The Eyes of Our Times

I was looking through my emails and social media posts and I saw something on my Facebook feed that Daymon J. Hartley posted. It was a link to a lightbox of 9/11 images on Time Magazine’s website. It was a collection of images that had run in a variety of magazines and newspapers in the days that followed that tragic event. Along with the images ran comments from the picture editors, why they had chosen that particular image.

As I looked through the images, I was overcome with emotion and moved right back to a very deep place within, remembering the pain, the fear and disbelief of what happened that day. This time I looked at the images online. Ten years ago I first saw these photographs in print publications. Regardless of how I saw these images, in print or electronically – the effect was still the same.

It reminded me of how powerful our photographs and videos are. We are the eyes of our times, the ones to document history. We not only record history in imagery, sound and motion, but we have the power to create the future. History has been rewritten by imagery. Take the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s in America. Photographs created awareness of what was happening in the South and put the eyes of the world upon us. That forced change.

As photojournalists and video journalists and non-professionals as well, we need to realize the power of what we do and the influence it can make. It’s a responsibility I take seriously. I feel that it’s not just my duty to document history as it unfolds, but it’s my right to do so as well. These days those rights are being questioned in some places. We need to be diligent in keeping those rights in America. Isn’t that what makes our country different?

As we race towards a destination unknown with technology quickening the pace – let’s be mindful who is controlling the portals of the future – so that future generations can learn from the past.

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The Power of Music on 9/11

Today is a day of remembrance – it’s been 10 years since the Twin Towers came down in NYC, changing the Manhattan skyline and our lives forever.  We all can probably remember exactly where we were and what we were doing that terrible day.

As for me, I not only remember that day vividly, but the weeks that followed, even though I felt like I was living in a daze.  What I remember most was the healing power of music.  In fact, music was one of the few things we humans could let into our hearts and minds to try to begin to soothe our souls and deal with our pain and our fears.

Music is a universal language.  Regardless of where we are in the world, music is one of those things that can still define a culture and a people, even in a world that seems so homogenous in so many other ways.  I think that’s why it resonates with me, it speaks to the place I’m in, even though I may not be able to communicate with words. Music transcends any language and connects us on a deeper more primal level that goes straight to the heart. When I was interviewing blues musician Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, he told me “If you sing me the blues – I know exactly where you’re coming from”.

I think all of us can define moments in our life by a song that we remember.  We have all been exhilarated by music and have danced the night away or conversely been healed by music when it seems like we just can’t make it through the day.  What else has that kind of power?

Today, I will pause and remember that tragic day 10 years ago that changed our lives forever and as I do, I will heal my soul with music. I know if Willie “Big Eyes” could heard me singing the blues today – he’d know exactly where I was coming from.

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