“Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.” – George Edward Moore

Kyoichi’s English is beautiful, but some sentiments get jumbled in the translation. “We look very enjoyable in these pictures!” he wrote to me after seeing the photographs I made of him with his family in Japan.

This, of course, meant that he liked the photographs. And while I couldn’t resist laughing a little at his choice of words, I had to agree: they did look enjoyable – because they were. In the hour I spent in his home, Kyoichi’s family shared their homemade breakfast and their traditions and their love. They overflowed with warmth and creativity and vitality. Enjoyable? Oh, yes.

This is how I see you.

I’ve known it for a while: that my romance isn’t with photography, per se, but with the wondrous array of people it connects me to. Photography gives voice to the way I feel when I’m with someone, the way they impact me, the dreams I have for them. Photography is my language, the shadows and highlights as articulate as any words I could conjure. I may feel afraid to say, out loud, “You are magic.” But I can say this with my camera. I may hesitate to put words to my deep certainty of another’s beauty, but I can define it with my lens.

This is how I see you.

In college I would approach total strangers: “You have an interesting face. Can I photograph you?” It was my awkward-girl way of making friends, a somehow-safer means of creating space for connection to happen. Like, give me 15 minutes in front of my camera, and at the end I’ll know who we can be to each other. Like, either we’ll become real, genuine friends, or I’ll leave and immediately forget your name.

Like, may we fall in love, just a little?
Because the world needs more of that.

I still have photographs of people I loved deeply and immediately. And I’ve long since lost the photographs of people who did not, in the end, move me as I’d thought they would.

This is how I see you.

At a concert in the fall, I turned around and immediately recognized the woman standing behind me, all wild blonde curls and joyful dancing. I’d photographed her a decade ago; I’d adored her immediately. And there we were at the same show, years flown by, and I remembered her face and her name and her story, and we rushed at each other and embraced.

And there is the mystery of this work. As I encounter these fascinating, complex human beings, photography graces me with the immediate, uncomplicated freedom to show them exactly how fascinating and complex they truly are. Then, years notwithstanding, I will always remember what we shared; and so do they.

Just like the Grinch, the more I give, the bigger my love grows. Every connection, every interaction, every moment frozen: each leaves a permanent mark on my life, like a thread woven through fabric.

This is how I see you.

It’s not always simple. I have to slow down, take a breath, and identify what, exactly, I want to say. I strive to plan my words and organize my visions. I aim to own my voice – this song that unfolds in the making of the photograph. But I’m impelled, more and more, to plunge head first into the blossoming – to be unafraid of fumbling or looking foolish. I don’t want to hesitate. I want to say word-for-word precisely what I’m thinking, sing note-for-note the song that’s in my head, make shadow-for-sunlight the picture that’s in my soul.

I want to be fully present, to show up and show people exactly who they are when they are loved. I want to feel the light and absorb the sounds and inhale the scents all around me. I want to make a picture that is the perfectly-imperfect intersection of them and me and this day, this moment, this now.

Can you see how enjoyable you look? I’m asking. Can you see how loved you are?

This is how I see you.

Anne Simone

Anne is a lifelong photographer and accidental writer from Atlanta, Georgia. She prefers whiskey over wine, cheese over chocolate, and flat shoes over heels — because you never know when you might need to run for your life.

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  1. Oddjohn

    I don’t comment often but for some reason this really resonates with me. Heartfelt and honest thoughts. Thank you

    • Anne Almasy

      Well then. Thank you for sharing one of your rare comments with me. 🙂

  2. Dave

    Love this. Well written as always. People tend to focus too much on gear and the technical and completely forget the connections they are fortunate enough to make.

    Thank you.

  3. Richard Wintle

    What an inspiring post, thank you Anne.

    Your friend Kyoichi’s comments reminded me of my own former colleague and friend Daisuke, who once commented on some photos of mine that they were “well done and cool”. I know what he meant but it still makes me smile. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  4. Jim Robertson

    While test shooting the Fuji XT-1 that I had borrowed from Fuji for the day in Osaka in January, I saw an older man laughing with the biggest most beautiful smile I’d ever seen. I decided to approach him about taking his photo rather than “steal” a shot. My Japanese is not that good so this was a big deal for me. I did have my wife translate for me how much I liked his face and especially his smile that said to me how much he enjoys life. I so badly wanted to connect more with him, to just hang out and learn more about him but I shied away behind the language barrier. That, and my wife was a little concerned that he might be Yakuza. Also sadly, my unfamiliarity with the XT-1 translated into that one image being slightly out of focus (that’s what I keep telling myself). But I’ll never forget that face.

    • Anne Almasy

      I’m glad the Yakuza-dude didn’t murder you or sell you for parts. 😉

  5. Moses

    wow, thank you so much for this, this is honestly why/how i fell in love with photography in the first place.

  6. jarWoodson

    Lady, every single syllable of this has me all warm and electrified and wanting to go outside and ask everyone I’ve ever wanted to photograph for a picture. Thank you so much!

    Warm Regards,


  7. Patrick

    I like this post, and especially this:

    “I may feel afraid to say, out loud, “You are magic.” But I can say this with my camera. I may hesitate to put words to my deep certainty of another’s beauty, but I can define it with my lens.”

    You’ve neatly captured just how I feel about photography with these few words. What’s great, too, is that I find that, with a camera in my hands, I am closer than ever to being able to actually say these words as well as try and create them with pictures. Sometimes, I even do, I even say them out loud, run that risk, and the sky doesn’t fall.

    It’s ridiculous, loving an activity as much as this but I do, I truly do, and your post captures it, that feeling, so thank you.

  8. Sid Ceaser

    This post. So much.

    One of the reasons why I particularly gravitated towards portrait photography is the little-bit-of-love that I fall into with my subjects.

    Nothing serious. But just a little bit. There are so many subjects I’ve shot where not only am I composing and finding the perfect angle, but I’m also in love. It’s like a little crush that lasts for the session, and maybe a few days after when I’m editing. You and me. This camera. This studio. This location. This *trust* we have together.

    It’s nothing my wife needs to worry about. It’s nothing dirty, or inappropriate. It’s simply that small muse, that small bit of my heart that I give to my subjects.

    And not all that I shoot have this connection. I can shoot fine without it.

    But when it does happen, real magic is made, and that is one of the glorious things about creating portraits.

    Thank you, Anne, for not making me feel alone. That it’s okay to fall in love just a little bit with those beings I photograph. And it’s bliss, for however little it lingers.

  9. Jochen

    Hi Anne. Beautiful write-up, very enjoyable. It´s like a poem and the words let your love for people blink through. More of you to the world.

  10. Vince

    This makes me think of photography as a visual conversation with the world and the people in it. There’s nothing like it. Great article!

  11. Csaba Molnar

    What a beautiful, inspiring writing! Thank you so much for this.

  12. Josh

    This is an absolutely wonderful piece. This is why photography has gotten so deep into me, I think. Thank you for your thoughts.