‘We All Go Crazy From Looking’: On Visiting A Photography Exhibition In High Point.
 
Three children smile in the cotton fields of North Carolina. The photo was taken by Bayard Wootten, some time in the 1930s. Wootten was a pioneer, designed the first Pepsi Cola logo, became the first female member of the North Carolina National Guard, the very first female aerial photographer in the States.

We know nothing about these kids, who they were, what became of them, what they achieved, what – in a different world – they could have achieved, what they thought about the white woman in her stilted clothes taking their picture. They seem to trust her. They seem to me, in this moment, happy.

When I first saw this yesterday I couldn’t take my eyes off the children. This morning I’ve been looking at it again and finding myself trying to unpeel all its layers of meaning, trying to hear all the ghosts and echoes and whispers, trying to grasp the joy and the pain and the rage and the small and large brutalities and the small and large kindnesses that inhabit and frame and breathe through this one small picture.

And yes, part of me feels I have no right to look at these children, to try to capture them, enslave them with my own lens. But part of me just really wants to share their moment with them – and wants you to feel the evanescent summer sun of their smiles too. Take another look.