Archive for March, 2006
What a nice surprise! I got an unexpected request for prints from a photo session nearly a year old. I use 1 or 2 images of this little girl in my advertising and displays so I “see” her often. But for this order I had the pleasure of re-visiting all of her images and the varied expressions and moods that children are so lovable for. What a beautiful girl and such a character!
Last week at preschool was crazy week. One day every kid wore red; one day they all wore pjs; one day was mismatch day. I tried my best to find the most ridiculous clothing combination, paired with unmatched shoes, socks and even a different hairdo on either side of her head. I decided a picture would be in order to send to the family of how funny this was supposed to look (and I am a photographer after all!) I get ready to send the picture out to family and friends – sure to elicit a laugh or two. But to my surprise, it turns out that it doesn’t matter what she wears… you just can’t make her un-beautiful!
Of course, it wouldn’t be right to forget about her bigger sister in all the picture-taking/sending… so beautiful as always, she posed as well. She is about to perform as a chicken named Hattie for her mini-play at school.
We have all heard this saying – yes? This is the way I live my life really – I don’t journal and generally don’t write long letters to my friends – but I take pictures :) Because they say a lot.
But browsing a book (the Power of Now) the other day I stumbled on an idea that had me thinking – maybe some pictures are worth no words at all. Let me explain.
Love, joy and peace are states of being, not really emotions, because emotions have the power to come and go. These though are attainable in what some may call the depths of the soul, for those in touch with the spirituality of the world – rarely in this life while we are running about attending to errands and such. But glimpses of them are possible in moments when the mind is rendered speechless. Triggered by maybe great beauty, physical exertion, great danger – there is a still, a calm, where love, joy and peace can be known if just for a second.
I may not be the Buddha, but I can tell you that I am pretty speechless when it comes to how I feel about my kids. Speechless is the only way to describe the experience in a delivery room. Speechless is how I felt when I found out that my friend had died. All those moments have in common for me a love so intense that it fell beyond anything that words could describe.
I have seen pictures like that – you know they describe something that words will never be able to tell – not even a thousand of them.
What are your speechless moments?
And to follow on this happy trip down memory lane, comes another trip I took recently… At the 12th anniversary of the tragic passing of my lifelong friend, I am finally making a scrapbook of sorts with images of her life. I had thought it would be a painful process because who wants to remember things such as these? But in doing the work, I found that it was joyous for me. I remembered things that were masked by pain and felt connected to her. Even though some of the memories I was re-living were not quite as happy as the one of the kids, there again was an overwhelming feeling of love. Love for her laughter, love for her many attempts at colors of hair, love for the fact that in most of the images she is snuggled up with someone that SHE loved… she knew this fact for as long as I can remember – life is about love. What we remember is not simply the images that we treasure (remember that trip to the beach) but the feelings that are attached as well – the connection of sharing the joys and sorrows in each other’s lives.
Being a photographer with digital tools, you can imagine that I have files upon files to maintain for clients – arranged of course in neat and orderly (accessible) fashion… can you think of what I have to maintain for my own life?! I mean the pictures of the kids? In an attempt to organize in some other fashion besides (barely memorable) dates, I found myself the other day “thumbing” through literally thousands of pictures representing the past 3 years or so of our lives. Being on a mission, I reminded myself that I could not look at each photo or even set of photos for long, so I took quick glances to get the general idea of contents in each folder. Even at this quick pace, I was reminded how short their hair was as babies (now cut in fashionable styles), the shape of a toothless grin (which is now ready to return to toothlessness!). But even with these fond memories, I found so much more by looking through the images. I could actually hear the sound of the laughter, smell the diaper creme, the rice cereal on their breath and even remember vividly just how shrill a sound an unhappy toddler can make! All of these are endearing to me (in retrospect) and all of it absolutely, completely full of love. Love – it is all about love. Life is about love – memories are about love – photography is about love…
This is an organization that I am proud to be involved with. There is no circumstance where pictures are more precious than when we are holding on to them in memory of a loved one. And there is no circumstance where it is more of a gift to be a photographer helping preserve those memories. When a family is facing infant death, the opportunities to have pictures made are few. Yet these can become the most precious reminders they have of the love and beauty that existed in even the briefest moments together. The NILMDTS organization is a group of photographers who volunteer their time and materials and make space on their schedules to visit families and capture the moments, with passion and compassion. There are many ways that even people without a camera can help – donations or even just helping someone that could use the services find their way to a photographer… visit the website.
Yesterday I watched an episode of A Baby Story on television… for some reason it spurred me to find (and watch!) the tape we made of my first daughter’s birth and first year. We aren’t video fanatics, so this is all on one tape! I am particularly fascinated by births for some reason – all the little details of who said what, the reactions of observers, the quiet stillness for many of the hours that pass just waiting, and all the emotions and energies that converge at the moment of birth in a joint effort to bring a new baby to the world. It was a great memory to relive.
There were also little clips of moments thru the first year – napping with mommy in the early days, first solid foods, sitting up, crawling, laughing hysterically at the dogs. I had remembered all these things, but with much less vividness. What hit me the most though is that she was (is) absolutely beautiful – of course I knew that already – but seeing it was more powerful than what I remember.
Isn’t that why pictures and video are so great? Not that you will forget these moments as if they had never happened, but you never remember exactly and you never remember everything. We do have tons (and tons) of pictures that can take us for quite a detailed tour down memory lane whenever we wish, but I must admit that I am a bit sad that I was not a photographer at that time. What we have are “snapshots” and they serve their purpose, but what I feel is missing is the specialness of pictures that illustrate the emotion, ones that even come close to the beauty that I saw with my eyes, ones that document the bonds that were forming, ones that make me feel like that beautiful baby is really still looking back at me :)
Lucky for me, my interest and skill in photography grew with that bundle of joy and I now have albums full of images that convey exactly what I want them to – whether it is a toddler dressed up in mismatched clothes or the solo dance of a ballerina in the living room. We all know though, that it isn’t the picture that is worth a thousand words – it is what is in them that melts our hearts!