Thursday, 30 January 2014

Come out from behind the camera

This post was inspired by A friend of mine who shared a link on the Huffington post about a woman who regretted not being in enough photos of her kids as she wasn't happy with her photo being taken, which i have linked below

Feeling too Fat to be Photographed

I like to take photos. I've got folders of snapshots, family, holidays, parties, landscapes, portraits, stars, macros all order by date. Some of them get printed out and put in frames and displayed but most just stay in their place, waiting to be viewed at sometime in the future. I suspect that's true of most people. Everyone  has a digital camera now, and long gone are the days of just taking 24 pictures, carefully selecting the time you pressed the shutter. Now with the capacity of drives you just take endless pictures. Everyone (almost) carries a camera in their pocket these days in their smart phone. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram are filled with pictures of smiling family and friends, cats and peoples dinner. Snapchat lets you send a photo that lasts just a few seconds before disappearing from view.

I'm willing to bet that in everyone's home, in a cupboard, or a drawer, under the bed or in the loft there is box. Its an old tatty box, its edges once straight are now bent and curled. Its flaps have been opened and closed more times that can be remembered. From the outside it looks un-remarkable, the sort that you would throw away without thinking about it. Yet inside is treasure, irreplaceable, unique, priceless.

When people's houses are on fire, what's the first thing they save after their pets and loved ones are safe? The family photos.

 The albums and envelopes in that box contains the story of your family's life. The quantities are far less, a roll of film of 24 or 36 photos, but the fact they were kept makes them all the more special. Each one is a snapshot in time, of people, places, events.

Family photos depict smiling faces... births, weddings, holidays, children's birthday parties. People take pictures of the happy moments in their lives. Someone looking through our photo album would conclude that we had led a joyous, leisurely existence free of tragedy. No one ever takes a photograph of something they want to forget.

There are photos of parties, of grandparents now gone. Of that holiday in the caravan when it leaked. That time the car broke down and everyone had to push it. The little things that to anyone else mean absolutely nothing, but you to you and the people captured in them mean everything. The really interesting part of history isn't the Kings and Queens, its the normal every day things that bring it to life and its the same with the family snapshots.
Most people don't take snapshots of the little things, the used Band-Aid,the guy at the gas station, the wasp on the Jell-O... but these are the things that make up the true picture of our lives
But back to the point of this rambling blog post. I read the piece on being too fat to be in the photos and it resonated with me in a way i didn't expect. I started searching the photo albums in my mind, remembering all the family photos taken over the years. And then it struck me. How few of them have my dad in them. He died when i was 13, he was 48, 24 years ago now. I suspect like most families, dad was the photographer, the one always behind the camera and very rarely in front of it. There's only a handful of photos of him with us as kids. There's almost no record of him having been there, and been with us. Now i am a dad to two beautiful girls, and as i look through the thousands of photos i have taken I see history repeating.

Photo after photo of smiling faces of the girls. But again the person behind the camera isn't there. I don't want them to look back through them and wonder where i was, or what i was doing. I don't want all the times we played and did stupid little things together to disappear
but these snapshots are their little stands against the flow of time. The shutter is clicked...the fash goes off... and they've stopped time...if just for the blink of an eye.

So, this year i am going to change that. i am going to get in font of the camera. I am going to be in the photos, to be recorded in my girls lives. So that when they sit down to look at them they can remember the times we shared together, the laughter we had. The stupid things we did. The story of our family.

 And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it's this...
 "I was here.
 I existed.
 I was young. I was happy...
 and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture."
So please, if you are the family photographer, come out from behind the camera, be part of the story.

Quotes are from the film "One Hour Photo"

Matt Francis

Author & Editor

Tableau Zen Master, Social Ambassador, Wrangler of Data, Vizzer of Data