What if simple acts of selflessness were as omnipresent in today’s society as the all-too-popular selfie? What if, instead of posing pout-faced, we positioned ourselves to be kind to others, illuminating that which makes us the best versions of ourselves?
Through photography, I’ve attempted to achieve precisely that. How? I often stumble upon a person or a scene that’s just begging to be captured on film. Away I snap, photographing someone enjoying a sunrise, waiting for a loved one or simply taking in a moment. Imagine my subjects’ surprise when I then approach them, offering to hand over the images I captured. The look on people’s faces is heartwarmingly priceless.
I remember the first time I surprised someone with my photograph, back in 2009. Riding a train from New York City to Buffalo, I snapped a picture of this little girl gazing out the window. Her mother was thrilled when I texted her the image. In fact, for years after this, the mom would text me on Mother’s Day, wishing me well and thanking me for the photo.
What’s better than a couple taking a selfie? A shot of them posing for that selfie. I couldn’t help sharing this picture with them on Facebook.
For me, vacation isn’t complete if I don’t greet the sunrise. It restores my sense of wonder and marvel. Hollywood, Florida, is one of my favorite places to witness a beach sunrise. During my most recent visit to a small beachfront hotel there, I would see a fisherman each morning. On my final day, I asked if he’d like a copy of his photo. I texted it to his cell phone and then went on my way, leaving one happy fisherman on the beach.
When a family friend was giving a tour of the Point Abino Lighthouse, I lingered behind for a bit. In doing so, I was able to capture this moment, which I later had printed as an 11x14 to mail to our friend. Today the photograph hangs proudly in his office.
On a walk for ice cream with my husband, we encountered this man washing a bus in the mall parking lot. He turned out to be a driver for a rap musician. I offered to email him my photo, and he returned the favor by telling us countless stories of his travels and giving us a tour of the bus. When we finished, he thanked me for my kindness and I thanked him for the tour.
Two sisters on spring break in Fort Lauderdale — one from South Carolina and one from Pennsylvania — met early to watch the sunrise. Thrilled with the photo I took of them, the sisters sent the picture to their parents.
Visiting the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, I had the honor of standing behind this World War II veteran as he took in the memorial. Later, I asked his wife if I could email them a copy of the image. She didn’t have an email but she gave me their son’s information.
A couple on their honeymoon take in the sunrise from the stone breaker wall. I waited on the shore for them to walk back so that I could give them a copy of this photo.
I photographed this man and his three dogs every morning for a week as they marched along the surf. Finally, on the last day of vacation, I caught up with him to send copies of three different days.
I timed my ride on the London Eye so that we would see the sunset going up and the city lights on our way down. As we reached the highest point, this car appeared to be perched atop London. A couple inside waved as I snapped this shot. I waited at the bottom of the ride for them so I could share my photo.
Attendees of the City of Night festival launch lanterns into the sky. I was able to share the photo with the family whose feet are hanging in the frame.