You start from the beginning.
When faced with all sorts of questions, trying to figure out how best to embark on something, what else is there to do but to take a step?
One. The first of seven. Norma.
Absolutely beautiful. Radiant. And she completely ruined my pre-conceived ideas of ‘the project.’
See, the thought was that I would take at least 50 portraits of people this year. Black and white, shot on a black background. I need subjects, so why not start with some of the people I know, yet want and need to know more about? I reached out to my father, his five siblings who are still living, and their spouses.
Aunt Norma is the oldest of seven. And proud of it. She’s 86; has already outlived her mother and appears well on her way to surpassing her father, “Daddy” as well.
She seemed both excited about, and perplexed by my endeavor. “Who would want to take a picture of ME?” Who wouldn’t want a picture of her? Seriously? Look at that smile; that beautiful blouse that complements her skin tone. The elegant, yet simple strand of pearls. The way she just, GLOWS. Nope. I can’t use just a black and white photo.
Don is no dummy. He noticed her. In English class, at the University of Michigan where they first met. In fact, “City Slicker Don” would create some conflict in that small-town, tight-knit family of hers. Norma’s father wasn’t very fond when Don came calling and married her almost 67 years ago. So distraught, he didn’t attend his daughter’s wedding. In fact, he didn’t even speak to Don for 10 years. That is until Daddy realized that Don wasn’t going to marry, then just as quickly leave his daughter. Maybe, just maybe, City Slicker Don wasn’t so bad after all. In fact, Don was pretty smart. Two degrees from the University of Michigan. A Masters from Clarkston University in New York. And someone that Daddy respected and could trust enough to offer a seat on the Board of Directors of the family business.
Don and Norma. Together, they’ve helped me begin to tell my story.