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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Picture is Worth More than Words

A lot can be gleaned from a simple picture. When people offer to share their photographs with me, I am truly honored. A snapshot can be deeply revealing. I appreciate their willingness to let me peak into their lives, even if it is through the study of a photograph dangling from their keychain or a slideshow on their computer. My husband’s aunt took more candid pictures than anyone I ever knew. She taught me that there are no bad pictures. If a picture tells you anything about a person, place, thing or feeling, it is worth preserving. She encouraged me to look for minute details that others might miss. Do not concern yourself whether the subject is focused. Look beyond the subject, look outside the borders of the print. Are there lace doilies on the back of chairs? Do the dresses look handmade? What is the story here? Using her technique, I grew to observe more about a person and his or her world than I thought possible. Even clutter (or lack there of) tells a story. These days, a photo allows me to I do more than view the the outfits the people are wearing. Of equal interest is their body language. In candid photos where a photographer has not staged her own tableaux, people will give away much about themselves and their relationships simply by the placement of a hand or the angle at which they turn toward or away from the camera. The two-dimensional plane allows me to delve more deeply into the world held within the its single photographic plane.
When my children were toddlers, they would insist that I read the same story repeatedly; I would find myself reciting the book of the month again and again and again. The authors’ relinquished control of the books titles once they hit the bookstore shelf; the titles fell into the hands and imaginations of children everywhere. I know this is true because my own children were among those who renamed the books to better match their experience and understanding of the story details. For example, Richard Scarry’s Busy Town became “The Theme Park Book.” They were intimately familiar with the details they claimed to title it. We played a game in which they had to meet my challenge question. For example, how many people are wearing red sneakers? What time do the clocks say it is? How many stars are out?
My children have outgrown this game, but I have not given up on this habit.
However, as much as I want to identify and utilize the details in photos, whether they be in iPhoto, pictorials or 3d reality, there has been a glitch with my equipment over the past six months. I have been seeing double.
When so much of my world relies on my vision, this is a disturbing development. While my imagination can not be limited by what I see, it is certainly enhanced! I made an appointment with an opthamologist whom I respect; it was a six-week wait. The nail-biting was over at last. At my appointment, I learned that the ligaments in my eyes have grown overly lax. The result of this laxity is that, when tired, my eyes drift slightly, causing double-vision. He explained that I could spend months doing eye exercises with the possibility of correcting the problem slightly by strengthening the muscles so they could do the work of these lax ligaments. Alternatively, he could prescribe lenses with prisms that would do the work for me. It was an easy decision for me. However, before going to the expense of having progressive lenses made using prisms, I would try out a simple lens. I picked up a trial pair of prescription single-lens reading glasses today. It was miraculous. So amazing in fact, that I want to start flipping through photo albums to see what I might have been missing over the past year. I even want to reread such classics as “Good-Night Moon” just in case I missed the image of a petite mouse tucked away and waiting for me to find it all those years ago, when my children were little. I’ll have to let you know what I see.

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