I met a family today. As I walked up to the home, there was Chance, a boy about 10 years old sitting in the grass surrounded by a litter of blue heeler puppies. For the harsh wind he wore a ragged Levi's button up with the fur around the collar - that was our first connection.
"I like your jacket." I said. He looks up. I had on a fur collar jacket as well.
"It's my favorite." he said.
It was a scene that would haunt me forever if I didn't ask for a photograph.
"Can I take your photograph with the puppies?"
I think he was shocked that I didn't ask him to smile. But it was exactly what I needed - real.
I was there with a friend who's connected to the family - a five generation ranching family. After a few minutes of puppy play, the chug of a diesel truck pulling onto the gravel driveway consumed all other noise. A father and two boys get out of the truck hauling what looked to be a load of 10+ cattle. It was thrilling to have broken the barrier of what is familiar to me by a simple left turn off a common highway. I was thrust into a very different way of life for only 30 minutes. It was beautiful.
I recently told someone I had no emotional connection to photography. I even went so far to say I wasn't emotionally connected to the images I've made. He challenged me instantly, calling my words "bullshit", causing me to think seriously of why I actually think that. Have you ever hurt someone in an attempt to spare yourself of the pain you believed they would cause you if you didn't hurt them first? I believe that's why I repeatedly reject photography. I'm afraid to be made a fool by it. It hasn't much to do with failure, but a fear of settling with it.
I have very human-like relationships with things not human. Music and photography being the center of that. Though this causes extreme dysfunction, it has brought me to a depth of intimacy with each that I wouldn't trade. Today was a reminder of my undeniably deep appreciation for photography met with the confusion that love is and what it asks for.
Cheers to the journey unknown.
Matthew W. Kennelly