Exhuming stories

mbfitzmahan. Lovers and Coffee. 2013. Issaquah, WA

I was inspired by Viola Davis’ acceptance speech at the Oscars on Monday, February 26, 2017. Viola Davis won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, in the movie, Fences

“People ask me all the time — what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say, exhume those bodies! Exhume those stories — the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost.”

Photography is the art where I like to ‘exhume those stories.’ It is a responsibility that I take very seriously.

 

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mbfitzmahan.  A Coin for good luck. 2013. Miyajima, Japan

I believe that my best photographs tell stories.  In those photographs, you get to meet real people! Not movie stars.  Not politicians.  People I’d like to know.

How do I tell a story in a photograph?

I look for conversations on the street.

I Make Street photography

mbfitzmahan. Winter. 2005. St. Petersburg, Russia.

When I make street photography, I have silent conversations with my subjects.  I don’t usually stop and talk to them, but they tell me their stories anyway.   A light in his eye.  A smile she shares with a street performer.  A look of intense concentration while listening to a friend.

“Street photography is a type of photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places. Street photographs are mirror images of society, displaying ‘unmanipulated’ scenes, with usually unaware subjects.” (Urban Street Photography)

From all over the world.  In my hometown.  I learn stories wherever I take my camera. When I develop my photos, I spend many hours with my street people.  Those people I found on the street.  I remember their faces many years later.

mbfitzmahan. Summer Beer. 2011. Paris, France,

It can be scary to take photos of people I don’t know.  I often will smile at my subjects as I move on.  Just to be sure they are all right with my taking a drive by photo.

I like to take photos of people interacting with one another.  Even reacting to each other.

mbfitzmahan. Cowboy Hat in Central Park. 2011. New York, NY

I never make fun of my subjects. I try to choose photos where people look honest and real, but still beautifully human.  I feel that it is disrespectful to display people any other way.   I do not know what the trials and their sorrows of these people may have been.  I like my subjects. I owe it them to treat them with care.  I try not to portray anyone in a negative light. Unless, there is no other light to see them.

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3 thoughts on “Exhuming stories

  1. Mom – I want to explain why I haven’t read your article. I wait, to savor them. I still haven’t sat down with this one. When we talk I sense that you are hurt that I didn’t put you your work at the top of my priority list. And, I want to invite you to see it differently. Not a snub, but a reverence. Your work is other worldly. It takes me out of my rush a day life, and brings me to a place of beauty and philosophy. I do not make this leap between the worlds lightly. If I had my druthers, I would make a cup of coffee and sit down with your article and drink it all in. You see, I don’t rush to open your articles, I wait to enjoy them with the mindfulness they deserve.

    Love you madly! Sparkles Erin

    >

  2. You comments are always so helpful and encouraging. If there were an Academy Award for best Comment, I would give it to you! And so much more! Thank you so much. I will keep this comment close to my heart. Remembering ‘savor,’ ‘a reverence.’

    AND, “Your work is other worldly. It takes me out of my rush a day life, and brings me to a place of beauty and philosophy. I do not make this leap between the worlds lightly. If I had my druthers, I would make a cup of coffee and sit down with your article and drink it all in. You see, I don’t rush to open your articles, I wait to enjoy them with the mindfulness they deserve.”

    Had to repeat your words so that they can sink in.

    Wow!

    Thank you, again.

  3. Erin, I am relatively new to this wonderful site. The photographs and the posts on blog mbfitzmahan are a bright spot in this flood of negative information we now have. I am stunned by the amount of lies and obvious corruption we have in this country. I am saddened by what we are passing on to our children. We thought the future was bright!
    I also hold the postings until I can sit down to read 2/3 a a time. It gives me an infusion of goodness that help me do my happy dance. Thank you mbfitzmahan! I always knew you were special.

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