Every Picture Tells a Story
Posted on January 30, 2013
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been a photo album making fool of late. I have thousands of photographs sitting on my hard drive, and I’m determined that the best of them will finally see the light of day. Vacation photos, wedding photos, holiday photos, rainy day photos, black and white photos…the variety and number are endless. Sorting through them all reminds me of wonderful times that I don’t want to forget. It also gives me the perfect opportunity to participate in something fun…
A while back, the fabulous Tobi over at Hunting for Bliss asked me to take part in Hostel Bookers 7 Super Shots. You choose and post seven photos out of your collection, one for each of the following criteria:
Makes me smile…
Makes me dream…
Makes me think…
Makes my mouth water…
Tells a story…
Makes me proud…
As you guys know, I’m a bit of a compulsive snapper. And, while I’ve written about how that can be a bad thing, the flip side of my compulsion is that, much like writing, each photograph helps me to catalogue and define the story of my life. It’s a bit more than remembering–it’s an ongoing narration. Maybe you can relate?
You can check out Tobi’s seven super shots here. The dancing children in Uganda is my fave! And here are my seven tiny stories, each captured in one photographic image…
1. Takes My Breath Away
Three summers ago, the temperatures in Vancouver soared to record heights. With no air conditioning at home, Grant and I decided to escape to the higher elevation of Whistler Mountain for some relief. Lucky us: turns out the condo we’d rented for the weekend didn’t have air conditioning either! After another hot and restless night, we took the gondola up to the top of Whistler Mountain in search of cooler air. Although I’d seen my fair share of Canadian vistas at this point, nothing prepared me for Whistler mountain laid bare, surrounded by gorgeous snow capped peaks. There was a different quality to the air: cleaner, cooler, as if we’d somehow reached the top of everything.
2. Makes Me Smile
This is a photo of my husband in front of Table Mountain. We were visiting his family for Christmas and, on this particular day, we visited beautiful Kalk Bay, the penguins at Boulders Beach and, finally, windy Blouberg, where this photo was taken. Aside from reminding me of a fantastic day and a beautiful country, I adore this picture because it captures so much of what I love about my husband: his humor, his energy, the fact that he always throws his shoes off the moment his feet touch sand. You can take the boy out of South Africa, but you definitely can’t take the South Africa out of the boy.
3. Makes Me Dream
When I took this photo, I’d only been living in Vancouver for a week. Ill suited for small town life, I’d pushed hard for the move eight hours south of the tiny northern town we’d temporarily called home. Vancouver was bigger. But would it be any better? I only knew it as a rainy, foggy place where we had a total of four friends. As I walked along the seawall that day, I saw everything with fresh eyes. Sunshine, sand, kids laughing and playing soccer, a beautiful, busy beach: this was a Vancouver I had never experienced before. This photo reminds me of new beginnings, of taking chances and starting over. It affirms that, even when shrouded in uncertainty, change can be a very good thing.
4. Makes Me Think:
This photo was taken on the Caribbean Island of Grenada. We stayed in the northern, un-touristy section, visiting waterfalls and remote beaches, nutmeg and cocoa plants. Fruit hung in abundance from the trees. Tiny fishing boats dotted the shore. At a sugar cane plantation, we found gigantic cast iron pots, still used for slow cooking stews. Our local guide, Gary, took us on a beautiful hike through the rainforest, pointing out the many tiny vegetable patches shared among the locals.
Dinner at our inn consisted of fresh produce and whatever fish our bartender Jimmy managed to catch that day. On our first night, we waited two hours for our dinner to arrive. We went to bed testy and confused. WHY must it take SO long? The second night was the same. And the third, the fourth…. By the fifth night, we were happily ordering extra cocktails and chatting with the people around us, oblivious to the slow passage of time. We’d become accustomed to our leisurely dinners.
Looking at this photograph of a giant clay oven reminds me of Grenada’s abundance of fresh food and the slowness of its preparation. Back home in North America, that way of life feels so foreign. Who has time to make everything from scratch? To buy everything fresh? To chat and wait and revel in slow roasting? It’s true that life is hectic and sometimes take-out is the only thing standing between you and an after work meltdown. But this photo serves as a reminder that sometimes we just need to take a time out and find our way back to sweet, slow Grenada time.
5. Makes My Mouth Water
Everything about Paris makes me hungry: the culture, the beauty, the architecture, the history. And, of course, the food. Grant and I spent part of our honeymoon in the city of lights and this is a photo of our first meal on our first day in Paris. Les Deux Magots (Two Figurines) is a very well known café in Saint-Germain-des-Prés—it was once the hang out spot for the literary elite like Hemingway and Sartre. Now it’s rather touristy, but they still make a mean Croque Monsieur. This photo makes me hungry for a feeling and a flavor that only Paris can provide.
6. Tells a Story
This photo was taken on my 26th birthday. Early that morning, eager to see the pyramids, Grant and I hopped in a cab and made our way to Giza. But instead of dropping us at the entrance as we expected, our driver took us straight to the door of a small shop and ushered us into a dark room. There, his (cousin, brother, friend?) proceeded to whisk us behind some curtains, where he pulled out a variety of perfumes: amber, sandalwood, frankincense. He revealed a giant wooden board covered with engravings of the pyramids and pointed at it with a long stick. There was a short speech, some more pointing. And that, my friends, is how we ended up handing a strange Egyptian man every bit of our cash in exchange for a camel ride and one bottle of lotus blossom perfume. When I look at this photo, I remember the absurdity of that day. Everyone we met tried to sell us something–headdresses, postcards, orange soda, toilet paper. We left Giza exhausted and poor, but at the end of it all, I was officially one year older and had ridden my first (and hopefuly last) surly camel.
7. Makes Me Proud
A couple of years ago, I took a ten week photography class. We met late in the evenings to discuss aperture, white balance and composition. I went into the class timidly snapping on auto and left confidently shooting in manual mode, zipping through settings on my Nikon. On our last day of class, they brought in models and set up several different lighting situations so that we could test out our new knowledge. This shot was lit by one bare bulb and reminds me of those late nights fiddling with iso and shutter speed, focused on just one thing: getting that perfect shot.
Do you have some cool photos gathering dust on your hard drive? If so, I invite you to post seven photos of your own and share the link in the comments section so that we can check them out! When taking photos, what subjects are you most drawn to: people, landscapes, small, unnoticed objects, vibrant color?
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Pictures or It Didn’t Happen: Thoughts From a Compulsive Photographer
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