Thursday, October 19, 2006

A picture is worth a thousand words


This is Dahlia just after she had her hair cut. This is me capturing Dahlia in a picture just after she had her hair cut. This is Dahlia giving me The Look as I captured her in a picture just after she had her hair cut. I love this picture for so many reasons, and hope that you do, too.

I know that having a camera almost constantly in my hand is a source of occasional annoyance to our kids - especially to our daughter. But I also know that it allows us to create a record of our lives that we never had as kids.

Sure, photography existed in the pre-cambrian era that defines my childhood. But our parents tended to see photography as a special-events-only thing. The camera came out on birthdays and holidays, for the most part. It stayed tucked away for pretty much the rest of the year. When it made its rare appearances, the same poses were arranged. We weren't supposed to make funny faces or otherwise compromise the precious image.

Of course, I always made a funny face. And the relatively few pictures from my childhood are dotted with poses that some would say "ruined" the picture. But that was - and is - me. And photography isn't about perfection anyway. It's about capturing the nuances of life, even if they fall a little short of the mythical bar set by the person taking the picture or by others who view it.

I hope our kids have a much bigger database to draw from when they're older. I'm privileged to have the opportunity to make it happen.

Your turn: Photography as a life-storytelling endeavor. True? False? Why? Why not?

35 comments:

Karen said...

Carmi, I am a veteran recipient of "the look." I get the look even when I'm not wielding a camera. Still, I forge ahead and continue to annoy and embarrass with every passing moment. It's why I'm here.

Your daughter is gorgeous! And, within reasonable limits, you should continue to capture moments such as these. If you don't, she'll wonder where you were for her childhood. She'll hug you one day for this!

Have a wonderful day!

Annabelle said...

Oh gee, this brings me back to Photograpy school, your question prompts an endless debate amongst photo Art students... Where can I begin?

Also, this photo really reminds me of a photo Jeff Wall did in the 70's: http://courses.washington.edu/hypertxt/cgi-bin/12.228.185.206/html/viewer/jeffbar2_400.jpg, although not as severe and I doubt your implications had anything to do with the male gaze. The look on your daughter's face is very Mona Lisa like... peculiar, mysterious and fascinating.

Paige said...

Oh so true. It is the everyday, the everyday things and all that make up our lives. It could be that one weird photo that leads to a wonderful memory in the future. The "I'm so glad I have that picture" comment.
I say keep on snapping & clicking away even if only because it makes us happy.

Jennifer said...

I am the storyteller of our kids lives, I hope one day they will appreciate it. I think they do alittle now, when they sit down to look at the scrapbooks I a have done. I agree with the "poses", I'm finding my favorite pictures are the spontaneous ones, so I am trying to take more of those. The vacation pics of my hubby and I standing in front of something are just boring...the goofy ones I like better.
good topic, and I like the picture.
Jenny in Ca

Linda said...

oh so true! I snap pictures of everything. Like you, camera is always close at hand, one in my purse, one on my desk. Unlike you, I don't have really good or nice equipment, but I make do. Photography tells a story, and it's a challenge to photograph the everyday, mundane along with the truly memorable (births, special occasions, etc). Digital age has made it much simpler to do this.

The only problem with it is that if you don't DO something with it (like scrapbook or put photos in albums with captions and descriptions), the history may be lost. Think about looking at tintypes or antique photos. Often, nothing was written to identify the person(s), era, location. Or, it's a cryptic message in a hand long-gone. And you can only rely on word of mouth.

That was why I posed the question ahwile back on my blog about getting rid of pictures that either meant nothing or no longer had importance (people I didn't know, etc). I hope my children enjoy the legacy of photos and scrapbooks I leave them.

srp said...

Ah, the look. I don't want to spoil any of the fun.... er, turmoil..... er, suspense here. But you have more of that "look" plus so much more than your imagination could ever fathom, and it's all out there for you to look forward to and dread at the same time. Been there. Good luck.

keda said...

what an incredible image!
it's so beautiful. :)

i love it and i agree that its story telling. who doesn't love to pore through old photos of their youth when we are older?

even if most of them are bad.

i snap constantly. and mourn those i missed.
though i'll never be a scrapbooker, i have thousands which in any spare time i go back and edit so the littlelets wont be completely overwhelmed with the sheer bulk of history.

i love and they will too the fact that we were so amazed and interested in the minutae of their lives.
though careful editing is definately required in this digital age of 300photos at each pop ;)

Shephard said...

I love that you named your daughter Dahlia.

There are about 10 photos of me from my childhood. That's all. Not that I want a lot of photos of me as a child or adolescent. But... if more had been taken, there would be a few nice ones, for sure.

I'm all for chronically life, day to day, with photos.
And I go a step further, lol... making shutterfly books that are fun to look at and revisit. :)

~S

~A~ said...

"The Look." *LOL* Reminds me of something that happened a few days ago.... Attack of the mamaratzi

I love my digitals. I love having a pictorial time-line of our life.

Anonymous said...

Hey Carmi!
I love the fact that kids have attitude, don't you? I can really see the family resemblance.

Voici des photos de ma nouvelle maison. Je suis maintenant directementn en arriere du RCC.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/39688930@N00/

A bientot
Charles

zazzafooky said...

Absolutely true! They give dimension and soul to our past.

She's a beautiful girl and your a pro at the snaps :-)

Sandy J said...

Absolutely. One that can be shared or relived over and over!

Melanie said...

I LOVE "the Look"! Classic!
And yes I think photography is one of the best ways to tell a story from so many different viewpoints simultaneously.

Hi, Michele sent me!

Toni said...

Your turn: Photography as a life-storytelling endeavor. True? False? Why? Why not?

TRUE! Our everydays are full of moments worth recording and looked at again and again. Recorded memories shouldn't be limited to holidays!

I love that photograph. You and your daughter are so cute. :)

Michele sent me. Happy weekend!

kenju said...

I get the look too, Carmi, even now that my children are ages 35-40. My childhood and their's was similar to yours as far as cameras were concerned. You are doing a wonderful service for your family -as they will have records of their everyday lives that few ever have. They may make faces now, but they will eventually be very happy that you cared enough to pull out the ever-present camera. NTW: Dahlia is very cute!

Michele sent me.

moon said...

Oh THE LOOK... we as parents all get THE LOOK...sometimes we get the bonus eye roll and heavy sigh lol...It's our duty as parents to evoke THE LOOK lmao...ahh the small pleasures of parenthood come in so many forms don't they lol.

I love the idea of photographing our lives...I don't do it enough personally, but I was just going through old albums the other day, and was struck by the ones I had forgotten about, and so glad to see again.

When daughter was born, I made 2 huge albums over the first yr, first was photos I put together while pregnant including sonagram photo, heartbeat monitor paper, etc etc and 2nd was everything I could put in there of birth,(incubator label, name card, hospital bracelette ect and first yr of pics, first steps etc...

She LOVES those 2 albums, they seem to encompass her welcome into the world, and the love put into all I stuck in there.....

I loved this post Carmi lol can u tell?...
Here via Michele's this time.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

True, for those who choose it. Not true for everyone. Different strokes for different folks and all that. My photography is intermittent at best - sometimes I want to experience a time fully without thinking about taking photos. Maybe that means I'm not a natural photographer, or something, but I don't think it matters. I have lots of photos in my head!

I enjoy looking at photos, though. I LOVE 'The Look' - beautifully captured.

amcmillan said...

Carmi, Love the photo. Dahlia's green shirt, red hair and look is great. The entire photo with you to the side and the fact that you're behind the couch is great.. It's almost as if none of us are suppose to see you and the only reason we do is because of the mirror that captures you both "the real camera shot". Fantastic stuff... really great. I'd love to see your photos in a gallery here around town sometime.

Pearl said...

What a classic beauty of a daughter.

Photography as story telling. I have albums of photos and they can bring back forgotten details to stories. Without stories they are just circumstantial evidence that a life was lived. A lot of my old photos are blanks. Without using them for storytelling prompts, refreshing the memories, I don't remember names for faces. I don't know year or context.

They are a good tool, with other things.

Michele sent me this time.

Aging Fabulous said...

Somehow I passed on this thing called an attitude and they tried telling me that they didn't want their photos taken. But I have an attude too lol... and never listened. Now, when they come home, they always find a way to thumb through old photo albums in search of their litle faces from years gone by.

:)

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Hey carmi, here from Michele's.

I agree, I wish that I took more pictures. My daughter is almost five and I feel that I didn't get enough of her when she was smaller. Same with our dog Scotch, who we had to put down a short while ago. Maybe I'll haul out the camera tonight.

rampant bicycle said...

Heheh. :) I love that picture.

When it comes to photos as documentation...I think they are best used as such when placed in some kind of context. Photos out of context can be enigmatic and haunting and very compelling, but as part of a history they fail. If a history is what you are keeping, then there must be a context. :)

Hello from Michele's!

Anonymous said...

dahlia is beautiful and i love her new haircut.

michele says hi!

Cin said...

LOL. I am a lifetime recipient of THE LOOK, which seems appropos since I gave it to my camera-wielding mama often enough.

In answer to your question, I give you a resounding YES! It's definitely a lfe-storytelling endeavour. Like history, sometimes you only know a photos significance after the fact.

Here from Michele's :)

surcie said...

I love her expression--and how you're trying to be out of the pic as much as possible but are totally visible. She will adore this photo someday.

dave said...

Just wait till your daughter is a teenager, and try and photograph her a lot then!!!

Anonymous said...

Michele sent me this time, although I always stop by.

I love The Look. It' so cute. "I hate you, Dad, for taking my picture right now, and if darts could come out my eyes, they would!"

Raehan said...

It's funny how we had so few photos and yet I never thought of it that way.

I have to remember to make sure I preserve our photos properly. So many of them are on computer or Ofoto, but that technology may not last so I need to stay on top of it.

She's beautiful and looks so much like you!

Morah Mommy said...

Our children will always a wonderful story to "read" of when they were growing up.

It's great to have such a fubulous photographer and subjects to capture.

No bias here!

Blond Girl said...

True. Because I have a photo of Sweet Girl, at age three, swinging. It is the most amazing picture. Not a special occasion... just her and air.

Now that I think of it, my favorite pictures of her have been taken at the playground... must be the mix of pink cheeks, blond hair and sunlight!

Sandy said...

Carmi, one day your children and mine will meet up in group therapy. They will first lament the constant presence of the camera in their lives. Then they will laugh a bit. Give each other than knowing grin and admit that they actually sort of like having all those bits of their own history stored away - not just the 'big' moments but the every day real moments.

At least I hope my kids say such things some day.

Killired said...

true... becasue thru pix we can retell some stories in life... whether it's an event or just a certain period in our life. they help us remember and help our memories stay alive... thank god for cameras! i wish i had more pix of my childhood...

Debbie said...

Wow - she is so beautiful. You have been blessed.

This is only the beginning of "the look!"

I love scrapbooking - my boys love looking through the pages and reading about what I was thinking and the feelings we shared.

On day she will look/read through your blog and understand how much love you have.

Killired said...

she is beautiful! i zoomed in and her face is so young and perfect! was she mad about the haircut and/or you shooting her pix???

Laura said...

I popped over here from Shephard's blog and I absolutely love this post. So many people don't ~get~ what you are writing here, but I could have written this post myself. I think our children possibly share that same annoyance of camera constantly in hand..ha!

I want my photos to capture the essence of my children, a shapshot of their personalities, not them dressed in uncomfortable clothes with frozen smiles of boredom. We did not have much money growing up and photos were more of a luxury-not a necessity. It was not uncommon to have more than one year's birthday on one roll of film-that is how infrequently photos were taken in my household.

I try to get pics of the kids and I together-9 times out of ten, it is me holding the camera, but I try to get pics with the camera on a tripod using the timer. I have almost NO pics of my own mother and it frustrates me. I don't want my kids to have that same frustration.

Great post! I'll be back...
~L.