Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays
Home for the Holidays by I Nancy, on Flickr
Holiday cheer in the small town of Lone Pine, California

How many times have your heard this advice, “Follow your heart”? Most photography blogs that I read offer this guidance fairly regularly. But how do you know what is in your heart to follow? What is true to yourself? Do the blogs offer any guidance?

This is an image after my heart. Is it pretty? Will win any awards? Will a local professional judge it meritoriously? Is it technically perfect? These are all rhetorical questions. Does it strike me as poignant, interesting, emotional? The answer here is yes.

I am first attracted to this image by a visual feature; the starburst on the tractor-trailer’s headlight. However, there is also symbolism in this single star and in its the echo on a vehicle down the road; a lonely star, a lonely person but brightly lit. Look at the understated Christmas tree decorations on the lampposts. They are not large and bright and gregarious like you would find in a large town; the holiday spirit barely shining through. The large MOTEL sign sings out to visitors, they will not be home for the holidays.

I know that this image follows my heart because this is the image I chose to process first. I chose this image before my lovely black-and-whites of snow covered Lone Pine Peak and before my images of the chocolatey Alabama Hills. This is the image for which I packed that extra lens, a fast-fifty. I knew that there would be opportunity to find some bit of street photography, some bit of irony, some bit of Holiday spirit, that only this lens would do justice to.

I was forwarded a story today about a woman, Vivian Maier, a Chicago nanny who took more than 100,000 photos during her lifetime but never showed them to anyone. By some fluke her vast collection of negatives have been found and are being curated. From what I’ve seen, and others, her work ranks among the best street photography of the 20th century. Saul Leiter, a famous fashion photographer, also did street photography that was virtually unknown in his lifetime but is now highly acclaimed.

Everyone loves a beautiful photography, but you must follow your heart. Shoot what you love and love what you shoot. But don’t do as these two did, tucking these often-unflattering slices of life away for haphazard discovery. Share them. Who knows who might appreciate them and be influenced by them.