on trying

Any day I sit in my garden and think to look for the hummingbird, she arrives. She can come, too, when I’m not looking, but she’s more of a mystery then. It feels like a good metaphor for the last year and a half of freelancing full time. It’s almost like I pull things toward me when my intent and my attention are aligned – something I’m very grateful to write holds true even when it gets quiet. I’m learning how to differentiate stillness from tension. The steady pull before you’re propelled forward and upward.

This April, I had the opportunity to photograph American literary icon Alice Walker for The New York Times. When I left her home and began the drive back to Oakland, tears welled in my eyes and I was absolutely convinced that I had failed. From the moment I met her – or rather, she met me, bent over whispering squeaky affirmations to her canine partner Ede (pronounced like Eddie but spelled more sophisticatedly, in her words) – I was swept in the spell of her presence. Dramatic things deserve dramatic words! 

I worried that my photographs didn’t measure up to her legacy. Or, I feared what it would say about me if they did.

On the phone with my friend and fellow photographer Sarahbeth Maney (you know her from the deservedly famous photo of Ketanji Brown Jackson and her daughter Leila, whom she recently photographed and interviewed for Teen Vogue) I confided about the growing pit in my stomach. Working then as the New York Times Photo Fellow, she asked if she could look at my take and, to my astonishment, loved it. After the story was published, I learned that many others loved it too.

I took some extra time to write this dispatch to you because I wanted to have something to say. I think that the thing I want to say is to try. So many wonderful things await on the other side of trying. Not only is it true in my life, but it holds in the lives of the people I surround myself with. Sometimes trying is making it through the day and remembering to drink water. Count me in on the calls heralding in Hydrated Girl Summer.

Try choosing hope. Try choosing rest. But above all, try choosing love. Justice is love.

I have some incredible plans for this summer. I hope to share some big news soon. In the meantime, please get in touch with any portraits or projects that bring you to the Bay Area or Northern California. And if you happen to be around, let’s get coffee! We’re outside again this summer.

May happy days be ahead,
Marissa

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