“Anything bitin’ today,” he asked as he strolled by, pulling a cart behind him. “Nah. Nothin’ much,” I answered, frustrated and defeated. We’d been out there hours without much to show for our work. “Fishin’s like that sometimes,” he spoke slowly, with knowing in his voice. “But the thing is, you can’t lose hope. You gotta hold on to hope. You hold onto it, hear?” I looked up from my pole at the fierceness in his tone. The air seemed to crackle with electricity.
He lifted the lid of his cart and began to dig around inside. “Ahhhh. Here.” He extended his arm out and urged, “Take it.” I hesitated and he nodded his head. “Go on. Take it, see.” I took the hand net from him and turned it over in my hands. It was metal, well worked, and showed years of use but felt as sturdy as the mighty redwood trees in California.
“Maybe try to catch you some live bait with that net,” he said. “Fish know the difference, ya hear. They know when they’re bein’ fooled. You catch them somethin’ fresh. And don’t you give up.” He paused and looked straight in my eyes. “The world is full of folk who gave up swipin’ their nets, one swipe too soon.”
I stepped into the surf and gave a hearty thrust but came up empty yet again. He leaned forward just a bit and narrowed his eyes. “Hope, young fella. Hope. It may just be that next swipe that reaps a bounty.” With that he turned and went on his way. But as I stared at his footprints quickly disappearing into the wet sand, I felt compelled to dip that life-worn net back to the sea.
Fifteen photographers gathered in January of 2016 with the shared goal of telling stories. Each week, using photographs and sometimes prose, we each shared a story. In the process of pushing ourselves to take the best images we could, we discovered something profound. Excellence is important but striving for perfection stifles. While we may never generate the “perfect” story with our art, what we capture is still the true story of our lives: authentic and raw and real. What we photograph are the things that speak to us in the moment with our families. And that by sharing our stories with the world, we spread Hope that it’s worth hanging in there and that maybe, just maybe, the next swipe of the net will land us ‘a big one.’
We now look forward to sharing our 2017 stories with you. We’ve consolidated our format and added some new photographers to our group. Our wish is that this collective blog featuring a single image per photographer will better showcase our project.