Our August/September issue is overflowing with great articles! You’ll be inspired by the story of 99-year-old photographer Thelma Pepper, and you’ll be craving pizza after reading Michael Ernest Sweet’s photographer’s guide to getting the best shots in New York City. Jon Reaves shares tips for strengthening your images in familiar locations, plus there’s an interview with jazz concert photographer Bill King, an article on Paul Seesequasis’ photo project showcasing Indigenous life, and much more!
When I think about this issue, I think about discoveries. Whether it’s a great place to shoot in NYC, a glimpse into rarely seen Indigenous historical images of everyday life, or investing time really getting to know a place inside and out, there are so many wonderful things that can happen when we expose ourselves to completely new things—and when we try to see familiar things anew.
I was particularly touched by Cynthia Haynes‘ article, “The Great Connector: Thelma Pepper Refuses to Let the ‘Ordinary Women’ of Saskatchewan Be Forgotten.” Photography was a later-in-life discovery for Thelma Pepper; she bought her first camera at the age of 60. After caring for others all her life, photography gave her something to do for herself. She discovered that it made her feel good about herself; she found joy and meaning in photographing others, particularly older women. I’ll leave you with part of Cynthia Haynes’ text to hold you over until you get your hands on the issue.
The strong presence of women in Pepper’s portfolio wasn’t immediately intentional. She says, “I started out photographing men and women together, but it was the women who appealed to me. Perhaps I identified with them because, as pioneers, they carried so much of the responsibility of the day-to-day survival but were generally overlooked because the men would get most of the credit. Once they started sharing their ideas with me, I wanted to know what was important to them. I wanted to know their life stories—where they came from, what their values were. And I wanted them to see themselves the way I saw them: strong and determined.”
“I couldn’t believe such women existed,” she continues. “They had 15 or 20 children to raise, all the meals to make, farm work to do, and cows to milk. I was just amazed at all they did. They’d tell me their stories about losing their husbands and keeping the farm going, about not being able to afford clothing for their children, and I couldn’t help but wonder what they would have done if they did what they really wanted to do.”