Saturday, March 10, 2007
Tea time in London
London, Ontario, March 2007 [Click to embiggen]
Weeks ago, I bought a package of crackers at the grocery store. They were on sale. Not just a few cents off, but a ridiculously low price that prompted me to silently question the sanity of the store's manager. I carefully examined the package to ensure the crackers hadn't been handmade by child-slave laborers in a Nigerian diamond mine. Everything looked kosher (and happily they were actually kosher) so I bought them and skipped happily home with my find.
My happiness was short-lived: They sat patiently in the pantry while our kids naturally defaulted to other food choices. One week went by, then another. I started to talk up the crackers, hoping against hope that they'd set aside their usual cracker choices for the new and much less expensive kind. I had scored a major bargain, and it bugged me that the crackers were emitting some sort of leprosy ray in the general direction of my children.
Finally, my wife tossed them - carefully, of course - into my lunch bag. Her logic made sense: I found 'em, so I'd also eat 'em.
When lunch came, I found myself peeling the still-pristine packaging open. For some crazy reason that I still don't fully understand, it saddened me that the story would end there, with me ingloriously devouring the inexpensive confection with little more than a passing thought to mark their journey through my life. Yes, it was incredibly stupid of me to devote any thought to a silly little package of crackers. But I couldn't let it go. I'm manic that way.
My camera just happened to be in its beaten-up bag right at my feet. I took it out, leaned the crackers against my desk lamp, straightened them carefully with the help of a notepad, and carefully positioned the camera a few precious inches away from the odd-looking scene. My colleagues observed from a distance, munching on their own lunch choices, comfortable in the knowledge that I was once again being weird with my camera.
The result is pictured above. I think the pattern, the symmetry, and the shadows all make it a keeper of a picture. It's the kind of photo that results when you throw out the usual constraints of what should or should not become a subject. But beyond the technical outcome, the image captures a seemingly insignificant vignette in the life of our children, and in my own life as their dad. Sometimes, you take a picture because you want to ensure that moment, that event, that whatever-it-is doesn't fade invisibly into the oblivion of history.
Your turn: Can a photo be a placeholder of one's life? How? And before I forget, what three words come to mind when you first see this surreal little scene??