What an exciting day it was to be in attendance for the official world premiere of "Her Aim Is True," the feature-length documentary from director Karen Whitehead about rock photographer Jini Dellaccio. Both showings of the film this weekend at the prestigious Seattle International Film Festival were sold out, and SIFF is to be commended for recognizing the special value "Her Aim Is True" has for Pacific Northwest residents, including 96-year-old Jini herself, in attendance both days! As a longtime supporter of this film, I have had the pleasure to watch it take shape from the idea to share Jini's story and incredible art with the world to a finished, fully-realized feature. Look!

Her Aim Is True - Trailer from Karen Whitehead on Vimeo.

I think as you watch the trailer you can get a sense of why Jini's life is a pretty darn cool one to showcase in a film, and it sure is -- she was the first female to extensively photograph rock musicians, both in portraiture and concert settings, and took some of the most iconic images of now-legendary artists. But there is so much more for a viewer to learn by viewing this film. Who Jini Dellaccio is as a person is just as remarkable as her art, and there is great value in just paying attention in "Her Aim Is True" to how she's lived her life. I thought I would make you a list.

1. Do work you love to do, and work at love. I think good ol' Freud got it right when he said that humans needed two things to feel fulfilled in life: "to love and to work." We are never sitting in quite the right place until both things are happening for us; we need to give and receive love to nourish the heart and soul, and we need to produce work that we are proud of to keep our brain happy and engaged. When you like your work, it's easy to want to get better and better at it. When you work at love, feed it and water it like the fragile little bloom that it really is, it will grow and renew itself, and be far more lovely than you could ever imagine. Jini intrinsically knew that by following her passions, she would create things of worth, and was a devoted and still-in-love partner to her husband Carl until his death. Sacrifices were made without reservation or bitterness, support was limitless and genuine, and wonderful things came of it.

2. Be prepared to reinvent yourself multiple times. The days of growing up, finishing school, and getting a nice, stable yet growing career with a single company until retirement-with-pension are gone, gone, gone for good. The single best trait you could ever hope to nurture in yourself or your kids is resiliency -- the ability to bounce back stronger and better despite setbacks, disappointments, changes, and challenges. Jini was faced with complete sea changes so many times in her life, and most people would have been at a loss, lost and living in the past. Instead, when she gave up a 12-year musical career, she found an outlet in art for her creativity and drive. When she had to leave all the connections she had made in one town to move for Carl's work, she dove in and made new ones. She wasn't afraid to start again, or perhaps more accurately, she was able to face that fear and doubt honestly enough to be able to stare it down and deal with it positively.

3. Say yes. This is one of the most delightful aspects to Jini's personality, and her ability to say "yes" to opportunities when they presented themselves, even if she wasn't at all sure if she would succeed, led her to her finest work and deepest connections. How often we say no! No, I could never do, I don't know, I might, someone might laugh at, I can't. Because Jini more often said "yes," she was able to push out of her comfort zone to grow as an artist and a person.

4. The key to creating the best art is keen observation. It doesn't matter what the genre is -- fine art, writing, photography, music -- if you open your eyes, ears, and heart as big and wide as they can go, you are able to absorb the nuances that make for truly transcendent works. Part of Jini's process of photography was to spend significant time just sitting and talking with her subjects, getting to know them as people rather than clients, which drove her vision in composing shots that were utterly attuned to the unique qualities of each person. In Jini's work -- all of it -- one phrase comes to mind: "she really got him/her." This is what all photographers strive to hear, what we hope for with every shot we take. Only the best hear it more than a few times, if they are lucky. With the combination of Jini's generous, kind heart, sharp mind, and creative skills, she hit the ball out of the park every time.

5. You are you from the day you are born until the day you die, so stop paying attention to your number. We seem to be ruled by numbers from birth. Is the baby walking on time? Shouldn't the kid be reading by now? You should be married by 30 or you never will be! You'd better make partner in seven years or your career is over. Oh, she's too young to do that. Oh, he's too old for that now. The older I get, the more I see how ridiculous it all is, and how your age isn't all that damn important at all. Don't you feel like the same person you always were inside? Yes, of course, you grow and change (hopefully for the better), but your essential you is pretty stable, so why let other people's expectations about age stop you from doing things you want to do? It was completely unheard of in the 1960's for a middle-aged woman to have anything to do with rock music, much less one wanting to photograph such longhaired ruffians as The Sonics, The Wailers, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. I am sure that most people must've regarded the sight of Jini with her camera in the front row of a concert as the strangest thing, perhaps at best thinking she was a mom to one of the screaming teens, getting a few snapshot souvenirs. Jini was able to saunter past what society expected, with such charm and grace and sweetness, which simply radiates from her to this day. In the final segments in "Her Aim Is True," we see Jini in her 90s, returning to photography after setting it aside for many years to care for her ailing Carl. She isn't saying to herself, "Oh, I am too old now." She is saying, "I am Jini Dellaccio, and I am a photographer, and there is so much more left to see and do."

So if you have the opportunity to see "Her Aim Is True," say "yes." I am a better person for knowing more about Jini Dellaccio's work and life, and you will be, too.