I am not a photographer. Take a single look at this picture and it will become readily apparent that my skills lie away from the camera. It's blurry, the lighting is bad and yet sitting here, looking at this imperfect image, there is something wondrous about it.
Keely Laughlin is a photographer. She is an incredible force of energy, conveying a sense of motion even sitting still at a table, her enthusiasm is infectious to say the least. Keely first heard of this project from a mutual friend of ours, Sarah, and was very excited to be a part of it. The week prior to beginning she ran into me out and about, ready to schedule our meeting. When someone sees magic in what you are doing, in your dreams, it's impossible to not want to take that moment and let them in.
Starting a conversation with Keely is a simple matter of falling into it, easy and freeing, an amazing feeling for first thing on a Saturday morning. We talk about such a range of topics, it would be a wonder if a bystander could eavesdrop with any degree of clarity. The unnatural existence of glazed donut vodka, they joys and insanity of escape room games, food, photography, writing, pursuing your dreams and politics leave very few topics left uncovered. We talk about a little of everything, and the direction of conversation feels effortless and easy.
It is absolutely amazing how quickly people can communicate when they first sit down. We are social animals, hard wired to identify others and gather. In an era where social media and technology often enable the formation of sad tableaus all around us, it is still just as easy to speak to another person when you let your guard down, abandon your agendas and speak. We were not meant to be solitary creatures. The comfort present in a good conversation is not a luxury, it is necessary for life. As vital as water and as easy to locate.
Keely and I are both creatives. We are both artists, whether we agree to accept the term or not, though we come at it from different perspectives. To Keely, her work has always taken hard effort and is driven by a desire to connect to the person on the other side of her camera lens. Not just as a photographic subject, but as a human being. She loves faces and food.
For me, my work has always come a bit easier. I have often coasted through my writings, much to my own chagrin, rarely putting in effort that would probably yield far greater results and impact for me personally. My work is driven by the characters I see everywhere, by an appreciation of the beauty found in struggle and the uglier side of life. I love things that live in dark places and bittersweet endings.
Both Keely and I wrestle with imposter syndrome. Neither of us is ever sure if we are good enough and we spend a lot of time debating whether we should share our work, and what we should ask for it, if anything. We have our supporters, our detractors and the damning thoughts in our own heads. Still, we work. There is a love in our craft, in her photographs and my stories. We couldn't stop if we wanted to. Keely and I are both doing this full time, because we are compelled to like someone woken from a dream thirsty. We must find some way to slake it, and this is the best way we know how.
I am writing this in the afternoon, sun coming through my windows, looking at this same imperfect picture and thinking of our talk. It is easy to open a program, to edit the photo, to adjust the moment and perfect it, but moments like these exist as ephemera. Our conversation today existed in one place, one time, and pieces of it will fade as Keely and I age. The reflection of it will alter as peered through our respective lenses and it will never be truly duplicated. That's the beauty of taking a moment to let someone see behind your curtain, it is a moment shared only by those present, a simple gift.
Reflecting on it, this photo couldn't be more perfect. You just weren't there to see it.
(And now...the question...)
Favorite Dinosaur: Littlefoot from The Land Before Time (a personal favorite of mine as well)
Why: Because The Land Before Time is a piece of film magic. She can still sing the song from the credits.