A Camera Around My Neck: Finding Possibilities Through My Viewfinder

Walking down the streets of New York City was like a game to me: how could I get from point A to point B without losing a consistent rhythm, not to be interrupted by red light, man or motor vehicle. My mom taught me to walk this way: fast, faster and fastest, interspersed with a dodge and a weave whenever necessary.

My walk was part of my identity and inheritance, but after the accident, (a fall out of a car that left me with several broken bones in my leg), I could not envision walking with that speed and spring in my step again. Further, I became aware that when I walked, my eyes were cast downward out of fear that I would trip on uneven pavement and break another bone or two. Head down, shoulders rounded, the gum-laden concrete became my companion, until the day I put a camera around my neck.

Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan

The camera became my passport to lift my gaze and watch children awed by floating bubbles, to admire the dedication of a man greeting the morning fog with a sun salutation, and to revere the transparency of butterfly wings in front of the sun. My shoulders and head unfurled to allow me to capture those moments I witnessed through the lens. My desire to photograph moments of beauty overshadowed the fear I had become so comfortable living with.

In time, I started to look downward again, but it was to discover the beauty of flower petals drying and twisting into autumn. It was to stand on a hill and look below to see rowboats in Central Park glistening with the light of the morning sun. I even became reacquainted with the grimy gray concrete, but only to sit on so that I could get under metal grating through which I could photograph the bright blue sky.  My spirit and my body awakened to the possibilities of what I could see in the viewfinder.  

Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan

My camera became my emotional and physical healer. But now that is not enough for me. I have a clear desire to become a better photographer. While I still enjoy photographing a lovely moment that is nicely composed, I want to push myself to tell a story in one image.

To help me on that journey, and to celebrate my one year anniversary of getting back on my feet and hanging my camera bag across my body, I bought a new camera, two lenses, and some studio equipment to explore portraiture. At Adorama, I have a community where I can ask questions, take interesting classes and have my work critiqued. I learned to tether to my computer so that I can instantly critique my own work, and I joined my first photography meet-up where I met some great people who took me under their wings, and convinced me to share my photos with them on Instagram. 

Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan
Photo by Lori Sloan

I still don’t know what type of photographer I want to be, nor do I feel an urgency to choose. I am having way too much fun feeling free, and exploring the possibilities. And I don’t move as fast as I used to, but I have come to accept that, and even appreciate it. I allow that slower pace to give me time to scan the urban landscape, to look for little details that make life curious and ironic and beautiful. 

So if you happen to see me walking down the streets of NYC, it is not likely that you will see me dodging and weaving.  You will most likely see me with a camera and a big lens hanging around my neck with my eyes darting as quickly as my legs used to. The game has changed, but that’s okay. Sometimes life forces you to change the game, but there might just be another one in town that feels much more meaningful.