by Geok Hwa Kee Ventrice
Growing up in a transnational Chinese community in Southeast Asia, I was fond of community fairs, events or festivals even though individuality was lost to uniformity in a culture where every single detail was carefully choreographed. I was elated when I found out that cyclical events are held in Cookeville in tandem with seasonal changes. They would give me an opportunity to witness individuality in play in a context.
Putnam County Fair was my first fair photography and the Blues & Brews Festival was my second attempt to photograph a festival. As a naïve stranger and an inspiring photographer, I would like to tell the story of an event through the emotional and personal, so I could share it with families and friends back home. I brought minimal gears with me to both events. With my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 prime lens and EFS 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6I zoom lens, I was able to move around swiftly from one corner to another taking candid shots or capturing the moments. I avoided using flash because I was reluctant to interrupt an excited exchange or a tender glance. I answered questions and exchanged insights. I experienced people while simultaneously letting people experience me throughout the documentation process.
At the end of the day, I realize that it is how we experience each other that matters. It could be a sense of camaraderie among friends or volunteers, a family day out with jovial grandparents, a kiss between a happy couple, and a hug to a friend or a tap on the shoulder. We are kinder to each other when we are given the opportunity to know each other.