About i am. photography

i am. Robb Paul and i am. a photographer. i am. photography is about the story or statement you make with each portrait. We all have some we want to shout to the world about ourselves. i am. photography gives you that venue...

i am. strength

i am. strength. i am. endurance. i am. thankful. today i have a job. today i am. bringing home money to my family. today my family will eat. these brick aren’t light but they don’t weigh anything compared to the load i carry daily. how i am going to feed my family tomorrow if they don’t ask me back? how will i pay for my children to get an education? will my son do better in life than i did? i will be thankful for today. i will work hard so they do ask me to come back tomorrow. i am. strength. i am. endurance. i will keep going, step after step, stair after stair.

i am. strength. i am. endurance.

From Robb:

This was my favorite shot from the trip. At first I thought I missed it. At first I thought he made it by but at the last second he turned and looked down the stairs right into my lens. This man and the few others tirelessly carried load after load of bricks up to the third story of the boys orphanage being built in Itarsi, India for the House of Hope and Central India outreach. The whole time I was there I never saw them stop or take a break. They just worked. It seemed endless. I watched in fascination as they continued to haul the bricks. I don’t think I could have lasted thirty minutes. They lasted hours.

I was so inspired by their work ethic. They work 10 times harder than I do and don’t complain. I complain all the time. I got a massage at the airport that cost more than they make in a month. They have probably never had a massage.  They work sun up to sun down. I am running out the door of my office at 5:01pm. They work 7 days a week. I have the weekends off. They do what they are told without question and do it the first time. I always try to find the easier way. All my needs are met, I eat good food, I sleep in a comfortable bed, I have a job that sustains my lifestyle. This man and the others go without food all day at least one day a week, they sleep on a dirt floor or bug infested straw mattress, they don’t have a lifestyle, or even know what one is. They work to eat and to keep a roof over their head. Everything else is secondary and doesn’t matter.

We can learn a lot from men like this. If I took the opportunity I have in the great country and combined it with their work ethic, I could single-handedly change the world (with God’s direction, of course). Even as I type this I ask myself, “Why don’t I?”

i am. joy

i am. joy. i am. free. i am. full of hope. i am. full of peace. i am. a child of Jesus.

i am. so happy. for the first time in my life i have hope. not long ago i lived a life of oppression on the streets. i was a homeless orphan fighting daily to live. stealing to eat. running from people who wanted to take advantage of me. then i found the House of Hope. then i found Jesus. now i have a hope and a future.

do you see my short hair? it’s a daily reminder of just a short time ago God’s grace brought me to the House of Hope. you see, they bleached my hair and then shaved my head to get rid of the lice when i came to them. i only have a couple months of growth now… i smile every time i look in the mirror because it’s a constant reminder of God’s grace.

i am. joy

Wow… This little girl and her smile. It made me cry and made my heart sing! She is so beautiful. These girls are so taken advantage of on the streets. I met and have other shots of girls who are still on the streets and the light in their eyes is dim but this little girls is so bright! She radiated as they sang us a song about their Savior.

She’s only been with the House of Hope for a short time, as you can see from her hair, but she already can recite more bible verses than I can and pray more intensely than I do. These little girls (and the boys too) stretched my faith in many ways and I am forever in their debt.

i am. worn. i am. ragged.

i am. worn. i am. ragged. i am. tired. i am. proud.

i am. a man who has worked since i can remember, many years before i should have been working. i did so to help my family, to make ends meet, to put food in the mouths of my brothers, my sisters, my mother. my life has not been easy but i don’t complain. i don’t wish for a different life. i wake up and sunrise. i lay down at sunset. i eat one meal a day… if i have time and can afford it. i push on, no matter what. i work. i push carts full of good for vendors to sell. i do whatever it takes. i provide. i toil at the land. i am. proud of who i am. and who i have become.

i am. worn. i am. ragged.

I literally yelled at my driver to stop the car like he was about to run over a child so I could get this shot. I saw the story written on this man’s face like a road map of life. I jumped out of the door before the vehicle came to a stop and rushed to stop the man and his cart. He was pulling a cart loaded down with fabric headed to the market. His sinewy muscles strained from the wait. His torn shirt telling it’s own story of his constant work and strife.

I made a motion to him requesting permission to take his photograph. His eyes locked with mine. He gave me a simple nod implying permission. He stopped pulling his cart, walked to side where I stood tall. His full height was about average for an Indian man, about 5’6″. He looked straight at the lens, not a look of a worn, ragged man but a look of pride. A look of power. A look of a life of toil accepted. His eyes looked through the lens and into my soul as if telling me “This is who i am. and i am. proud of it.”

In that moment, that split second my heart tore from chest. This works 100 times harder than I do but I complain more. I’m more discontent. I’m selfish. Here’s a man that has probably worked since he was 4 or 5 years old, now probably over 50 who will continue to pull his cart until he drops in the street dead. What do I have to complain about?

I did the manual calculations and snapped the shot. Perfect. I captured his beauty, his essence, his power, his pain, his joy, his sorrow. In that moment he gave me his i am. statement.