They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I know better…I’m a photographer..it’s worth a lifetime. My father passed on recently. We were very close, having spent most of my life by him. We had walked a long way on this plane and at times I still feel his presence from another one. When it came time to place his ashes in the niche, I tried to find things to say about him that would talk about his life and what he really meant to me. Never really being at a loss for words, I couldn’t find enough of them.
Looking through the many photo albums both sides of my family collected, I embarked on a journey taking me through many lifetimes, a century’s worth. Some photos were high end studio portraits, individuals whose ghost remained on paper to introduce themselves to those who hadn’t yet arrived ; families that would later through fate and happenstance come together and give reason to how and why we’re here; events that serve as ear markers to fill the spaces left behind in the dust of life; memories on paper, for those who forgot and needed moments refreshed , and those who would yet come to see who came before them.
For me it was a moment refreshed , that I had completely forgotten about, buried deep by all the moments gathered after that. It sat there held by corners, framed, a frozen piece of time, a magical doorway that opened to a massive garden kept in the same condition as the day we left it and I now returned as time traveler. I sat a long time staring at it remembering that day, the things we did, where we lived, even how I felt. It was a defining moment, standing as the sum total of what my father meant to me.. the man who stood by my side all of my life and still does now, though thick and thin, no matter what, a buddy, a sponsor, a guide…a hero.
I photographed a whole lot of people in this career and still do, paying proper attention to the world behind and in front of the camera. Behind, I am conductor, producer, director…witness. In front, I am the object or part of a moment. From behind I deliver results and walk away leaving the product of our trade and move on to the next. My judgment of my work is based by my professional standards, not by my personal emotions… but that is where the real impact of photography lies, not how I did it nor what it might mean to me but what it means to another.
Pictures say more than words. They have a life of their own superseding the ones who took them. They are keys to doorways of time spent making those who create them its locksmiths. Inside they speak. This one did to me..It spoke for all good dads, what they really mean to us who were lucky enough to have and have had them. It now sits next to my dad, my hero, and in my heart.
This is a wonderful post! The last two paragraphs, wow! I feel honored just to have read that and will keep it on my inspiration board.
I recently gave a military family their first family portrait ever. They have four children, the oldest is 8 and is severely mentally and physically handicapped and is not expected to live much longer. The dad was deployed to Korea recently, not knowing if his family would be whole when he returned. That is the value of photography, having a photograph to hold on to when our loved ones have passed and remembering to do that while they are still here.