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Some Portraits I Loved Making...

World War II Canteen ©Lynne Buchanan
As part of Sam Abell’s workshop, I took the train to Albuquerque and back to photograph people and settings, something I typically do not do.  For some reason I could not consciously identify, I went with a local resident and a few others to Old Albuquerque instead of hanging around the train station with the rest of the group.  When we got there, I was lost.  Initially I felt it was quite touristy and I couldn’t connect with anything I wanted to photograph.  Feeling lost, I made my way to the main square.  I was drawn to a couple talking to a Native American jeweler.  I forgot completely why I was there and sat down with them and began discussing stones and symbols and their various healing properties.  I sat there for about 45 minutes when suddenly I remembered I was supposed to be photographing people. 

Quite timidly I asked the couple if it would be okay to photograph them.  They graciously said yes, which turned out to be very unusual for the man who was a work of art in his own right and quite spiritual.  His partner had one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen and she turned out to be a Sufi.  I made a couple of photographs of him and then I noticed this incredibly unusual canteen on the ground.  I asked him about it and it turned out to be from World War II and was decorated with all these objects that held great meaning for him.  The portrait I made of the canteen cradled within the framework of his crooked arm really spoke to me about how objects are not just representations of memories but often hold the power of those moments within their form.  As soon as I made the image, I felt it was successful, that it had conveyed both my emotional response to this object and the care with which Markos tended this object.  Then Markos gave me an incredible gift.  He leaned over and kissed Murshida.  It was such a gentle gesture, filled with so much tenderness, humanity and soulfulness. 

The Kiss ©Lynne Buchanan

After Markos and Murshida went on their way, I asked Renell, the jeweler, if I could make a photograph of him, as he had created this space where the special meeting came to pass.  Besides being a wonderful jeweler (I bought a pair of earrings from him), he is also a very beautiful person with a quiet and strong presence.  He said yes and then he too gave me another very special gift.  He stood up and presented me with his essence, his eyes gazing slightly upward and to the left with a wonderful catch light.  As I framed him and clicked the shutter button, I had the feeling that he was an angel and I sensed our souls had connected for me to recognize this about him.  He took my hand and wished me safe travels.  Later, I emailed him the photograph and told him that I felt more protected just knowing he sent me on my way with such a blessing.

Renell ©Lynne Buchanan

Markos, Murshida, and Renell all showed me that it is possible to connect with human subjects and that when this happens much more compelling images are created.  The experience made me realize that in fact I do love photographing people in the right circumstances and when we have connected on a soul level.  Later that day, we went to the horse races and I was able to make another portrait that I was very happy with.  We arrived at a race where a young jockey on a horse decorated in pink and purple had just won.  I saw the look of excitement on his face as he was riding back towards the stalls.  He got off his horse and I sensed he was about to explode with joy as he made his way to his friend, whose back was turned to me.  I immediately framed the composition to include the mountains and ensure that the figures would be higher than the horizon.  Although in this instance, I had not personally spoken with my subject, I was able to catch the incredible connection between him and his friend and connect with the uncensored emotion that broke through. I was joyful and surprised like that when I won my age group in a running race once, when I was in the flow and connected with something larger than myself.

The Joy and Surprise of Victory ©Lynne Buchanan
Two other images I made of people I didn’t know that day were also quite successful and I realized that their success depended on my emotional connection with the scene I was framing.  The first photograph was of a bus at the Albuquerque station.  There is an image of a man with his fist raised on the outside of the bus and dollar bills all over.  Inside the window, I saw the profile of a man whose head was tilted downwards, as if he was consigned to go off to work without really wanted to.  Having worked many years at jobs that did not really fit who I was authentically, I could easily relate to this odd and telling juxtaposition.

Go Money ©Lynne Buchanan
The other image was off a store in Nob Hill that had a bus with a peace sign in the window.  Having grown up in the 1960’s, I instantly loved this building.  Memories began to flood back and then two girls walked up to it, one with purple hair and the scene was complete.   When I made this image it was out of playfulness and fun and a connection with my own past.  I am so thrilled that the new inclusionary path I am taking is allowing me to connect with the humanity of others and my own…
 
Birdland ©Lynne Buchanan
My deeper connection with people continued with my cousin and his wife in Salt Lake City and I realized this journey is about connecting with people as much as it is about connecting with nature.  For so many years, I have felt a little disconnected from humanity and it has been very rewarding to meet so many wonderful people, some for the first time who I know will be in my heart forever and some, like my cousin and his wife, who I knew a little but now know so much better.    I am so excited for these new bonds I am forming to grow and unfold organically and naturally.  The gratitude I experience each day keeps growing exponentially...

Tom Receiving Revelation in the Photographic Process
©Lynne Buchanan