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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Keep trying

There have been many times when I have come across a moment or a person whom I’d love to photograph, but for some reason, (like moving past in a vehicle, too busy to stop or didn’t have my camera with me) I’ve been unable to capture it or them. There are some photographers, like Jay Maisel, who say don’t even try to go back and capture something later. If you don’t get it now, in the moment, you’ve missed it. It’s gone … forever. This is probably good advice, for the most part.

However, I recently had a different experience during a vacation trip in Canada. My parents, Kim and I were on our way to my uncle John’s home in Kelowna, British Columbia for our family reunion gathering. The Kelowna area has the beautiful Lake Okanagan, mountains and lots of orchard groves. As we neared their home, we passed by an orchard and as we did I noticed a flash of orange and white in the orchard. It was an East Indian-looking man with an orange turban, white clothes and a long white beard, working in the field. Not exactly the kind of person I’d expect to see in Kelowna. We pulled up to the house and Kim and I talked about how cool it would’ve been to photograph him, but chalked it up to another one of those photo ideas that doesn’t actually happen (got lots of those in my head!)

The next morning, as we passed the orchard again on our way to the house, we saw another man, this one in a blue turban, coming towards the road, and us, on a tractor. I thought maybe we did have a chance after all! We stopped by his tractor and made some small talk (how are you? what are you growing here? how long have you been farming this land?) He was very friendly, and so I said, “My wife and I are photographers and were wondering if it would be OK to take your picture?” Sometimes you just have to ask. He happily agreed, so we piled out of the SUV and got our gear out. I already knew what lens I’d use—the 70-200, f2.8.

He introduced us to his father (the man in the orange turban) and we took a bunch of shots as we chatted with both of them (the son translated for his father who seemed not to speak any English). They were very gracious to us and shared a typical greeting they use as Punjabis—hands together with a slight bow and with the phrase, “God is true.” How ironic that this sentiment was the very thing we were talking about and celebrating in our family reunion just down the road.

We felt as though we made new friends in our short visit with them—all because of a second chance to make an idea into a photograph. It was a great reminder for me to not always give up so easily, but to keep on trying.