Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bright and beautiful

For a few weeks, I have been wondering if my desire for approaching people for portraits has waned. Well, I know it has. I was using the excuse of organ donation to get up the nerve to get street portraits. A guise that I knew would come to bother me like a sliver of fiberglass in the palm of your hand.

I am combining two in to one. I am passionate about photography. I have been for well over twenty years. I am a heartfelt crusader for organ donation. I know that regardless of the number of people I talk to, we will always have tens of thousands of people waiting for organs and there will thousands that will never get them.

As a photographer. I will probably never become a true professional. One that can actually pay a mortgage and a car payment with my photography. I enjoy it too much. If it weren't for the good senses of my wife, I would be a starving artist.

While in Columbus, I have not had much of an opportunity to discuss organ donation. Last night I was able to eat dinner via the drive through of White Castle. I won't return.

Today, I was suppose to return home but the Alberta Clipper brought several inches of snow with her.

We sat in the conference room, watching the sky turn from light, to gray, to dark gray. Then the flurries blew in. Lightly at first, then as the clock ticked by the snow accumulated more and more. The flakes got big and crunchy when the temperature dropped and as they piled up, inch, by inch, by inch.

When I was able to venture outside. The ground was covered with about 4 inches of large pristine ice crystals. It was almost a disappointment to have to walk through the beautiful pearl carpet of snow. I stepped solemnly through the parking lot. Hearing the snow crunch and compress under my shoes.

Swoosh, crunch. Swoosh, crunch. Everything else was silent.

After I cleaned off my car, I drove off into the night watching the snow flakes streak towards me like stars in warp drive. The streets were still busy with drivers crawling slowly through the mush.

Since it was only 9:00 I decided to try for a better destination than last night. Restaurant after restaurant was closed. Dairy Queen, Panda Express and Smokey Bones were all dark void of cars or signs of night life. I decided on an all time favorite. RED ROBIN. Oh yeah!

I pulled around the lot and saw that there were only a few cars in the parking lot. I am sure they were mostly employees. I went in anyway, HOPING they would still be serving. I was in luck. There was a family in a booth and two guys at the bar. The two at teh bar appeared to be travelers like myself, but they were engaged in conversation of various topics from drilling in the arctic to sports scores. I wasn't able to see or hear much of anything from the family since they were behind me. The hostess did inquire about their unexpected long weekend resulting from cold weather canceling schools in the area. I think I probably heard them say they were happy about it, but perhaps that was my own kids answering the question.

Shortly after, she arrived to tend to me and inquired about my drink of choice. "Sprite please" and a "Whisky River BBQ, no pink, no onion straws" I replied back.

Off she went to fulfill my order. "I heard her say "One burger, no pink" to the cook. It's amazing what you hear when the ground is covered with snow, late at night.

I had a new issue of RangeFinder magazine that had an article about street photography. I thought I should read it to see if there is anything I was doing wrong. or to confirm what I am doing right and if the results are what's expected.

Being a visual person by nature, I paid attention to the only other person that was paying attention to me. She was slender and perky with a very nice attitude. She had short dark hair in a bob style cut. Her eyes are hard to explain. They didn't glow, nor did they pierce. Perhaps they were simply understated by her great lips, her jawline and cheekbones and her smile. That smile just seemed to come naturally. Her facial features just exuded a classical look. Sort of like a portrait Clarence Bull took of Audrey Hepburn. She had "that look".
Well, in my mind any way.

When "J" brought my burger and bottomless steak fries I eagerly dove in. Later, after she brought my second Sprite, she asked if there was anything she could get for me.

Well......"I could use a subject for a portrait."

Of course, that isn't what anyone expects to hear. So she stopped long enough to let me give her a card and explain my organ donation awareness project. She volunteered that she is a donor in which I inquired as to why she decided that route. "It's the right thing to do" "J" replied. Over our course of conversation, I learned she is also a plasma donor. She also believes that if we can't use them after we are dead, then we should leave something behind to help others.

We discussed about making sure family members are aware that it's our desire to be an organ donor. Something that many people still don't realize. you must discuss it with the people that can stop your wishes from being carried out. Another subject was the potential for abuse in a near end of life situation. In aspect of a person being in a near death situation being neglected so that the organs can be harvested.

It's a common fear. While I cannot say for a 100% certainty that it hasn't happened. Nor can I say that it won't happen. The decisions to save a life or stop care for a life are made by humans that are not perfect. But if it were me and my life was that close to the end, do I really want to be brought back to life to continue to be in a questionable physical state? I am not sure I would want to. Again, I have to trust that the doctors and my next of kin will be able to make the right decisions in that situation.

After all, "J" too declined my request for a portrait. I did bring it up again as I was leaving, but she appeared pretty concerned. I understand.

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