the language I use
I first became interested in photography when I started taking pictures of
my own four children. With my engineer husband, our family of six traveled
the world, moving 24 times in 25 years. Everywhere we went, I set up a
darkroom. While we lived in Iran, I took a correspondence course in
photography that filled in a lot of the gaps in my technical knowledge.
Photography soon became too expensive to remain a hobby so I took a course
in "Selling and Reselling Your Photos," by Rohn Engh, and set up my own
business in stock photography. The first photograph I sold of two of my
children on a swing was used on the cover of a book and I have been selling
photographs since then to buy more film to make more photographs!
In 1989 I was asked to go as photographer to Honduras and Guatemala with a
mission group. That trip was a major turning point in my life and in my
photography. I became a mission consultant for the Presbyterian Church and
have returned to Honduras and Guatemala every summer since then. I lead a
mission group of doctors and lay people who visit remote communities to
hold clinics and get to know the people. I usually live with a desperately
poor family for the two to three weeks that I am in Central America and
document their lives through photography. The photographs are then used in
slide shows, calendars, brochures, and posters to raise money for
self-development programs to aid the communities. The people are willing
to put up with my cameras and me because they know I am there to help.I
visit some of the same families each year and can see the differences that
the self-development programs are making in their lives. Staying with the
families has been an invaluable education in priorities for me.
I hope that the importance of personal relationships is communicated
through my photographs. Photography is the language I use to translate
other cultures that may seem foreign to us. I try to capture an emotion or
instance of everyday life that can be universally understood to show that
the people of the world are all more alike than we are different.
My cameras are Leica rangefinders and I prefer to use black and white
film. The cameras are unobtrusive, quiet, durable, and wonderful for
low-light photography. The black-and-white film portrays people and light
without the distraction of color. The photographers whose work I admire
are those who have used their photographs to make a difference from
Dorothea Lange in the 1930's and 40's to Sebastio Salgado today.