How many stories in an ordinary moment?

 

 

Everywhere we go, everywhere we look, there is so much more to what we see than we can take in, process, and remember. Life is made of stories. Even in an ordinary moment such as this, there is more than one subject. We observe that there are children in the foreground, people milling about in the background. They are in a certain place , all doing different activities, looking different directions. There are hints about who they are by who they are with, what they are doing, what they carry with them or have near them.

I know for a fact that the bicycle belongs to Cape Cleare Salmon; it is one way they deliver fresh salmon around town. I can tell you that this is a farmers market, and that the girls are listening to music. I overheard they are visiting with family from California, and they don’t want the sun to come out. I can tell you that this photo was taken in a town in the Pacific Northwest. The rest is now left up to your imagination… isn’t that what we mostly do when we people-watch.

With a photo, we capture a moment but give ourselves as many opportunities as we wish to look and reflect upon it again. If it’s a image with people, like this one, we have time to find more clues as to who we think they are , that is, how we chose to think of them based on the information we gather. One of the best outcomes is to learn more about ourselves, how we process visual information that comes through our eye-gate, even our other senses of smell and hearing, and our perceptions of those we encounter or view in a photograph.

As “ordinary” as this black and white image is… we can find one story or more stories, and with a little imagination craft an interesting one.

 

Here’s an image from my collection of street photography. What’s your first impression? Look again. One or more stories possible? Now what does your imagination beg you to write about these guys walking down the street?

 

Wanderer-1

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

 

Living at Large in the World

“I move throughout the world without a plan, guided by my instincts, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities.”

I curled up with Rita Golden Gelman’s book Tales of a Female Nomad – Living at Large in the World for a couple days and read it “kiver to kiver”. Her book was loaned to me at a time when my husband and I had made choices that landlocked us and brought a screeching halt to any travel plans we might have in the near and distant future. We purchased 2 acres in 2004, designed, built and opened a bed and breakfast. The only places we traveled were vicariously through our guests. At the age of 48, Gelman set out on a trip intended to last a couple of weeks that turned into the adventure of a lifetime. She took me places I long to experience, but more than that her personal transformation and the relationships she cultivated intrigued me the most and held me captive as I followed along on her journey.

Although Gelman is a seasoned storyteller as a prolific writer of children’s books (70+), she also excels at telling her own autobiographical story – sharing her vulnerabilities, insecurities, instincts, opportunities and the challenges she experiences along the way. Immersing herself in the culture and community wherever she lands, trusting strangers with her life, embracing the people that graciously open up their homes and hearts to her, Gelman has written a travelogue that is extraordinary. So much so that Tales of a Female Nomad -Living at Large in the World is the number one book on my book list, which I recommend to people over and over again. Gelman has been a nomad living at large in the world since 1986. Her book and life continue to inspire me. She remains a nomad with few possessions and no permanent address. You can follow Rita Golden Gelman via her website.

Ken E. Williams, Photographer

Ken Williams is a retired educator living in a small town in northwest Wyoming. Ken’s photo work has for the past several years been motivated by his passion for locally grown food, sustainable and simple living and people who live the traditional values of personal communication and community commitments. He is uncomfortable with the digital revolution and (just barely) accepts this modern technology as a mean to reach more people with his extraordinary photographic images. I would add – a living history of our western rural, agrarian culture, the people and the changing landscape he encounters as he travels the back roads of America.

Pow Wow Dancer: Once each year, native people from through out the American west, gather in Cody, Wyoming to celebrate their diverse cultures and demonstrate traditional skills.

Farmers Market: During summer and fall, folks who appreciate locally grown food and family farms have opportunity to visit and purchase real food while becoming part of a community support system at farmer’s markets.


Wind Generators: Near Judith Gap, Montana, with cattle and wildlife grazing near by, each of the 90 generators produce enough clean, renewable energy to power over 350 houses.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Ken and enjoying his photographic work for the past seven years. Ken is a gifted storyteller and historian with his camera; he’s an excellent writer, as well. I look forward to the day Ken and his photography partner Morgan Tyree publish their collective work! To view more of Ken E. Williams’ photography, check out their website backroadzimages and Ken’s Flickr Photo Gallery.