Friday, September 08, 2006

The power of photographs

Went to Great-Great-Great Aunt Helen's funeral last night. Lovely affair, considering there wasn't any peppy music playing.

The best thing about funerals, if there can be a best thing about a funeral, is when there are photographs posted everywhere of the deceased's life. I got to see photographs of Helen on her wedding day, and that's when it hit me, again, that there is so much to a person's life other than just what I see. Aunt Helen was beautiful on her wedding day. Just lovely. She looked so fresh and young and innocent. She was still smiling in the photographs from her later years, and you could still see the traces of her younger self in her older face, but there was wisdom in her eyes, and experiences and a life really lived. The photographs captured the growth at different points in her life, and it's amazing to see.

Nothing else can do that like a photograph. Not even video. Video is great, but it's moving...fleeting...transient.

A photograph captures a moment in time. One split second. A photograph stops time temporarily, and allows you to study the moment for as long as you want. One of the networks did a fantastic "slide show" a few years ago, maybe on the one year anniversary of going to war in Iraq. The anchor talked about how powerful a still photograph can be compared to video, which I thought was incredible given that his bread and butter is in the broadcast video industry. He showed a bit of footage, then he showed still images taken from the same time. The difference was amazing. Instead of the chaos on the video and too much to look at because it moved really fast, you got to see the anguish on the soldier's face, the tear tracks in the dirt on a child's face, the torn clothing and patched boots. It gave me chills.

So, I don't care how sophisticated we get with video and high definition and instantaneous broadcasting from around the world, nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a powerful photographic image. Just check out James Nachtwey's site (it's over there in my links section to the right) to see some examples. (Nachtwey is The Man, just in case you were wondering. He is a photographic journalist god. I'd give my eye teeth to buy him drinks and listen to his stories.)

Last thing: want to send out a special thanks to Dad/Grandpa Z. for staying home from work to watch Zozo today so Mom/Grandma Z. can go to Helen's funeral. Thank you so much for being there for us, for Zozo and for Mom. Thanks too, to both of you, for watching Zozo last minute tonight for us, so we can have a good Date Night. We love and appreciate you!


Post a Comment

<< Home