I enjoyed stopping at the Locklear farm near Maxton, North Carolina. One day I ventured to ask Mr. Locklear if I might take a picture of him reading his Bible. I used up nearly two rolls of film trying to get what I thought would be a Pulitzer-winning photograph. I was so confident that this was the picture of my life, I didn’t print Mrs. Locklear’s picture for twenty-five years.
After I finished photographing Mr. Locklear, I became aware that his wife was patiently waiting in the kitchen. I didn’t want her to be offended, so I took a few frames of her, unposed and sitting by her stove. She wore a handmade jacket and wrapped herself in a flour-sack-print apron–her proud Lumbee Indian heritage evident. The simplicity of the wood stove, water kettle, porcelain pots, and old coffee percolator surrounding her was priceless. And that smile….
I was printing some of these negatives in a darkroom well over two decades later, and thought that I ought to print at least one of Mrs. Locklear. As the print came up in the developer, there she was with that sincere smile looking right at me. It was then that I realized that hers was the real winner. I think she knew then that she was the real winner.
Mrs. Locklear in Her Kitchen
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