I suppose you could say that the “idea” started when I was about the same age Erin is now. Erin has finished her university studies before embarking on this journey. I on the other hand had put my college studies on hold after completing my sophomore year at Syracuse University, and began a yearlong backpacking odyssey. I made it half way around the world. I probably would have completed my circle around the globe if I hadn’t run out of money (what little I had) and my return plane ticket wasn’t about to expire, a year to the date after my departure. I did eventually graduate and get a degree from Brooks Institute, but that was after I discovered what it was I was meant to do in my life – and that was to show others the world through my eyes using my camera as my tool.
I’ve had an incredible life following my passion and exploring people and cultures and I have made a solid career as a still photographer and now filmmaker “telling stories” for magazines, institutions, corporations and ad agencies. My choice of tools that I use to communicate visually with has changed over the years, first still cameras that shot film, then digital still cameras and now I’ve added video to the mix – but the “story” has remained the heart and soul of my work.
A few months ago, I went to see Robert Frank’s “The Americans” exhibition at the Met in NYC. It was an amazing collection of images he made when he took to the road to document the lives of Americans in the 1950’s. It got me thinking about my roots and how I got started as a photographer – it got me thinking about taking to the road on another journey – but this time completing that circle around the world. I had over 300,000 frequent flier miles in my Continental account and this seemed like the perfect time to use them. But this time I needed a focus, a purpose for going.
I’ve always been inspired by the ordinary person who finds the power within, and accomplishes extraordinary things. I’m in awe of the underdogs of the world who manage to overcome obstacles and create change or make a positive difference. I’m a strong proponent of grass roots efforts that build communities and make them better places to live. And I believe there are people all over the world who we never hear about, who are making a difference with their determined spirit. So, I decided to document and film these people who are following their passions, and share their stories with others.
My initial step was to send out a query via an email to a few friends and to write about the idea on my blog, Journeys of a Hybrid. One of the emails I sent out was to my daughter Erin, asking her to spread the word to her friends – in hopes of finding “people who are making a difference”. Her response came somewhat as a surprise “Mom, I want to do this with you”. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because I have been telling her to follow her passion and pursue her dreams, her whole life. And so – this idea has become even greater and stronger – knowing the value that Erin will bring to the project but also realizing how she will grow because of it.
So there you have it – a mom and her daughter setting out to circle the globe to capture the stories of the untold heroes and “the power of one”. It’s exciting and no doubt will be full of adventure. Please continue to follow us “Opening Our Eyes” on our journey and share your thoughts and ideas along the way.