Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Alexandrea was the first person I met in Kayenta. I saw her blonde hair shining in the bright morning sunlight and pulled the jeep into the parking lot where she was walking with a friend.
I always feel clumsy about these encounters and what to say to someone whose picture I want to take. How would I feel if someone jumped out of a car and stopped me on the street and wanted to take my picture?
If it were someone like Alexandrea, I might be flattered and intrigued, and do my best to share my soul with her for a moment in time, though usually, I am like a deer in the headlights when someone tries to photograph me.
On a Navajo reservation, my awkwardness about taking pictures of people was stronger and more complicated. I felt almost sheepish as a photographer from a middle-class Midwestern family living in New York and wandering this new terrain checking out teenagers. In the end, I didn't make many photos of people in Kayenta, and mostly watched from a distance and wondered how to make these kind of connections. But Alexandrea was open, and I loved her face.