“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” So wrote Aaron Siskind, the American photographer who created abstract images by focusing on details. What draws my attention to this quote is the place that photographs hold in helping us to overcome our amnesia. Today was my dad’s funeral, two weeks after he died in the early hours of October 8, U.K. time. That day, I did what many do in similar circumstances – flick through old photo albums. That’s how I came across this photo and that’s how I ended up writing the words below, a cathartic exercise on a day when I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. It’s taken me a while to identify my photographic voice. I enjoy dabbling in all sorts and will continue to take the kinds of images that have appeared on this blog over the years. However, as I have paid attention to what draws me, I realize it’s what I talk about in the below. And guess what? It seems that this voice has been with me all along. I just didn’t know it, or I had simply forgotten.
What’s in a picture?
Last night, after a long distressing year of illness, my dad slipped away, drawing his last breath in his home, his castle of familiarity and comfort. Today, I couldn’t face work, partly because I hardly slept and mostly because I didn’t want to spend the day trying to keep my emotions under control.
This leads me to reflecting on emotions and photography. My favourite kind of picture-making is that which captures an aspect of life candidly caught. It’s what I call the in-between shots. It’s the ones when no-one is aware of a lens being trained on them or they don’t care much if it is. It’s the ones where the smile-for-the-camera guard is down. Those shots are for me, pure magic. They suspend precious moments in time, calling out hidden feelings and stirring long forgotten memories. They have the capacity to bring forth tears and smiles all at the same time, which is exactly what happened to me today as I went through some old photo albums. That’s how I came across this picture, taken long before I possessed a fancy camera or was “into photography.” It’s a moment of delight and tenderness, my dad stooping down for a quick kiss from his 4 year old granddaughter, my now 26 year old Beth.
What’s in such a picture? For me right now, everything. Rest In Peace dad, and thanks for not posing for this one