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I'm not one to dabble in the type of photographs that the late George Halas would've described as "facials." Not that I'm not powerfully stirred by the drama of the human face--I am, and in a big way. But there are so many portraits out there, and most of them are better than anything I'll ever muster. So I tend to be drawn to obscure subject matter where I might have a better chance of making a mark in the crowded world of photography.

But every now and then I stumble into a moment that compels me to violate my own unwritten rules. There are sad photos and happy photos and indeterminate photos ... but this photo is at once happy and sad. Karoline had been weeping softly at a picture of a young niece she hasn't seen in some time, and then looked up at me and found something that comforted her just a bit. It was a moment that lasted but a second--eyes moistened by regret, a smile breaking open despite itself.

Some time later, as I studied this photo, it struck me that Karoline's smile was the human equivalent of soft sunlight breaking through the clouds to illuminate a rain-slickened street.

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October 2005