Welcome to my day.
Anything, everything can look foggy, cloudy, if your focus is on anything, everything.
Sharpen it, and you will see,
little kids smiling at the antics of our photographers as the professionals act anything but, sniffing feet and making animal noises to coax the smiles out of children they have just met moments before.
If you focus, you will see,
life celebrated by couples who chose to dress up as saloon girls and cowboys and take photos together, traveling back in time to the crazy days of the wild west, making memories that will last a lifetime.
You see, I can dress my vision up to be anything I want.
I can take portrait photos of these families, simply going through the motions, pushing buttons. Not even buttons, just one button, over and over.
However, if I sharpen my focus, I see beauty more valuable than all of the gold in all of the banks that a cowboy in the wild west could ever dream of robbing.
And it’s free, for those who choose to focus their perspective on it.
Not only can I find gold, I can turn that flashing light on the top of my camera into a beacon of happiness. A request from me to my models to smile a genuine smile. To be themselves and play along with the story I am creating for them to match their old timey garb. I can share the treasure with them.
Being a photographer has taught me more than just focus. It has also taught me about dressing the moment up.
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If you walk through the front door of the studio, past the sheriff’s office with its bars and key-ring hanging nearby, past the bar where many an empty liquor bottle sits, and where many a saloon girl has sat as well, you will find the swinging saloon doors that lead to the men’s dressing room.
Part of my job is to dress people up. Guests at the old time photography studio where I work can dress up to fit the wild west era, the Southern Belle era, roaring ’20s, civil war, or Native American. I was in the men’s changing room, hanging hats and arranging boots as a civil war general came strolling back in.
I began helping him with the mess of strings on the back of his costume so he could shed it, back to normal in his civilian clothes that lay underneath his costume.
Focus to the general’s conversation (and ignore the fact that yes, I undress grown men for a living. But hey, they just put the costumes on over their clothes). He says he is a schoolteacher in real life. He had just changed from teaching 5th grade to teaching kindergarten. I automatically have respect for anyone who wants to educate the youth of our culture. Especially since the wages aren’t that great. Traditional teachers in America get paid between $16 and $20 an hour. Many jobs not requiring a degree have similar wages. Hearing the general talk about what he deals with made me feel as if he deserved much more; if not more money, than more recognition.
Speaking on what he thought of teaching kindergarten, he said, “I can deal with it. I can deal with the boogers and goo that I somehow get on my hands throughout the day.
“I can deal with the tears. There are tears every day. Especially on Mondays. Those are the days that the kids find most difficult to leave their parents, after they’ve been together for a few days non-stop.
“I can deal with the parents that want to come in and watch me and see what I’m doing and how I’m teaching their kids.
“I can deal with the hyperactivity, how the kids want to bounce around. I don’t force them to sit in seats. We do a lot of floor time. And for the kids who just can’t sit still, I let them sit on those yoga balls so they can just bounce it out, and that seems to solve the problem. They’re kids. Some of them aren’t even 5 years old yet, and they’re just not ready. I can deal with it.
“Finding out what works to allow growth in their minds is just crazy. I mean, I am coming up with rhymes to help these kids understand how to write the number two! There are fun songs I make up to get them to understand what the color red is. It is honestly such a joy, such a fun job. I love it. ”
I MEAN, MAN! Talk about focus! The general is not kidding himself about the glamour, or lack of, in his job, but his attitude blew me away. His positivity and ability to focus on the good work that he is a part of, even amidst stressors of which one would break many down, made every color that came into my eyes in that moment seem brighter. The vibrancy of his words struck my heart.
We are all still learning things that some might find just as basic as writing the number two.
An unforgettable chord rang out to me, and that is that there are people out there that make the learning experience magical for others. If the general can do that for a room of goo-covered, crying, hyper little ones, why can’t we do that for each other? With the awareness that we were all once children and that age does not entitle one with all of the information in the world.
We can make life magic for each other.
If we choose to focus on that.
If we choose to dress it up.