Saturday, June 2, 2012
Today is a huge day for my dear friend, Leslie "Pineapple" Krom. Firstly, today across the country millions of people are opening up the July 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine and there she is in living color and taking up almost all of page 118. On the opposite page is her story as it was told to another dear camp friend, Anna "Jiffy" Davies who writes for Cosmo. Leslie's honesty amidst the incredible burden of her cancer journey is bold and beautiful. And when the headline on the page slaps you with, "Do I look like I'm dying?", you indeed do a double-take looking at the photograph. Leslie isn't "dying", she is living and she is paying attention to each and every moment of this gift. Her timetable may be different but that only intensifies her experience more. Wasting time for her is inconceivable and that is such a beautiful way to see the world.
The backstory that will NOT be read by millions is pretty classic and has such a beautiful Camp Goodtimes twist. A few months ago Pineapple wanted to come out to my studio so I could take her portrait. Since uncertainty looms over her future she wanted me to capture her in this stage of her life and I was excited about having her come out. Having known her for 15 years through camp and having seen the struggles that she continues to face it was absolutely my pleasure to spend the afternoon and evening hanging out and taking pictures. Her beauty is as genuine as it gets. If you were totally blind (like some of our campers are) you would "see" it and feel it immediately too.
We had a wonderful time that day and it even included some pyrotechnics. At one point I asked my son Miles, "Monkey Boy" as Pineapple knows him, to run and grab our last Christmas tree and put it in the pasture about 40 behind Pineapple and told him to torch it! He was thrilled by the idea and the photos were 'ablaze' with color (sorry, couldn't resist that one).
At about the same time as we had planned our shoot, the incomparable Anna "Jiffy" Davies from Camp Goodtimes and now Cosmopolitan magazine approached Pineapple about telling her story in the magazine. Pineapple loved this idea because she is determined to make a difference in this world. This spotlight would enable her to affect untold numbers of people by perhaps helping them look a little more deeply at their own lives and at the same time develop more compassion for others. Jiffy told the editors at Cosmo that Pineapple's friend was a professional photographer and so there might already be a great photograph to use in the magazine. Cosmo instead put together an all day photo shoot in Seattle with a photographer, assistant, make-up artist etc. The result? The editors wound up picking one of the photographs that I took in my garden. I did have a wonderful assistant that day, and that was a 15 year friendship with someone I really care about. In that photograph, she is smiling at a friend, and that's absolutely the coolest thing. The editors don't know that, they just liked the photograph better. Funny and fitting that they picked one that had a little bit of something extra in it, and that intangible was the connection between the people in front of and behind the camera. That's a true portrait.
I'm so happy for Leslie that she was able to tell her story and get it out to the world in such a spectacular fashion. I'm also so thankful that Jiffy is such a ninja of a human being who in between getting novels published (blast you, you overchiever!), still had time to make this happen.
OK...and that's just the FIRST reason for this amazing day, the second reason is even more incredible. Tonight, Pineapple will be giving a speech before 300 people at the American Cancer Society's Hope Gala. Her speech will be just prior to the paddle raise which will fund Camp Goodtimes directly. I produced a short video in which I will introduce her to the attendees and then she will take the stage. In the audience will be three full tables of Camp Goodtimes supporters including her dear mom who has been beside her every single step of the way. Pineapple's words will surely resonate in the minds of the guests long after they leave the event.
I am in awe of Leslie's strength of character, her determination, and her willingness to open her heart to others. Tonight is going to be a night to remember and I am thrilled to be there to capture in photographs the proudest moment of her life. So far that is. This girl has got a lot to do and who knows what the world is in store for next!
Go Pineapple Go!!!