Peppermint Tea for Two

js-6291-2.jpgHave you ever had peppermint tea? It is one of my most favorite beverages, and one that I truly came to love while enjoying the company of the lovely woman in this photograph. We become friendly while I studied in St. Andrews, and often we found ourselves sitting amongst friends, drinking this seasonal concoction. A year after I had returned to The States to finish my degree, those special memories had faded, and I found myself drinking peppermint tea alone. One year after my departure from Scotland, I decided to return to the birth place of golf to see my friends.

As an individual who pays the bills as a photographer, I’ve found myself creating rather rigid barriers between the times when I photograph and the times when I do not. To be honest, too much picture taking can wear on you over time. Although these barriers have helped form a semblance of stability and structure in my life, breaking through them at times has resulted in a few of my favorite photographs. This image is an example of one such time.

I took a seat in the slightly rundown little flat. She didn’t have any tea bags, so she cut peppermint leafs right off of her potted plant. The sun poured into the small kitchen and bathed the left side of her face in golden light. We spoke for hours, hesitantly at first, but over time, we remembered the candor of our earlier conversations and filled each other in on everything that had transpired since our last encounter.

This was a time when I should not photograph. I wasn’t getting paid, nobody needed the images, and she wasn’t expecting our afternoon tea photographed. And yet, I reached down into my backpack, snatched my worn out X100s, and quickly held it up to my face. I framed the composition so that I could remember the moment; I wanted to remember the taste of the cookies she had baked, the smell of the peppermint leafs pipping hot in my mug, and the golden light that illuminated the room. She was embarrassed at first, as evident by her soft smile, so I took four images. It wasn’t until the fourth that I captured her eyes looking into my lens.

There are times to photograph, and times not to. The trick is knowing when to respect those rules and when to break them.

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