Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Job Opening!

A lovely clerk in a gift shop at the Bedford Springs Resort
gave me permission to take her photograph.

Someone said to me that evening: “You like to take
photographs of people, don’t you?” An inflection indicated
that the inquiry was more complex than that, revealing the
hidden question: “Why do take photographs of people you
don’t even know?”

I pondered the question!

I like the human face. I see and read so much there. I’m not
always correct, I am sure, but the eyes and mouth reveal so
much about a person. Take away everything else, yet the eyes
and mouth will tell you about happiness – or loneliness – or
anxiousness – or distress – or hopefulness – or courage – or
worrisomeness – or determination – or fear!

I watched this lady for several moments before I asked
permission to take her photograph. At first she said “no.”
After awhile she seemed to trust me more and agreed. I
didn’t immediately point the camera at her, but I allowed
her to go about her duties. Then, I caught that lovely smile
and those sparkling eyes. You can’t fake a smile like that. I
wondered about the story behind it. She’ll be a character in
one of my short stories soon; and I’ll tell her story as I found
it in her eyes and smile.

She’ll be a woman running a small jewelry boutique in
northern Michigan. People travel from miles and miles to
shop at her place. They say it’s because of her unique and
creative jewelry creations. I know better. They are drawn
there by the power of her smile and the brightness of her eyes.
These visitors find strength in her power and sincerity
and their lives are made better by just a few moments with
her in her jewelry shop.

Lord knows I need a proof reader. My jowls flutter madly every time I encounter a silly typo in one of my posted blogs.
by Charlie Leck

Sometimes I get the most unwelcome emails from readers who’ve caught a stupid typo in one of my blogs and they think I ought to know about it. Damned if I don’t appreciate them, but they always cause me to get angry at myself for not catching these kinds of things in the half-dozen proof reads I always give each blog.

I hired an editor for a short time. She was awfully good, too; but she wasn’t always available to me and I’d need to wait a day or two for her to get to reading and making suggestions about a blog. One writes a blog – most times – when it needs to get published. This one is an exception! I could hold this one for weeks and post it only when it’s been proofed and edited to death; but this is rare.

I want someone available at five o’clock in the morning, who can immediately proof one of my blogs and send suggestion back within an hour. No one wants to work at that hour in the morning. So I struggle on my own and beg your forgiveness when a stray, awkward word pops up here and there.

Right now I’m working on a blog about the beautiful human face. I just took a long train trip and met a number of extraordinary strangers with faces like angels – faces that spoke volumes to me about their owners. I could have taken hundreds of photographs of those faces, but there is always such suspicion and fear behind the eyes when my camera appears. Rarely does one agree to go on about one’s business naturally and with no attention to me and my camera.

This park ranger, at the Flight 93 National Monument,
reveals very little about himself behind those sunglasses.
One’s eyes are so important in telling the story behind
them. His mouth, however, appears kind and determined.
He is a man with hundreds of stories to tell – interesting,
wholesome stories with good endings.

On the train from Chicago to Winona, Minnesota, I sat in the observation car for a couple of hours with two incredible ladies, of about my age, who had such beautiful faces filled with kindness, love and strength. How I wish I could have captured their unposed, candid images! I could have written volumes about these two girls. I’m counting on meeting them again; so perhaps I still can.

My brother, Frank, is a deeply kind man and his eyes show
both that and the sadness he carries with him over his lost love.
She died a half-dozen years ago or more and left him without
that which was more important to him than life itself. He has
regrets and one can see that in his face -- memories about a
wrong turn here or there -- along with the full knowledge that
there is no going back to change directions or purposes. He
has run the good race and is victorious.

This is my favorite portrait photograph. I took it in 2008, out on
Cut Road, near Philadelphia, Mississippi. We were
remembering the deaths and honoring the lives of the three young
civil rights workers who were murdered there on the night of
21 June 1964. This man was among the people who gathered there.
He has quiet strength and indefatigable determination to be a free
man in every way. He shall overcome! He shall!

I would rather take a photograph of a human being than any other subject on earth. There is nothing more complex in nature or science than a living, breathing and thinking human being.

I shall always remember the evening I took this photo at precisely
the correct moment with the neck of a bottle of wine in the
foreground. This is a father and daughter in love and happy with
each other and needing nothing more than such unbounded,
unfettered love.

I call this photograph "The Smile." It is the perfect and real
smile that can not be improved upon. I remember precisely
the instant I took it and knew, just from what I saw in the
viewfinder, that I had taken a perfect photograph. Here is that
wonderful moment when eyes and mouth join together to
express amazing happiness. It was taken in 2007 at our
youngest's graduation from Colgate University. This is one
of her friends sharing, the moment with us.

The Tease
This is my brother John, doing what he's the very best at, teasing
our niece, Sandra Brown.  It's a 2005 photograph and I was
fortunate to be in the right place and the right time to capture
this happy, family moment.

And finally, this is the granddaughter of one of our very best
friends. It is one of my all-time favorite photographs and I include
it in my "best" portfolio.

Have I answered the question? I simply enjoy the human face and all the mysteries it holds and all the stories that are within it.

(Ahh! If now I only had a proof-reader and, perhaps, an editor. There's a job opening here, you know.)

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1 comment:

  1. When it come to blogs, the proof of the pudding is in the content. No proof reader needed for "ad astra".