June 6, 2011 / Reflections
It’s true. I used to be a chubby kid. Ostracized and made fun of. It sounds like a cliche – or like the plot of many a bad adolescent movie. Most the time I could ignore my less then perfect state, except when a major bully (damn Chris Olson) would put me in my place. It didn’t help that I had a skinny, cooler older sister and a beautiful, elegant Southern belle for a mom.
Luckily, a growth spurt in the 6th grade shed away the unwanted “baby” fat; however, I did not walk away unscathed. The most important character-building trait I took away from my childhood experience is my sense of empathy. Being made fun of made me a lot more understanding to people who may not be the norm, or who may be different from everyone else.
I would argue that it made me the artist I am today. I am always seeking out interesting traits of different people – and digging deeper than what we see on the surface. As you get older, you also realize how fallible human beings are – and how we are ridden by insecurities.
Yes, even the cool kids and the most outwardly successful people are plagued with personal challenges.
That’s perhaps why I love photography – because I love mapping the internal geographies of people, capturing their experiences, insecurities, emotions and essence in the space of a shot. Being able to capture that intensity requires you to connect with your subject, to be patient and get through to them. And that, I consider my greatest strength.
I see all my subjects for who they are – instead of focusing on their character differences as perceived flaws. There’s beauty to be found in everyone – big or thin, nerdy or athletic, tall or short. Life would be a monotony if not for our individual differences – and my own insecurities have made me endeavor to celebrate life in all its dimensions.