Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Son's Inspiring Moment, and the Book Deal That Followed

Dancers Among Us will be coming to a bookstore near you! I have agreed to terms with Workman Publishing for a national book release of Dancers Among Us, tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2013. This gives me another seven months to shoot a slew of new images across the country before the book goes to press. Anyone have a spare RV collecting dust in their driveway?

In a recent blog post, Will They Like Me In Kansas?, I outlined the process that eventually led to this book deal. What I didn't mention was the moment of inspiration that led to the first photograph. For that, I must thank my son, Hudson.

One afternoon two years ago I watched Hudson play with his toy bus. I was trying to follow the fantasy racing through his three-year-old mind, as he intensely played with a yellow plastic box and armless figurines. At least that’s what I saw. He saw a thriving community rushing to catch the 77 local bus to Australia. He frantically jumped in place, mouth agape and slapping his knees, joyously reacting to a world I couldn’t see, but one nonetheless powerfully present for him. As we get older and wiser, what happens to this enthusiasm, this ability to be wholly present in the moment? Why are these pure moments of passion so often replaced by cynicism, boredom, and indifference? As I played with my son, I thought about creating photographs that would show the world as if through the fantastical eyes of a child. The people in the images would be alive and in the moment, celebrating all aspects and emotions of everyday life.

Shortly after playing “bus”, I attended a performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and I knew immediately I had found my collaborators. Asking dancers to embody these ideals makes perfect sense. Dancers are storytellers. They’re trained to personify passionate moments, their bodies imbued with a stunning combination of artistry and athleticism. They create a fantasy world, offering us a deeper look into familiar settings. They bring to life what we feel but are unable to express physically.

The process of producing the images is organic; created through a spontaneous collaboration with the dancers. The essence of the subject material parallels the current state of our society, where people are finding an appreciation of smaller, simpler pleasures. I try to infuse the images with humor and joyfulness to make the viewer feel good. I hope the carefree nature of the work is a welcome antidote to the persistent anxiety that defines many people’s lives.

I’ve created Dancers Among Us for my two children, who are everything to me. There is so much I want for them. My hope is that they will live long and healthy lives, find loving partners and fulfilling careers, and experience the joys of parenthood. Most importantly, I want them to be free from self-consciousness, to discover the deep happiness of impassioned lives, and to find the serenity to be truly present. The photographs communicate my dreams for them more powerfully than words alone-- relish moments large and small, recognize the beauty around you, and be alive!