It’s a common question when on a photo shoot with Thrums photographer Joe Coca. While we’re busy interviewing artisans or admiring their textiles, Joe quietly wanders off. Sometimes to the alarm or curiosity of an author, translator, or guide. I’ve learned over many trips with Joe not to worry. He’s just out getting the lay of the land, discovering a sense of place that’s always so important in our books, so important in the lives of the artisans whose stories we share.
Through his lens, Joe is learning how to frame this new world. And he always comes back, gently resuming his presence, all the wiser for his wandering. Or sometimes just full of a lot of questions! I think the artisans he photographs appreciate his curiosity and his desire to know and understand their place, their community, their lives. It’s one of many qualities in Joe that puts people at ease.
After working with Joe in Guatemala to photograph her book Rug Money, Mary Anne Wise wrote that Joe has the “ability to shed his corporeal body and then insert himself into the shot without anyone noticing his presence.” It’s true.
Publisher Linda Ligon spent some time recently, talking with Joe about his approach to new people and place, and got him to reveal some of his favorite photographs in his new book The Human Thread. Cleverly, we made a video of the conversation. Maybe it will inspire a little wandering. Joe would like that.