Photographing Compassion.

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maumeephotowalk.eventzilla.net

Every day is a photo walk.

As I awake, I envision where my travels will take me. What I will be able to see, capture, and embrace in my heart. Organizing this photo walk has very little to do with photography. Our goal is to bring people together with common interests and compassion. We are working extremely hard to do something incredible for a very young woman during an extremely tough time in her life. How easy is it and compelled are you to help out a family member, friend, or neighbor in need? What I want to know, is where the line lies with you between extending your compassion to someone you know and someone you’ve never met. How will our impact affect her life and more importantly, how will it impact ours? I wake up every morning at 6am and do something (as little as it may be) to make this day special for someone I’ve never spoke with. We are not expecting recognition, we are expecting greatness. I need to fill my soul with possibility and leave footprints behind that have left an impact on others, especially within my hometown. In some form or another, everyone is in need; just on different levels. As much as my goal is to convince you to be a part of this event and in return make an impact on Tori’s life, I want you to please take a moment and reflect what legacy you wish to leave on your community. Do you believe in karma? Fate? I want you to know that nothing here is a handout. We want what you are capable of offering. The ability to volunteer, walk, donate, or to give a hug. My promise to you, is that I will offer something to anyone for the rest of my entire life if asked or welcomed. Making an effort is all we are asking for. Sharing my sentiments, or our event is more than the effort we seek. Time is everything and we can no longer take that for granted. If we can capture this compassion and pay it forward, our lives with be filled with meaning and inspiration.
Thank you for your time. God Bless.

Welcome to Tori’s journey. It all began around March 10. Tori started in with a bad cough, congestion and feeling very tired. We went to the doctors and he said she had some sinus issues and put her an on antibiotic. She felt a little better on some days, but then got worse. Her days were full of wanting to do nothing but lay around, her cough got worse and her chest began to hurt. She lost her appetite and began losing some weight. She kept the positive attitude, continued to work and manage her school load, but struggled. We took her back to the doctors, who put her on a stronger antibiotic and told us to get a chest X-Ray if it wasn’t better by Monday.Her chest got better at first, but then got bad again. She began having shortness of breath, lost a few more pounds, her back began to hurt (we assumed it was from coughing so much), she was still very tired. Some days she felt pretty good and other days it was difficult to breathe. She began experiencing extreme night sweats and some numbness and discoloration in her left arm when she was actively using it.We had a chest X-ray done which showed some fluid in her left lung. So back to the doctors we went. The doctor noticed a large swelling around the left side of her neck, almost looking like a football players neck. The doctor then told us that the chest X-ray also showed a large thickening down the middle of the chest. He said that these were all sign of lymphoma – which is a form of blood cancer…and thus it all began.

The Purest Form of Art.

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As I lay on my living room floor frantically grasping on to the final hours of what can arguable be one of the best weeks of my life, I’ve captured something in these finally moments that genuinely reveals my true intentions and love for simplistic purity. I ended a humbling, yet frantic week by myself. The cameras have turned off, my phone is no longer ringing, and the newspaper clippings have been safely tucked away. My door is slightly cracked with the cool breeze brushing against my tired eyes. My three-legged cat is glued to the porch light. His curiosity astonishes me and his ears perk every moment, as they are laced with sensory overload. He knows there’s another world out there but loves the comfort of the familiarity and security that lies within my tiny home. I finished the day up by walking throughout Uptown Maumee and Sidecut Metropark in order to once again regain the mundane, repetitious grind in which I love and lost this past week. It’s my indescribable version of “Honey, I’m home.” And I could not be any happier.

I can not thank everyone enough for making this all a possibility. You know who you are, and without you, none of this was possible. You took my corny hobby and made it into a small art form (your words, not mine). I went from hopping out of my truck to take a photo (on my phone) in my muddy sneakers in Swanton, to selling a framed version next to a wine truck in Sylvania. I was truly out of my element. Last Friday, I was beyond nervous and full of unanswered promises that would comfort me with assurances. I was twelve years old, lying awake in the wee hours of the night before the big dance. I was kissing my arm and trying to convince myself that I was nearing perfection by doing something that I had absolutely no idea how to do properly. I was the four foot nothing kid with the bowl cut and hand me down clothes. I didn’t want to be prom king. I wanted to make it through the night without having any parsley stuck in my teeth. I didn’t want to trip and fall flat on my face. I was here to be noticed in a positive light. A small night light that would allow me to escape unharmed and more prepared.

Within the first half hour, I hid in the far corner. I would randomly peak through my fingers to see if I was even being noticed. It was a very uncomfortably curiosity that I could not periodically avoid. Nervously doodling nonsense on a scrap piece of paper, I tried to overcome any reluctant thoughts that were now crossing my mind. Eventually, time cures all anguish and I dealt with my current predicament with the assumption that this may be an experience that I will never have ever again. I needed to step out of my comfort zone to enjoy this amazing opportunity in which I was given.

Several people passed without even glancing in my direction. However, I soon made my first sale within a matter of minutes. Someone wanted something I made? This stranger reached into his pocket to pay me for doing something I love? Something I would pay to do? He thanked me, for my “great work”, and I sat back down in awe thinking about how my photo may be in another’s home. There isn’t a price on that.

I did not have one negative experience my entire two days at the Maple and Main art show. I spoke with a WWII Veteran about abandoned trains. I met the ceramic art teacher at the 577 Foundation and we spoke about door frames and simple beauty. The art teacher at Northview High School purchased several photos to show her class the possibilities of creating something with photography. The Sylvania Art commissioner purchased one of my framed photos. The gentleman who owns an art gallery down the road talked to me about new age photography. The gentleman who wrote an article about me came out to purchase a card (as did his proofreader) I had a woman come up to me and ecstatically say “You have no idea who I am, but I follow you on Photos of NW Ohio and I love your work.” Work? Art? What is going on?

I had friends, family and neighbors make the trip to Sylvania. I spoke with several people that were truly intrigued with seeing my work solely because of a recent newspaper article, thus making the trip. I met a ten year old girl, Leia, who kept coming back with her own money to purchase my photo cards. I never saw that much genuine excitement in anything I’ve ever done my entire life from anyone during my entire life, thus far. I gave her my only canvas print because of her honest sincerity and curiosity with my passion and she said “Thank you, so much”, as she ran away saying “Mom, mom… guess what!!” I knew that I was doing something right. Can you imagine doing something you love, quite possibly every day, that can inspire someone else? Doing something that can make an impact on another’s life by bringing joy from what I aspire to do in life is my ultimate dream. This weekend, that came true; if only for a short time.

Stories like these can go on and on. I’m flattered by the kind words, messages, and emails. I’m speechless that this weather went from predictions of 90% thunderstorms, to near perfection as the only rain I had witnessed was from behind my truck window on my journey home. During that short trip south, a rainbow had literally stretched across the skyline as if almost visually appearing to end at my final destination. As I gracefully bowed out, and get back to the basics of everyday life, I wanted you to know that I will never forget these moments. It really made an impact on my life that will stay in my heart forever. However, don’t feel sorry for me, this dance isn’t over. I’m hesitant to ever use this platform again, or sell any items, but you’ve given me the renewed energy to capitalize on my dreams. That perhaps, life is too short to only dream at night. I’m ecstatic to see where this may go, and if it only goes as far as my walk alone throughout a local metro park, then I’ll gladly take it and hold onto it forever. You’ve assured me that life no longer has to be a daunting grind. Every day I have an opportunity to do and be something special. Thank you for this! Thank you so so much..

Sincerely,
Eric Shanteau