Going through file folders I’ve carried with me the past 20 years, I stumbled on a letter written to me while I was photo director of a newspaper in 2000. Along with a reporter, I traveled to Massachusetts, to interview and photograph former Norman Rockwell models for a special section. A reader sent a letter saying we had overlooked a model living not 20 miles from the newspaper.
Twenty years later, I realized I never responded to the reader. I wondered if this “forgotten” model was still alive.
After a few phone calls, I reached Cathy Burow. I felt like I was talking to a teenager. She was spirited and funny.
I explained how I got her number and why I was calling. I wanted to travel to California to interview her. She said, “Sure, come on out.”
The beautiful mother of three and grandmother of six looks years younger than her 86 years, smiling easily and laughing often. She has a witty, dry sense of humor wrapped in endearing sarcasm.
I love biographies. I am drawn to psychology—stories about people and human behavior. I long to know why someone builds an inner-city garden more than how he or she actually does it.
I encourage you to follow your curiosity and not quit before you begin.
You do not need to work for a newspaper or magazine to approach someone and ask to photograph or write about them. It may be easier when you call and say, “I am with National Geographic or The New York Times,” but not working for a prestigious publication does not mean people are not approachable.
Choose someone you are curious about. Learn more about them and ask if they will tell you their story. Try to schedule a personal interview and photo session with that person. Perhaps it is a relative you find interesting and want to know more about.
Email your best image (just one, please)—along with the story behind it—to GPH@pur.coop. We may share a sampling of submissions on our website and social media channels.