Photography has been my passion ever since I was old enough to pick up a camera, but today I want to share with you the 15 most treasured photos of mine, and I didn't take any of them. There were no art directors, no stylists, no chance for reshoots, not even any regard for lighting. In fact, most of them were taken by random tourists.
My story begins when I was in New York City for a speaking engagement, and my wife took this picture of me holding my daughter on her first birthday. We're on the corner of 57th and 5th. We happened to be back in New York exactly a year later, so we decided to take the same picture.
Well you can see where this is going. Approaching my daughter's third birthday, my wife said, "Hey, why don't you take Sabina back to New York and make it a father-daughter trip, and continue the ritual?" This is when we started asking passing tourists to take the picture.
You know, it's remarkable how universal the gesture is of handing your camera to a total stranger. No one's ever refused, and luckily no one's ever run off with our camera.
Back then, we had no idea how much this trip would change our lives. It's really become sacred to us. This one was taken just weeks after 9/11, and I found myself trying to explain what had happened that day in ways a five-year-old could understand.
So these photos are far more than proxies for a single moment, or even a specific trip. They're also ways for us to freeze time for one week in October and reflect on our times and how we change from year to year, and not just physically, but in every way. Because while we take the same photo, our perspectives change, and she reaches new milestones, and I get to see life through her eyes, and how she interacts with and sees everything. This very focused time we get to spend together is something we cherish and anticipate the entire year.
Recently, on one trip, we were walking, and she stops dead in her tracks, and she points to a red awning of the doll store that she loved when she was little on our earlier trips. And she describes to me the feeling she felt as a five-year-old standing in that exact spot. She said she remembers her heart bursting out of her chest when she saw that place for the very first time nine years earlier. And now what she's looking at in New York are colleges, because she's determined to go to school in New York. And it hit me: One of the most important things we all make are memories.
So I want to share the idea of taking an active role in consciously creating memories. I don't know about you, but aside from these 15 shots, I'm not in many of the family photos. I'm always the one taking the picture. So I want to encourage everyone today to get in the shot, and don't hesitate to go up to someone and ask, "Will you take our picture?" Thank you. (Applause)