Your Walls

Blog Author Richard Newman

Wikipedia identifies a “wall” as a structure that defines an area, carries a load and provides shelter. I want to look at your walls and what you choose to put on them. Most photographers that I know put photographs on their walls. But what photographs?

I look at the walls in my home everyday, and I have some pretty strange things on them. There’s a dollar bill in a great frame that my Great Dane chewed up, a remote that was destroyed when my Great Dane chewed it up. Do you see a pattern?

There are also a few photographs. I live in a very small home, 950 square feet, mostly windows with little wall space. I have room for one large print, and the rest are small. There are some photographs that mean a lot to me. A photograph by David Michael Kennedy of Muddy Waters hangs in my office, along with a photo from the Shackleton expedition to the South Pole.

I am a self-employed, independent contractor in the visual arts living in a rather remote location away from the hub of commerce. To keep the ball moving down the field and past the goal line can be very challenging. I am also the producer/director of an 85-minute documentary film. There have been many times in the past 5 years since I began working on the project when I have looked at that picture of Muddy, and thought about what he went through—not being able to eat at the lunch counters where his fans ate, sleeping in a car because no one would rent a motel room to a black band, spending 12 hours a day on a tractor and have no money to show for it at the end of the year. All that time, Muddy believed in his music and his message to the people. At times, when my own challenges have been their greatest, I am not ashamed to tell you that I have openly wept looking at Muddy's smile. David Michael Kennedy captured that with this image.

I’ve talked about Earnest Shackelton before. Last year, for my birthday, my wife found an image from his 1914 expedition. For 3 years, Shackelton and his crew were stranded in the Antarctic, on the ice for the first year; and after his ship was crushed on an ice flow, completely on their own—no fleece, no Patagonia winter wear, just their wits and Ernest’s leadership. The expedition did NOT lose a single man. Shackelton’s endurance, wisdom, leadership and pure heart lead them through it all. Remember, half of the year there was no sun and the weather was almost always below zero. When I feel that there is nothing on the horizon, I look at the picture by Frank Hurley, the expeditions photographer, and know that what I face is nothing, and that with belief in myself, I can endure anything.

My walls are my inspiration, my shelter from the world and can define my day. I find courage and strength, sometimes they remind me of funny incidents. They are my walls. What’s on your walls?

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