One Day Story with Donna Walter

| Thursday, February 23, 2012

This project was supposed to be shot in one day. Our professor allowed some flexibility with that guideline. But the woman I worked with, Donna Walter, joked with me that I couldn't possibly tell her story in just one day. After spending the day with her, I agree. She is a complex and interesting person with rich life experiences. I so appreciate her opening her life up to me, and I hope I have the opportunity to photograph her again in the future.

Donna Walter walks through her backyard wearing a coat that she calls wearable art. Walter’s yard has a variety of eclectic objects on display including two giant stuffed catfish, mannequins, Virgin Marry sculptures and more. “I’d say it’s all found objects. And I’m a thrift store junky.” Walter spent fifteen years around architects and artists before moving to Columbia.

Donna Walter kisses her dog Chewy on Wednesday, February 22. Donna starts her mornings by getting a cup of coffee at Coffee Zone and walking her two dogs. The dogs go almost everywhere with her.

Sister Abigail, Donna Walter and Lisa Guroshong listen to Steve Gallagher’s writing exercise. Walter meets the writing group on Wednesday mornings at Kaldi's coffee shop to socialize and do writing exercises with the group.

Donna Walter twirls in a skirt in front of Tricia Straub and Kathy Gordon. The women were exchanging used clothes that the didn't want anymore. Walter is 67 and is retired. She spends her time engaging in a variety of activities. “I just like to play. I’m really good at playing…and throwing parties.”

Tricia Straub, Donna Walter, Katie Young and Kathy Gordon meditate on Wednesday, February 22. The all female mediation group’s goal is to send positive energy to people that are ailing. Walter engages in a variety of spiritual practices on a regular basis including Buddhism, Christianity and Sufism.

Donna Walter eats lunch at the Olive Garden Cafe on Wednesday, February 22. Walter enjoys trying different restaurants in Columbia and eating exotic foods like lamb and goat meat. She once ate baby camel when she lived in Northern Africa. Walter has lived in many places including Switzerland, Paris, New York City and on a one thousand acre ranch in California. “Some people say ‘you should write down your stories’ and I say I’m too busy still having them.”

Bird by Bird

| Sunday, February 12, 2012

“There are an enormous number of people out there with invaluable information to share with you, and all you have to do is pick up the phone. They love it when you do, just as you love it when people ask you if they can pick your brain about something you happen to know a great deal about- or, as in my case, you have a number of impassioned opinions on.” Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird.

I was driving around and looking for new people to talk to when I saw something that made me stop. It was a yard filled with interesting…stuff. Mannequins, stuffed catfish, Madonna statues, a tank, a bald eagle and more placed across a yard in front of a Columbia home. I sat in my car and thought about how I would introduce myself. But I remembered reading that passage in Bird by Bird. I convinced myself that a person with this yard made a decision to make it look this way and they would want to talk to me. I knocked, but no one answered. So I worked up the courage to write a slightly awkward note- hi my name is Christie, I thought your yard looks interesting. I’d like to talk to you and take your picture. Give me a call.

The woman that lived there did give me a call. And she turned out to be an immensely interesting individual. More details on my meeting with her to come.