Monday, March 17, 2008

Hope


A week and a half ago, I caught a ride down to Houston to spend Spring Break working for FotoFest (more on that in coming posts). During the week I stayed with my parents whom I sometimes forget are amazing people dedicated to helping folks through helping to run a local food pantry and working with the St. Vincent de Paul organization. With St. Vincent de Paul the visit people in their homes who need help with everything from food to rent to electric bills. On a visit a couple weeks ago, they met a woman who a year ago had triplets. She did not have a crib for them to sleep in, so my parents were able to locate two of them for her which we brought to the house on Sunday and set up. Here are two of the amazingly cute kids sleeping like little cubs.


The experience was only deepened later that evening when I went to church with my parents. The sermon happened to be given by a visiting priest who was leading a retreat of sorts at the church that week. He talked a lot about faith and renewal and hope. The idea of Hope is something that really resonates in me. It made me realize how I think that ultimately I want to take pictures that really explore hope in any situation. I think that one of the reasons I like documentary photography is that you often find the most hope in the people that from your outsider perspective would initially seem the most hopeless.
The picture that starts this post is from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It's members of the St. Rose de Lima choir rehearsing in early January of 2006. Katrina destroyed much of their town. Al Acker, the choir directer, vividly described to me those months later how when he walked through the doors of the church on August 30th after the storm, the first thing he saw, amidst all the destruction and death that had wreaked their town, was this mural on the wall.
People always tell me that they really like this picture, and I often think about how little I have to do with that, at least from a photographic standpoint, it's really very simple in its execution. The message does seem to shine through though, and what's great about that, is that it really has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the members of that community.

A little extra addendum to this post: I've been in the lab all day, and I'm about to start editing some video and was starting to lag a bit, SO I flipped on one of my favorite YouTube videos. It actually fits perfectly with the subject of this post, so I'll post it here. If you don't know who Billy Preston is, I'll give you a little background. Preston is who I consider to be the infamous "Fifth Beatle" having been brought in by George Harrison during the tough times suffered by the Beatles while making Let It Be. He famously earned joint credit with the Beatles for the single "Get Back." I always think of his most recognizable contribution being on the B-side which only made it later on to Let It Be ... Naked, "Don't Let Me Down," where we hear "Hit is Bill!" before a quick electric piano solo at the end of the tune.
The video below is Preston leading the band in a tune during organizers Ravi Shankar and George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in 1971. The concert was a benefit for refugees from East Pakistan after the 1970 Bhola cyclone. Preston performs which such amazing fire and emotion with his soulful voice, swelling organ and eventual dancing . I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.