She came to me one morning as I took my recycling out. She lay on a stack of LA Times. I immediately thought, “How ironic, they couldn’t throw her away, they recycled her.
I am not Catholic. I consider myself “spiritual but not religious.” I respect most points of view. I respect the Virgin Mary. I decided to adopt her.
She stood in the middle of my living room for 10 days before I wrapped her in a towel and put her in the car. I took her downtown on a Sunday afternoon. I was looking for ONE image. When I saw her through the lens for the first time, I received thousands.
Within 24 hours, I needed the world to see this woman like I did. I hoped to show them my vision. It wasn’t on a piece of bread or a water stain on a wall. It was through my lens. I listened to “Riding with Mary” by X when I shot her. It sounded like a good name for a show as well.
Since that first day she was wrapped in a towel, up until the moment you read this, Mary is the last thing that goes into my car every day. Because… I am Riding With Mary.
My stepdad put a camera in my hands when I was nine years old. I used to sneak and look at his British photo magazines when he wasn’t looking. There were always girlie photos in them, as well as great black-and-white photography and special effects. I was most interested in the special effects (just after the girlie stuff). I began to emulate what I saw on those pages.
Back in the ’70s, while my friends rode skateboard ramps, I took the pictures. Growing up, my friends always said, “Chris, go get your camera.” In high school, I shot for the yearbook. At that point, I knew that I wanted to be a professional. I worked for the college I went to and quickly found a job shooting auto racing. I traveled the country and escaped death a number of times. After six years of that, I landed a job at NBC Studios, my dream job. I quickly picked up on what to do and what not to do.
I also stopped wanting to work with my heroes.
In 2004, I was going through some very rough times of my life. I ended up in that deep dark place that you feel that you will never escape. I always try and think positive. I knew I had to do something creative to keep me occupied.
One morning, while leaving for work, I took my cans out to recycle. I opened the bin and there lay Mary on a bed of LA Times. I stood there frozen for a second until I realized what I was looking at. I took her out and looked around thinking someone was watching me. I put her in the middle of my living room and walked around her for more than a week. One Sunday afternoon, I knew there was going to be a nice sunset. I wrapped her in a towel and headed to downtown Los Angeles. I placed her up on the edge of the 4th Street Bridge, which was bathed in the rich, warm sunlight. When I looked through the lens, I knew I had something beautiful that I could photograph around the city. She became my foreground texture.
Since then, Mary and I have been on a number of journeys together. Each one is worth a thousand words. I look forward to thousands more.