The email came through on a regular morning, business operating as usual, us refilling our coffee mugs consistently, but the words of a particular email that was waiting for us stopped us in our tracks.
The writer was asking if we knew someone who would be able to benefit from photographic gear left to her from her deceased spouse. She was struggling to part with it, it was one of the last pieces she had held onto that belonged to him. The hands that once held that camera body had held her heart, and now he was gone.
Keith and I have always known that it's people that cause us to get up in the morning and love each passing day. Lifelong friendships are often formed on week long photography workshops. Our friends have become those we photograph with on a regular basis. It truly is people that make up our photographic world, and so it's truly from our heart when we say that it is the people who make us love what we do everyday, and although we had never met this woman, her letter and desire to trust us with this treasure was truly humbling.
We immediately responded and promised her we would wait for the right person to come along, and when we knew in our heart that we found him/her, we would share the story of the original owner.
A few weeks later, a box arrived on our front step and we knew what it was before opening it. It's difficult to put into words the feelings that circulated through our kitchen that morning. There was a delay in receiving the package because the writer was having a difficult time letting it release from her hands. In all truth, this blog post has been written and percolating for weeks, but I've been unable to release it to the public because there's not only a responsibility to give honor to this man, but there's something heavy in my heart that I had to articulate within myself before I could share it with you. His legacy has hung thick in the air.
The arrival of this gear, given in tender memory of someone special, clearly showed us that long after the friendships from workshops have faded, our ability to travel has been limited, and the last sunset has been captured, our legacy will continue in our photographs. Held and beloved by our family, the essence of our eye, the gateway to our heart will remain.
This truth is an easy concept to let roll off our tongues, but a hard concept to digest and allow to settle into the very depth of our souls. How would our photographic process change if we understood that a moment photographing in the field will encapsulate a story that will touch the souls of others long after we have passed? When the soles of our feet touch the earth to photograph, we can know with confidence that a soul will be touched by our experience.
Why do we photograph? It's life giving in the field, and life sustaining long after we are gone. When we can truly appreciate the value of what we do in the field is longer lasting than just a fun trip with friends, we may start scratching the surface of our art. When we allow the truth to wrap around and sink into our actions regarding the value of our passion, I firmly believe we will approach the wilderness with sacred footsteps.
Your photography is the essence of your eye, the record of your footsteps, a moment of your life stilled and waiting to be embraced by others.
Emmett has taught us this truth. It took receiving his gear for this truth to seep into our hearts and settle. It's easy to undervalue what we do everyday as photographers. After all, there are more photographers today than ever before. Your journey will be different from ours, your itineraries will be varied and your experience unique to you. However, there is only one you, there's only one me, and there's only one Emmett.
If you will, allow me to share with you one mans legacy and his images from those who loved him:
Emmett Stuart Ingersoll III
"I guess I'd just like the person or people who use the camera to know how many great memories I have of watching him work with it. He was the type of person who learned absolutely everything about a subject in which he had an interest, and photography was no different. He was not a "point and shoot" kind of guy - he loved the complexities and skill required for true artistic photography, and he was incredibly good at it.
He was a brilliant man whose loss can never be healed, even after all these years. But it's time for someone else to find joy in these things that he treasured." - Lia Keston