This afternoon, I was sitting in my car, looking at a set of photos that had been hiding behind my gearshift. I smiled as I flipped through the photos of a sweet late night a while ago. Holding the photos, not sure what to do with them, I placed them back behind the gearshift. I thought about how sweet it was to remember that moment, caught in the sandstorm of time.

Recently, my very dear friend asked me to photograph her pop-up at a Galentine's event being held by an inspirational cast of local women. One of the women my friend – and I – wanted to capture was her mother Nancy, who was helping cook. She's a true force of strength, grace and elegance and a true embodiment of the divine feminine. I wanted to capture her spirit.

I now share that spirit with the third photo of the Anatomy of a photograph series – a documentary portrait I captured of Nancy frying in a quieter moment during the pop-up. It's a small moment, one that shows not only the surrounding action but the nature of Nancy.

Nancy, Digital (Fujifilm X-T30), edited

The natural light is intriguing in the photo. As I only shoot in manual in natural (or naturally occurring) light, I have to be pretty aware of where the light is coming from and how it's dancing around a scene. In this case, there was plentiful light, so much that I had to constantly adjust aperture, shutter speed and ISO. It was a prime example of when a lot of light can actually be a challenge.

As a result, there was a good amount of overexposure in the photos, but I didn't really mind it. In fact, in this particular setup, I positioned my camera to capture the sun flare at Nancy's head. It was a bright, busy day, and I wanted to capture that. (Looking at it now, the harsh background light is tempered by the softer light in the foreground, which balances the photo.)

I also appreciate the composition in this photo, carried mainly by Nancy's natural position. Her glance toward the fryer, plus the oval shape her arms create, helps draw the viewer's eye to the action. The composition ties both the subject and the action together.

Nancy, Digital (Fujifilm X-T30), edited in black & white

On composition, I also wanted to see the photo in black and white to see if my satisfaction held water. After converting the photo, I was still happy with the photo, composition and all. In fact, I like the photo in both color and black and white, which doesn't always happen.

The main criticism I have with this photo is the man in the top right – had I been more observant at the time, I'd have waited a few seconds to take another shot. It's a slight error, but distracting nonetheless.

Nancy, Digital (Fujifilm X-T30)

The truth is that I'm really happy with this photo not because of its visual, compositional or technical aspects, but because it captures the strength, perseverance and grace that Nancy lives and exudes. I've had the pleasure to get to know her more in the past few weeks; it's woefully inadequate to say she is a vision and an inspiration.

I smile and ache in the best way when I look at these photos, just as I did looking at the other photos in my car. Because capturing a moment isn't just capturing a moment; it's honoring the moment too – and the people in it.

With love and consideration,


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