Art, Community, Featured, Travels With Fiona

100 Strangers. I’m #37.

A few days ago Fiona and I were taking a quick spin around Playa Norte, looking for a prime tinkle spot, when we ran into a woman aiming a camera with a huge telephoto lens into the treetop.

“What are you finding up there?” I whispered, not wanting to ruin her concentration.

She lowered her camera (I’d clearly ruined her concentration) and we chatted about the abundant and varied birds here, about her badass camera and my foolishness in trying to capture the birds on an iPhone.

Meeting interesting strangers is one of my favorite things about staying in RV parks. And I’m particularly fascinated by the number of women I’ve met, women of a certain age, who have taken to the road, whether solo or with partners, who are pursuing some sort of creative passion fundamentally different from the career they pursued before retirement. Like my new acquaintance with the camera, Bernadette Jarrard, a retired nurse from British Columbia, now reinventing herself as a travel photographer.

Even if we remain strangers, I feel a kinship with these women. I’ve come to think of them as my sisters of reinvention.

Eventually, the conversation turned to Fiona, as it always does, and Bernadette asked if she could take Fi’s picture. Of course!

So we played with that for a bit, trying to get my headstrong blind dog to look at the camera. For future reference, a high-pitched “eee eee eee” works remarkably well. They must teach that in photography school. In any event, Bernadette’s photos of Fiona are charming. I particularly liked this one in black and white.

Then Bernadette asked if she could take my picture. To refine her craft, she’s been participating in a Flickr project called 100 Strangers. I would be #37.

Gulp. I don’t think I’ve had my picture taken by a professional photographer, even one in training, since my high school graduation photo. And as a general rule, I hate having my picture taken. Like many women of a certain age, I tend to see the flaws, the sags, the sun damage, the lazy eye that just keeps getting lazier and lazier. But that morning, even though I’d just rolled out of bed and hadn’t showered or combed my hair in days, I said yes. Who cares if thousands of people might see this picture? It’s Baja, right?

Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it. I loved watching her work. She put me at ease with her willingness to share her process, from the reasons behind the backdrops she’d picked to how the light reflector worked, and by the end of our photo shoot she even got me to play for the camera a bit. I must confess, I like these pictures of me. To hell with angst over the lazy eye and anything else. This is what 55 just rolled out of bed on a beach in Baja looks like. I can live with that.

I like this one in particular. Somehow it reminds me of Harry Potter, as if I’m practicing magic with an invisible wand…. Perhaps casting a “look below the surface” spell?

Check out more of Bernadette’s work, including some amazing photos of birds, here: www.instagram.com/bernadettejarrard

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