Photographs. What would the world be like without photographs? Since the rudimentary beginnings in the 16th century to the in-your-face every moment digital wizardry think how much has come to be and for the most part is taken for granted. We take pictures with our phone and send them out to all our “contacts.” Some of the last pictures my son sent me from his phone were of the garter snakes in his back yard. My daughter on her way home from our house after the wedding sent me pictures of the dogs cuddled in the back seat of their vehicle. But let’s face it, we are not all good at taking photographs.
My son’s photographs tended to be of nature, places he traveled, routes he had climbed. My daughter is really pretty good at taking all sorts of photos. She has an eye for the right composition and knows just enough about the mechanics of the camera to get the settings correct. Me, I just point, click and hope for the best. I guess it depends on your motives. I photograph as reference for painting. I do like to have the shadows, and to make sure I understand where the light is coming from. I take pictures up close to gain insight into the details, and some I take from far away to get the feeling for the entire scene.
For special occasions, however, it pays to have the professional photographer. When you see the difference between their view and your own clumsy perspective it is rather dramatic. You may come up with a special shot or two – but with their knowledge and ability to work in that medium means that are more good shots than bad.
My daughter’s wedding pictures are becoming available soon. I am transported by them, back to that day. I relive it. It is a wonderful place to escape to. She is radiant. Her groom glows. There is joy that pulses from those photographs and the feeling that you could perhaps step through the frame and back into that time.
I laugh and smile, and shed some tears.
The photographer for the wedding is a young man I have know since he was in grade school, a contemporary for my daughter, only a year or so older than she. He has remained here in our small town, but his talent has far outgrown it. He is quiet and gentle, and very handsome in his own right. The day of the wedding he was everywhere at once. Perhaps that is how he gets his exercise.
What is special is that though we are seeing the entire proceedings through his eyes, it feels as if you are seeing it all for the first time and that you are behind the lens.
There are on my computer a series of photos from last Christmas. My daughter was behind the lens that day. One after another she took photos of Christmas morning. Many are of me and her brother sitting side by side in front of the fireplace. It is like a narrative. The story says that we are family and very much in love. There are no professional touches there, just the recording of a morning in 2010.
If we are not careful we take photography for granted these days. It is so simple for everyone to do it, good or bad. The eye behind the viewfinder, the mind that frames the potential for the shot is the difference.
But take the pictures, please take the pictures anyway. Chronicle everything you can, the moments are precious and fleeting.
Marvel over the professional shots. Once you have tried to duplicate their efforts you will find out the hard way that it does not come naturally but is indeed a talent.
But as an amateur I have to say, that when the person behind the lens has a feeling concerning the subject matter, that feeling comes through, whether composed just right or not.
That is why those pictures of that Christmas are so precious, for the person beside me in the pictures and the person behind the lens so faithfully engaged in chronicling the moment. So when you look at that picture that you received on your iphone and you smile and enjoy the image, for just a moment picture in your mind that person behind the lens and what they were thinking when they took it. It was someone who probably cared about you.