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"Newspapers may come and go, but great storytellers will be with us forever" Karen Pulfer Focht
Berto Guerrero and his baby Massi were strolling in the west loop last Saturday. John H. White and I were heading to get breakfast and catch up. John H. White is my hero, dearest friend and mentor. He is the kind of person that is a blessing to everyone he meets.
White is a Pulitzer Prize winner who worked for the Chicago Sun Times before they decided to lay off their entire staff. Even though White is retired, he still carries his camera everywhere he goes; he still has the rookie spirit with a pro's eye and a passion for visual storytelling.
Guerrero happened to catch John's eye. It was the way he lovingly carried his baby while multitasking, carrying his dry cleaning and drinking his coffee. White stopped to take his picture. As the two started to talk White determined that he and this baby shared the same birthday. Coincidence? White told the baby's father that he would send him a photo of the sunrise from the day the baby was born. It is Whites habit to start each day on the lake as the sunrises over lake Michigan and meditate.
Guerrero mused of how much love he felt for his new little baby. We stood outside of the Oprah Winfrey Harpo Studios and exchanged some pleasantries. We smiled together all feeling blessed by our chance encounter. I told Guerrero it was his lucky day and that he had no idea how special the man is who just took his picture.
White said as we walked away "there are some pictures we take and there are some pictures that say take me" Always the teacher he then added "there are visual treasures out there for those who see them and those who are alert to them."
"Be blessed,” he said to Guerrero as we walked away. White who is a minister’s son, in many ways is unaware of what a blessing he is to everyone he encounters, whether he takes their picture or not.
For more than 25 years, I was blessed with a front row seat to life in Memphis. Being a photojournalist is the greatest job in the world, capturing fleeting moments in time.
Photographing the stories of the people in Memphis and being part of their lives-- often as some of their most important experiences are unfolding--is a privilege and a responsibility.
Working for a newspaper opens doors. My position brought me into the White House, to New Zealand, China, France and Peru. I got the chance to meet all sorts of people, the powerful and the powerless, and experience extraordinary things every day.
I sometimes got to go where everyone wanted to go--and I also went where no one wanted to go. I saw a lot of pain. You have to be brave to be a photojournalist. I saw many people on the worst days of their lives, as they experienced or recalled the worst possible things.
Witnessing the pain, sorrow, crime and poverty so intimately does take a toll on one's soul.
So I restore my soul in nature. I find respite seeking and sharing the beauty that lies just under the surface. You have the eyes to see it.
Karen Pulfer Focht~Artist In Residence
The Time Catcher
January 21-March 20, 2015
Sparks Chapel Gallery at Briarcrest High School
76 S Houston Levee Rd, Eads, TN 38028