Some days it can seem like accomplishing even the smallest thing takes a huge amount of effort. Then I consider the self-assigned task I have placed before me: Collect 10,000 images of the affectionately-inclined from around the world. Whew. That’s a bit of a mind bender. Especially when the effort also includes editing 1,000+ archive images gathered over the past four years and preparing them for upload to the archive on The Smooch! Project website. It can sometimes feel like a slow, slogging march toward a future that seems so far away.
But I know we are making progress. We’ve got a good team of volunteers working on the task. As I’ve told several people over the last few months, I feel like we’ve been pushing a boulder uphill for the last four years and I am getting a strong sense that we are very near the summit. I can’t see it clearly, of course, because I am still behind the boulder pushing. But the light around the edges seems to be getting brighter. More and more people are stepping up and adding their strength to the task. Someday soon, we’ll reach the top and that boulder will begin to quickly roll down the other side of the mountain. Then our task will be to keep up with the darn thing as it builds speed and momentum. Then, of course, we’ll have a whole ‘nuther set of challenges!
In the meantime, we continue our effort to complete the current collection of archive images and get them online for everyone who is so patiently waiting to see them. Progress is being made. Here’s an example:
This is my friend Ya Landa, being smooched by her youngest son, Dale. This photo was collected during Smooch! Shoot #5, in May 2006. You can see the image still needs editing. For example, this shoot is where I realized that my backdrop needed a light-proof liner. We had set up the backdrop against a picket fence. See the sunlight leaking through, outlining the wooden slats? Sigh. So much to learn! But that was part of the process. The Smooch! Project grew up here in the Twin Cities and after four years of mistakes, we think we know what we are doing. Most of the time.
This photograph is now being edited in preparation for its final upload to The Smooch! Project website. I’ve included it here not only to demonstrate that we are working our way through the historical photos in the archive, but to highlight the contribution made to The Smooch! Project made by Ya Landa. Four years ago, I asked for her help. I had just begun collecting images for this brand new art project and I was concerned that all the people I had photographed to date were all white like me. Hardly representative of the community I wanted to include in the project. I spoke with Ya Landa about it and, within ten seconds flat, I got a personal invitation to attend her family’s BBQ coming up the next weekend. She and her beautiful relatives welcomed me, fed me, and allowed me to take their photographs that day. They did not turn out as well as I would have liked but that was entirely the fault of the photographer, certainly not the subjects.
Over the last four years, there have been many people who have helped and nurtured The Smooch! Project effort.Ya Landa was one of the first to do so. For her support, I am sincerely grateful. It is people like her who have greatly contributed to the making of The Smooch! Project. I no longer regard this project as a personal effort. To me, The Smooch! Project has truly become a community art project. (Frankly, I think it always was but it just took me awhile to understand this. Guess I’m a bit slow sometimes.) For this, we all have Ya Landa to thank. Just wanted to be sure you knew.
The Smooch! Project is powerful because, at first glance ,it is simply joyful and fun. But layered underneath is a deep discipline demonstrating that love touches us all, that we are all deserving — no matter what. And THAT is a transformative truth.