Monday, January 17, 2011


A portrait gives us the permission to stare that is forbidden in real life. -Jodi Cobb

This woman haunts me.

It's her expression.  The people I met in Zambia, if they saw my camera and were aware, posed and smiled and ate up the chance to be photographed.  Very sick, tired people would smile and thank me happily just for photographing them, and loved to see their likeness in the viewfinder.

This woman ignored me- she didn't interact with me, she didn't tell me to go, and didn't care if I stayed.  I don't know anything about her, or what, if anything, one of my teammates could tell me about her, or her son- though I'm sure someone prayed with them.  She is tired.  Probably sick.  I have no idea.  But she's still speaking to me.

I have been up in the dark of the night thinking about her.

I didn't conceive this photograph in my mind to be anything remarkable- I simply shot in the moment, thanked her, and passed by. 

It's something in the way the light wraps around their still faces. 

It's in the Christmas streamers - the wrong colors, and strangely out of place here.  And in the deflated balloons that tell so much about this place.

They are a distorted, tragic, Madonna and Child. 

I know nothing about her, but to me, this photograph speaks straight into my heart and there is nothing to be done about it.

She's just there haunting me, and that's it.

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