I recently attended an awards banquet for the company my wife works for. Normally, I would avoid such things, but this was going to be held in the ballroom of the Atlanta’s new aquarium and catered by Wolfgang Puck. It’s not likely I’ll get many opportunities to attend an event at the aquarium, and I’m even less likely to get another opportunity to do so at someone else’s expense. So I went.
The evening was much like any business gala, except this was at an aquarium. The ballroom has two large windows that look out into the aquariums. One into the Beluga tank, the other into the fish tank, which houses the whale sharks as well as the other fish. Laura and I browsed the ballroom watching the sea creatures, and mingling with her colleagues. I have been to her office enough times to be acquainted with most of her co-workers. There were some new people who had joined the company since my last visit, and there were the significant others. I greeted all the spouses and girlfriends and boyfriends. We chatted for a while, saying the things that people typically say when compelled to hang out with people they don’t know.
As the official start of the evenings activities were to begin, we made our way to the table. A few people who had been touring the public part of the aquarium showed and and made their way to the table reserved for the company. As they sat down there were more greetings and introductions. As Laura was saying yet again, “This is my husband marcus,” one of her colleagues girlfriends said something to me that had a very powerful effect on me. What she said wasn’t that deep, and if she had been wrong would have escaped me, all she said was “Oh, you’re the photographer.” I wouldn’t call myself a photographer. I would certainly never introduce myself that way, but after thinking about it for just a moment. I replied, “Yes I am.”
Last year I provided some of my better photos to Laura’s company for a calendar project they were working on. Essentially they compiled the photos into a 15 month calendar. They printed several thousand of these calendars and distributed them to their clients. The calendars were very popular. It seemed that every day after they were distributed, my wife was reporting back that someone else was complementing the photos. It was very exciting. Most of the compliments came from people I don’t know and will never meet.
I’ve been many things in my life, and I’ve been called a great many more. I am not a professional photographer, and have never been one. At best I am an amateur enthusiast, but being recognized and identified as a photographer just felt right. I was initially surpised by my reaction to the comment, but as I thought about it made a lot of sense. It was the first time in my life that someone uttered the words, “You are a…” followed by a label, title, or epithet that I was particularly proud to wear.