Day 4 / by Hannah Harley

May 9th, 2015

For some terrible, terrible reason, today began at 6:00 am. Actually, the reason is pretty great, but the hour was not. My cousin was graduating from college, and we had to be there early enough to get good seats. (Plus there was free coffee.. :) )

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HannahHarley -20150509-9936EDITED

After scrambling through endless crowds, we found seats and got settled. I realized that each carefully scripted moment wasn't just for the student. Each moment was for the parents as well.

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HannahHarley -20150509-9846EDITED

I've only been in one graduation, but I've seen many. And let me tell you, they do not cater to the younger sibling whose entire world feels like it's crashing down as their sibling moves onto bigger and better things..

But the parents... The enthusiasm (mixed in with fear and sadness) was astounding. In many cases, the parents and families seemed more excited than the graduates.

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HannahHarley -20150509-9881EDITED

I was enchanted by these moments of overjoyed outbursts as each student walked across the stage. I'm still trying to find the words to explain how eye opening it was to realize that this wasn't about just the students on the stage... It was about the parents, too.

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HannahHarley -20150509-9978EDITED

I have been against me walking at my college graduation. In many ways, I found it to be stupid and uninspiring and, overall, expected. My high school graduation involved me awkwardly avoiding the people who had casually bullied me (and everyone else for that matter). I took photos with a couple folks that I really liked, but I just felt grateful to have gotten out, eager to spend the next four years somewhere else.

But I've realized, especially today, that graduation isn't just my event. My graduation belongs to my parents, my professors, my siblings (even if their world doesn't feel as drastically changed as mine did when they graduated), my friends, and yes, even me.

As I look forward to finishing my senior year with my hardest semesters (two 24 credit semesters, one summer and one fall, followed by a 21 credit spring semester), I'm realizing more and more that while the speeches might be long and uninspiring and the robes itchy and stupidly costly, perhaps it is worth it to spend a couple hours with my dear friends and joyous (albeit a little sad and perhaps a little frightened) family before we disperse into the world. Unlike my high school friends, who return every year, more or less, for the holidays, my college peers will disperse throughout the world. I can't count on seeing them once a year around Christmas time... So I'm going to try and soak up each moment of this final stretch with some of the most amazing people I've met.

Senior year... Here I come.

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HannahHarley -20150509-9897EDITED

Now that I'm done with that motivational speech.... I used the graduation as a way to work on my street photography. Since Paris, I have been unable to really photograph the public in the way that I did in that bustling European city. So I took advantage of the crowds and the normality of the camera to go unnoticed, and I began snapping away.

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HannahHarley -20150509-0464EDITED

These photographs always surprise me. I think it's due to the fact that I have very little control and that I get to relinquish it to the presets and the camera. Plus, I am actively trying to avoid making the subjects uncomfortable. Occasionally this works, but... I think I'm getting less sneaky these days.

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HannahHarley -20150509-0293EDITED

But some don't notice. We're such a fast paced society that it's hard to notice. I think I'd walk right by this without noticing, too, but now, I have this spilt second captured.

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HannahHarley -20150509-0226EDITED

Every photographer has those images that they know when they photograph it that this one is a good one. For me, this scene was one of those. I knew that the scene was stunning, and I didn't want to disrupt it. But boy, did I want to capture it. Stealthily, I got this image. Technically, not my best, but it was the most expressive image of the day, I think. (Granted, I think that now, and I fully acknowledge that this could change in moments!)

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HannahHarley -20150509-9673EDITED

After graduation, we headed to Espices to eat a delightful meal of Lebanese food. It was a lovely celebration of Jennifer's academic accomplishments, and a tasty lunch to boot!

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HannahHarley -20150509-0594EDITED
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HannahHarley -20150509-0567EDITED

Then, with no convincing needed, my aunt, uncle, and cousin took me to a used bookstore, McKays. Rows and rows of discounted books made me overly excited and eager to spend my money. It doesn't hurt, after all, that the first book I found was an original The Family of Man book from Steichen's exhibition. It brought me great joy, and I gleefully searched for other such treasures.

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HannahHarley -20150509-0713EDITED

It entertained me for an hour or so, but I could have easily have spent days in there (particularly if I could find an unlimited source of money....)

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HannahHarley -20150509-0409EDITED

And as the day winds down, I am spending it with my cousin, soaking in these last moments before we're thrown into the world to figure out what shoes we have to wear for our adult jobs. It's been a pleasure growing up with you, Jennifer, and I wish you all kinds of crazy good things. Thanks for playing me when no one else would and for fighting with me so frequently. Hey, someone had to remind me that I wasn't right all the time. :) Congratulations on all your hard work paying off!!