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GUEST ESSAY: Behind the cover photo
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – When I set out to capture what the Constitution means to me through the lens of the camera, I quickly realized the challenge of the project. I knew that I could pick one amendment of the Constitution and photograph images that would show my participation, but for me the existence of the Constitution and what it stands for is deeper than an individual activity.
When I was born I didn’t have an understanding of “freedom” but I have learned under the guidance and modeling of my parents just as they learned from their parents what their parents had learned and on and on through the generations. Realizing this led me to reflect on my family history, and it is there that I found the answer to how the U.S. Constitution affects my life.
Seeking opportunity and freedom, my ancestors immigrated to America to pursue their dreams. With little more than faith and the protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution they settled in rural America where generation after generation worked the land surviving the wrath of Mother Nature and the volatility of commodity markets. They raised their families passing down through the generations the values of hard work, tenacity and independence, and with each generation their appreciation for freedom and the protections of the U.S. Constitution deepened.
This is the reason I chose rural America as the backdrop for my photo essay. I placed an American flag in each image because to me there is no greater symbol of America and the freedom I have as an American.
My image of a cross represents the faith I have that is spiritual as well as the faith I have that I am free and protected. I chose to photograph a house because behind the door is the kitchen table where the family gathers to eat together and to pray together. I chose a barn to represent the lifestyle that helped define my values and my principles. I photographed the wagon and an old pickup to represent progression. I used both images to reflect that even though change is inevitable the “new” never replaces the “old.”
Now as a young adult I am poised to begin my own chapter in our family history. I have spent my lifetime preparing for this moment and now armed with my history, my faith, my freedom and a deep appreciation for the protections shared by many but also unique to me I am ready to take the first step knowing that passing it forward will someday be my responsibility.
– McKenna M. Brinton