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Each month Shutter Sisters offers up a unique word (with a new word chosen every month!) that is up for visual interpretation of the photographic kind by the ladies in their community. This month's word is *Faces*. I have made a contribution to this theme as below --
This blog post is in support of an amazing charity called Inspiration Through Art (formerly The Littlest Heroes Project). It is an American based charity that takes on volunteer professional photographers who take pictures of sick children and their families for free! A wonderful charity whose cause is close to my heart and I support! It is also being supported by I-Heart Faces Photo Challenge and is this week's charity project. Visit their site and support their work!!!
The I-Heart faces challenge this week is not a challenge at all but a call for photo stories of how the participating photographers use their gift / talent to bless people! What a wonderful thought and opportunity to share! When I started thinking about this challenge I racked my brain and am pleased to report that there are many stories I could share!!!
Initially I thought I would share the story of a lady I met at a mother and toddler group who had been in a bad accident which left her with a large scar on her forehead down to her nose. She refused to join her daughter in her photo session but I encouraged her to do so and promised her I would make her look beautiful... She agreed and the image below was the result and she was speechless and so very happy...
Or meeting Peter, a gentleman who sleeps rough in Reading (the man at the top of my blog!) and making his day by telling him that he had an interesting face and that I would like to photograph him and in the process made his day...
But the story I would like to share is not one whereby my photography has made me a blessing but how through it I have been blessed and humbled as it has brought me together with a dear long-standing family friend, I affectionately call, Uncle John.
Uncle John and his wife Ro, some maybe 40 years ago now took in and all but adopted a young Zimbabwean girl who had travelled to the UK to train as a nurse. Their relationship strengthened as time went by, Uncle John gave this girl away on her wedding day in Dundee and he and his wife were present for the birth of her first child and immediately became grandparents!
My mum during her nursing training
Fast forward to present day, that girl became a woman and went on to be a mother of six children of which I am the last. Over the years I have heard of Uncle John and Aunt Ro, was saddened with my mother when Aunt Ro passed away. Growing up I was always impressed with how strong the bond that they formed in those formative years of my mothers young adulthood had outlived my mother's return to Zimbabwe, distance, space, time, death...and today Uncle John is still very much her adopted father.
On a day out in Epsom
Now, being headstrong and obstinate as a child, I have always had a knack of making very bold first impressions, much like marmite! So when I first met Uncle John, he being more reserved and conservative in his approach to life, I was like a force of nature, a hurricane if you like taking everything with me as a passed through and rubbed him completely the wrong way! Our relationship therefore was very much a polite one there on in and remained like that until last summer when he had a stroke. At the time I was unwell myself with no diagnosis and somewhat battle weary from all the tests and procedures. My sister (the first child whose birth he was present for) told me of his stroke when she came to check on me and then got me up and out of the house and took me to visit Uncle John with her, thinking that I needed to reach out to someone else to take my mind off of my own illness. I had since taken up photography seriously and so took my camera along. During this visit I shared what I was doing with Uncle John by way of photography and just like that we found common ground for the first time! He is an amazing writer and painter and a true lover and patron of the arts and had not known of my creative streak so this became the place where relationship was able to grow, in our common love for the arts.
On a day out in Epsom at Epsom Race Course
Due to the stroke Uncle John's mobility is not what it used to be so he does not get to go out as much, where he once travelled all over the world so the images above are of a rare occasion when I got him to come out and show me his beloved Epsom last autumn where we took so many of the autumn images in my stock photos like the ones below...
When I first sent him my early images, it was Uncle John who encouraged me to keep going, to capture anything and everything! To make my photography be about how I saw the world and not to allow myself to be boxed into a particular category but to simple allow my art to flow from my heart and show the world as I see it. He then asked me to send him something new everyday and when I had lots of images he had not seen it seemed an easy feat! Now, I am challenged and motivated to go out and capture the world because I have a captive audience who loves to see the world through my eyes! The greatest compliment I have ever been paid was when Uncle John told me that I am his eyes in the world and through my images he gets to see it and even re-live old and fond memories of places he has been or experience something new... He replies to my daily emails with enthusiasm, constructive criticism and praise crying out for more! There is always a nugget of wisdom, a historical lesson or a moment where he shares some of his history in every reply also and truly it is I who feels blessed to have found a mentor and a friend in a treasure that had been buried so close all my life but that I had failed to see his value...So this is me thanking my Uncle John for the two greatest acts of random kindness he has ever done, loving my mum and loving me... rue x
Me & my mum at her MBA graduation
Below are Uncle John's selection of his most favourite of all my photographs so far...
Uncle John was born on St. George's Day like William Shakespeare so on his birthday this year I put the collage below together for him.
It is a picture I took of him, St. Gorge slaying the dragon and a verse of Shakespeare...