There was a line in the film American Beauty where that videographer guy said something like, “There’s just so much beauty in the world, sometimes I think I can’t take it.” I remember instantly identifying with that. Maybe all photographers are like that. They probably have to be. Imagine flipping it around, and all you see through the lens is horror and negativity and pain and sadness. Sure would make for a tough job in the visual arts.
At this point in my life, I cannot donate money to charity. I simply don’t have enough. And with two small children and a full-time job, I can’t be a volunteer. But Chris Maher at Fosforus introduced me to Meals on Wheels and More a couple of years ago, and I’ve been their photographer, free of charge, ever since. Anytime they need me, they can have me, for whatever they want. It’s not much of an offering from me, but I am doing something that directly afftects their bottom line. If they paid a photographer even $10/year, that’d be a couple of meals someone wouldn’t get.
The funny part is that all the people there at MOWAM are very grateful for my pro bono work, but it’s me who wins here. The satisfaction I get from doing this for them is beyond overwhelming. But when I was looking over the latest round of shots, I thought about the kindness of the people there. The staff and the volunteers. These people are helping people who need help, right now. Their compassion is real. They can’t hide it. I can see their soul right there on their faces.
Dan Pruett (at top left) recently gave me a tour of their new facility they’re building, and it’s incredible. Incredible that they need that much room. But they do. Sarah Andrews (there at the top right of the grid) said that they’ll be delivering their 1,000,000th meal this September, and as she articulated, “it’s amazing, yes, but it’s amazing there’s that much need.”
One point I should make here is directed at the people you see there in that grid. Almost all of them walked into my little portable studio I set up in the foyer and said something about how awful they looked or asked me about airbrushing. For what it’s worth, I didn’t retouch these shots in any way. Photoshop doesn’t have a tool to remove compassion. You are all the most beautiful people I’ve ever photographed.