Behold All Things New

visual art in response to issues of concern

At the dawn of a Saturday build, roof trusses are unpacked.

Photography, Cameron Adams

March 2000

One July Sunday of a 1995 visit to Savannah, on my walk to the early service at Christ Church, I took a poignant photograph of a homeless couple comforting each other as they occupied a park bench in Wright Square. Their grooming and clothing belied living in the streets. If ever an image conveyed the sense of all conquering love, this was it.

Years later I revisited that scene to find her seated on the same bench, but alone, for he had passed away. Her name was Julia, and his, Frank. She was delighted to receive a copy of their portrait, remembering him as her "English Count". I could barely contain my emotions and was soon giving thanks in the still quiet of Christ Church sanctuary.

Such events are rare in my photographic life. Catching people unawares requires a light and respectful touch and I prefer to pass without notice in my public quest for archetype, humor and irony. The exception here was the need of a model release for the annual Gordon Parks Photography Competition. My usual good fortune fulfilled the promise of 500 road miles from and to Atlanta, but honor for that picture would have to wait.

November 1999 provided the occasion, when the Cathedral of St. Philip hosted 'Artforms: A Premier Visual and Performing Arts Exhibition'. Jurors were Gordon Anderson, Polly Hunt Neal and Alan Tiegreen. My Savannah 1995 was a tiny part of it. St. Philip's draws upon the vast resources of its more than 5000 parishioners and we had to join.

In March of 2000 I answered a plea in the Cathedral Times for a photographer to document Saturday Habitat for Humanity builds.

The pictures would be displayed the following Sundays to recognize and recruit volunteers, then be presented as a souvenir of the build to the new homeowner.

This was the first time a church had put me to work in outreach and a first for the generous and talented crews, who had not previously enjoyed the services of someone who was willing to crawl around on all fours to capture moments from dramatic angles. An image from that first Saturday became part of the larger essay.

Thus began the wonderful adventure that combines faith and good works while strengthening both. My wife has become an avid builder and I have put down the camera to try my hand at a few odd jobs. People whom we might not have met otherwise have shown us we hold more in common than in difference. Homeowner Lisa Strozre of the Fall 2003 build told me, "One of my girlfriends from out of town just got around to looking at the pictures and was amazed at how the house went up as fast as it did. Those are memories of a house built with so much love--it really was."

Notes: Lisa Strozre was the only homeowner whom I could reach for comment. Others seemed to prefer anonymity. Lisa was one the most outgoing people for whom we've built and even addressed our pre-building season dinner. I thank her for fulfilling your interest in homeowner reactions to the albums.

Cameron Adams

© 2005 The Episcopal Church & Visual Arts