Our People Reflect Our Beauty Back to Us

Click to read my guest blog post on Mission Beautiful and see the video about this talk.

Click to read my guest blog post on Mission Beautiful and see the video about this talk.

One evening I got to sit down with photographer Bonnie Austin Stanley and Singer/Songwriter Mallory Graham of The Rough & Tumble for a conversation quite different from any other I've ever had. Bonnie and I had preselected a list of questions for me to ask Mallory. Bonnie recorded video of the entire conversation. That is the night Mallory and I became friends. It's not every day you meet a true kindred, but if you're paying attention, you'll know it when you see it.

I later wrote a guest blog post about the conversation for Bonnie's ambitious new project called Mission Beautiful. You can imagine how honored I was to be one of her first collaborators. You can read the complete post and view the video over here.

It’s so funny that it changes, what we believe about ourselves, it’s so different than what we believe… we give everybody else the benefit of the doubt but we don’t extend that to ourselves…” “What makes me really beautiful… my collection of people around me…” And then, “I feel like everybody brings out something different in me.
— Mallory Graham

During our talk, Mallory said something about beauty and how it's enhanced by those around us, that captured my attention more than all the other good stuff she said that night. I've thought about it often, and ponder my own perspective on the ways in which the beloved people in our lives enhance our inherent beauty. My take is similar to Mallory's but I have the luxury of time to ponder rather than being expected to reflect without  preparation. I believe that our people - family, friends, partners, associates - see our beauty much more readily than we do ourselves, and then they reflect it back to us. I came to believe this even more when, while creating this photo collage, I was able to take in the way my smile is transformed when I'm with others:

If you don't see your photo in this collage and it's clear you should be here, please accept my apologies. Clearly it means that I either couldn't find a shot of us, or one sadly doesn't exist. And then I had to stop, eventually, and get back to work. Obviously I'll have to create another version one day. Wanna' help me see what we can do to get a fun shot together before then?

If you don't see your photo in this collage and it's clear you should be here, please accept my apologies. Clearly it means that I either couldn't find a shot of us, or one sadly doesn't exist. And then I had to stop, eventually, and get back to work. Obviously I'll have to create another version one day. Wanna' help me see what we can do to get a fun shot together before then?

This image features me in many settings with some of my most beloved people. While I worked on this site's redesign, I explored numerous Squarespace options and considered using many different visual approaches to the ultimate look of this site. In the end, this collage became a side jaunt, rather than a key component of the new site. But it's also too special to discard.

Here is what I wrote the day I finished the bulk of the work seen here: "I'm a little blown away by the reminders of happiness and love that all these photos brought up for me." I also lamented the lack of ready access to shots with some of the people who matter the most in my life. Which gives me another great goal for the new year.

In a nutshell, this is a pretty accurate peek into some of the realities of my life. The people who surround me have always seen my beauty as I do theirs. And the way they reflect it back to me is an incredible gift. A gift which resides firmly at the top of my Ever Evolving And Ever Growing Gratitude List.


Now. Let's circle back around to Mallory, shall we? I shot the photo of her, with band-mate Scott Tyler, when they - The Rough & Tumble - played in Greensboro a few months after the night with Bonnie. It's a low-light, grainy, iPhone shot and I love it regardless of its lack of crisp lines. Perhaps it's because of just how beautiful Mallory is... especially when she's singing with Scott.