Lift A Hand

Charles W. Thomas Jr., photographer

“The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.”

Hands—the image and the word—are rich with symbolism, particularly in the context of giving. Hand out. Hand up. Hand-me-down. Helping hand. Lend a hand. Hand in hand. These are but a few of the many common expressions containing the word “hand” that connote philanthropic concepts and stir a broad range of sentiments.

Imagery of human hands feature prominently on the pages and cover of Giving Back. This point of detail was envisioned for the book since its inception. Steering clear of cliché and stale visual concepts was a pivotal aim throughout the project. At the same time, it was important to reinterpret the images that are consciously familiar and also to stir the subconscious with fresh angles on philanthropy.

Evocative photography of leathered hands of the aged, of tiny fingers, of outstretched palms, of clenched fists and of hands gripping a cane, clutching a Bible, dishing out food and braiding hair appear on the book’s pages. Over a third of Giving Back holds images and quotes centered on hands.

The photograph shown above is one of my favorites, for many reasons. For starters, I remember the searing summer heat during the photo shoot and the obscene volume of sweat spilt as four of us labored to get the picture. Then there’s the photograph itself. Its composition. Its dark and light elements. So delicate. So rich in subtlety. Precisely imprecise. For me, for at least this moment, it conveys the unpredictable and utterly splendid ways God’s light can fall upon us and guide our work.

A line from Ecclesiastes counsels: What your hand findeth to do, do it with all your might. What’s reflected in the handiwork of your good deeds? 

— VF

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