Inner Journey; The Photography Of Joyce Tenneson Page 2
One of Tenneson's favorite books is Wise Women. In these compassionate images, Tenneson shows women aged 65 to 100 from across the country. She also interviewed the women, and was able to find short quotes from each that reveals something unique about each of them. The book has been a best-seller for six years, and Tenneson has received an astonishing response from people around the globe, thanking her for producing the book.
Brooke Astor happily holds her precious dachshund and says, "I grow
more intense as I age"; Andree Ruellan at 95 reflects on the richness
of her life with her artist husband; Helen Gurley Brown smiles as she thinks
about the happiest people she sees who stay cheerful as they go through life.
Familiar to us are Lauren Bacall, Odetta, and many others who confided that
though their physical powers in some ways may be diminished, they still feel
happier because they are freer and no longer care about a lot of things that
troubled them in the past.
"I found that I wanted to be best friends with almost all the women I interviewed because they had been through something," Tenneson says. "They were closing in on the circle of their journey and they had a kind of wisdom that comes from their long life."
These are not ordinary portraits. Each page is alive with people we can feel for, perhaps the kind of people we would hope to be one day. This is Tenneson's gift to us.
Tenneson continues to grow. In an exhibition at the Griffin Museum in Winchester, Massachusetts, last spring she was welcomed by her son and his family who had traveled from Maine as well as a large crowd of admirers who filled the gallery, making the rounds to look at the photographs and often to look again, as did I.
A wall of brilliantly colored flowers, all 50x60" resting against a
black background, added a surprising twist to the show at Griffin. "The
flowers," Tenneson says, "offered me an opportunity to take a break
from working with people and to have fun with a different kind of beauty."
Much of Tenneson's time is now spent teaching. She shares her thoughts at a women's retreat in Santa Fe once a year for those women who want to get back into their creative roots and need time to get away from the cares of their world. Other classes, taught regularly at the Maine Photographic Workshop (www.theworkshops.com), where Tenneson is on the board, focus on how to do your own photo book and share a deeper feeling for photography with others.
"I feel blessed to be a part of the new Maine Photographic Workshop team because we are about transformation and helping photographers who are at a crossroad," Tenneson says. "I love it!"
She believes that her best pictures happen through grace--when there is a blending of her subject and herself--a ommunication. "I would never censor something to please someone," she says. "I don't play games."
Her photographs are highly personal, about a moment, a thought, a feeling of intimacy and passion. For example, 67-year-old Christine Lee, whose mesmerizing portrait is on the cover of Wise Women, speaks words of wisdom in reflecting on Tenneson's philosophy, saying: "The most important thing is to try and enjoy life because you never know when it will be gone. If you wake up in the morning and have a choice between doing the laundry and taking a walk in the park, go for the walk. You'd hate to die and realize you had spent your last day doing the laundry." Tenneson learned from her Wise Women--she spends lots of special time with her granddaughters, Ruby and Lucy.
For more information, please visit Joyce Tenneson's website at Tenneson.com.
To find her new book, "Joyce Tenneson: A Life in Photography," please go to PhotoEye.com.