Seeing Pass the Lens
I did something recently that I thought I would probably never do…I took pictures for the graduating kindergarten class at Imagine Lincoln Academy. Why do I say it was something I thought I would never do? Because I’m not a school picture taking kind of guy. Not really my thing and not really something that I thought would ever excite me. So what made me do it? My Goddaughter, Janelle Harris, is an amazing kindergarten teacher at the school and she wanted me to take the pictures of the graduating class. How could I say no to someone I taught when she was a ninth grader at Friendly High School and has been a part of my life ever since. So, I packed up my stuff and headed to the school, set it up, and began to take the students pictures. It was then I began to realize that this was an experience that would refocus me in a way that I never could have imagined.
I Started to See Pass the Lens. I wasn’t just seeing poses of a kindergarten class but I started to see the dreams and the imaginations beyond the smiles. I wasn’t just taking pictures but I was also freezing moments of innocence and brilliance. In front of me was the possibility of the next Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, Maya Angelou, Patti LaBelle, Martin Luther King, Jr., Johnny Cochran…the next politician, preacher, entertainer, CEO, doctor, lawyer, architect, singer, artist, and actor. Seeing Pass the Lens allowed me to see myself when I was their age; when I felt like I could become anything I put my mind to, when I felt like my destiny was in my hands, when I felt like there was nothing that could keep me from accomplishing my goals. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to take pictures of not just a kindergarten class but the privilege to stand in the room amongst giants before they become tall!
Thanks Janelle (my Goddaughter)
The Power of One Hoodie
This weekend I was able to see something that was amazing. It was the connection of all different ethnic backgrounds held together by the power of one hoodie. That hoodie symbolized the clothing Trayvon Martin had on the day he was killed for “looking suspicious” on a rainy day in Florida by George Zimmerman. It was mind blowing to see so many people came out to rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC in the rain and who were all united by the power of one hoodie. The protest was planned and put together in 4 days by three young African American sisters (Megan, Malaika, and Heather) who wanted to make sure this story continues to get the attention it needs to help bring Zimmerman (who still has not been arrested) to justice.
As a photographer, I wanted to capture as many “hoodies” as possible. Not so much what the hoodies looked like but more to show what the hoodies represented. It showed the solidarity of a human race in the face of injustice. It showed that although racism is still alive and kicking there is also a thirst for equality and fairness. It showed that our voice matters when we use it to help bring down the walls of prejudice. It showed that we are always stronger when we are together than when we are divided. It showed the power of one hoodie!!!
Reconnecting To Your Passion
Sometimes you can find yourself getting comfortable and complacent even over the things you are passionate about. And photography has been and will always be one of my passions. But I must admit that there are times when it sneaks into becoming more of what I do instead of being a part of me. I’ve got to think through concepts and ideas for different photo shoots, what lighting set up I will use, props that will add to the picture, and making sure my client is comfortable. These are all things I love to do but when you do it all the time you can lose a little bit of your passion in it.
So what do you do to reconnect to your passion? Well, for me I go back to where I first found my passion. And for me that was out on sidewalks, streets, and alleys. I always loved just picking up my camera and just heading out to who knows where to shoot who knows what. But it was just me, my camera, and whatever caught my eye. So this past week I picked up my camera and headed out to the U Street corridor in Washington, DC. I had a ball taking pictures and also getting my eat on at U Street hot spots like Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant for lunch, CakeLove for a cupcake, and Creme to get some shrimp and grits for dinner but I digress (BeStarvin is trying to take over my post). But as I took picture after picture I felt that old passion rising up and reminding why I love what I do. And sometimes you have to take some time to go back to the old landmark to help you remember what your passion is really all about.
40 Is The New 40
Age sometimes has a way of sneaking up on you and when certain ages arrive they can catch you off guard. 40 was that age for me…Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that I was able to reach 40 because there are many personal folks who I grew up with who didn’t make it. But I also have to admit that 40 has had me more reflective than celebratory…reflective on where I am, what I could have done different in my past, and wondering where in the world I am now headed.
But what God has shown me recently as I turned 40 is the need to learn to celebrate in the “nowness”…this is the ability to see what there is about you right now that you can celebrate. Not yesterday or tomorrow but learning to celebrate you in this moment. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not promised but you can celebrate the special qualities, unique gifting, and numerous blessings that are taking place in your life at this right now. Of course there are things we need to work on, things we can get better at, and things that we need to get rid of. But I believe the more we learn to celebrate in the nowness, the more we are compelled to work on getting better so we can celebrate even more when we get there.
Don’t stay stuck in yesterday, don’t fear what is in tomorrow, and stop complaining so much about today but celebrate the great that is in you!!! So as I have turned another year, I plan to reflect more on the good instead of focusing so much on the bad. Because the bad really isn’t so bad when I take a look at all the good that is in front of me right now.
What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Everything!!! Love helps you make it through struggles together. Love gets excited about other’s accomplishments and achievements. Love helps you hold on and hold out. Love forgives, Love restores, Love protects, and Love rewards. That’s what made me want to find a couple on Valentine’s Day that is an example of this kind of love and offer them a FREE photo shoot. I found it in Dewayne McRae and Latasha Feist. These two have known each other for over 15 years and have a beautiful daughter DaNasia. They have had their ups and downs, break ups and make ups but somehow it is Love that has kept them together through it all. They have been tested but their Faith in God has given them strength and power. One is a professional heavy weight boxer, while the other is a natural born fighter. They are both in the ring of life and the scorecard has them way ahead. That is why Bill Lee Photography would like to celebrate them on Valentine’s Day…today we celebrate Team McRae!!!