I was hired once to take some portraits of a young woman. I asked her to give me a few portrait examples that she liked. To my surprise, she said that she liked “The Afghan Girl.” I suspect most of us know that image well. It appeared on the cover of National Geographic in June …
Like many millennials I grew up in the 90’s with family point-and-shoots, quickly watching them disappear for digital compacts in the 00’s, and then those being ditched for the latest iPhone onwards. Like many of you I also preferred to be behind the camera, it gave me a sense of social purpose when I was feeling anxious to fit in at parties or events. For a while I was interested in photography along with my music obsession, but both fizzled out as I took on adult responsibilities. However, recently I’ve been more interested in connecting with hobbies again, and discovering ‘a sense of self’ that I felt I had lost.
During one of the longish weekends late 2019, we made an impromptu drive down to Santa Barbara. The plan was to rest the night, and then drive onwards to Oxnard to reach the Channel Islands. I decided to just grab my trusty old Nikon FM2 with a couple of rolls of Kodak Gold 200 film, and relied completely on the iPhone for all things digital. The 5-6 hour drive was uneventful, save for the beautiful sunset. We got off the freeway to take some pictures.
My dear Paris, when I came to see you on my birthday, you gave me a wonderful gift: you made me feel free to photograph.
I could look through the viewfinder absolutely where, when and as I wanted to. Then, only if I enjoyed it, I pressed the shutter release button. But it did not always happen: I admit that sometimes I just love to look inside a little bit. I looked inside you, my dear Paris, and you gave me once more a memory that I could keep with me forever.