I met her at an orphanage in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. While standing in a circle of adults, she caught my attention in my peripheral vision. What I see out of the corner of my eye often becomes the grounds for an encounter of the extraordinary kind. This moment was no exception.
I excused myself from the conversation and made my way across the schoolyard to the orphanage’s well where Peace was drawing water. This was on February 18, 2007, just some months after the official end of Liberia’s 14-year civil war. In talking with Peace, I learned that her immediate and extended family members were killed in the civil war, and she was making her home at the orphanage, an unusual thing in Liberia since extended families welcome all children into their fold making orphanages unnecessary. I was moved deeply when I realized she was born and given her name, “Peace,” in the midst of a civil war that claimed the lives of her family. I assumed her name reflected the deep yearning of her parents caught up in the ravages of war.
This photo of Peace has remained in my files for the last 6 years, almost forgotten until I encountered the eyes of another Liberian child in a photograph at a friend’s house. Peace came to mind, and I returned to the file. With the skills I have acquired in post-camera processing since then, I was now confident I could develop the image in a manner that did justice to Peace and her circumstances.
My learning from this experience is that I now want to turn around every now and then to revisit images made previously. I want to glean untouched nuggets and apply new methodologies that are now within my reach. I want to re-examine my “finished” images because new insight may bring them to life in new ways. I want to take advantage of my ongoing learning in a way that might unleash potential in files that have been buried on my computer for years.
Peace has again become a visible presence in my life, thanks to my ongoing learning.
Contributed by Sharon Brown Christopher