A Peek Behind the Curtain

A Peek Behind the Curtain

“All the world’s a stage,

and all the men and women merely players…”

— William Shakespeare.

If you think about it, our lives are really one big reality show, with each of us landing the leading role and starring in every scene. We serve as the director, costume designer, and even act as our own agent. Some people are better than others at dealing with the enormity of these responsibilities, as we don’t always get to serve as screenwriters of our own drama. Some scenes come our way because of the people who enter our lives. Their choices impact us, for better or for worse. But, we certainly can write the lines of our personal response. This is when we serve as critic. But be warned, this power is often misused, and focused on other people’s cameos, as it’s easier to point fingers than reflect on our own flaws.

In the simplest terms, our lives can be whittled down to what happens to us and what happens to other people. In this context, photography’s taught me to both welcome and accept two additional life constants; the monumental moments and the everyday occurrences. It’s through the lens where my appreciation for everyday happenings supersede special occasions, and I find myself focused on snapping images of the journey more than end results. It’s these captured candids, taken during life events, that ultimately serve as unsung heroes, nestling in a space called nostalgia, telling the tales of our story.

This is the art of documentary photography, a subjective art form that captures the cameos behind the scenes, instead of simply the posed and polished of the prize. Unlike photojournalism, which concentrates on breaking news events, documentary photography focuses on the personal, ongoing issues or occurrences that happen every day. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe it’s essential to document the monumental moments of life, especially as they come far and few between. However, I find more satisfaction in effort over result, and the journey over final destination. These are the moments, that when captured and pieced together, speak a thousand words of our story.

Allow me to set the stage of some important scenes in my daughter’s life, where I serve as photographer, documenting her journey in equestrian sport. There are the practice and training days, with its unglamorous, repetitive motions that are part of any sport. Then there are the horse shows, boasting beautiful grounds, well-groomed horses, and impeccably dressed equestrians.  And most important, the two minutes in the arena, after waiting for hours to convince the judge her horse is far better than he ever behaves back home. It’s a well-practiced act. Sometimes there’s success, where both she and horse are adorned with accolades. Other times, there’s simply nothing offered for the effort, except learning moments to put in place the next time around. And, I photograph it all, in an attempt to demonstrate the equivalence of practice and preparation to the receiving of medals and honorable mentions.

In reality, we’re in this show together where “all the world’s a stage.” And, there’s a special space behind the curtain where our life’s journey lives, lingering between the milestones, overshadowed by occasions. When captured, it’s these shots that arguably serve as the best storyteller of our lives. But, should you stumble into a monumental moment and find yourself tossed in the spotlight, may you greet it, may you seize it, and may you shine in all the shots that go into memorializing the moment.

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