We went out kayaking with friends over the weekend and took some great photos. I couldn’t wait to post them on Facebook so that I could share my photos with them and hopefully they would do the same with photos they took of us. It got me thinking about how important photos are to us and why that is true. After all, the saying that, “A picture is worth 10,000 words” has endured for generations now and has lost none of its truth.
When we consider why we like to take photos, many truths come to light. We love visiting people and places that are special and preserving the occasion by taking a photo. We love reliving those times when we go through the pictures we have taken. But isn’t there something special about sitting down with someone and sharing our pictures with them? Somehow the captured moments seem brighter and more alive when we share them with someone else. Facebook, Flikr and other photo sharing sites certainly understand this psychology well!
Acting as photographers, we portray truths about; our perception of what is important, our creativity, our emotions, our identities but even more importantly, we portray truths about our relationships.
I was watching Christmas pictures being taken of the different segments of a blended family recently. One side of the family posed naturally so that each person was touching at least two other people and the group was definitely seen as one cohesive unit. The other side of the family needed a little more encouragement! They originally posed without one single person touching anyone else! When the photographer chided,”Act like you like each other!” one of the adult sons whacked another over the head and then they all held hands and grinned at the camera as a family unit! It turned out to be one of the family’s favorite pictures from that Christmas!
This is what’s important…. the relationships. Sometimes it’s about the relationship among the people in the picture, sometimes it’s about the relationship between the photographer and his subject and still other times it’s about the relationship between the two people who are viewing a photograph together. Photographs cement relationships.
The joy that comes from looking at a picture isn’t always about happy memories.I remember arranging to have a four-generations picture taken with my grandmother, my mother, me and my children, one of whom was an infant. Everyone was dressed in Sunday best, everyone put his or her best face forward until our littlest member lost it, just as we were called in to sit for the photographer. She started screaming at the top of her lungs and there was nothing that any of us could do to make her stop. Finally we decided to just go ahead and try to just get a picture anyway. This poor man did his best but in every single shot, she was either screaming bloody murder or she was photographed when she had paused to catch her breath and she was blotchy, swollen and red-faced from crying. Whenever we look at that picture, those of us who can remember the incident always laugh, though it certainly wasn’t funny at the time!
I have another photograph of my father in a life vest. Now my father was in the Navy, is an excellent swimmer and taught each of his children how to swim and dive well enough so that they were able to compete on high school and college teams. When I was growing up, my family always had a boat and this one photograph is the only time I’ve ever seen my father don a life jacket. We were on a rented boat, off the east coast of South Florida, in a storm so ferocious that it had knocked out the steering on our flying bridge. We couldn’t see 2 feet in front of the boat and we were lost. Seeing my father put on a life jacket, I just knew I was going to die! My sister and I ate our last meal together (cold SpaghettiO’s out of the can!) and were thoroughly surprised to actually live through the experience when the fog and rain lifted and we were in the middle of the Miami shipping channel!
The joy of looking at pictures isn’t necessarily about what was going on in the picture, it’s about the relationships that are forged before, during, after and at the time of viewing them. So let’s take pictures and not forget to share them, all the while remembering that we are strengthening precious bonds between ourselves and the people who are important to us by doing so!