Photo originally posted on Instagram
As you can see from the photo above, it's just a bunch of tiles. But given my long-established propensity to view the world through a somewhat bizarro lens, I can't stop staring at it. I jump out of the car and wander over for a closer look. I like what I see, and out comes the camera for a quick and spontaneous photo shoot. I'm going for straight-on, straight lines, and when I get what I like, I wander back to the car and head back home. There's a puppy to walk and coffee to be made.
As far as photos go, this one isn't all that spectacular. No depth, no perspective, and fairly repetitive. So why shoot it in the first place? Good question, and the answer speaks directly to why I shoot in the first place.
Sometimes, like here, or here, or here, it's because the photo itself is unreal. Or it's fleeting. Or it's just plain thought-provoking. This one, to be frank, isn't. But it didn't need to be. That's because it's a placeholder, or a moment photo, a pic that I took not because it was spectacular in and of itself, but because it captured a moment I didn't want to forget.
And this particular moment was an important one, a reminder of what it felt like to be alone with our daughter in a car rolling quietly through the countryside as we both chatted about the craft of photography, about what lay ahead for her for the day, and why it was worth waking up too early on a Saturday morning.
We've had many of these mornings, the two of us, and as much as I relish my sleep, I enjoy these mornings more. Driving her to wherever she needs to go. Being a dad. It's what parents do, of course, part of the deal we make when we decide to become parents in the first place. But this kid makes them fun, moments to look forward to. To the outside observer, it's just a parent and child having a chat in a car. To me, these moments are everything, and fleeting, and I needed a picture, something, anything, to remember what this particular moment on a particular Sunday morning in a quiet parking lot in Lambeth felt like.
Mission accomplished. Now, when's our next early-morning drive?
Your turn: Do you take placeholder- or moment-type photos? Why?