There is a moment that happens when creating a photo when everything around me becomes still. I can see clearly. The image appears, like a bolt of inspiration. My index finger responds quick to release the shutter, and the camera blinks. In the span of seconds this moment, whole and with spirit, becomes a record.
Over the years I’ve photographed diverse places and people from Mali, West Africa to Austin, Texas. Through my works, I strive to express the importance of diversity, community, and justice—whether I am photographing a landscape or a protest. I believe that humans embody a deep connection to place. So when Light.co asked me to share one of my favorite locations to make pictures for their #VantagePointProject, I immediately thought of a recent moment that has become very special to me. Today, I’d like to share the image I contributed to the project, along with the story of how it was made. Last Saturday I joined a few of my comrades at the Texas State Capitol here in Austin to march in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. The D.C. march alone estimates 3 million in attendance, and with over 600 sister marches that took place, it’s safe to say we set a record. This past week I’ve been pouring over the (many) amazing images from the marches—documented moments that will one day become iconic in our minds.
On the day of the march, the weather was pleasant. The sun was bright and the air was clear. Handmade signs peppered a sky-blue back drop. Chants rose from the crowd in intervals, while hands clapped in rhythm. Feet touched down on pavement to create an improvisational base line. I tried my best to take it all in, to note the nuances and details that caught my attention. My camera was at the ready at all times. The above photograph was made in route back to the capital building. I could feel the palpable energy begin to consolidate. I searched around me for a memory.
I had been trying to get a good photo of the marcher with the pink radical feminism emblem. This symbol reminds me of the many conversations I’ve had with my homies about the importance of intersectionality in grassroots movement building, about inclusive feminism, and about centering women of color within our movements. At last, the marcher holding the sign lifted it into the air and other marchers slowed down enough for me to have a clear view. And then stillness arrived, right on time, as the sign juxtaposed the capitol, the blue sky, and a sea of surrounding marchers. I positioned myself, elbows tucked in for stability, hands embracing my camera body. My left fingers adjusted the zoom, while my right index finger responded quick to release the shutter. The camera blinked. I looked at the viewfinder, confirming the image was decent, and eased my grip. Then I rolled up my sleeves, looked forward, and kept marching.
Thanks to Light.co for this partnership opportunity. May we continue to celebrate our radical moments, and movements.
Image specs: Camera: Nikon D5100 // Lens: DX AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G // Exposure: 1/200 second at f/1.8 with ISO 100 // *Lean more about Light.co and the Light L16 camera here.