A township in war-torn South Africa is not the kind of place many people want to remember.
But over 30 years ago, this is where my conflict photojournalism career began, documenting daily suffering, violence and loss. My hope was that shining a light on what is wrong in the world would help it be made right.
Over the years, my purpose was to tell the stories of those who had no voice. To tell the truth of every moment, especially when the truth was difficult to see. To try and make the world a better place through the power of photography.
I loved being a newspaper photographer. My work took me to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and throughout the U.S. I won a lot of awards, had a lot of intense experiences, and met all kinds of people I never would have otherwise. For 12 years that was awesome, until one day it wasn’t. That day was when I realized that instead of really making a difference, my work was about selling newspapers, and I realized that life is about way more than that.
Thankfully, another epiphany arrived on the heels of the first:
Instead of focusing on what is wrong in the world, I could focus on what is right: inherent beauty, genuine feeling, nourishing legacies.
Now, I photograph kids and babies and families and love, because children are nourished by seeing the foundation of love they've been born into. They need to see that look of deep love for them on your face, the personal and particular way you love each other, and that they bring you more joy than words can say. And in this world, what is achingly needed most is more joy, more love, and more connection to ourselves and each other.
30 years of working with every kind of person, in every kind of light, with every kind of emotion, across multiple cultures, creates a depth of seeing that clearly illuminates the particular loveliness of both you and your family. Because of my experience, I feel everything, but am phased by nothing—crying babies, tantruming toddlers, energetic kids, and awkward feeling adults are easy! And none of that compares to this simple truth: There is beauty in every single thing, and your story deserves to be seen.
I love showing you what I see in you.
This kind of experience is about being loved, giving love, and in the process giving your family something that is more precious than any possession: a nourishing visual legacy of love.
They will draw on this as they grow, as will you, and the joy that will come from this is immeasurable.