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I had this idea in my head. Maybe put three pictures up in my office, each representing something important about what I do. Counseling reminder. A touchstone for the eye of sorts. Well, like I said, it was in my head and as I realized one of the three pictures I wasn’t going to be able to get, and the others were certainly copyrighted, the three sort of evolved as I looked for alternatives. So in looking for a different way to go, in my head, we went from three reminders to 96 reminders. It’s why my wife refers to what comes out of my noggin as ‘cumbersome’ on occasion.

So. I am mostly a counselor, but I have also studied and practiced a bunch of other things including cuisine and photography. I always wanted to have an idea why some folks in every field are wildly successful compared to many of their contemporaries, so I always checked a bunch of them out. So, here come 96 people and quotes attributed to them, if there are any – 24 chefs, 24 photographers, 20 people associated with psychology directly, and then 28 none of the above people whose lives or words remind me what to strive towards as a counselor, a counseling business owner, and a general human being. The only problem was stopping. There have been a lot of people who for one reason or another inspire me, lots more names on the potential list but it had to at least pause somewhere, so here we are.

I don’t rightly know if writing these out and posting them will be of any use to anyone else but I’m reasonably sure codifying the whole thing will drive it home for me and hopefully offer some encouragement and centering for our folks. Hope you get something out of one or two of them too.

Steve McCurry

Photograph by Steve McCurry

It took some bit of education for me to begin to understand what made some images look so compelling. Some look like a disaster, some like a phone snap, some look better, some look like art and some capture things a still image shouldn’t be able to, something more than could be contained in a multi-episode documentary, all in a single blink of the shutter. Gotta have mad respect for someone who consistently creates the latter. Steve McCurry has that bit of magic. You probably don’t know his name but probably have seen one of his best known images, a photo titled Afgan Girl, later identified as Sharbat Gula a young lady who’s piercing green eyes offer some insight into life amid invasion and war. This guy puts himself in places most wouldn’t go, connects with people in a way that allows them to show some significant part of their world/soul/experiences as etched into their faces or environment, and in that moment…he knows his equipment and has trained his eye and brains to capture it all so the rest of the world might experience it. Now, the shot of Sharbat Gula is amazing, there is another frame of a man portaging a sewing machine (his livelihood?) through flood waters. It carries the weight of life in a part of the world I have never seen, living that life in a specific time of unimaginable hardship, and even more amazingly the indelible smile on the guys face, I can only guess on the back of being able to go to work in the midst of natural disaster. Yeah, there’s a monsoon, but if I put my sewing machine on my shoulder, I can wade my way to help some folks with things they need and put some food on the table. Love the sentiment. Here’s how Mr. McCurry talks about his art.

 “Most of my images are grounded in people. I look for the unguarded moment, the essential soul peeking out, experience etched on a person’s face.”
Steve McCurry

“A picture can express a universal humanism, or simply reveal a delicate and poignant truth by exposing a slice of life that might otherwise pass unnoticed.”
Steve McCurry

“A still photograph is something which you can always go back to. You can put it on your wall and look at it again and again. Because it is that frozen moment. I think it tends to burn into your psyche. It becomes ingrained in your mind. A powerful picture becomes iconic of a place or a time or a situation.”
Steve McCurry

“If you wait, people will forget your camera and the soul will drift up into view.”
Steve McCurry

“We photographers say that we “take” a picture, and in a certain sense, that is true. We take something from people’s lives, but in doing so we tell their story.”
Steve McCurry

 I love this guy’s work because he clearly engages with people and places in a way that lets him see something in them most probably wouldn’t have noticed were they standing there in person. That is a guy striving to see and understand something in a way that requires more than most of us would be willing to give and he reminds me that I owe that to people who trust us with the well-being at Balance Better. I’ve heard people have given him criticism for using photoshop etc. Sounds like something I’d say to conceal the jealousy of never getting a grab like so many of his. Whaaaaa. Doesn’t matter. Don’t know him. Don’t know his process. All I know is his shots move me.

Secondly, the specific image reminds me that how you perceive your circumstances are often more important than your actual circumstance and if people who can’t change their circumstances can learn to alter their perceptions, their lives can be improved significantly. Or made worse. We all get and make our choices.

More about Steve McCurry: Website & Blog

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