Life Lessons

One of the most rewarding experiences I have had as a photographer is when I capture an image so powerful that words become almost irrelevant. Where just a glance can take you to a “Moment in Time” that is so vivid, it almost feels like it just happened.  The emmotion it may invoke will be different for every person.  Some may find themselves immersed into the story being told, while others may have their own memory associated with the subject on display.  My goal with every photograph is to touch you in a way that leaves a lasting impression.  What I am about to tell you is my story, but I have no doubt that many of you have had some very simular experiences of your own.


I have been blessed with a very fortunate life.  Don’t get me wrong, it has come with its share of ups, downs, twists, and turns along the way.  I have been very fortunate to have the love and support of my family and friends, many of whom have encouraged me to continue this photography journey that I have now been on for a while.  I have found this journey to be both rewarding and frustrating, often at the same time.  Over the years I could see myself getting better and better but I was still nowhere near my destination, or goal if you will.  I have come to realize that in reality this “goal” has become an infinite objective that is always evolving and expanding, a goal I will likely never reach.  I have also learned that the most inspiring photos I have taken were not always the most aesthetically pleasing, or even properly exposed. They may never grace the cover of a magazine or even be found hanging on a wall.  They might simply get lost in the archives, never noticed by anyone but me.  This leads me to the story about one evening spent in Portland Oregon. 

I have always been interested in cityscapes, especially at night.  I love how the details of the day become mere shadows of night, while the unnoticeable details of day become highlights when the sun goes down.  The complexion of a city can comepletely change when nightfall begins.  This was one of my first experiences shooting downtown Portland.  I was so excited to finally get an opportunity after a long day at work.  The challenge is that I live in Seattle and had to drive back.  This meant that I had to make good use of my time while down there.  I remember walking the waterfront looking for some good compositions that were different from the ones I had seen previously on various social media sites.  I also remember being confronted with a number of emotions that I had never taken the time to understand before.  I was in a beautiful city, so full of hopes and dreams. The view was magnificent, but the people left me to ponder my own life and what I really cherish about it. I saw families walking their dogs.  Kids running around playing.  I saw joggers listening to their favorite songs while their heart continued to beat to the pace of their legs. I say bikers flying down the paths dodging people with ease like they had done it a hundreds of times. I also saw people that were just sitting and enjoying the view and taking in the night air…

But then there were the homeless…  They were all around me.  As I think about it now, there was probably so many out because it was not raining finally, and not at all cold.  I remember not even wearing a jacket myself.  If you have ever been to this location, you know that there is a very large population of homeless people that congregate down there.  I remember walking by this place and wanting to get a photo of the Hawthorne Bridge through the trees but there was a man just sitting there on the rocks.  I wondered if he was ever going to leave, completely unaware of what he was doing because I was so caught up with myself to even notice.   I figured I could stop on the way back and most likely he would be gone. I was right!!!  What I didn’t realize was what he would leave behind.  In fact, at the time I took the photograph I still didn’t realize it.  I was in too much of a hurry to notice much of anything.  It wasn’t until I got home and put these photos on my computer, that I realized what I had actually captured.  This gentlemen had left behind a photograph of a family that included what appeared to be him, his wife, and two kids.  Based upon what I remembered of this man, it was clear that he was one of the many homeless people down there that night.  That is when it dawned on me, this was likely a portrait of a family that this man had lost. I sit here years later and still cannot get this photo out of my head or even begin to imagine what he must have been feeling that night.  I wonder what has become of him and his family.  I can only hope that this man has found some peace and strength to keep fighting.  I can only hope that he has found his way back to his family and that he has found some meaning to his life. That night taught me a lot about life and how quickly it passes us by.  I have learned to slow my pace and enjoy these moments in time no matter how small. There will become a time for us all when the little things will mean so much more than we could have ever imagined.  Unfortunately it oftentimes takes a mournful loss, to help us realize this.  But on occasion a simple photograph with little artistic merit, can remind us just how fragile life really is and how quickly it can disappear. 

I hope you have enjoyed my story and the photos that have inspired this experience.  This is my first attempt at blogging so feedback is welcome and appreciated.  You can find my other photography work (improved since these were taken) at my website or at other social media sites like 500px or flickr.  

Thank you for reading. 

Steven Lamar


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