue shooting when necessary. That they would do their best to grasp your personality and capture what matters to you: the complicity you have with your partner, the love you have for your people, and so on.
The more we got to know each other, the more I felt right to accept the mission and the more motivated I was to craft something for them. By the end of the dinner, not only I was eager to attend their wedding, but also I could not wait to meet the rest of their clans: the notorious grandmother, the brothers from the Dominican Republic, the mums, the dads, the Viking side and the Breton side.
I asked Jeanette what she cared the most about, and it was the moments she would have with Vincent after the religious ceremony. They gave me carte blanche with everything else, the subjects I wanted to cover, the time I needed to work on the post-production, the artistic style I would choose, and the equipment I would consider the most appropriate budget-wise. They had total trust in me and I could not ask for a better bond. It was in a nutshell: “The Dream Job”.
On D Day, I was completely connected to their minds, and I could feel the whole range of emotions they were experiencing. They knew that I would capture their natural expressions and would not attempt to direct them for posed pictures. I was no longer shooting a wedding, but accompanying them on their journey, telling the story of their day, and crafting something special for them that reflected whom they were, a gift to their families and future children.
On a personal level, I sincerely believe that every child (unless their personal story tells otherwise) deserves great pictures of their parents. Whenever I open my family albums and I look at the pictures of my parents and grandparents, I am grateful that such images exist. They are parts of our history, a treasure of inestimable value.
I would like to end with a quote from Ed Kashi: “If you want to be a photographer, particularly a photojournalist, you want to learn about the world. You want to learn about yourself. And you want to find things that you genuinely care about, because that will be the source of your greatest work.”
Many thanks to Jeanette & Vincent for their trust in me and for allowing me to share their wedding pictures with you.
This post is dedicated to Brad and his dream job. :)
“If we begin with a construct that we are a collection of stories. We are the stories that we tell, the stories that we believe and equally, the stories we choose to ignore.”
– Dr Seema Anand
You might also like to watch this inspirational talk by Dr Seema Anand.