Jennifer Mattern/QR drive
Birthday parties. Bar mitzvahs. Graduations. Reunions. Weddings. The blank squares of my calendar disappear beneath scribbles of purple Sharpie ink. Let’s face it: social occasions happen. There’s no avoiding them (well, at least not all of them). The extroverts of my life, bless their social hearts, keep planning these events. I’m fond of a few of these gregarious souls, so I make an appearance every so often to keep them happy.
This past year, my camera has become my BFF, my steady, my plus-one. With my camera around my neck, I suddenly become a person with a purpose—which, paradoxically, renders me a person of non-interest. Ah. She’s here to take pictures.
Poof. Suddenly, I vanish—an acutely pleasurable sensation for me. I like to watch. I like to listen. I eavesdrop with my eyes and ears, and if I’m lucky, I catch a bit of beauty here and there with my lens. My camera allows me to be part observer, part participant. It does the talking for me, without saying a word. I’m present. I’m connected. In my way.
I have always especially loved faces. As a child, I spent hours locked in my room drawing portraits of people that only I could see—scores of imaginary people who filled my mind. As an adult, I find I reach less for my pencil and far more for my camera.
The camera is a magic pass, giving my introvert self access to faces—and their respective souls—without the need for too much exhausting chitchat.
I have never seen an ugly face.
And when faces become too much (as they inevitably do for me), there’s always something unexpected that beckons for a closer look, an unconventional vantage point, or a new perspective. Objects transform into subjects all around me if I simply stay still.
Being still: my introvert superpower. Stillness and patience pay off, behind my lens. The camera grounds me in place and time, and for that, I am grateful. Behind the camera, I remember to breathe. I remember it takes quiet to hear, and it also takes quiet to see.