About ten years ago I was asked by the McWhan family (longtime summer residents) of Pratts Island Road on Southport, if I would be willing to do some family photos with them at their home. I had photographed with the family before and was pleased to be invited back. Nothing like reconnecting with families from years gone by. It’s always fun to meet new additions and catch up with everyone.
Part of my visit with the McWhans involved photos with their son, David, his wife and family. During my time with them, as I am often want to do, I asked lots of questions, like, where are you from, what do you do, etc., etc. It’s my way of getting to know folks and also a good way for everyone to relax and get more comfortable with me and a camera pointed at them.
David's wife, Patricia Toro, was, and still is, a doctor. During our visit we talked about her work which, at that time, was associated with Columbia University and the Mailman School of Public Health. Patricia worked with Columbia establishing and running MTCT (Mother to Child Transmission) programs throughout sub-Saharan Africa, which she visited frequently.
In an offhanded comment, fully amazed by the work she was doing, I jokingly said, “If you ever need a photographer to help with your projects, give me a call.” About two months later, I got a call from Dr. Toro asking if my offer was sincere.
Dr. Toro and Columbia were looking for photography to promote and help sustain their work. Cameroon would be our destination. “Start getting your shots right now,” said Dr. Toro.
So, my family photos just down the road once again confirmed a deeply held respect for the zen of serendipity. You just never know. The photograph shared this week was made on my trip with Dr. Toro. It is a view of Fernando Po (now called Bioko), the northern most island of Equitorial Guinea, as seen from shore in Limbe, Cameroon — a similar viewing perspective employed by me here in Maine. With one small difference. When I left Maine it was 35 degrees. When we stepped off the plane in Cameroon, the temperature was nearly 100 degrees with maximum humidity, which was not an anticipated part of my serendipitous experience.
What an adventure.