The media often sensationalizes the negative side of the internet. Certainly there are some horrid things that occur through any medium, but it seems news reports are driven by a need to generate ‘advertising revenue’ (money) focus on the dark side of life. In a way when all one hears is the negative, it can pervert our view of anything. So in an effort to balance the negative, I will take my own shot at the positive side of the internet.
Over the past two years, I have had the chance to meet in a virtual and in some cases a ‘real life’ sense people through the internet. Yes, I had partaken in online dating through Match and other services, but those ‘intentional’ meeting venues never seemed to work out for me. But as I participated more and more in the photographic community, several wonderful relationships began to emerge. As I’ve mentioned before, Jarrett Gorin invited me to join Weeklyshot, an ‘invitation only’ weekly theme blog. Since that time, Jarrett and I have met face to face many times and have become close friends. Through that community I was then able to met in a virtual way, George Illes, King Douglas and Vernon Trent. I had the pleasure of meeting Vernon in a fated way when we were both in San Diego on business. You see Vernon lives in Germany, so the likelihood of he and I being in the very same city on the very same day is something I view as ‘fated.’
And later during that very same year, King, George, Jarrett and I met in the Bay Area to share time together and have all become very good friends. And finally, Tracy and I will begin our lives together in a ‘real’ way when she and I live together in the kind of relationship I never really thought I’d ever have again. And my world has grown even more knowing her sister Kyla, her boyfriend Rod and their adorable one month old baby girl Addison. I’m proud to be called ‘uncle Mark’ by all of them. And yes, we met online at Weeklyshot.
In just one week Vernon will fly from his home in Germany to spend a week with us. The following day George, his friends, King and his wife Paula, and Jarrett will again all converge in the Bay Area under the pretense of photography, but the reality of our gathering is much more than that. It is to share friendships.
Over the past two weeks I have been very active in another photography blog, Onexposure. In that short time I have come to admire the work of many photographers, but have begun to forge a friendship with a specific artist, Fernand Hick. I was so moved by his work that I offered to purchase one of his images in print for my home. He refused payment and simply offered to send me the file so that I could produce the print here in the US. Fernand and his wife live in Belgium. At some point in my life, I know that I will have the pleasure of shaking Fernand’s hand.
Four years ago I contacted Gary Bradburn a man whose work in the lost art of creating custom Japanese knives was something I admired. Through our mere correspondence, he and I forged a friendship that for me is stronger than the steel which he uses to build his art. Like the others, he and I have met face to face and shared much more than what began from our original interactions.
Three years ago I began to photograph high school music and stage performances. My friend and art mentor Leigh and I began to ‘talk’ over email and I now consider both Leigh and her husband Francis as two of my dearest friends.
And then today I had both the pleasure and honor of meeting Thelma Blizzard of Bliizzart. Thel also participated over at WS, but like me, no longer submits work to that site. I have long admired her work and it almost felt as if I was meeting someone of great notoriety today when she yelled out ‘Mark, I know that is you!’ She was as I expected – engaging, articulate and a person of great depth and insight. In addition I was able to meet her husband Steve and her adorable 3 year old son Ely. All of them came over to our house to relax before their long drive back home. And yes, we spoke of photography, but like my other friends we began to speak of much more. I laugh when Thel refers to herself as ‘just a housewife.’ For me it’s like Van Gogh referring to himself as just ‘a house painter.’
So when I speak of Moments of Humanity, I refer to all of the moments which I just described. As I go to sleep tonight, I will rest as a very rich man. No, I will not attract advertising revenue, but something much more valuable.