|Copyright 2009 Jack McConnell
The SIT DOWN collection began with a black and white photo of a boy on a porch sitting on time-worn, wooden steps with a screen door behind him. The front porch is tightly encased in a vinelike plant called Dutchman’s Pipe, so overgrown that you can’t even push open the door. The boy is killing time, lazy, bored, waiting for the next great thing to happen in his life.
The porch belongs to Mid Hale, an elderly woman who’d spent most of her life in that house. Behind that screen door, she’d raised five daughters, fed her family franks’n’beans every Saturday night, baked her famous yellow jello cake with cherry icing for after-church receptions every Sunday afternoon.
Lately, she’d sit inside on the porch and knit sweaters for her great-grandkids, and watch the world pass by. Neighbors were forever taking her to task, “Mildred, cut down that vine, we can’t see in.”
“No, but I can see out,” she’d reply.
Or maybe it didn’t happen that way at all. It’s always a guessing game. No matter how much is known when you take a photograph, you’re often compelled to wonder what brought this person to this place at this time. What was he doing a few minutes before or after the photo was taken. Are you getting the story right, and does it even matter.
Usually I take a photograph because a certain gesture catches my eye. Something about the posture, or the relationship between people, or the way the light captures the moment, makes me unscrew the lens cap and advance the film..