Guest Blog: Elle Potter

Guest Post: When Elle Met Peggy

Over the past two years, Elle Potter has been working with Peggy Dyer on a number of One Million Faces shoots and projects.  Today she shares a brief history of how we met, and how she became a part of One Million Faces.

June 2011 – Pride in Denver

On St. Patrick’s Day 2010, I closed up om time yoga studio in Boulder to walk down to Whole Foods (now Alfalfa’s) for lunch.  A boisterous photographer was set-up outside the entrance, snapping shots of a shopper posing with a white board.  Like a moth to the flame, this narcissist was immediately drawn to the photographer.  I ate my salad at one of the tables outside, eavesdropping while she explained the One Million Faces project to passersby.

March 17, 2010 – #2353

What came to pass is more than becoming #2353 in a project that is now nearing the 10,000 mark; I made friends with one of the most enigmatic, bright and sparkly personalities I have ever met.

I invited Peggy to be our featured artist for a month at the Denver om time studio on Santa Fe.  When she arrived to deliver her work, she took me aboard “The Turtle,” a little rundown RV which she confided was where she had been living.  It was small and crowded with her work, which we unloaded into the studio.

Later that summer, Peggy moved into the basement of the Denver studio, which became Studio Shakta (and is now Breathe Denver).  At the same time, I left my job at the yoga studio but eagerly took the opportunity to assist Peggy at OMF shoots and in her studio, creating art, sharing it online, editing images and passing out white boards to new faces lining up to get their photo taken.

A hard day’s work at Whole Foods in September 2010

Peggy generally did not ask for payment to participate in the project, and although we accepted donations from a thoughtful few, it was not creating a salary for Peggy – let alone a budget to pay an assistant.  My early days of compensation consisted of green juice, sushi lunches and on one occasion, crimping a set of feathers into my hair at a Boulder hair salon.

A 10+ hour work day followed by sushi and feathers – one of my favorite paychecks ever.

I cannot tell you how many times Peggy has made me breakfast or stir-fry on the little hot plate she had in the back of the yoga studio as a thank-you for coming in to help.  Even now that I live over 800 miles away, when Peggy asks for help, I always do what I can, knowing OMF is not making steady income – yet.  She pays me what she can, when she can – but ultimately, I do what I do to try to make not only her voice heard in the world at large, but the message and beauty of every one who has ever been photographed by her.

Our One-Year Anniversary of Meeting, March 2011

Peggy never stops doing what she has been doing, which is why I am always so drawn to her and the One Million Faces project.  Never once has she walked away from photography and art because there might not be a guaranteed paycheck waiting for her.  She orchestrates shows at the studio on Santa Fe even still, and is quick to take the opportunity for a great photo shoot, whether it is a private concert with Michael Franti or a troop of soldiers and their families before their deployment.

Now, she turns her voice outward to her beloved community to ask for her with her first-ever push for funding through Kickstarter.  Just think – one day, when Peggy is super famous for traveling all over the world to take her One Million Faces photos and she is featured in all the newspapers, all the magazines and all the television talk shows, you can proudly say “I did that!”  Because you really will have helped make that happen, and all because you backed this crazy dream.

My Friend Peggy, the Giggling Shaman