We all have them; some more then others. They abound in different formats and archives. My mom had a slew of old polaroids in an eight by ten manila envelope. She also had framed pictures and an album or two, but many of her pictures just seemed to be tossed into a convenient drawer. Returned from the developer, carefully arranged in a sectioned envelope with pictures sequestered in the rear section and negatives in the front, photos were viewed, possibly shared, then relegated to the darkness of storage.
Archiving photos has certainly advanced. My brother has a bank vault of slides, taken over decades of photography; each labeled and slotted into specially designed slide cases before being stacked away in a closet. My friend Dennis was elated with the discovery of an electronic device which enabled him to transfer his vast collection of slides onto compact discs. He can now save his photos in two formats, but it will be easier to view the slides on a computer screen instead of the silver screen. A recent acquaintance shuffled through what seemed to be a hundred pictures on his phone, to show me a photo of his family. I wonder if he ever transfers the pictures to another format.
Somewhere in a storage space on Ave J, sits a plethora of photo albums. Amassed by Carol over years of taking pictures, I retrieved them from closet shelves and book shelves through out our home in California, carefully secured them in book boxes and packed them away. It is a stored history of her life, her family and friends, our early life together, and the early life of our daughter. Someday, they will be retrieved and moved into a new home, but for now they rest quietly in a dark, climate controlled environment.
This is not to imply we have no photos in the motorhome. Carol has a prodigious collection of photos stored on a dedicated hard drive. All neatly filed in albums for easy retrieval when needed. The important pictures have been printed and set across a couple of cabinet doors. There’s no set rule designating “important” photos; they’re just favorites for various reasons.
A young white tail captured in full leap; front legs tucked up to its chest, rear legs extended in the power of the jump. Carol got this photo in WV at a campground where deer browse in both meadow and woods.
Alex, a white tail fawn, still spotted, was a bit of a mascot at the same park. Alex’s mother chose the wrong time to cross the road and left Alex an orphan. The campground’s owner bottle fed the fawn until it could be incorporated back into the herd. Not knowing if it was an andra or an ander, Alex seemed to work just find as a name. In this shot, Alex is all but buried in undergrowth. Big, dark eyes stare at the camera. The spotted flank merges into the foliage. No telephoto was needed as Carol eased to within five feet of the fawn.
Spice, Rita and Ginger. Spice was our dog. A Lab and Shepard mix, she literally followed me home from a walk in the desert, where some idiot had abandoned her. Rita belonged to our friends, Dennis and Jill. They had come across Rita on a windsurf trip to Mexico. Rita had been abandoned in the desert. They smuggled the pup back into the country, got her to a vet and raised her to be a fine pet. If friendship exists in the canine world, the Rita and Spice were BBFs. Perhaps there was an innate awareness of the commonality they shared. It was a sad day when Jill wrote that Rita had died. It was sadder still when several months later I wrote them to say Spice had gone to play with Rita. They truly were BFFs. And Ginger, their new pup; she’s a bundle of energy and a great companion for them.
Some photos are just great because of the subject, the lighting and the composition. Alex is one example. Another is Carol’s capture of a scissor-tail flycatcher, sitting in some bush at the SPI convention center. Her picture of a black and yellow bumblebee landing on a rich pink thistle bloom has a background of mottled greens as the focus captures only the bee and the bloom, leaving the shrubs and grass as a gentle blur.
Family and friends play a dominate role in our lives and the pictures reflect that significance. There’s a picture I took of Carol and her mom standing together, heads tilted in, arms around each other. Two wonderful women that I very much love. Carol’s life long friend Peggy has a prominent position. She and Carol took to the Laguna in kayaks. They hadn’t made it very far, before dolphins came alongside Peggy’s craft. Carol snapped the photo of the dolphin rising out of the water as if to say, “Peggy, pet me.” It was like a Nat Geo moment for Peggy and the smile she exudes cements her glee.
Then there is Charron. We first met when she was deployed in Iraq. Through Soldiers’ Angels, I adopted Charron. My role was to send letters and packages in appreciation for her service to the country. Unlike my other adoptees, Charron and I began a regular correspondence which we continued even after she returned home. On a trip to Hawaii, we met with Charron and her husband, Keven, as they were stationed there. When Keven was subsequently deployed to Afghanistan, we happily sent him letters and packages. These are two of the finest people I have ever met. Charron has become like a daughter to me and I’m proud to have Keven as a son-in-law. We are Godparents to their son and consider him a grandchild as well. Needless to say, their pictures sit right above my driver’s seat.
My favorite picture is of our four siblings. Carol took it at son’s wedding last spring. It was the first time since 1995 the four of them had been together. In today’s world, families often become far-flung. Christy is in Texas, Tag is in New York, Kate’s in Nevada, Jenn is in California and we’re, well, we’re on the road. It is the rare occurrence when we can all come together and it is a time to honor and remember.
Today, much is made of social media, the ability to instantly inform others of every aspect of life we want to share. Pictures or photographs, if you prefer, convey something social media can’t, memories. We look at a photo and we remember where we were and why. Social media is about today. Photos and pictures are about today and yesterday. They are about memories of good times, friends, family, happiness and sadness, places traveled and people visited. They are a glimpse into a life lived and shared.